Category Archives: team usa

Kickboxing Karate Gold Medal Pan American Championships

wako pan am

North Huntingdon 9-year-old claims international kickboxing title

 | SundayNov. 11, 2018, 10:33 p.m.

Xander Eddy might look like a normal student while he’s walking the halls of Sunset Valley Elementary School in North Huntingdon.

But he’s got a secret weapon – his hands and his feet.

Xander, short for Alexander, recently became the youngest American to ever win the Pan American Kickboxing Championships, held Oct. 23 to Oct. 28 in Riviera Maya, Mexico. The fourth-grader is still basking in the glow of his record-setting performance, as was evident Thursday night as he trained at Allegheny Shotokan Viola Karate in North Huntingdon.

“I knew I had a very good chance. I just didn’t know I’d make it as far as I did,” he said.

Xander, 9, defeated a young Guatemalan competitor to take the gold medal in the open weight class for Team USA. More than 30 countries in the Western Hemisphere were represented in the competition.

Xander dominated six rounds against top-ranked athletes from Chile, Puerto Rico and Mexico with a combined score of 30-3, said his sensei, Bill Viola Jr. After two rounds in the finals, the score was tied, forcing an additional round to determine the champion.

“(Xander) scored a sidekick to take the lead, and as time expired, he executed his patented ‘ax’ kick to win gold,” Viola said.

Teammate Luke Lokay, 15, of North Huntingdon, took bronze for Team USA.

Xander said he was surprised by the championship, but his dad wasn’t.

“Every tournament we go to, I’m just in awe,” his father, A.J. Eddy said. “I just watch him and the things that he does, and I’m speechless. He does so well – it amazes me.”

Xander started taking karate lessons when he was 4. It didn’t take long for his parents and his sensei to sense something special in his abilities.

“The thing that set Xander apart right away was his attitude — he would put that work ethic in that a lot kids wouldn’t,” said Viola, whose father, Bill Viola Sr., founded the karate studio in 1969 and still gives lessons.

Viola also cited Xander’s “natural athletic ability” and his support system, including his parents, A.J. and Dana Eddy.

xander eddy karate split  Xander trains at Viola Karate six days a week, mostly because he wants to be there. “I would say probably 90 percent of it is him,” A.J. Eddy said. “There may be a day within a month, at the most, where he might come home from school and say, ‘I don’t want to go to practice today.’ ”

He takes Tuesdays off. And when he’s not studying or training, he enjoys fishing, playing video games and hanging out with his friends.

Two months before the Mexico trip, Xander suffered a potentially career-ending injury when he shattered the growth plate in his foot while practicing. The injury affected his base leg, which is critical for kicking and movement.

Viola said Xander beat the odds through tenacity and extra training, ultimately making a full recovery in time for the Mexico tournament.

“He didn’t miss a class,” he said. “Little by little, he started showing signs of the old Xander. In the week prior, we pushed him hard. He peaked right at the right time.”

Xander said he now feels stronger than ever.

“I feel really confident with it now because (Viola) said it’s more stable and stronger than it was before I was hurt,” Xander said. “He worked with me on my kicks because I couldn’t balance really good on my foot. It was tough.”

In the weeks and months ahead, Xander has tournaments scheduled in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

“Other than that, he’s just a normal kid,” his father said.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, shuba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @shuba_trib.

Xander is a martial wayist who studies at Allegheny Shotokan Viola Karate Dojo in Pittsburgh, PA.

North Huntingdon youth claims kickboxing gold medal at Pan American

championships

 | FridayNov. 9, 2018, 6:45 p.m.

A 9-year-old North Huntingdon boy is kicking his way toward the top of the martial arts world.

pittsburgh gold medal

Xander Eddy earned a gold medal for Team USA in the male open weight 9 years category at the World Association of Kickboxing Organizations Pan American championships Oct. 23-28 in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

He was one of 10 entries from four countries. Competitors from Guatemala and Mexico came in second and third.

Bill Viola Jr., Eddy’s sensei, or teacher, with Allegheny Shotokan Karate in North Huntingdon, said the next big step is the 2019 World Karate Commission Championships in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

“We are already training,” Viola said.

Eddy came back from a foot injury, which made him determined.

“I trained a lot harder,” he said.

Eddy, a Norwin fourth-grader who has been kickboxing for five years, said he is improving following up with his hands.

Started in Europe in 1976, kickboxing is a contact fighting sport that includes punches, as well as kicks.

Eddy was one of two Allegheny Shotokan Karate members who qualified at the WAKO USA Nationals in Feb. in Kansas City, Mo.

Luke Lokay, 16, of North Huntingdon, a Norwin sophomore, competed in the male under-63-kilogram.

pittsburgh karate champion

Viola said work ethic and attitude set Eddy and Lokay apart.

“They push each other with no ego,” Viola said. “They lead by example and inspire the rest of (the) students.

“Win or loss, they represent America with character. Their parents are hands-on and sacrifice a lot for them (to) compete.”

Lokay, whose father took him to his first class when he was 4, said his goal is to win the world championship.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

UPMC Dr. Fu gives Karate Champion a shot at Gold

Dr Freddie Fu Gives Karate Standout a Second Chance

Luke Lokay Represents United States Kickboxing / Karate Team in Quest for Gold Medal

Six years ago Luke Lokay thought he’d never walk straight again.  This October Luke will represent America as part of USA Karate Kickboxing team in Cancun, Mexico at the PAN AMERICAN Championships.  His story of determination is one that inspires his teammates and the community.

Luke Lokay
Luke Lokay, Team USA Karate Kickboxing

In 2012, Lokay was in fourth grader in the Norwin School District where he was recruited by Sensei Bill Viola Jr. to join “Team Kumite” (an all-star traveling karate team).  Viola remembers, “I just saw something in Luke.  He had the intangibles I look for.  He had that the eye of the tiger—heart.”  I wanted to work with him and get him ready for the big leagues.” 

Lokay was poised to compete for his first national karate championship when a fluke accident sent his body and dreams crashing.  Lokay recalls, “I was riding my bike and my neighbors dog [Kippie] just charged at me.  He was just playing, but he knocked me to the ground awkwardly and pinned my knee.  I knew immediately something was wrong.”   Luke’s parents, John and Amy, took him to multiple specialists and hospitals in the area.  Initial emergency rooms didn’t treat him with urgency and said the leg wasn’t broken.  He was told to “just rest” the injured leg.  The recommendation didn’t sit well with his dad.  John Lokay recalls, “I wasn’t satisfied with what they were saying at all.  He was in real pain, and he never complained about anything.  I went out on a limb and ignored the prognosis.  A friend of mine told me to get ahold of Dr. Freddie Fu. That call saved my boy. He actually called me on a Sunday from New York.  He got us in the next day.”

Dr. Freddie Fu, MD – UPMC

Luke was rushed in for a 3rd Opinion where Dr. Fu (Chair of Orthopedic Surgery at UPMC) confirmed Luke had in fact torn his ACL, meniscus and broke his tibia that pulled into the knee cap.  The diagnosis was severe for anyone, especially for someone that young. Dr. Fu told the family that if he didn’t perform surgery the next day, the leg may never straighten again.  The Lokay’s followed his advice, rehabilitation and course of action. At the time, karate was out of the picture but Dr. Fu was optimistic that if Luke followed the rehab he could someday make a return.

Luke underwent surgery and began the long journey of rehabilitation.  Although he couldn’t train, he still remained active with his karate school by attending martial arts tournaments to cheer on his teammates.  Sensei Viola remembers, “Luke remained positive throughout the entire experience.  Most kids would have quit, but there is something special about him.  Everyone was rooting for him.  I’ve never seen a kid with such a serious injury be able to bounce back like he did.  His parents and his doctors did a wonderful job!”

Flash forward to 2018, and Luke is currently on a quest for Gold.  He represents the United States as a member of the prestigious 2018 “Team USA” and will fight at the Pan American Kickboxing Championship this fall.  In the upcoming months while other kids are enjoying summer break, 15-year old Luke Lokay will be training to compete at the highest international levels for sport martial arts.   Viola says, “We train the mind as much as the body by incorporating ‘mokuso‘ into our workouts.  I think this helps keep Luke grounded.”

dr. freddie fu upmc
Luke Lokay with Dr. Freddie Fu

Luke earned a spot on “Team USA” at the WAKO Trials in Kansas City, Missouri in February in the 63- Kg division and his teammate, 9-year-old  Xander Eddy, secured the 30- Kg weight class.  The selection process is limited to the current national champions officially recognized by their National Olympic Committees or Ministry of Sports.

Xander Eddy
Xander Eddy, Team USA Karate Kickboxing

Lokay, now going into 10th grade at Norwin High School explains, “Representing my country is such huge honor. I wasn’t supposed to be able to walk, let alone compete for a Gold medal. I’m making the  most of my second chance.  I’m dedicating this journey to Dr. Fu, who fixed me up.”  Lokay has been training at Allegheny Shotokan “Viola” Karate in North Huntingdon since he was 5-years-old.  Lokay and his training partner Eddy are the first US Team members to earn a team selection for The World Association of Kickboxing Organizations (WAKO) from Western Pennsylvania.

WAKO is the largest international organization of kickboxing, and the governing body of Amateur kickboxing sport certified by SportAccord. WAKO is affiliated in 128 nations on 5 continents officially recognized by either National Olympic Committee or relevant National Government Sports Authority responsible for than 4,000,000 practitioners from across the globe. WAKO kickboxing was one of thirteen combat sports participating in the first ever World Combat Games which were held in Beijing, China under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).  WAKO is a member of the “Olympic Channel,” a multi-platform global media destination for the Olympic Games which includes other combat sports such as Karate slated for the 2020 Games in Tokyo, Japan.

Luke will be traveling to Orlando, Florida in July for the US Open World Martial Arts Championships in preparation for the PanAmerican Championship.  He is in search of community based support to offset the financial burdens to his family to travel and compete.

About Luke Lokay:  Luke is a goodwill representative for the Western PA Police Athletic League (PAL) where is serves as an advocate for disadvantaged youth.  It’s a role his Sensei held when he was Luke’s age.  Loaky is also a “Junior Leader” for the University of Pittsburgh’s PIND (Pittsburgh Institute for Neurodegerative Disease) 5K Kick-a-thon where he and his team raise funds to “Kick Parkinson’s Disease.”  He will kick for 1-mile straight non-stop on Labor Day to raise awareness of the cause.

For more info contact Bill Viola Jr.  724-640-2111

 

# # #

Evolution of X-Caliber Pittsburgh’s first all-star karate team 🥋

karate pittsburgh

🥋Ranked #1 Karate School and Team In Pittsburgh

Team Kumite has been the most successful sport karate school team in the Pittsburgh region.  The team was established in 2000 after a void was left from 1980s/1990s powerhouse X-Caliber National Team.  X-Caliber’s were lead by Captain Mike Shurina (NASKA/NBL World Champion) and coached by Leonard Jackson. 

x caliber karate team
Bill Viola Jr, Todd Humes, CJ, Doug Selchan, Mike Shurina @ Bluegrass Nationals

X-Caliber was a Western Pennsylvania sport karate team that fought out of Pittsburgh.  Members included Bill Viola Jr., Doug Slechan,Todd Humes, Masai Turner, and other Western PA All-Stars.  It was the first Jr. Team from the region during the team fighting boom era of the 1980s and 1990s.  It was the first time in Pittsburgh that Jr. competitors from separate schools joined to represent a one team.  The result was magic…  

The UPSETS: X-Caliber was a “local” Pittsburgh-only based team that took on all the National Powerhouses of the era… and won.  They often fought hand picked teams with champions from around the United States.  At the the NASKA Capitol Classics in Washington DC, X-Caliber upset the unbeaten Jr. SMASH team.  SMASH was considered the elite team to beat since they were sponsored by Sport Karate Magazine.  The SMASH team was made up #1 ranked kids in NASKA from USA and Canada.  X-Caliber was the first team to ever beat them.

x caliber karate team pittsburgh
X-Caliber From Pittsburgh Upsets National SMASH Team

Then at the Ocean State Nationals in Rhode Island, X-Caliber upset the then unbeaten Metro All-Stars in Team Fighting. The word was out, Pittsburgh had some of the top Jr. competitors in the nation. The team was absorbed by the New York City based Metro-All Stars in the early 1990s coached by Hector Santiago. They became the most dominate Jr. team in sport karate history winning NASKA and NBL World Titles.

metro all stars karate
Mike Shurina, Masai Turner, Bill Viola Jr. with the Metro squad

By the mid-1990s Metro had lost its sponsorship and the older players had moved on to start families.  Pittsburgh was without a national team until 2000 when Kumite Internatinal was established.  It was to pay respect to the road that X-Caliber had paved.  Since its inception, “Team Kumite” has been a fixture at the largest events in North American Sport Karate.

best karate school in pittsburgh
Pittsburgh’s Top Ranked Karate School Team

 

The Team trains @ Allegheny Shotokan “Viola” Karate School, established by “Shihan” Bill Viola Sr. The school has been the most active tournament dojo in the Pittsburgh region and Western Pennsylvania for nearly 50 years. Through its sister program, The Norwin Ninjas, they are constantly searching for young new talent to work with. The Viola Family is internationally renowned, for coaching champions at all levels.

master bill viola
Shihan Bill Viola Sr. The Authority for Martial Arts in the area

Our karate school staff has experience working with everyone from Olympic-level competitors to professional sports athletes from the NFL and MLB.  “Home of National, International, and World Champions.”

jack bodell bill viola

The Viola Karate dojo has produced champions in Mixed Martial Arts MMA, Kickboxing, sport karate, and traditional karate.

A few recent Team Kumite Karate accomplishments:

pittsburgh karate champion

A few recent accomplishments on why they are the best karate school in Pittsburgh for sport karate include:

Team Kumite wins Pittsburgh’s Largest Martial Arts Championships

The Viola Karate School was honored as the “Top Team” at the 2017 Kumite Classic martial arts championships at the 18th annual Pittsburgh Fitness Expo on May 26-27 at Monroeville Convention Center.

The Kumite Classic is the region’s largest multi-sport convention, with over 100,000 square feet of competitions and participation from around the world.

pittsburgh karate champ

Team Kumite Earn Pro Status #WAKO North American Open

karate champion pittsburgh

Team Kumite, a Pittsburgh-based all-star travel karate school team, achieved Pro Status winning Open Weight Grand Champions at the North American Open at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.

“It is pretty exciting,” Team Kumite coach and president of Kumite Classic Entertainment Bill Viola Jr. said. “It is the first time anyone from the Pittsburgh area has earned these titles. We are very honored and excited to represent this region on a larger scale.”

Other winners came from Mexico, Great Britain, Quebec and two from California.

“There were only eight pro winners in the world, and three came from our school,” Viola said of the North Huntingdon-based facility. “I am super excited as a coach. We were very fortunate. We have a great squad and great group of kids that push each other. I am impressed but not surprised. They showed it all season long what their skill level is.”

Xander Eddy
Xander Eddy, Team USA Karate Kickboxing

Member of Team USAhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01XPVtbHYqw