Category Archives: Viola Karate

Gabby Viola “3rd Generation” Black Belt

gabby viola

Gabby Viola Joins the Viola Karate Legacy

On August 17th 2021, Pittsburgh area karate champion Gabby Viola celebrated her 11th birthday and simultaneously became the youngest Black Belt at Allegheny Shotokan, a dojo that dates back to the 1960s.  Gabby joins a Pittsburgh karate legacy that includes three generations of Viola black belts including her Grandfather, Bill Viola Sr., father Bill Viola Jr., and four aunts (Addie, Jacque, Ali, and Joce). 

Her granddad aka “Papa Sensei” is accredited as the co-creator of mixed martial arts (MMA) and karate pioneer, while her father, Bill Jr., is a former World Champion and bestselling martial arts author. She’s following in her family’s footsteps literally as her dad explains, “She’s been kicking before she could walk.” Her mom, Jenn Viola, tells us, “She literally grew up in the dojo.  It was like her playground.”  The rank itself is an accomplishment that less than 100 people have achieved in over fifty years, but what’s even more impressive is that she did so fighting an incurable form of colitis – Inflammatory bowel disease.   

bill viola sr, bill viola jr, gabby viola

In 2018, Gabby was diagnosed with bowel disease, and her immune system has been constantly under attack since.  From the outside it is difficult to tell she is sick, but on the inside she suffers from severe bleeding, dehydration, abdominal pain, cramping, fatigue, inflammation of joints, skin and eyes, and a swelling colon.  She was only seven-years-old when discovered; no family history of the illness.  Martial arts teaches perseverance, and she decided that nothing would stop her from earning her black belt someday. She chose to be a “fighter,” and has been proactive meeting with the best specialists, naturopathic and holistic experts.  Treatment includes trials, diets, meds, steroids, tests, and therapy. She is under the care of Dr. Sandra Kim, a nationally recognized expert in pediatric and adolescent inflammatory bowel disease at UPMC Children’s Hospital where she is treated with monthly infusions.  Although she has had a number of setback and emergency room visits, earning her black belt has remained in focus.    

gabby viola olympics

He father, Bill Jr., is a USA National Champion and All-American Athlete has passed the torch to his daughter. Despite the risk of having a “flare” (major symptoms after a period of remission) she has competed nationally across the country.  In 2019 she won Gold at the WKC National Championships and earned a spot on “Team USA.”  She was one of the youngest participants (only a brown belt), in a pool of seasoned black belts.  She has been recognized as a 5x State Champion and ranked #1 in the North American Sport Karate Association (NASKA) for black belt sparring in 2020 before the global Covid pandemic. Her efforts paid off when the August issue of Black Belt Magazine ranked Gabby as a “Top 5 Female” competitor in the North America.  Most recently at the 2021 US Open in Orlando, Florida she was awarded “Competitor of the Year” by Point Fighter Live.  The honor, dubbed as a “Power Award” was voted on by coaches, competitors, and promoters from across North America.  After a nationwide poll, Viola not only won her category (edging out a talented competitor from El Paso, Texas) but was the highest vote getter of the show. Her dad couldn’t be more proud saying, “Win or lose, Gabby leaves it all on the mat. She’s had to fight harder than the average kid, but that has made her stronger. She has indomitable spirit.” Her winning ways opened doors and the opportunities to train with the best athletes in the world, including Sandra Sánchez of Spain, the first Olympic champion in karate history.  Inspired to say the least, Gabby named her Olympic edition Barbie “Sandra.” Gabby and her teammates cheered for Sánchez on from the dojo, watching the Olympics live on 20-foot outdoor screen like a drive-in theater.  Gabby said, “I knew Sandra was going to win.  She is the most powerful woman I know.”   

sandra sanchez olympics

Bill Jr. explains, “Gabby has what I call ‘zentensity,’ a body-mind connection that pushes past what you thought was possible. That is a term he coined the book “CommonSensei.” It’s a mindset that leaves nothing to be desired – 100% effort. Outside the ring she is shy and reserved.  Inside the ring, she transforms into tiger.”   “Zentensity” is what has led her to this moment.  She chose her birthday to partake in the final most difficult part of her young martial arts journey.  The shodan test (1st degree black belt) is a grueling mental and physical challenge.  It is a four-month process that encompasses learning a vast history of martial arts, Japanese terms, hundreds of techniques, endless combinations, self-defense maneuvers, and physical endurance.  Many organizations award black belts in a short window of time, but Allegheny Shotokan is “old school” and upholds the strictest of standards. The Viola family including Gabby is held to a higher standard.   The final exam represents nine years of training, thousands of hours of practice, and hundreds of competitions.   Gabby says, “I wanted to be like my Dad.  My black belt is better than any trophy.”

Allegheny Shotokan Karate black belts

She shared this honor with teammates and lifelong friends who also took the test including Remington Whatule, Lucy Lokay, Sammy Pietryk, Michael Pietryk, Taylor Provence, and Riley Evans.  Whatule traveled from Los Angeles, California to test with Gabby, a special honor set up since he is the son of Sensei Bill’s best friend, 4th Degree black belt Rocky Whatule who began his training at Allegheny Shotokan nearly thirty years ago.  Viola Jr. says, “The bonds formed in martial arts are lifelong.”  

remington whatule

Birthdays have a special place in Allegheny Shotokan lineage.  On September 23, 2019 the Pittsburgh region celebrated “Sensei Viola Day” in honor of Allegheny Shotokan Karate’s 50-year dojo anniversary.  It was symbolic as the date coincided with William Viola IV’s birthday.  That is Gabby’s 4-year-old brother’s birthday who trains in the “Nursery Ninja” program, and holds a yellow stripe belt.  Now Gabby’s birthday will forever be a reminder of her most important victory, and constant reminder she can do anything.  Viola Jr. says, “The belt is something physical around your waist, but the lessons learned are from the heart.  She is on her way to being a ‘black belt in life,’ and that’s all that matters.”   

viola karate dojo

For more info.  Contact Bill Viola Jr.  724-640-2111 bill@kumiteclassic.com

Bill Viola Sr. and Bill Viola Jr. featured in Chuck Norris “Who’s Who” Book

chuck norris whos who

Durham, NC, December 1, 2020 – Jessie Bowen, Director of the American Martial Arts Alliance Foundation announced the release of highly anticipated 2020 MARTIAL ARTS MASTERS & PIONEERS CHUCK NORRIS BIO BOOK – US & World Edition.

The Viola Karate Family Honored in Chuck Norris “Who’s Who” Book

chuck norris
Bill Viola Sr. and Bill Viola Jr. featured Pioneers

Father and Son karate experts, Bill Viola Sr. and Bill Viola Jr., have been inducted into 2020 AMAA “Who’s Who Legends Hall of Honors” alongside martial arts icon Chuck Norris. The pioneers are featured in the 2020 edition of Who’s Who in the Martial Arts Book, an autobiographical publication that is one of the most recognizable martial arts titles worldwide and is an essential guide for preserving history.  Viola Sr. states, “It’s a huge accomplishment for an individual, but having us both recognized as pioneers is something special. Karate is our way of life.”

Bill Viola Jr. and Bill Viola Sr. Who's who in the marital arts
Bill Viola Jr. and Bill Viola Sr. at the Pittsburgh Magazine’s 40 under 40

Bill Viola Sr. is the family patriarch of a Pittsburgh’s most famous karate legacy. He is one of the most well-known figures in the karate industry and last year Allegheny Country council honored him by naming September 23rd as “Sensei Viola Day” in recognition of his 50-year anniversary founding Allegheny Shotokan Karate in Western Pennsylvania.  Viola Sr. began his journey in combat sports in 1955 in Brownsville, Pennsylvania taking up boxing lessons from the legendary Marion “Slugger” Klingensmith.  In High School he took up Karate and has never looked back. In 1969 he opened his first dojo and then in 1979 he wrote the rules for mixed martial arts (MMA) competition. He has since been honored by the Heinz History Center as the co-creator of the sport of MMA more than a decade before the UFC.  His life story was the subject of the books Godfathers of MMA (2014) and #1 bestselling sports book Tough Guys (2017) which inspired the Showtime film Tough Guys (2017) produced by an Academy Award winning accredited team.  He is a member of the USA Karate Hall of Fame, and was named by California University of Pennsylvania as an Illustrious Californian Award (2020). 

Bill Viola Jr. has followed in his father’s footsteps taking the reins of the family owned and operated dojo which now includes the third generation of Viola’s (his daughter Gabby and son William Viola IV).  Viola Jr., a multiple time USA Karate National Champion and All-American Athlete was named World Champion in 1998 by Arnold Schwarzenegger.  In fact it was Arnold that encouraged Viola to establish his own production company, and in 1999 he founded Kumite Classic Entertainment which grew into the mecca for martial arts and fitness in the Pittsburgh region. 

Viola Jr. is an accredited associate producer, producer, and executive producer with credits in Pittsburgh area films including Warrior, Tough Guys, and most recently had a cameo as Mary Steenburgen’s “Karate Sensei” in the Hulu’s “Happiest Season” which debuted on Thanksgiving.  ⬇️

Bill Viola Jr. Mary Steenburgen karate

Viola Jr. is a #1 bestselling author whose latest project CommonSensei is creating major buzz in the self-help genre.  His book series, where each volume you can earn a different colored belt, is slated to launch in 2021.  The project is aimed towards millennials and Gen-Z sharing, “everything they should teach you in school, but don’t.”  Viola explains that the goal of series is becoming a, “Black Belt in Life.”  He was just honored as “Author of the Month” (December 2020) by Elite Publications out of North Carolina.         

common sensei book

The Pandemic has shifted the “Who’s Who” ceremony to an online presentation. December 5th, will be the official public release of the Chuck Norris Martial Arts Masters and Pioneers Biography Book and Online Emerging Leaders Conference with special guest speaker Laura Silva Quesada, world renowned transformational coach and author.  There will also be online Seminars, martial arts demonstrations and a special salute honoring Grandmaster Chuck Norris, and the Violas.  


Jessie Bowen (publisher of Who’s Who) explains, “We are dedicated to preserving and sharing our inductee’s extraordinary journeys with the world. The book is the first of its kind that combines a martial arts history book and directory all in one.

The new Chuck Norris book will be available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Lulu, and other book outlets.

Chuck Norris who's who
Chuck Norris Who’s Who

For more information, interviews, and demonstration contact Bill Viola Jr. 724-640-2111

Famous Quotes by Bill Viola Jr.

bill viola jr quote

Here a list of famous quotes by “Sensei” Bill Viola Jr. , bestselling author, film producer, and creator of CommonSensei ® life skills book series and Sensei Says ® curriculum. He is President of Kumite Classic Entertainment based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and head instructor of Allegheny Shotokan “Viola Karate.

He authored the award-winning and critically acclaimed Godfathers of MMA that peaked at #1 on Amazon in the sports category with its commemorative re-release (2017). His book inspired and was the basis of the SHOWTIME documentary film, Tough Guys (2017). Viola co-produced the project which 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).

Here are notable and famous quotes by Bill Viola Jr.

“I want to be a Sensei students need, not a Sensei that needs students.”

Bill Viola Jr. (CommonSensei Quote)
Quotes by Bill Viola Jr. I want to be a Sensei students need, not a Sensei that needs students.

“The fool knows-it-all, the wise admits-all-they-know. “

Bill Viola Jr. (CommonSensei Quote)
Quote Bill Viola Jr. The fool knows it all, the wise admits all they know.

“As CommonSensei, my mission is to mentor, motivate, and inspire the next generation though Life Skills I call the ‘Martial Smarts’

Bill Viola Jr. (CommonSensei quote)

“Genius lies in the intangibles; purveyors of instinct and action.”

Bill Viola Jr. (CommonSensei quote)


“Let me help you become a ‘Black Belt in Life’.”

Bill Viola Jr.’s slogan
black belt in life slogan

“Sensei wasn’t just preparing me for a fight in the ring; he was preparing me for the Championship of life.”

Bill Viola Jr. (CommonSensei quote)

“While ignorance may be bliss, I say street smarts are divine.”

Bill Viola Jr. (CommonSensei quote)

“Students may sign a waiver to punch and kick, but they’re really investing in a life coach.”

Bill Viola Jr. (CommonSensei quote)

Gabby Viola – Fighting in 🥋 and out ⚕️ of the Ring

karate gabby viola

Let me share.  Life isn’t fair, the sooner you accept that the better.  In 2018, completely out of the blue, my daughter Gabby was diagnosed with bowel disease, an incurable inflammatory form of colitis 😥.  Without too much detail you’d never know she is sick on the outside, but on the inside, it is killing her: severe bleeding, dehydration, abdominal pain, cramping, fatigue, inflammation of joints, skin and eyes, and a swelling colon just off the top of my head.  She was only seven years old; no family history of the illness!  Why oh why?!  Long story short, we continue to do what we have to do: Specialists, naturopathic and holistic experts, trials, infusions, diets, meds, steroids, tests, and therapy — the works😞.  All you can do is 🙏 for remission.

In the meantime, she wanted to continue karate. It was her sanctuary, and her doctor gave it the👍. In July 2019, she attended the World Karate Commission Team Trials in Detroit, Michigan. Top placement earned a spot on “Team USA” to compete at the World Championships. Gabby and her teammates bled for this opportunity. She was one of the youngest competitors to enter and still only a brown belt, in a division dominated by seasoned black belts.  The selection process is based on multiple rounds of competition.  Day 1, she stumbled😱.  The look of disappointment on her face broke my heart into a million pieces😭, but I couldn’t show it.  Her little lip quivering, trying to hold back tears, I consoled her the only way I knew how.  I said, “It’s time to unleash tora 🐯.”  “Win or lose, show everyone your tiger spirit.”

We had something special up our sleeve, a symbol of her destiny.  That weekend, I brought a 55+ year old brown belt with me.  It was tattered and way too long, but it was magical. It was the same belt my father wore, that I wore, that my sister wore, and now Gabby.  She knew the history behind the belt, and I told her she just needed to add her own sweat to it.  In that moment, she showed “tora no me,” the “eye of the tiger.”  It was a complete 360.  She took the mat with a passion and fervor I’ve never seen.  She absolutely nailed her kata, flipped the script, and catapulted to🥇. In that moment, not a single individual victory or title I’ve experienced could compete with the pride I felt. 

Gabby still has good and bad days, but when the disease attacks, I remind her that she’s a fighter💪👊 It seems scary, but deep down she has the fortitude of a hundred kids.  She proved it to me and all the bystanders that day in Detroit.

Gabby Viola with WKC team USA karate
TEAM USA – 2019

*This except was used with permission from the upcoming book CommonSensei.

Gabby has successfully competed in over 100 tournaments and has no plans on slowing down. Her dream is the attend the 2020 Olympics and watch her idol, Sandra Sanchez (Spain), go for the gold medal🥇 in Tokyo, Japan.

For those that are close to my family, you already know how this situation dramatically changed our lives. For twenty years I promoted the Kumite Classic (one of the largest and most prestigious independent tournaments in North America). The expo was a 24/7 – 365 type operation. Despite the show being apart of my identity, it does NOT define me. As they say, “family first” and I have retired from the Kumite until Gabby is in remission. Someday, I hope to pass the torch 🕯️to her, and she can reignite 🔥! I enjoy coaching my team, teaching, and traveling when she is 💯%. It’s a new chapter in a long book!

Today, Gabby is receiving biologic infusions at UPMC Children’s hospital in Pittsburgh, PA. Her Doctors are kind, compassionate, and very knowledgeable. The infusions are typically 3-4 hour procedures (she has to miss school for each treatment). It is taxing on her body and mind.

However, insurance doesn’t make it easy on these patients. The amount of red tape and outrageous medical bills is both frustrating and sad 😔. According to The National Center of Biotechnology (NCBI), the yearly cost of her current medicine is $25,000 to $45,000 annually, depending on the frequency needed 😡😤. Big Pharm 💊💉 should be ashamed. The polices and regulations need to change! As a result we choose to “fight” and get involved. Gabby has been asked to join a national effort to raise awareness for the disease. Beginning this May, she will be lobbying on behalf of patients (like herself) who suffer lack of access to certain treatment. She will be sharing her story as an advocate of IBD research, trying to convince Washington to support her cause. She hopes to be part of the solution and be a small part of one day finding a cure for IBD. She will be attending the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation’s “Day on the Hill” to meet with different Senators an Congressmen to plead with them to do more! Her trip will be mulitple meetings with legislators about policies impacting the IBD community. The event includes forums hosted by the National Council of College Leaders for parents and pediatric patients, informative advocacy training briefings, and a reception on Capitol Hill .

As a family, we have made the decision use this terrible diagnosis as a powerful teaching moment. We look for anyway to change a negative 👎 into a positive 👍. So we tackle this disease, the way we train at the dojo. with relentless determination! She promises to fight 👊 everyday, and I know she will inspire and empower other’s to do the same. This disease will not stop her from reaching her dreams, goals, and aspirations. There are be setbacks, but without them there are no comebacks.

Over the years, we have had to make multiple emergency stops to local hospitals, urgent cares, and medical facilities. Recently she was hospitalized at the 2019 US Open ISKA World Championships and admitted into Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital after nearly passing out. She was in a flare 🔥 and her body was attacked. Unfortunately, she was unable to perform to her standards the next couple months, and fell short of winning WKC Worlds. She could either spiral into self-doubt and depression, or double down on her training. I’m proud to announce she back to her winning ways taking 1st place 🏆 at NASKA’s 6-A COMPETE Internationals. The place really doesn’t matter, its continuing to “suit up,” time and time again, when other’s say “hang it up.” This journey will always have ups and downs 📈 but we fail forward ➡️. No matter how difficult the challenge, we continue to inch forward ➡️. We call is Kaizen (改善) continual self-improvement! 1% every day… Its our “Violosophy.”

🙏Please help us find a cure. Steroids and biologic medicine are only a temporary fix (a band-aid). The toll it takes on the body is heartbreaking. Just look at this little girl on and off drugs💔:

Understanding inflammatory type diseases:  Inflammation 🔥 is the body’s response to fighting off harmful things.  It could be an injury, infection, or something toxic.  In Gabby’s case, she is always on 🔥. Her body is confused. This is called IBD or (Inflammatory bowel disease) not to be confused with the very common IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome) which is not an inflammatory condition/disease.  IBD is an umbrella covering both Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.  Both Crohn’s and colitis are characterized by chronic inflammation 🔥 of the GI (gastrointestinal) tract.  IBD is a “ninja” of sorts, because the symptoms often stealth like to the outside world.  Patients often look totally normal to friends and family, but behind the scenes they are struggling with abdominal pain, fatigue, rectal bleeding, bloody stools, and persistent uncontrollable trips to the bathroom. Its cause is unknown, but Doctors do know it’s the result of a defective immune system.  Essentially Gabby’s immune system is attacking itself causing the inflammation 🔥. While there is no cure, we search for ways to help her live a comfortable life, and hold on to hope that a cure will be discovered in her lifetime.  

-Bill Viola Jr.

The People’s Champ 👑💪🏆

Often times people associate martial arts as a rough-and-tumble sport dominated by male competitors, but Gabby Viola is shattering the stereotype.  9-year-old Gabby was recently honored by the national karate media and their peers with nationwide “People’s Choice Awards.”  Point Fighter Live is one the most popular media outlets in North America for the sport and recognized the top athletes.

Gabby Viola was nominated as “Competitor of the Year” by Point Fighter Live.  The honor, dubbed as a “Power Award” was voted on by coaches, competitors, and promoters from across North America.  After a nationwide poll, Viola not only won her category (edging out a talented competitor from El Paso, Texas) but was the highest vote total of the show. The physical award will be presented this April in Warwick, Rhode Island at the Ocean State Grand Nationals.

Gabby is a third generation Viola to win national honors.  She’s following in her Dad Bill Jr. and Grandfather Bill Sr.’s footsteps. She began her training as a toddler and has been a national champion since she debuted at the 2013 Kumite Classic.  She’s a member of Team USA, and defending Gold Medalist from the WKC Nationals Championships.  Gabby is an inspiration to other girls battling  bowel disease.  At 7-years-old, she was diagnosed with chronic inflammation and ulcerative colitis.  While there is no cure for the condition, she is fighting for remission every day and proving that nothing can stop her karate dreams.  She is currently treated with infusions at UPMC Children’s hospital and will travel to the Washington, DC this May to meet with the Senate and Congress about funding new research to find a cure.  

When asked about the recognition Gabby said, “I’m really happy.  I hope this helps get me to Japan!” She’s on a mission to fund raise to watch her Idol Sandra Sanchez from Spain compete for a gold medal 🥇 at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.  Gabby had the opportunity to train with Sanchez in Orlando, Florida this past July. When she’s not competing, she loves playing piano, dance, and teaching her 2-year-old brother karate. 

Throughout the long season, Gabby traveled to Illinois, California, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, New York, West Virginia, Ohio, New Jersey and Canada to compete.  The honors are based on an entire year’s body of work.  

Gabby is a member of Allegheny Shotokan “Viola” Karate Dojo which recently celebrated its 50-Year Anniversary.  The Dojo was honored with a proclamation from County Executive Rich Fitzgerald who recognized “Sensei Viola Day” on September 23rd 2019 for the Pittsburgh region.  Sensei Bill Viola Sr. has 4 daughters, all of whom have earned their black belts.  His Granddaughter Gabby and all the up and coming Senpai and Sensei (Lucy, Sammy, Taylor, Zoey, Haley, Abby, Riley) carry on the tradition of strong inspiring ladies from the dojo!

The team is gearing up for the 2020 WKC World Championships held in Madrid, Spain and fundraising to visit Tokyo, Japan and attend the 2020 Olympics 🥇.  For more information visit www.alleghenyshotokan.com  

# # #

Gabby began🥋 training at just 2-years-old and was the inspiration of the Nursery Ninjas program at Allegheny Shotokan Karate. She made her competition debut at the 2013 Kumite Classic and has since competed in over 100 tournaments across North America. In 2015 she won her first Grand Champion, and later that year was the youngest competitor at the World Games. She is a multiple time PKRA State Champion, USKA National Champion, WKC National Champion, and consistent champion on the NASKA World Tour. She is a 3rd generation Viola to carry on the family legacy. Gabby is committed to community service, and has been a top fundraiser to “Kick Parkinson’s Disease” a charity her father helped establish in memory of their Grandmother.

We would also like to extend this positive energy out to our Allegheny Shotokan dojo brothers who also suffer from GI complications: Sensei Conor Burns, Sensei Dave Zezza, and Senpai Mike Pietrzyk

A few highlights:

World Games

Super Grands

#IBD #inflammatorybowel #UlcerativeColitis #UC #colitis #crohnsdisease #crohns #indeterminateboweldisease #Inflammatoryboweldisease

gabby viola

WKC World Champions Karate & Kickboxing

wkc karate usa

For Immediate Release:  11/21/19                   Contact:  Call/Text Bill Viola Jr. 724-640-2111

2019 WKC World Titles brought home to Western Pennsylvania

Xander Eddy wins Gold!

The World Karate and Kickboxing Council (WKC) hosted the World Championships November, 3rd -9th in Niagara Falls, New York.   The world’s best from 22 countries converged to compete in WKC Tatami-style divisions.  The competition was the largest WKC championships in history with over 2000 athletes.

Team USA was comprised of athletes from across the country who won the National Team trials in Detroit this past June.  13 members from Allegheny Shotokan “Viola” Karate Dojo earned positions to represent the United States at the World Championships.  Of that group, 4 students advanced to the medal rounds and secured top honors.  These medals are the first ever for the Pittsburgh region.    

Sensei Bill Viola Jr. said, “I am proud of the way these kids represented our community and the United States.  Win or lose, they demonstrated respect and determination.  We they play our National Anthem for Gold, it makes all the sacrifice worthwhile.”

Medaling for the United States:

  • 10-year-old Xander Eddy, Gold (male kickboxing team)
  • 18-year-old, Cameron Klos, Silver (classical kata) Silver (traditional kata)
  • 12-year-old Sammy Pietrzyk, Silver (female kickboxing team)
  • 12-year-old Taylor Provence, Bronze (female kickboxing)
  • 12-year-old Riley Evans, Bronze (female kickboxing)

 

The 2020 WKC World Championships will be held in Madrid, Spain.  The team will be fundraising to send a team to Spain and to visit Tokyo, Japan for the 2020 Olympics.

For more information visit www.alleghenyshotokan.com  

“Sensei Viola” Day in Pittsburgh

allegheny shotokan karate
allegheny shotokan karate

“Sensei Viola Day” is September 23rd 2019 in Pittsburgh to honor of Allegheny Shotokan Karate’s 50-year Anniversary

WHEREAS, Allegheny Shotokan Karate, or Viola Karate as it is more commonly known today, was established in 1969 at East Allegheny High School by Bill Viola, Sr. and is celebrating its 50th anniversary of educating students in martial arts in Allegheny County and western Pennsylvania;

bill viola and karate family

WHEREAS, the family-owned and operated dojo has had three generations of Violas carry on the legacy of Bill Sr., who still teaches a black belt class every Monday evening, reminding students that karate is a lifelong journey; his journey has been recognized with the induction of Viola Karate into the USA Karate Hall of Fame who also named Sensei V the Man of the Year in 2003 and his being given the honorific title of Shihan; and

WHEREAS, Shihan Bill Viola is credited by the Senator John Heinz History Center in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution as the co-creator of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), a decade before the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC); in 2011, the Western PA Sports Museum established a permanent exhibit to honor him as one of the founding fathers of the sport; his life was the subject of the Amazon #1 selling book Godfathers of MMAwhich inspired a documentary film Tough Guys; in 2017 the Violas were published in the book, Who’s Who in the Martial Arts – Legends of American Karate; and

karate history

WHEREAS, over the past half-century, Shihan Bill Viola’s powerful brand of punches and kicks have translated some of life’s most important lessons: respect, discipline and focus; the confidence he has instilled in his students can be found on and off the mat, while the dojo remains the most successful sport karate school in the Pittsburgh region; and

WHEREAS, we are fortunate to have Allegheny Shotokan Karate in Allegheny County, and that the school, led today by the next generation of Violas, has not only served our communities but used its notoriety as an internationally-known and recognized martial arts school to further benefit charities in our community for generations.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that I, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, by virtue of the authority vested in me, do hereby proclaim September 23, 2019 as “Sensei Bill Viola Day” in Allegheny County. We congratulate Sensei Bill Viola and the Allegheny Shotokan Karate School on their 50th anniversary and wish them many more successful years to come.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the County of Allegheny to be affixed this 23rd day of September, 2019.

            
Rich Fitzgerald
east allegheny 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.

# # #

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

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