Category Archives: Viola Karate

WAKO – IOC Olympic Membership Kickboxing / Sport Karate

wako ico

WAKO  Kickboxing / Karate joins the IOC (International Olympic Committee)

wako kickboxing PA I am proud to announce that WAKO has officially joined the Olympic Family!  As director of WAKO Region 10 for the Untited States of America (which oversees Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, West Virgina, and Washington, DC) we are dedicated to helping train and field athletes for Olympic level competition. We have already seen great success at the Pan American Championships and World Championships for Team USA. The future is bright for sport karate in America.  –Bill Viola Jr.

wako olympics

wako ioc letter

IOC EB receives update on implementation of Athletes’ Declaration and other important issues

30 Nov 2018 -Olympic.org

The IOC Executive Board (EB) received updates on the endorsement of the Athletes’ Rights and Responsibilities Declaration and addressed key issues for International Federations and the Olympic Movement during the first day of its meeting in Tokyo.

An update on the implementation of the Athletes’ Rights and Responsibilities Declaration (Declaration) was given to the EB by Kirsty Coventry, Chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission. After the official adoption of the Declaration at the IOC Session in October 2018, the Declaration continues to be expressly adopted and supported by sports organisations throughout the Olympic Movement as each of their congresses or general assemblies has been held.

Over the past few weeks, both the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) and the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) endorsed the Declaration at their General Assembly and Council meetings respectively.

At a continental level, representatives from more than 80 NOC Athletes’ Commissions at the PanAm Sports Athletes’ Forum in October and the Asian Athletes’ Forum in November fully supported the formation of the initiative and included the adoption of the Declaration as one of their Forum recommendations. Other athlete organisations to fully support the Declaration include the ANOC Athletes’ Commission, all five Continental Associations’ Athletes’ Commissions and the World Olympians Association. Others, like the Canadian Athletes’ Commission, have publicly expressed support.

On an International Federation level, the international Ski Federation (FIS) fully endorsed the Declaration at its autumn Council meeting, whilst the New Zealand NOC will begin the process of embedding the Declaration in its formal policies and processes.

Update on International Federations

The International Sambo Federation (FIAS), the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL), and the World Associations of Kickboxing Organisations (WAKO) were granted provisional IOC recognition for a period of three years by the EB. These three International Federations will now be able to receive funding from the IOC and can apply for development programmes, while full recognition has to be granted by the IOC Session.

The IOC Executive Board noted the very positive steps taken by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) to strengthen its anti-doping programme. The positive steps include the newly designed Tokyo 2020 qualification system, which links the number of quota places available per country to their history of doping and rewards clean sport; suspension and monitoring of nine national federations for up to one year each; the implementation of new strict anti-doping policies and procedures; the MoU between the IWF and ITA delegating remaining areas of its anti-doping programme throughout 2019; and no positive results to date from doping testing at the recent IWF World Championships.

At the same time, the IOC EB expressed its concern regarding the actions in allowing non-eligible athletes to participate in an exhibition at the recent IWF World Championships. The Board decided to continue to monitor the final report on the samples collected at the IWF World Championships as well as awaiting confirmation of a successful and smooth transition of key areas of the IWF anti-doping programme from the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport to the ITA as of January 2019. These elements will be further reviewed at the next EB meeting, with a view to the option of lifting the conditional inclusion in the sports programme of the Olympic Games Paris 2024.

Changes of Nationality

Changes of nationality for two athletes were also approved by the EB: Odile van AANHOLT (sailing) switched from Aruba to The Netherlands; and Brisa HENNESSY (surfing), from USA to Costa Rica.

Allocation of International Sports Events

The IOC EB decided to recommend to all IFs and other recognised sporting organisations that the allocation of international sports events to a country must include the necessary guarantees to ensure equal treatment for the participating athletes and sporting delegations. This is in accordance with the basic principles of autonomy and non-discrimination which govern the Olympic Movement.

Countries that will host international sporting events must guarantee these principles, and all international sports organisations concerned should not allocate any international sports event to a country that does not provide the necessary guarantees.

In this framework, the IOC EB took note with concern about the difficulties encountered by the Kosovan athletes to participate with full rights and without discrimination in some international sports competitions organised recently in Spain.

At the same time, the IOC EB welcomed the firm engagement from the Spanish Government to redress this situation, as expressed in a letter from the Foreign Minister to the Spanish NOC.
It guaranteed, in Spain, the participation of the athletes from Kosovo with all rights and no discrimination in relation to other athletes, in all competitions under IOC auspices –  this means all competitions organised by sports organisations recognised by the IOC.

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wako olympics

WAKO USA is the United States’ division of the World Association of Kickboxing Organizations and the governing body of Amateur kickboxing sport certified by Sport Accord and now as of 2018 a member of the IOC. WAKO holds a world championships every two years, with youth (18 and under) and adults (18–45) on separate years; only national teams are accepted. Each member country can present only one competitor in each weight class. Competitors are commonly the national champion of their weight class in that particular kickboxing style and many are also officially recognized by their National Olympic Committees or Ministry of Sports.

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 IOC and SportAccord in 2010. WAKO once again participated in the 2013 World Combat Games which were held in St. Petersburg Russia in October of 2013 under the patronage of the IOC and SportAccord. Three rule styles were involved at the Combat Games – Low Kick, Point Fighting, and Full Contact.

WAKO USA and WAKO PRO govern and sanction the sport of kickboxing in three rule styles that compete inside a boxing ring: Full Contact, Low Kick, and K-1. WAKO USA governs and supports martial arts competition which takes place on a matted floor in four styles: Point Fighting, Light Contact, Kick-Light, and Musical Forms. Every two years the WAKO World Championships brings together the best athletes from around the world to compete in each rule style. Each of WAKO’s 85 affiliated national federations can present only 1 competitor in each weight class and the WAKO World Championships determines who truly is the best of the best.

Post from Roy Baker:

WE DID IT: Today, one of our dreams have been realised. WAKO has been recognised by the IOC as a member provisionally, at the IOC Executive Committee meeting today in Tokyo. This is the biggest step in the history of our sport. Special thanks goes to Espen Lund, and the legal team Francesca Falsoni and Nikolaus Gstättner and of course Barbara Falsoni. I AM PROUD TO BE PART OF THIS TEAM. This was an extrodinary team alongside and supporting our past presidents, Georg F. Brückner, Ennio Falsoni and Borislav Pelevich who had the energy and vision. It has been a long and tough road and something positive that our sport deserves. Now we must move forward, stronger, united and with a single vision. I am so proud today, I feel i am going to burst. THANK YOU to everybody that supported us along the way. WE DID IT #WAKOIOC #ONEWAKO

Some highlights of Team USA Members from Region 10 representing at the PAN AM Championships in Mexico: Xander Eddy (Gold Medalist) 🥇🥋

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.

Kicking Parkinson’s Disease

Fighting Parkinson’s disease

One “Kick” at a Time

What is KICK?

The “KICK” kickathon concept was developed Irwin native Bill Viola Jr., founder of Kumite Classic Entertainment, and former Monroeville Mayor and Pennsylvania State Senator Sean Logan.   Logan was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease in his mid-forties and Viola spent years caring for his Grandmother who passed away from neurodegenerative complications.  Logan developed a 5K to promote his “Do Something” campaign as means to encourage exercise.  Physical activity has been proven to be an effective method to combat Parkinson’s disease.  Viola partnered with Logan in 2017 to add a “Kick-a-thon” element to the 5k, and its growth has been exponential.  Viola explains,

“Last year the KICK participants raised just over $5000 with 50 participants. This year we doubled both bringing us up to over $15,000 with just two kicksathons.  The “KICKS” are a unique way to attract sponsors and big donors.  It helps us raise the big numbers.”

sean logan

Sean and Shannon LoganPIND offers a unique twist to the traditional 5K by incorporating Viola’s “Kick-a-thon” concept.  Viola explains, “There are a lot of in-house kick-a-thons that take place at schools, but none that actually kick for distance in the heat. This is the first of its kind.”  The estimated amount of kicks thrown by each participant was 1500 and with over 100 students, the total number was approximately 150,000 kicks.

The Viola Karate Dojo has made it their mission to KICK Parkinson’s disease—literally by assembling over 100 students kicking one mile non-stop though the racetrack at Boyce Park in Monroeville.  The students showcased their skill during record setting heat and donated over $10,000 to aid The Pittsburgh Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases (PIND) for research.  In all, over the past three years, the PIND event has raised over $1 million dollars through appropriations, grants and sponsors.  100% goes directly for experimental tests in hopes of finding the cure in Pittsburgh.

Viola said,

“The cause is near and dear to my heart.  I’ve been looking for a way to fight this epidemic, and having my school ‘Kick’ for a cure was a perfect fit.  Building character is an important part of martial arts.  My students exceeded my expectations. Their selflessness is incredible.”

9-year-old Mike Barone led the group of by donating nearly $2015 followed by 11-year-old Aidan Thornton ($900) and 5-year-old Madden McKeever ($800).   In just three years, through corporate sponsorships and race participants the 5k race, walk and KICK has surpassed over $300,000 in total donations for PIND which brings the grand total to over $1 million dollars in funds.

Viola has been involved in charitable work since his Senior year at Pitt, when he established Kumite International Collegiate Karate scholarships (The Acronym KICK). The partnership program with Western PA Police Athletic League and Eckert Seamans Law Firm allocated $50,000 in scholarship funds for karate athletes.  The program made national news when Lynn Swann (The Chairman of President George W. Bush’s Council of Physical Fitness and Sports) presenting the scholarships with Viola at the 2004 Kumite Classic in Pittsburgh.   

PIND 5k

Although Viola is known internationally for his competitive success in karate he says,

“Trophies collect dust.  Making an impact on the community is priceless. They are making a difference and learning the value of paying in forward. I tell them, every kick of kindness creates an endless a ripple in our community.”

PIND spearheads efforts to find a cure for Parkinson’s Disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Huntington’s Disease, Stroke, and Alzheimer’s Disease.  The kids have already made plans to “Kick Parksinsons” again next year.  For more information please visit:  PIND5K.org

The $1 Million Dollar Mark!!

PIND Event race, walk and kick Donation Breakdown 2016-2018

$125,000 PIND Race (2016)
$135,000 PIND Race (2017)
$145,000 PIND Race (2018)
$95,000 Pittsburgh Association Dinner (2017)
$50,000 Clear Thoughts Foundation Grant (2017)
$50,000 Clear Thoughts Foundation Grant (2018)
$150,000 PA Budget Appropriation (2016)
$150,000 PA Budget Appropriation (2017)
$150,000 PA Budget Appropriation (2018)
$1,050,000

Finding a Cure for Parkinson’s Disease One “Kick” at a Time

viola karate dojo kickers

Finding a Cure for

Parkinson’s Disease

One “Kick” at a Time

An inspiring group of martial artists have made it their mission to KICK Parkinson’s disease—literally.  On September 3rd 2018 the Viola Karate Dojo and their sister program Norwin Ninjas assembled over 100 students to make a bold statement and kick non-stop for one mile at Boyce Park.  The students showcased their skill and donated over $10,000 to aid The Pittsburgh Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases (PIND) for research.

parkinsons
Madden McKeever raised $800 for PIND

The “KICK” concept was developed Irwin native Bill Viola Jr., founder of Kumite Classic Entertainment, and former Mayor and State Senator Sean Logan.   Logan was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease in his mid-forties and Viola spent years caring for his Grandmother who passed away from neurodegenerative complications.

phyllis Rossi
Sensei Bill Viola Jr.’s Grandmother Phyills Rossi who passed away from complications of the disease

Logan developed a 5K to promote his “Do Something” campaign as means to encourage exercise.  Physical activity has been proven to be an effective method to combat Parkinson’s disease.   Viola parented with Logan in 2017 to add a “Kick-a-thon” element to the 5k, and its growth has been exponential.  Viola explains, “Last year the KICK raised just over $5000 with 50 participants. This year we doubled both brining us up to over $15,000 with just two kicks-a-thons.

PIND offers a unique twist to the traditional 5K by incorporating Viola’s “Kick-a-thon” concept.  Viola explains, “There are a lot of in-house kick-a-thons that take place at schools but none that actually kick for distance. This is the first of its kind.”  The estimated amount of kicks thrown by each participant was 1500 and with over 100 students, the total number was approximately 150,000 kicks.

Viola said, “The cause is near and dear to my heart.  I’ve been looking for a way to fight this epidemic, and having my school ‘Kick’ for a cure was a perfect fit.  Building character is an important part of martial arts.  My students exceeded my expectations. Their selflessness is incredible.”  9-year-old Mike Barone led the group of by donating nearly $2015 followed by 11-year-old Aidan Thornton ($900) and 5-year-old Madden McKeever ($800).   In just three years, through corporate sponsorships and race participants the PIND 5k has surpassed over $300,000 in total donations for PIND.

kick parkinsons
Mike Barone raised $2015 for PIND

Although Viola is known internationally for his competitive success in karate he says, “Trophies collect dust.  Making an impact on the community is priceless. They are making a difference and learning the value of paying in forward. I tell them, Kick with kindness and create an endless a ripple.”

PIND spearheads efforts to find a cure for Parkinson’s Disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Huntington’s Disease, Stroke, and Alzheimer’s Disease.  The kids have already made plans to “Kick Parksinsons” again next year.  For more information please visit:  PIND5K.org

Top 10 Fundraisers for 2018 Kick Parkinsons

First Name Last Name Amount
Mike Barone 2015
Aidan Thornton 900
Danielle McKeever 800
Grace Weingberger 726
Katelyn Regina 620
Gabby Viola 560
Riley Evans 363
Ariana Trout 325
Henry Francisco 210
Aaron Goettler 210
Rayden Galley 206

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

 

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Interview with Bill Viola Jr. Author of Tough Guys

Interview with Bill Viola Jr. Author of Amazon Best Seller ‘Tough Guys’

By Heather Holtschlag

Tough Guys (2017) Kumite Classic Press available on Amazon

Why and when did you decide to write Godfathers of MMA?

The real story of who invented the sport of MMA in America was in jeopardy of being lost forever. My father and his business partner created a regulated MMA in 1979, and I needed to set the record straight. They deserved credit and I was shocked that all of the history books available were clueless.  It began as a passion piece to provide information and morphed into the most the most comprehensive book on early MMA history.  My cousin Dr. Fred Adams and I took on the task of documenting a forgotten time and place for the sport.  We bring you back to the Golden Era of MMA.

What is the book about?

You get an inside look into the minds and events of the men who “mixed” the martial arts a decade before the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship.”  They created a new sport in the form of the Tough Guys. 

How did things with the movie get started?

Shortly after the exclusive preview run of Godfathers of MMA, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Robert Zullo stumbled upon the Tough Guys exhibit featured at the Heinz History center. The display recognizes Pittsburgh as the Birthplace of MMA. The display is located right next to Franco Harris’s immaculate reception and catches a lot of attention.  Zullo explains, “I couldn’t believe I’d never heard about this story. I was enamored with the time, place and machismo of the whole thing. I just had a gut instinct to meet these guys.”   Zullo reached out to his brother Will and childhood friend Craig DiBiase a producer [MinusL] and Director Henry Roosevelt from New York City. Zullo also got his Academy Award winning cousin, Ross Kaufmann, on board.  Two years later after 52TB of filming, the Tough Guys Doc was born.

When did the movie start in production?

Production began in the summer of 2015.  One of the feature locations was Allegheny Shotokan Karate in North Huntingdon. My favorite location was Ritters Diner which we retrofitted to look like a 1979 Dennys.  I played my father in a famous scence where we hashed out the name ‘Tough.’

Was it all filmed in Pittsburgh?

We had 18 locations from Florida to New York but the bulk of the footage and interviews were from Western Pennsylvania (North Huntingdon, New Kensington and Pittsburgh).

How did the name Tough Guys come about?

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Pittsburgh was the epitome of a blue collar ‘tough’ city.  This sport would be an open call for the ‘toughest’ guys on the planet to fight, so Tough Guys was fitting for the era.

Who starred in it?

The documentary stars the men who lived it.  We were fortunate to film the original fighters and pioneers.  One of the stars was Dave Jones.  He trained at my father’s dojo and actually worked for North Huntingdon Township as part of a ‘road gang’ and laborer.  Dave fought in the first fight and won by TKO.  He was fearless–I looked up to him as a kid.

Can you tell me about the production process…your role, how production went, any details you can add about the highlights of the movie?  I

had the unique experience to wear many hats on the project: the production end, consulting end, and even played a 1979 version of my father in the famous ‘Denny’s Restaurant’ scene. Since my book was the master outline, I had to on point.

When did the movie premiere?

Initial praise attracted a star studded lineup of executive producers including Academy Award® Nominated Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me) and Oscar winning writer Ross Kaufmann (Born in Brothels).   The world premiere of “Tough Guys” took place at the American Film Institute (AFI) Docs on June 15th 2017 at the famous Landmark Theatre in Washington, DC. It was screened the day after the mega Mayweather / McGregor announcement. The film sold out.

And when did it air on Showtime? September 15th

Will it be shown again in the future?  It aired all of September and October. Then it will be distributed internationally.

Do you have plans to write anymore books or be involved in any other movies?

After the Showtime debut, my commemorative edition of the book retitled ‘Tough Guys’. It just hit #1 on the Amazon Best Sellers list for sports today.  It’s received critical acclaim and we’ve been getting offers for a screenplay to turn the journey into a major motion picture.  That is my ultimate goal.  With the right team, I know this could an Oscar worthy drama.

An interview with the Bill Viola Jr. (Author of Amazon #1 best seller Tough Guys).

Amazon best seller martial arts

How passionate are you about MMA?

I am most passionate about teaching and sharing my knowledge.  It’s a family legacy.  All my siblings are black belts and now I am mentoring my daughter (Gabby) and will have my son William Viola IV who was just born in September on the mat soon.

What, exactly, is MMA?

MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) is a sport that combines all disciplines of combats sports (boxing, karate, wrestling, judo etc.) fighting into regulated competition.  My father is credited for writing the first legitimate rule book in 1979. The UFC, the sports largest franchise, was sold for 4 billion dollars in 2016.  If Pennsylvania didn’t outlaw the sport in 1983, my father and Frank would be at the helm of that empire.

How can people get a copy of the book?

The book is available on Amazon.  Just google ‘Bill Viola Tough Guys’

Tough Guys #1 Amazon Best Seller Mixed Marital Arts MMA Bookbill viola jr author

Tough Guys in the News

Tough Guys IMDb

Showtime:  “Tough Guys” Sho.com

Madarasz, Anne.  “Tough Guys”.  Western Pennsylvania History, Volume 94, Number 3, fall 2011.

Bloom, Elizabeth.  “From Pittsburgh roots, MMA, UFC have grown to staggering heightsPittsburgh Post-Gazette.  February 19, 2016.

Page-Kirby, Kristen. “AFI Docs is your ticket to 3 world-premiere films”   June 15, 2017 Washington Post

McNary, Dave.  “ Morgan Spurlock to Exec Produce MMA Origins Documentary ‘Tough Guys’ (EXCLUSIVE)”  June 13, 2017 Variety

Klimovich-Harrop, Joanne.  “‘Tough Guys’ traces MMA’s roots right back to Western Pennsylvania”  Sept. 12, 2017.  Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Whalen, William.  “‘Tough Guys’ documentary profiles local creators of MMA Viola, Caliguri”  July 8, 2017.  Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Golightly, Justin.   “Showtime to Air New ‘Tough Guys’ Documentary on Early Days of MMA” August 29, 2017.  BJpenn.com

Sciullo, Maria.   “Showtime documentary proves Pittsburgh-area early mixed martial arts fighters were ‘Tough Guys’”  Sept, 15 2017.  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

‘Tough Guys’ documentary sheds welcome light on forgotten MMA tourney that pre-dates UFC 1”  Mike Chiappetta Sept. 15, 201.7 MMA Fighting

Bowen, Jessie.  “Who’s Who in the Marital Arts, Legends Edition.” September 25, 2017.  Page 365.  ISBN-10: 1387161539

 

 

 

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

 

Kick Parkinson’s Disease

kick parkinsons

PIND Logo

Team Kumite Kick’s Parkinson’s Disease @ PIND 5K

8-year-old Rayden Galley, a member of “Team Kumite” (all-star karate team from Pittsburgh) was the top fundraiser at the PIND (Pittsburgh Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases) 5K walk/run/kick.  Over 600 participants supported the cause held September 4th at Boyce Park in Monroeville.

Sean Logan Rayden Galley
Former Senator Sean Logan with Rayden Galley

 

PIND offers a unique twist to the traditional 5K by incorporating a “Kick-a-thon” portion where local martial artists literally kick for a mile non-stop alongside the walkers. It is a first of its kind in event in the region, possibly the country.  The estimated amount of kicks thrown by each participant was 2000. With 50 kids joining kick-a-thon category, the total number was nearly 100,000 kicks.

The “Kick” concept was developed former State Senator Sean Logan along with and Irwin native Bill Viola Jr. (owner of Norwin Ninjas and Allegheny Shotokan Karate).  Logan was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in his mid-forties and Viola spent years caring for his Grandmother who passed away from neurodegenerative complications.

Viola said, “The cause is near and dear to my heart.  I’ve been looking for a way to fight this epidemic, and having my school ‘Kick’ for a cure was a perfect fit.  Building character is an important part of martial arts.  My students exceeded my expectations by collecting donations.”  Rayden Galley led the group of 50 kickers by donating nearly $500.   The karate students in total donated over $4500 to PIND bringing the 2017 efforts to over $100,000 for the entire project with aid from corporate sponsors and the surrounding communities.

PIND spearheads efforts to find a cure for Parkinson’s Disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Huntington’s Disease, Stroke, and Alzheimer’s Disease.  The kids have already made plans to “Kick Parksinsons” again next year.  For more information please visit:  PIND5K.org

Top 5 Fundraisers:

  1. Rayden Galley
  2. Michael Barone
  3. Owen Orth
  4. Grace Weinberger
  5. Riley Evans

5K In The Park

kickers
Team Kumite, Viola Karate, Norwin Ninjas support PIND

The PIND takes an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to the study of neurodegenerative diseases and their mechanisms, including Parkinson’s Disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Huntington’s Disease, Stroke, and Alzheimer’s Disease. Through basic, translation, and clinical research, the PIND seeks to ultimately apply basic laboratory findings in the clinic, transforming the latest scientific findings into new treatments and applications for those affected by neurodegenerative diseases.

 PIND 5K Results:  https://results.chronotrack.com/event/results/event/event-22347

 

Walk to Cure Parkinson’s Disease, One Step at a Time

WHAT: Sponsored by UPMC, the Pittsburgh Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases (PIND) is hosting it’s second annual 5K run and 1-mile walk in remembrance and support of all people with Parkinson’s disease. All proceeds will benefit PIND’s research on finding a cure for Parkinson’s.
WHY: Neurodegenerative diseases are estimated to affect approximately one in four Pennsylvanians in their lifetime. The goal of this race is to raise awareness and fund research for neurodegenerative diseases, which currently are not well understood by scientists.
WHO: Neurodegenerative disease patients, caregivers, friends and family members
Race Sponsor UPMC

Platinum Sponsors

Prism, Visit Monroeville, Staples, Monroeville Chamber

Gold Sponsors

Tyler Mountain Water, Power of Bowser, Pat Deon, People, Highmark Health, PNC, Senator Jay Costa, Cohen & Grigsby, Stevens & Lee, Parkinson Foundation of Western PA, Rivers Casino, Tom and Paula McCartney, Anthony Dolan

Silver Sponsors

Oxford Development
Pittsburgh Steelers
Buchanon Ingersoll & Rooney
Atlantic Coast Baseball
Bill and Sissy Lieberman
Boenning & Scattergood
Cutis Bray Memorial Fund
The Marbury Group

Bronze Sponsors

Mom and Dad
Congressman Mike Doyle
Walnut Capital
Dr. Koti Kondaveeti
EPI Engineered Products
Turtle Creek Valley COG
Aunt Martie
Aunt Patty
Senator Wayne Fontana
HDJ & Associates
Frank and Sue McCartney
Santa’s Kids
Direct Axis

http://www.wtae.com/article/fighting-to-find-a-parkinson-s-disease-cure-in-pittsburgh/12142022

Sean Logan spent decades serving the public as a state senator, mayor of Monroeville and head of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.

At age 47, his new mission in life is to help find a cure for Parkinson’s disease after being diagnosed.

“Once you find the diagnosis, you can dwell on it and it’s not going to change,” Logan said. “Myself and my family, we made a decision that we would do something.”

Logan has been working with doctors and researchers at the Pittsburgh Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Oakland, where high-impact research is conducted on diseases like Parkinson’s, ALS and Alzheimer’s.

“I know the cure is going to come out of Pittsburgh. It’s going to come out of PIND,” Logan said. “Maybe getting this at 47 gives me five or 10 or 20 years to help find a cure.”

More than $100,000 was raised through sponsors and community members at the PIND 5K in Boyce Park last year. He hopes to raise more at this year’s event on Labor Day.

 

Bill Viola Jr. Author of Tough Guys

bill viola jr author

Bill Viola Jr. is an Amazon Best Selling Author #1 Martial Arts book in America (Sept 2017) “Tough Guys”  The book is the inspiration of the critically acclaimed Showtime Television documentary that bares the same name.

bill viola jr author tough guys

What do an NFL star, a United States Secret Service Agent, Sylvester Stallone’s bodyguard, and Muhammad Ali’s sparring partner all have in common?  They were all characters cast in America’s original “anything goes” reality fighting drama, an “open call” that gave birth to a new sport—MMA.

Long before the Octagon was in vogue or Royce Gracie made his pay-per-view debut; decades before the UFC became a household brand and while the likes of Dana White were still in elementary school; two martial artists, Bill Viola and Frank Caliguri, set out to prove once and for all who the world’s greatest fighter was by creating a radical new “sport” in 1979.

Godfathers of MMA reveals the clandestine plot to subvert the “first” mixed martial arts revolution in American history, one poised to challenge boxing as the king of combat sports.  Confounded by a freak accident (death in the ring) and widespread corruption, a massive struggle ensued over money, power, and respect between boxing’s gentry and an upstart MMA company from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  CV (Caliguri and Viola) Productions ignited a bitter turf war with the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission that sparked a spectacular David and Goliath battle for leverage.

The legendary story, buried by rhetoric for years, casts a wide net reeling in everyone from politicians to mobsters, all with ulterior motives; all with eyes on a billion dollar blueprint. From boxing’s “Holy Territory,” the home of Rocky Balboa, to a bizarre connection with the Supreme Court that lead to the first legal precedent for MMA—ever, this is the ultimate inside look.

Godfathers of MMA is a testosterone-laced whirlwind tale of “what might have been” told by the trailblazers who fought for it.  Relive the epic adventure of the “Tough Guys” later known as Super Fighters (the first mixed martial arts league, long before it was labeled MMA).  Thirty years before the UFC gained a mainstream audience, KDKA-TV dubbed CV’s new sport, “Organized, Legalized, Street fighting” while the Philadelphia Journal proclaimed, “No holds barred as Superfighters take over.” Take a journey back in time to the “Iron City” and meet the fighters, the foes, and the visionaries who created the modern sport of MMA.

bill viola jr showtime

mixed martial arts history

mma history book

Academy Award-Winning Team debuts “Tough Guys” on Showtime

“Tough Guys” is based on the book Godfathers of MMA written by Pittsburgh native Bill Viola Jr. The book which he co-wrote with his cousin Dr. Fred Adams also documents Pittsburgh as the birthplace of MMA, which is now a billion-dollar business. Viola Jr. explains, “When most fight fans think MMA history, they immediately reminisce about the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) which made its debut in 1993.  My dad and Frank created the sport over a decade before the UFC.  This is the untold story.”

The movie is largely based in Western Pennsylvania and has strong ties to the city of Greensburg.  In fact, the last “Tough Guy” event was held in Greensburg  at “Hartys” on November 6-7th 1983.

Academy Award nominated documentarian Morgan Spurlock (SUPER SIZE ME) teamed with Oscar winning filmmaker Ross Kauffman (BORN INTO BROTHELS) to produce this film that chronicles the history of MMA beginning in Pittsburgh over a decade before the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) existed.

“Back then, my dad literally mixed up all the martial arts and invented the ‘Tough Guy’ competition not to be confused with Toughman, which was purely boxing,” Viola Jr. said. “Last year the UFC sold for $4 billion dollars.”

The film was executive produced by Spurlock, Kauffman and Spurlock’s business partner, Jeremy Chilnick. It was directed by award winning filmmakers Henry Roosevelt and W.B. Zullo and produced by award winning commercial producer Craig DiBiase.

Although Godfathers of MMA has already been written and published, Viola Jr. plans to re-release the book as a commemorative edition to coincide with the network debut of the film and will include bonus material, a new chapter and rebranded as Tough Guys to match the film.

According to Viola Jr., in 1979, his father and Caliguri dreamed up a contest pitting barroom bigmouths against wrestlers, martial artists, boxers, bouncers and brawlers, billed as a no -holds-barred new type of competitive fighting. “When the fights succeeded beyond their wildest expectations, they were swept up in a chain of events that ended in the first mixed martial arts ban in the nation when the Senate passed the ‘Tough Guy Law’ in 1983.”

“Tough Guys” recounts the inception of Caliguri and Viola Sr.’s first bouts and the colorful, crazy cast of fighters who made them a hit, as well as the politicians who prohibited it. The film brings to life a moment when the national martial arts craze was building to a crescendo as the economies of Pennsylvania steel towns were plummeting to levels of unemployment never seen before or since, breeding desperate men looking for a chance to prove their worth and earn some money in the ring.

“The film presents the untold stories of scrappy brawlers and martial arts promoters,” said Viola Jr., who served as an associate producer. “And, it covers a broad audience of Pittsburgh-area characters.”

For more information about the book, visit www.GodfathersofMMA.com.

bill viola jr karate
Bill Viola Jr. has been training in Shotokan Karate since 1979 under the supervision of his father (Bill Viola Sr.) the founder of Allegheny Shotokan Karate in the Greater Pittsburgh Area.

 

 

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