Author Archives: Bill Viola

Bassai Dai

Shihan’s favorite kata.  Bassai Dai.

Okinawan martial artists call it Passai while Japanese karate-ka refer to it as Bassai.  Master Funakoshi originally spelled the name of this form パッサイ (Passai) but changed it hold more Japanese connotation later.  In Korean the kata has several names: BassaheeBal SePal ChePalsekBal SaeBa Sa Hee, and Bal Sak.

The origin of “Bassai” remains obscure but some historians believe it dates back to ancient “leopard-lion” Chinese forms: various dialects called it   Baoshi, Pausai, or baasai in which had stomping action and similar movements.  Some hold it represents Wuxing Quan Kung Fu while others say it was part of Fukuen Crane style.  It’s a mystery.  Most scholars agree that the kata was brought to Okinawa by Sokon Matsumrua and budoka of his generation.

Passai (拔塞, katakana パッサイ), also Bassai (バッサイ), is one of the most recognizable “kata” in the world with countless Okinawan, Japanese and Korean variations.  Versions of the kata include Passai sho (拔塞小) or minor Passai and Passai dai (拔塞大) or major Passai.

拔(batsu) is “to pull out or to extract”

In chinese 拔(bá)” can mean “to seize or capture”

塞(sai/soku)” means a “place of strategic importance” or fort

Bassai (披塞 or 抜砦) in Japanese literally means to remove an obstruction. The Kanji (Japanese characters) 抜塞 are variants of the Chinese 拔塞 (bá sāi) so the meaning falls somewhere in between.

1973 translation of Karate-do Kyohan lists Funakoshi’s explanation of the form name as “Breaking through [penetrate] an enemy’s fortress.” This expresses more of the students attitude then the literal translation.

 

 

 

Shin

The Fives “Spirits” of Budo (martial way) are:

  • Shoshin: (初心) Beginners’ Mind
  • Zanshin: (残心) Remaining Mind
  • Mushin: (無心) No Mind
  • Fudoshin: (不動心) Immovable Mind
  • Senshin (先心) Purified spirit; Enlightened Attitude/Mind

Shoshin

The state of shoshin is that of a beginners mind.  It is a state of awareness the remains always fully conscious, aware, and prepared to see things for the first time.  The attitude of shoshin is essential to continued learning.  Great quote:  “Don’t expect me to teach you.  You must steal the techniques for yourselves.”
Zanshin
The spirit of zanshin is the state of the remaining.  It is often described as a sustained and heightened state of awareness.  In karate technique terms, true zanshin is a state of focus or concentration before, during, and after the execution of a move.  Zanshin is the state of mind that allows us to stay spiritually connected, not only to a single attacker, but to multiple attackers and even an entire context; a space, a time, an event.

 

Mushin
No mind, a mind without ego.  A mind like a mirror which reflects and dos not judge.”  The original term was “mushin no shin”, meaning, “mind of no mind.”  It is a state of mind without fear, anger, or anxiety.  Mushin is sometimes described by the phrase, “mizu no kokoro”, which means, “mind like water”.  The phrase is a metaphor describing the pond that clearly reflects it’s surroundings when calm, but whose images are obscured once a pebble is dropped into its waters.
Fudoshin
An unshakable mind and an immovable spirit is the state of fudoshin.  It is courage and stability displayed both mentally and physically.  Rather than indicating rigid, inflexibility, fudoshin describes a condition that is not easily upset by internal thoughts or external forces.  It is capable of receiving a strong attack while retaining composure and balance.  It receives and yields lightly, grounds to the earth, and reflects aggression back to the source.

 

Senshin
Senshin is a spirit that transcends the first four states of mind. Sen (as in sensei) means “before” and we know shin can mean mind, heart, soul spirit, truth etc.  It is a spirit that “harmonizes” the universe.  Senshin is a spirit of compassion that embraces and serves all humanity and whose function is to reconcile discord in the world.  It holds all life to be sacred.  Fully embracing senshin is essentially equivalent to becoming enlightened and may well exceed the scope of daily martiala rts training.

 

Shoshin can free a student from a frustrating plateau of learning, giving him the sight to see what he would not see before.  Zanshin can raise one’s total awareness enhancing randori and free-style training.  Mushin can release the student’s anxiety under pressure enabling better performance during testing.  Fudoshin, can provide the confidence to stand one’s ground in the face of overwhelming physical attacks.  The serious aikidoka should find ways of incorporating these budo spirits in his daily training.

Shoshin: This is like a little baby born into the World, eyes wide open trying to absorb as much information as they can.

Zanshin: Is a state of heightened awareness. Great example 2 vs 1 kumite.

Mushin: in like being in the “zone”. Body just takes over with no thought.  Michael Jordan used to get into the “zone” and everything just worked.

Fudoshin: Self-control and strong composure. Student must show patience and hold their ground waiting for the opponent to attack so they can catch them.

Senshin: The ultimate mindset.  One we all wish to obtain.

FYI:  Senshin is the name of the “Sophisticated Mind” brand of Sake.  This may be cheating, lol.

ShinGiTai

Shin Gi Tai

We have all met them.

Those unique Karate teachers that make everything feel like instant enlightenment.

Those sensei who have a seemingly magical ability to repeatedly find critical points of improvement in an art that we’ve been practising for years. Those sensei who always make you feel safe and happy in the dojo, yet somehow manage to push your limits above and beyond what you thought was even possible (often without you even noticing!).

Those sensei who, not unlike a burning candle, consume themselves to light the way for others.

(If you haven’t met a sensei like this, don’t worry. You were probably just too busy to notice.)

But how do they do it?

How do these inspiring individuals find ways to constantly improve and encourage their students to become the best they can be? There has to be a secret recipe!

Well, I’ve had this theory on my mind for some time now…

And I think I’ve found the answer:

I call it the “Shin-Gi-Tai of Teaching”.

That’s right.

  • Shin.
  • Gi.
  • Tai.

Also known in English as the mind (shin/kokoro), technique (gi/waza) and body (tai/karada), the three famous theoretical pillars of a “perfect” Karate practitioner.

And, in this case, of a “perfect” Karate teacher.

See, it has often been said that if you are to achieve ultimate balance in your Karate practise, you need to keep your body, mind and technique in perfect synchronization. Having too much of one thing, or too little of another, will disturb the equilibrium and make you a one-sided practitioner.

We need to be harmonious.

And that goes not only for how we choose to practise Karate with ourselves, but for how we express it to other people too.

So let me briefly break down what I believe are the three main styles of teaching, why they suck, and how to finally become the ultimate teacher by combining them all.

#1. Shin – The Preacher

If you are too heavily leaning into the shin (mind/spirit) aspect of Karate’s shin-gi-tai trinity, you are what I would call a Preacher.

That is; somebody who likes to “talk the talk”, but doesn’t really “walk the walk”.

(Or, he/she might have “walked the walk” a long time ago – say, twenty years and 110 pounds ago!)

A Preacher loves talking to his/her students about “how one should practise this”, “why one should practise that”, “who’s good”, “who’s bad”, and so on. A Preacher loves pouring out his/her “knowledge” onto anybody that cares enough to listen, and surprisingly often he/she comes through as a very intelligent and caring person.

However, the actual preaching often consists of little more than esoteric mumbo-jumbo, pseudo-taoistic Steven Seagal crap and loads of unconfirmed rumors about secret old-school Okinawan family-Karate experts.

And you will probably swallow it all…

That’s what happens when people get too caught up in the concept ofshin – our mysterious mind.

Be aware of a Preacher disguised as a sensei.

#2. Gi – The Technician

Next we have the Technician

A Technician is somebody obsessed with the concept of technique (gi) and its constant practise. Pounding away at teaching new skills and techniques, night after night, caught up in teaching the finer details of the most uninteresting techniques you can ever imagine (with a relatively small amount of time dedicated to theory or principles for better understanding the practical usage of the actual techniques), a Technician would rather slide down a barbed wire banister into a bucket of alcohol rather than see somebody make the slightest technical error in their dojo.

Way too often, as in the case of the Preacher, a Technician will come off as quite smart and savvy since he/she can easily detect the slightest “mistake” from across a crowded dojo.

The ugly truth though, is that behind this technical façade hides a substantial lack of comprehension in any other aspects of Karate.

Although the Technician can impress with a meticulous care for tiny details, his/her students will rarely, if ever, have any power behind their punches, snap behind their strikes, weight behind their kicks or spirit behind their kiai.

They will just be drones – stuck in a beehive of meaningless details.

Be aware of a Technician disguised as a sensei.

#3: Tai – The Coach

Lastly, we have the Coach.

A Coach is, as the name implies, somebody who’s main interest is the physical (tai, body) development of his/her students and associated training culture.

Needless to say, peeking into the dojo of a Coach is quite the adventure; if will be filled to the brim with people doing all kinds of hardening exercises, sit-ups, push-ups, jumping jacks, stretching, weight training, grunting and being generally masculine (in a primitive kind of way, not the metrosexual way).

For some reason, a lot of Goju-ryu, Kyokushinkai and Uechi-ryu dojo spring to mind, but I digress…

A Coach sincerely believes that purely by developing the body – through strengthening it, stretching it, hardening it, occasionally hurting it – is the ultimate way to achieve enlightenment when it comes to Karate. That, and yelling like crazy.

And, just like when it comes to the Preacher and the Technician, the Coach almost always comes of as a bona fide expert in his field (indeed, his subscription to Muscle & Fitness Magazine is probably older than you are) as he tosses around the latest training terms like a friggin fruit salad.

But, as we know by now, it’s all just smoke and mirrors.

The truth is, under the surface of physical training, there is not a whole lot of understanding going on when it comes to the deeper aspects of Karate.

But that is, I guess what make a Coach a Coach.

Be aware of a Coach disguised as a sensei.

______________________________

So, what’s the conclusion then?

How can we, by having briefly examined the three aspects of shin-gi-tai(mind-technique-body) from a teaching perspective understand the actual role of a true sensei better?

Well, it’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?

The answer is the same no matter what your role is – teacher or student.

You need to have them all.

And, perhaps more importantly, they need to be well-balanced.

To me, that’s a real sensei.

A Preacher, Technician and Coach – all in one.

Which, in the end – as everyone who’s met that special sensei can testify – truly proves there really is such a thing as “a whole greater than the sum of its parts”.

The parts you already know.

The whole?

That’s a sensei.

The Mixed Martial Arts Family Tree

mma pioneers

MMA Family Tree Pittsburgh native Bill Viola Sr. credited with creating Mixed Martial Arts in America

Yoi and double yoi.  You heard that right… Two Parmanti eatin’ terrible towel waving  “Yinzers” from Western Pennsylvania are credited with creating a new sport [MMA] over 14 years before the UFC. These weren’t your average yinzers though, they set sights on a “billion dollar” prize and would have won if it wasn’t for Commonwealth outlawing the sport with the passage of the Tough Guy Law in 1983.  Who knew??  Fascinating story of what if, but #Pittsburgh is documented as the birthplace of MMA. BURGH PROUD!  Read the book or Watch the Showtime Documentary

How a Pittsburgh karate pioneer Bill Viola Sr. fits in the mixed martial arts family tree from Pankration to UFC.

history of mma timeline
History of mixed martial arts mma timeline
bill viola pittsburgh
Bill Viola Sr. & Frank Caliguri credited with creating the modern sport of MMA mixed martial arts

 

 

Shihan Viola’s life story comes to Showtime network

“Toughs Guys” make television history on Showtime

showtime

 

When you think of MMA, most people think Dana White.  He has been the face of the UFC and mixed martial arts for years.  A new documentary reveals the true creators of MMA:  Pittsburgh martial artists Bill Viola Sr. and Frank Caliguri (1979-1983). Their company CV Productions was the first MMA promotion in America and established the first league in history.  They were ultimate fighters ahead of their time who invented the Tough Guy Contest.

Emotional day! In 2007 I set out to share the untold story of the “Tough Guys.” These are the men who created the sport of MMA while Dana White was still in elementary school and 13 years before the UFC existed. A decade later and my book (along with my cousin Fred) “Godfathers of MMA” is coming to life on SHOWTIME ? The same network that just set PPV records with Mayweather vs McGregor, will broadcast the real origins of MMA in America. Pittsburgh is the “City of Champions” and now can add “Birthplace of MMA” to its banners! It may have been the wrong place wrong time… but it was one hell of a ride. Congrats to my dad and Frank on being a part of American sports history!!!!!!! #toughguys #godfathersofmma #showtime -Sensei Bill Viola Jr.

tough-guys-showtime-mma

 

ACADEMY AWARD® NOMINATED MORGAN SPURLOCK JOINS ACADEMY AWARD® WINNER ROSS KAUFFMAN FOR THE MIXED MARTIAL ARTS DOCUMENTARY “TOUGH GUYS”

DOCU FILM ON THE ORIGINS OF THE MIXED MARTIAL ARTS COMPETITION PHENOMENON IS SET TO WORLD PREMIERE THURSDAY AT AFI DOCS IN WASHINGTON DC
June 12, 2017 – NEW YORK, NY Academy Award® nominated documentarian Morgan Spurlock (SUPER SIZE ME) teams with fellow Oscar® winning filmmaker Ross Kauffman (BORN INTO BROTHELS) to bring TOUGH GUYS – the story of the origins of the mixed martial arts (MMA) fighting phenomenon – to the big screen. The film is executive produced by Kauffman and Spurlock together with Spurlock’s business partner Jeremy Chilnick.

TOUGH GUYS is directed by two award-winning filmmakers, Henry Roosevelt and W.B. Zullo and produced by the award winning commercial producer Craig DiBiase. This moving and insightful non-fiction cinematic film chronicles the origins of the MMA beginning in Pittsburgh, PA in the early 1980s. Back then, these fights were known as the “tough man,” or “tough guy,” or “battle of the brawlers,” or “battle of the superfighters” matches. These fighting bouts have now achieved multimillion-dollar fight status.

“When I was around 12 years old, my dad took me to my first “tough guy” competition in my hometown of Beckley, WV,” says Spurlock. “And I have to admit, it was one of the greatest things I’d ever seen. So when the opportunity came along for me help tell the story of its origin, I jumped at the chance. TOUGH GUYS is an unbelievable tale about the creation of this one of a kind, man against man, skill against skill, sport of the ages. Films like this are rare discoveries, and the characters behind them are even more incredible. If you like watching guys get punched in the face as much as I do, then you are going to love this movie!”

In 1979, Bill Viola and Frank Caliguri dreamed up a contest pitting barroom bigmouths against wrestlers, martial artists, boxers, bouncers and brawlers, billed as 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.

Presented through the untold stories of scrappy brawlers and amateur promoters, TOUGH GUYS chronicles the inception of Caliguri and Viola’s first bouts and the colorful, crazy cast of fighters who made them a hit as well as the politicians who brought it all crashing down. 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 chance to prove their worth and earn some money in the ring.

“Like my previous films, BORN INTO BROTHELS and E-TEAM, TOUGH GUYS is about underdogs striving to achieve the impossible,” states Kauffman. “In TOUGH GUYS, the
underdog is America’s working class who are searching for respect and ultimately a way to survive. When I got involved I didn’t know how timely the story would be.”

TOUGH GUYS made ts world premiere on June 15 at the AFI DOCS Film Festival in Washington, DC. It will make its network debut Sept. 15th 2017 on Showtime

###

ABOUT TOUGH GUYS Told through the colorful stories of scrappy brawlers and amateur promoters, TOUGH GUYS brings to life the birth of mixed martial arts competitions in 1980’s Pittsburgh. The idea to legitimize street fighting by putting it in the ring, brought big money, crowds, copycat competitions and ultimately scrutiny and tighter control. The film is directed by Henry Roosevelt and W.B. Zullo and produced by award winning commercial producer Craig DiBiase. It is executive produced by Oscar winner Ross Kauffman together with Oscar nominated director Morgan Spurlock and his producing partner Jeremy Chlinick.
ABOUT MORGAN SPURLOCK Morgan Spurlock is an Oscar® nominated filmmaker and founder of Warrior Poets, a New York-based production studio. His first film, SUPER SIZE ME, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004, winning Best Directing honors. The film went on to win the inaugural WGA Best Documentary Screenplay award, as well as garner an Academy Award® nomination for Best Feature Documentary. Since then he has directed, produced, and distributed multiple film, television and online projects, including THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD; WHERE IN THE WORLD IS OSAMA BIN LADEN?; RATS; MANSOME; CNN’s INSIDE MAN; and more.
ABOUT ROSS KAUFFMAN Ross Kauffman is the Academy Award winning Director, Producer and Cinematographer of BORN INTO BROTHELS, winner of the 2005 Academy Award for Best Documentary. He is Co-Director of E-TEAM, a documentary about the high-stakes investigative work of four human rights workers and winner of the 2014 Sundance Cinematography award. He served as Executive Producer on the documentary feature IN A DREAM, which was short-listed for the 2009 Academy Awards and as Consulting Producer on the Academy Award nominated film POSTERGIRL. Ross is a Founder and Creative Director of Fictionless.

Pittsburgh Karate Champs

norwin ninjas karate

Allegheny Shotokan named ‘top team’ at Pittsburgh Kumite Classic

 | SundayJuly 2, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

karate

The Allegheny Shotokan 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 multisport convention, featuring more than 100,000 square feet of competitions and participation from around the world.

One hundred students from the Pittsburgh based school and their sister program “Norwin Ninjas” competed at the tournament. The school brought home more top honors than any other school in North America.

allegheny shotokan karate

The team qualified to compete in Las Vegas this week for the WAKO North American Championships, part of UFC International Fight Week at the MGM Grand.

The team is coached by Sensei Bill Viola Jr. and Shihan Bill Viola Sr.

For more information about Pittsburgh area karate classes visit www.Norwinninjas.com.

http://triblive.com/sports/otherlocal/12430969-74/allegheny-shotokan-named-top-team-at-kumite-classic

 

Tough Guys Movie

Shihan Viola’s life is the subject of the book “Godfathers of MMA” which has been adapted to major documentary set to air on network television later this year called Tough Guys.

tough-guys-mma-movie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACADEMY AWARD® NOMINATED MORGAN SPURLOCK JOINS ACADEMY AWARD® WINNER ROSS KAUFFMAN FOR THE MIXED MARTIAL ARTS DOCUMENTARY “TOUGH GUYS”

DOCU FILM ON THE ORIGINS OF THE MIXED MARTIAL ARTS COMPETITION PHENOMENON IS SET TO WORLD PREMIERE THURSDAY AT AFI DOCS IN WASHINGTON DC
June 12, 2017 – NEW YORK, NY Academy Award® nominated documentarian Morgan Spurlock (SUPER SIZE ME) teams with fellow Oscar® winning filmmaker Ross Kauffman (BORN INTO BROTHELS) to bring TOUGH GUYS – the story of the origins of the mixed martial arts (MMA) fighting phenomenon – to the big screen. The film is executive produced by Kauffman and Spurlock together with Spurlock’s business partner Jeremy Chilnick.

tough guys morgan sprulock
TOUGH GUYS is directed by two award-winning filmmakers, Henry Roosevelt and W.B. Zullo and produced by the award winning commercial producer Craig DiBiase. This moving and insightful non-fiction cinematic film chronicles the origins of the MMA beginning in Pittsburgh, PA in the early 1980s. Back then, these fights were known as the “tough man,” or “tough guy,” or “battle of the brawlers,” or “battle of the superfighters” matches. These fighting bouts have now achieved multimillion-dollar fight status.

“When I was around 12 years old, my dad took me to my first “tough guy” competition in my hometown of Beckley, WV,” says Spurlock. “And I have to admit, it was one of the greatest things I’d ever seen. So when the opportunity came along for me help tell the story of its origin, I jumped at the chance. TOUGH GUYS is an unbelievable tale about the creation of this one of a kind, man against man, skill against skill, sport of the ages. Films like this are rare discoveries, and the characters behind them are even more incredible. If you like watching guys get punched in the face as much as I do, then you are going to love this movie!”

In 1979, Bill Viola and Frank Caliguri dreamed up a contest pitting barroom bigmouths against wrestlers, martial artists, boxers, bouncers and brawlers, billed as 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.

Presented through the untold stories of scrappy brawlers and amateur promoters, TOUGH GUYS chronicles the inception of Caliguri and Viola’s first bouts and the colorful, crazy cast of fighters who made them a hit as well as the politicians who brought it all crashing down. 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 chance to prove their worth and earn some money in the ring.

“Like my previous films, BORN INTO BROTHELS and E-TEAM, TOUGH GUYS is about underdogs striving to achieve the impossible,” states Kauffman. “In TOUGH GUYS, the
underdog is America’s working class who are searching for respect and ultimately a way to survive. When I got involved I didn’t know how timely the story would be.”

TOUGH GUYS will have its world premiere on June 15 at the AFI DOCS Film Festival in Washington, DC.

###

tough guys showtime
ABOUT TOUGH GUYS Told through the colorful stories of scrappy brawlers and amateur promoters, TOUGH GUYS brings to life the birth of mixed martial arts competitions in 1980’s Pittsburgh. The idea to legitimize street fighting by putting it in the ring, brought big money, crowds, copycat competitions and ultimately scrutiny and tighter control. The film is directed by Henry Roosevelt and W.B. Zullo and produced by award winning commercial producer Craig DiBiase. It is executive produced by Oscar winner Ross Kauffman together with Oscar nominated director Morgan Spurlock and his producing partner Jeremy Chlinick.
ABOUT MORGAN SPURLOCK Morgan Spurlock is an Oscar® nominated filmmaker and founder of Warrior Poets, a New York-based production studio. His first film, SUPER SIZE ME, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004, winning Best Directing honors. The film went on to win the inaugural WGA Best Documentary Screenplay award, as well as garner an Academy Award® nomination for Best Feature Documentary. Since then he has directed, produced, and distributed multiple film, television and online projects, including THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD; WHERE IN THE WORLD IS OSAMA BIN LADEN?; RATS; MANSOME; CNN’s INSIDE MAN; and more.
ABOUT ROSS KAUFFMAN Ross Kauffman is the Academy Award winning Director, Producer and Cinematographer of BORN INTO BROTHELS, winner of the 2005 Academy Award for Best Documentary. He is Co-Director of E-TEAM, a documentary about the high-stakes investigative work of four human rights workers and winner of the 2014 Sundance Cinematography award. He served as Executive Producer on the documentary feature IN A DREAM, which was short-listed for the 2009 Academy Awards and as Consulting Producer on the Academy Award nominated film POSTERGIRL. Ross is a Founder and Creative Director of Fictionless.

WAKO North American Champions

The North American Open in conjunction with Century Martial Arts was held at the Las Vegas MGM Grand Conference Center July 6-7, 2017.  The Tournament was sanctioned by World Association of Kickboxing Organizations (WAKO) the National Governing Body for the sport under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee.  The “Road to Vegas” culminated with UFC International Fight Week coinciding with the championship.  The show was produced by Bill Viola Jr. (President of Kumite Classic Entertainment), Raymond Daniels (WAKO USA Tatami Chairman) and Jarrett Leiker (AmeriKick).

The world’s best converged to compete in WAKO Tatami-style divisions.  Top ranked athletes from the United Kingdom, Hungary, Ireland, Mexico, Scotland, Canada, and the United States were represented.

Three students from “Team Kumite,” a Pittsburgh All-Star travel team won top honors and earned their “Pro-Cards.”  Xander Eddy (8-years old) Gold Medalist, Sammy Pietrzyk (9-years old) Gold Medalist and Lucy Lokay (11-years old) Gold Medalist, all from North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania were recognized as Open Weight Grand Champions.  Eddy and Lokay entered the event as the #1 seeds (a ranking they earned in Charlotte, North Carolina) while Pietrzyk entered as a wildcard.  All the students train at Allegheny Shotokan Karate located in Irwin. The students have the distinction of being the first WAKO champions ever from the Pittsburgh region.

Top honors included “Pro Cards” awarded to the overall grand champion in the prestigious open weight categories:

2017 North American Open Europa-Pro Grand Champions

18+ Male                     Jack Felton                 United States, California

18+ Female                 Mariana Cortes           Mexico

14-17 Male                  Finlay Wright              Great Britain

14-17 Female              Elizabeth Rouillard     Quebec, Canada

10-13 Female              Lucy Lokay                 United States, Pennsylvania

10-13 Male                  Roland Dumlao          United States, California

9- Male                        Xander Eddy               United States, Pennsylvania

9- Female                    Samantha Pietrzyk     United States, Pennsylvania

In 2017 WAKO formed a strategic partnership with the Europa Games and Century to cultivate professional sport karate athletes. The Europa Games is one of the world’s largest multi-sport conventions attracting over 250,000 attendees throughout its tour. Grand Champions from the North American Open were awarded Europa-Pro status.  The champions will enjoy the 2017-2018 season as sponsored competitors.

The tournament is recognized as the only national WAKO event in the United States, and serves as a recruiting pool for potential USA Team Members qualifying for the World Championship in Wroclaw, Poland and future international championships.

Currently, WAKO boasts 126 affiliated nations in the five continents, with 95 officially recognized by their respective Olympic Council.  WAKO is an official member of Sport Accord and is recognized as the governing body for kickboxing globally.  WAKO champions have the distinction of competing at The World Combat Games under the patronage of the IOC and SportAccord.

Other medalists from Pennsylvania included 14-year old Luke Lokay (Bronze), 15-year old Cameron Klos (Silver) and 12-year old Aidan Hudson (Bronze).  The team will kick off the next season at the Europa Games in Phoenix, Arizona this October.  For more information visit www.alleghenyshotokan.com