Author Archives: Bill Viola

Pan American Gold

Team USA Member Xander Eddy –  Youngest American to Win Gold at WAKO Pan American Championships

Xander Eddy
Pittsburgh Martial Artist, Xander Eddy wins 2018 Pan American Championships – Gold Medalist

9-year-old Xander Eddy of North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, has become the youngest American to win the Pan American Kickboxing Championships in history.  His record setting performance took place in Cancun, Mexico October 23-28 at Barceló Maya Beach.  Eddy claimed a Gold Medal in the open weight class for Team USA.

Eddy earned a spot on the United States Kickboxing Team by winning the selection trials in Kansas City, Missouri in February.  His teammate, Luke Lokay, a 15-year-old also from North Huntingdon, won the 63- Kg division to qualify. The selection process is limited to one competitor per weight class who is the current national champion officially recognized by their National Olympic Committees or Ministry of Sports.  World Association of Kickboxing Organizations (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

Both athletes faced adversity leading up the championship.  In August, Xander shattered the growth plate in his foot practicing for the event.  The injury was severe to his base leg which was critical for kicking and movement.  It was questionable if he could participate. His training partner Luke tore his ACL and meniscus and broke his tibia and knee cap in 2012. Doctors speculated he may never play sports again. Both competitors overcame the odds and competed at the highest level for kickboxing this side of the hemisphere.

Xander Eddy, the youngest American to win Gold at WAKO Pan American Kickboxing Championships

Competitors from over 30 countries represented. In the final bracket, Eddy dominated 6 rounds against the top ranked athletes from Chile, Puerto Rico and Mexico by a combined score of 30-3. In the finals, he faced Guatemala in a heated fight that pitted chants of “USA” vs “Guate.”  In dramatic fashion, after 2 rounds the score was tied forcing an additional round to determine the champion.  Eddy scored a sidekick to take the lead and as time expired, he executed his patented “axe” kick to win Gold for America.  He became the youngest athlete to win a Gold Medal for Team USA at the Pan Am Championships in history.  Lokay also represented well, but fell to Guatemala in the final bracket claiming Bronze for Team USA.

Lokay and Eddy each have been training at Allegheny Shotokan Viola Karate in North Huntingdon since they were 4-years-old.  Their Sensei, Bill Viola Jr., is the director for WAKO region 10 which oversees Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, West Virgina, and Washington, DC. He explains, “Luke and Xander set themselves apart with work ethic. Win or lose this kids are great role models. They have character.”  Eddy was asked to carry in the American flag by his teammates during the opening ceremonies. Eddy accepted, “I just wanted to make my dojo, parents and country proud.” The duo represents Pittsburgh and all of Western Pennsylvania on the international kickboxing and karate circuit.

Luke Lokay and Xander Eddy warm up for competition

Eddy has won every recent major tournament he has attended including Open-Weight Grand Championship Title at North American Open in Las Vegas, Nevada (part of UFC’s International Fight Week), The Battle of Atlanta in Georgia, and US Open ISKA World Championships in Orlando, Florida. His “Norwin” community has gotten behind him in a big way!

congrats xander BK
Norwin Showing its Support

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 Kickboxing is slated to gain IOC membership this December joining traditional Karate which will be represented at the 2020 Games in Tokyo, Japan under the World Karate Federation.

It was nearly 20 years ago that Allegheny Shotokan Alum Doug Selchan won Gold in +80kg Kumite at the 1999 Pan Am Games for Karate in Winnipeg, Canada. Even though kickboxing and karate are technically different sports, Xander’s parents say they are honored for him to follow in such prestigious footsteps.  Pittsburgh has a rich tradition of world-class martial artists.

doug selchan pan am gold


Next up, Xander, Luke, and their dojo will be traveling to Los Angeles, California this February for the “COMPETE International Championships.”  #kickboxing #pittsburgkickboxing #teamusa #usakickboxingteam




Andrews Avengers

heroes come in all sizes

Andrews Avengers

Sammy and Remmi are holding a fundraiser at the UPS Store in White Oak this Saturday starting at 10AM  to support Andrews Avengers.  They will have chocolate covered goodies, baked goods, drinks and more. Help them KICK Cancer!

heroes come in all sizes
Come out and support Sammy and Remmi

norwinThe efforts support the family, friends and supporters of Andrew O’Neil (2011-2016) who suffered from neuroblastoma.

2018 Shodan Sensei

🥋New Black Belts – Shodan – Sensei

Allegheny Shotokan “Viola” Karate Dojo is proud to announce a milestone moment for five of its members.  On Saturday September 1, 2018 the black belt candidates tested for Shodan (1st Degree) Junior Black Belt.  The students have been training between 7-8 years each to be eligible to test.  Earning the title of Shodan are 11-year-old Zach Farroux, 15-year-old Gabriel Anthony, 13-year old Stephen Jackowski, 12-year old Owen Orth, and 13-year-old Matt Morrow.  The students logged in over internship 100 hours, completed a 4-hour physical test, passed character education development and a martial arts history exam.

It was a record setting exam at the Dojo.  5 black belt all passed.  It is the largest group in dojo history.  Congrats to our new Sensei’s.  Examiners were Shihan Viola, Sensei Ray Walters, Sensei Bill Jr. and Sensei Ray Adams.  Sensei Gary was also invited to observe.

Sensei Zach Farroux, Sensei Owen Orth, Sensei Stephen Jackowski, Shihan Viola, Sensei Bill Viola Jr., Sensei Gabe Anthony, Sensei Matt Morrow,


Congratulations to these karate-ka:

  • Zach Farroux
  • Gabe Anthony
  • Owen Orth
  • Stephen Jackowski
  • Matt Morrow

The history portion was scored very well, but in the heat of the moment we did have some inside jokes including a yak & camel, bald headed monks in orange robes, shiane temples, and buttism.  Gentlemen, always remember that karate is a “journey” and not a destination.  We hope that you realize that the real learning begins at black belt. Always remember that quitting karate after getting your black belt is like getting your driver’s license and never driving…


A form:  A choreographed pattern of movements that simulates a “imaginary fight.”

  • Japanese prounuciation 型  “kata” Translates as “Form” or a mold, law, or model.
  • Chinese pronunciation 型 “hsing”
  • Korean pronunciation 型 “hyeong”

Important Kata Terms:

  • 分解  Bunkai (analysis)
  • 応用  Oyo (application)
  • 演武線  Embusen (kata line)

Circa 1891 The Japanese Army was very impressed with “te” but lost interest due to poor organization and outdated training methods. Master Itosu took steps to modernize karate by intoducing the “Pinan” Kata as a form of physical fitness and removed the dangerous elements (tegumi). (Funakoshi later named them Heian to suit Japanese nationalism). In 1901, Itosu started teaching Karate at the Shuri Jinjo Elementary School and by 1905 he teaching at the First Junior Prefectural School. Karate became part of the official physical education of Okinawa’s school system, eventually making its way to mainland Japan via Funakoshi in 1922.

“Heian” The word “Heian” is Japanese and shortened from two words – 平 heiwa (peace) and 安 antei (stability)

Heian 1-5 are the most popular kata in the world.

  • 平安 Pingan (Chinese) “stay safe”
  • 平安 Pinan (Okinawan) “stay safe”
  • 平安 Heian (Japanese) “peaceful”
  • 平安 Pyong-an/Pyung-Ahn (Korean)

SHITEI 指定 Kata “designated” (Heian & Tekki Shodan)  These kata introduced by Yasutune Itosu

  1.  平安初段 Heian Shodan – (peaceful mind, first level)
  2. 平安二段 Heian Nidan – (peaceful mind, second level)
  3. 平安三段 Heian Sandan – (peaceful mind, third level)
  4. 平安四段 Heian Yondan – (peaceful mind, fourth level)
  5. 平安五段 Heian Godan – (peaceful mind, fifth level)

Okinawan “Naihanchi” kata and naihanchi-dachi demonstarate elements of Tegumi and tai sabki. This Shōrei-Ryu kata was later remaned “Tekki” 鉄 Tetsu (Iron) 騎 (to ride or sit horseback) by Funakoshi who also renamed the straddle stance to Kiba-dachi (Cavarly Horse Stance)

鉄騎初段 Tekki Shodan – (iron horse riding, first level)

鉄騎弐段 Tekki Nidan – (iron horse riding, second level)

鉄騎参段 Tekki Sandan – (iron horse riding, third level)

SENTEI 選定 Kata “Selection” are (4) required kata (compulsory):

9.  Bassai Dai (Passai) 拔塞 (to penetrate a fortress – major/big) Japanese meaning of 拔(batsu) is “to pull out or to extract” in Chinese “拔 (bá)” can mean “to seize or capture” and 塞(sai/soku) means a “place of strategic importance” or fort. Bá sāi (拔塞) would mean “to seize or capture” a “place of importance. Some moves symbolize a battering ram used against fortress walls.  Introduced by Peichin

10. Kanku Dai 観空大 (Kushanku) (to view the sky – major/big) The first movement views the sky, which symbolizes the universe and shows your opponent that you are unarmed. It was Master Funakoshi’s preferred kata.  Introduced by Kung Hsiang Chun

11. Jion 慈恩 (love and goodness) or mercy is a term in Buddhism. It is also the name of a temple (Jionji 慈恩寺) in China.

12. Enpi 燕飛 (Wanshu/excellent wrist) The quick up and down movements of this kata are reminiscent “flying swallow” where it gets its name . Enpi is one of the oldest kata in Shotokan. The “Funakoshi 15” Heian 1-5, Tekki 1-3, +4 Sentei kata, + these (3)  Introduced by Wang Ji

13. Hangetsu 半月 (Seisan) meaning half moon based off the hangetsu dachi (half moon stance).  Bushi Matsumura

14. Jitte 十手 (ten hands) also spelled Jutte is designed to fight against ten opponents.

15. Gankaku 岩鶴 (Chinto) (crane on a rock) The main stance in this kata (tsuruashi dachi) resembles a crane ready to strike at its prey. The movements are supposed to simulate a fight in the narrow alleyways of Okinawa. The former name was Chinto.  Bushi Matsumura

Other Advanced Kata:

16. Bassai Sho 披塞小 (Passai) (to penetrate a fortress – minor/small)  Yasutsune Itosu

17. Kanku Sho 観空小 (Kushanku) (to view the sky – minor/small) Kanku Sho was created from Kanku Dai. The movements and performance line are similar.

18. Sochin 壯鎭 (Hakko) (strength and calm) The name of this kata comes from its stance (sochin or fudo dachi), a strong, rooted stance. The purpose of this kata is to teach defense against a stick.  Yoshitika Funakoshi

19. Chinte 珍手 (rare or extraordinary hand) Chinte has a lot of circular and roundhouse techniques. These are rare and are not typical of the shortest distance between two points concept of Shotokan.

20. Goju Shi Ho Dai 五十四歩大 (fifty four steps – major/big) This kata is one of the most advance kata of Shotokan. Master Funakoshi called it hotaku (knocking of a woodpecker) because some of the techniques resemble a woodpecker tapping its beak against a tree.  Yasutsune Itosu

21. Goju Shi Ho Sho 五十四歩小 (fifty four steps – minor/small) This is a smaller version of Goju Shi Ho Dai. It is also one of the most advanced kata of Shotokan.  Yasutsune Itosu

22. Meikyo 明鏡 (Rohai) (bright mirror) The first movements of this kata suggest the smoothing of water to make it as calm and even as a mirror. The triangle jump at the end of this kata is said to have a secret meaning portending to a miracle.  Tomari-te

23. Niju Shi Ho 二十四步 (twenty-four steps) The movements in this kata resemble waves breaking on a cliff. The former name of this kata was ni sei shi.  Seisho Aragaki

24. Unsu 雲手 (cloud hands) Unsu has several techniques that symbolize parting the clouds with open hands. Classically pronoucned “un-shu” Considered Rare Kata:  Seisho Aragaki

25. Wankan 王冠 (king and crown) The shortest kata in Shotokan introduced by Funakoshi’s son (Gigo/Yoshitaka).

26. Ji’in 慈陰 (love and shadow) or inverted mercy. Along with Join and Jitte begin with left hand covering right (ancient Chinese) Tokui kata 得意 is your “free” or favorite kata. It translates into: speciality, pride, triumph aka your best! Its pronounced: (toe ku eee) *Kata has been described as the soul of karate.  Tomari te

There are 26 standard Shotokan Kata. Some count Taikyoku “first cause” (Kihon Kata) as a 27th

27. Gigo Funakoshi also created partner kata known as “Ten no Kata” 天の形 Which translates as kata of the universe/heaven in 1930s. He was sent to learn kata from Okinawan master Kenzo Mabuni and as a result of these teachings, the curriculum of Shotokan is believed to have included Sochin, Nijushiho and Unsu.




Journey Continues for Master Ray Adams and Master Dave Zezza

black belt

The Journey Continues for two North Huntingdon

Martial Arts 🥋Masters

pittsburgh karate masters

karate masters
Left-Right: (The Masters Club) Bill Viola Jr., Dave Zezza, Bill Viola Sr., Ray Adams, Ray Walters.  Not pictured Jack Bodell

On Wednesday August 29, 2018 history was made at the Allegheny Shotokan Viola Karate Dojo.  North Huntingdon / Irwin  Residents Sensei Ray Adams, 76, and Sensei Dave Zezza, 63, were promoted to Master Rank in the art of Shotokan karate.  It has been a lifetime of study, practice, and diligence that both men agree that has been, “a journey and not a destination.”

Karate is a journey, not a destination

Adams first donned a karate gi (uniform) in 1970.  It’s a routine he still carries on today.  He was a photography teacher at East Allegheny High School when and met fellow teacher Bill Viola Sr. (Founder of the dojo).  Adams explains, “In those days karate was brand new.  Sensei [Viola Sr.] had been teaching the students in the high school gymnasium and I wanted in on the action.”   Nearly fifty years later, Ray is still kicking, teaching and loving living the martial way.

His training partner Dave Zezza, shares his passion as both men obtained 5th Dan (degree).  Zezza, a systems consultant, began in his late thirties, and at age 63 he’s never looked back.  Affectionately nicknamed “Tombo” or dragonfly in Japanese, he is the resident Kobudo weapons expert at the dojo.  Zezza sports a dragonfly tattoo on his arm to signify his commitment.   Viola Sr. explains, “Our philosophy is ‘old school.’  Black belts come and go, but to be a master we require a unique combination of character, skill, and teaching ability with decades of training.”

Adams and Zezza are still “learning.”  They explain that a black belt is just the beginning.  Now at master rank, they don’t plan on slowing down.  Zezza explains, “I’m always thirsty for knowledge.”  Both men thank Shihan Viola and Sensei Ray Walters for pushing them.  They also acknowledge their friend and fellow Alumni of the dojo, Sensei Joe Bauccio, who relocated to Florida.  Bauccio is training towards joining them in the ranks soon.

Adams and Zezza join a very elite club where only a few other Masters have ever etched their names.  The exclusive fraternity requires a lifetime of dedication to be inducted.  The only other Masters in the Allegheny Shotokan Karate Association are Bill Viola Sr., Bill Viola Jr. Ray Walters, and Jack Bodell.

The men exemplify that age is truly just a number, as both plan on kicking as long as their bodies allow them.  If they can’t kick, they will just punch 👊.   Adams and Zezza also teach and share their knowledge weekly with the younger members of the dojo and train themselves every Saturday morning and attend Shihan Viola’s black belt class every Monday night.

The official presentation to the dojo members and “gong” ceremony will take place Wednesday September 5, 2018.

Master can be defined as an artist of consummate skill.  Adams and Zezza are a perfect examples of men who continue to evolve and share their experience.  We are blessed to have them apart of our karate family. The Viola Karate dojo will celebrates its 50-year-anniversary in 2019.  The new Masters are looking forward to a reunion workout .

Master Zezza and Adams know all 27 Shotokan Kata (listed below) so Shihan gave them a challenge outside of their comfort zone.  They had to learn a kata other than Shotokan style and learn the differences in method, technique, and execution.  The Goju kata Suparinpei was chosen. 


Zezza and Adams follow the “martial way” Budo.

1. Taikyoku Shodan / Kihon kata (太極初段) Means ~ first cause first level Introduced by ~ Gichin Funakoshi
2. Heian Shodan (平安初段) Means ~ Peaceful begining level Introduced by ~ Yasutsune Itosu
3. Heian Nidan (平安二段) Means ~ Peaceful second level Introduced by ~ Yasutsune Itosu
4. Heian Sandan (平安三段) Means ~ Peaceful third level Introduced by ~ Yasutsune Itosu
5. Heian Yondan (平安四段) Means ~ Peaceful fourth level Introduced by ~ Yasutsune Itosu
6. Heian Godan (平安五段) Means ~ Peaceful fifth level Introduced by ~ Yasutsune Itosu
7. Tekki Shodan (鉄騎初段) Means ~ Iron Horse first level Introduced by ~ Yasutsune Itosu
8. Bassai Dai (披塞大) Means ~ To penetrate a fortress (dai=major) Introduced by ~ Peichin.
9. Kanku Dai (観空大) Means ~ To view the sky (dai=major) Introduced by ~ Kung Hsiang Chun
10. Enpi (燕飛) Means ~ Flying swallow Introduced by ~ Wang Ji
11. Hangetsu (半月) Means ~ Half Moon Introduced by ~ Bushi Matsumura
12. Jion (慈恩) Means ~ Thought to be named after the Chinese temple Jion-ji. kata and comes from Tomari te
13. Sochin (壯鎭) Means ~ Preserve Peace Introduced by ~Yoshitika Funakoshi
14. Meikyo (明鏡) Means ~ Mirror of the soul and comes from ~Tomari-te
15. Ji’in (慈陰) Means ~ Named after the saint and comes from Tomari te
16. Gojushiho Dai (五十四歩大) Means ~ 54 steps Introduced by ~Yasutsune Itosu
17. Jitte (十手)Means ~ Ten hands and comes from Tomari te
18. Gankaku (岩鶴) Means ~ Crane on a rock Introduced by ~ Bushi Matsumura
19. Tekki Nidan (鉄騎二段) Means ~ Iron Horse second level Introduced by ~ Yasutsune Itosu
20. Tekki Sandan (鉄騎三段) Means ~ Iron Horse third level Introduced by ~ Yasutsune Itosu
21. Chinte (珍手) Means ~ Incredible hands Introduced by ~ Yasutsune Itosu?
22. Bassai Sho (披塞小) Means ~ To penetrate a fortress (sho=minor) Introduced by ~ Yasutsune Itosu
23. Kanku Sho (観空小) Means ~ To view the sky (sho=minor) Introduced by ~ Yasutsune Itosu
24. Nijushiho (二十四步) Means ~ 24 steps Introduced by ~ Seisho Aragaki
25. Unsu (雲手) Means ~ Cloud  hands Introduced by ~ Seisho Aragaki
26. Wankan (王冠) Means ~ Kings Crown Introduced by ~ Gigo Funakoshi
27. Gojushiho Sho (五十四歩小) Means ~ 54 steps Introduced by ~ Yasutsune Itosu

Suparinpei – “108 Hands”

Suparinpei is the most advanced Kata in Goju-Ryu and contains the greatest number of techniques.  It is translated as the number “108.” 108 is suggested to have origins in Buddhism and can represent the “108 sins of man”. On the Chinese New Year, temple bells are rung 108 times to “drive away the evils of man.”  In japanese we call this kata Hyakuhachiho.  

$10,000 Donation Made to KICK Parkinsons

Kick Parkinson’s Disease 2018

We gave Parkinson’s a swift KICK this weekend!  Very proud to announce that Allegheny Shotokan “Viola” karate and its sister program Norwin Ninjas in conjunction with Team Kumite to have combined to raise over $10,000 for The Pittsburgh Institute of Neurological Diseases #PIND  Read more. 

Sensei Bill’s Grandmother

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.

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.




kick parkinsons disease

Over 100 kickers!  Thanks to everyone who made a donation to Kick Parkinson’s:  Here are the top 10 for 2018

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

kick parkinsons disease

What we teach


At Viola Karate we teach traditional martial arts and training methods including:

Most importantly is budo (the martial way) 

What we Teach Kanji Description Memo
BuJutsu 武術 Martial Arts-skill, method, science of Japan – older/parent (warrior technique) mortal combat self-protection
Budo 武道 Martial Way – philosophical Life skills more modern 17th century+ self-perfection
Bugei 武芸 Art of War – Catchall term for Japanese fighting arts  embracing both budo/bujutsu  bu=martial gei=art military art
Martial Arts 武芸 Latin term “arts of Mars” (Mars/Roman god of War) it is the umbrella and generic term for fighting arts
Karate 空手 1 of many Japanese martial arts (judo, jujutus, akido etc.) meaning “empty hand” (developed in Okinawa) influenced by Chinese Kenpo
Shotokan 松濤館 A Japanese style of martial arts created by Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957) meaning the house of pine waves
Kumite 組手 Fighting: using martial arts skills  (waza) in realistic combat situations such as free sparring or block and counter. meaning crossing of hands
Goshin 護身 Real world self-protection techniques self-defense
jū-jutsu 柔術 Close combat used to neutralize an opponent in the form of pins, join locks, throws and submissions Jiu-jitsu is the Brazilian spelling
Tegumi 手組 Japanese wrestling, submissions and leverage kumite backwards
Kihon 基本 The fundamentals and building blocks of karate (blocks, punches, kicks, strikes, stances) Basics
Kata Karate forms required for advancement.  Memorized patterns of techniques that simulate an imaginary fight
Bunkai 分解 Analysis or disassembly of kata to fully understand its techniques to break down
Oyo 応用 Application of bunkai by extracting movements of the bunkai (personal and creative interpretation) apply, practical use
Kobudo 古武道 Okinawan weapons training including the bō (wooden staff) sai Old martial way

Pittsburgh’s Karate Kid Gabby Viola – Fighting in and out of the ring

gabby viola karate kid
Pittsburgh’s Karate Kid – Gabby Viola a fighter in and out of the ring

Karate kid Gabby Viola kicks back at bowel disease

MARY PICKELS  | TuesdayAug. 7, 2018, 1:33 a.m.

Her blonde ponytails and bare feet flying, the purple belt she’s earned in karate cinched at her waist (the same belt dad Bill Viola Jr. earned many years ago), Gabby Viola appears happiest when in motion.

She kicks, jabs, spins, all with a look of determination surprising for a 7-year-old.

Gabby has been learning karate since the age of 2, and began competing at age 3.

North Huntingdon Township’s Allegheny Shotokan Viola Karate Dojo is, after all, the family business.

Viola puts his daughter through her paces as her mother, Jenn Viola, and brother, Will, 10 months, watch. Gabby is a member of Team “Kumite,” an all-star travel team composed of martial artists from Allegheny Shotokan.

In July, Gabby placed first in sparring in the 7-year-old advanced category at the U.S. Open ISKA World Championships at Disney World.

Just a few months ago, it was unclear if Gabby, who will start second grade at Stewartsville Elementary School this fall, would be able to continue competing.

gabby viola new

Struck suddenly

Having already worked her way up to her purple belt in karate, Gabby has her eye on acquiring her brown belt next.

“She competes at the highest level of her age. … She goes up against kids with black belts and she beats them all the time,” her proud dad says.

“If my (students) are at that caliber I put them in that division all the time,” Viola adds.

Gabby’s goal is to earn her junior black belt by age 10.

“Then at age 14, she would go after her black belt,” Viola says.

In May, after taking first place at a tournament in Albion, Pa., Gabby suddenly began bleeding after using the restroom.

Her parents immediately took her to the hospital, where she underwent a battery of tests.

“They (doctors) thought she had a bacterial infection,” Viola says.

After a colonoscopy and biopsy, she was diagnosed with indeterminate bowel disease .

The illness, Viola says, has elements of both Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis.

“It was very scary at that point,” he says.

A treatment of oral steroids for inflammation has not helped.

The family recently visited Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for a second opinion and to get more information. Gabby is trying a different round of treatment, her father says, and the family is hoping she will go into remission.

A new normal

Gabby’s diet has had to change since her diagnosis.

“I can’t have gluten, dairy or grain. And limited sugar. I love chocolate,” she says.

“So we’re working hard on that right now,” her father says sympathetically.

“We’re a very proactive family. We are trying everything, looking into holistic approaches. We want to touch on every possible solution,” Viola says.

Another student at the karate school has the same diagnosis, and his parents are able to share some advice with the Violas.

“She has a buddy here who can help her,” Viola adds.

“There is no cure. You can only fight to get it into remission. That’s what she’s fighting to do,” he says.

No stopping her

Gabby’s participation in the U.S. Open ISKA World Championships, Viola says, “was a game-time decision.”

“We were worried at first she wasn’t going to be able to do it because of the diagnosis,” he says.

Gabby, however, never saw her health issue as an impediment.

She says she was confident she would do well, and believed she would take first place.

“It didn’t matter if she won or lost. We were just proud of her that she did it,” Viola says.

‘Kicking’ for others

On Sept. 3, Gabby will once again participate in the Kick-A-Thon to raise funds for the Pittsburgh Institute for Neurodegnerative Diseases event at Pittsburgh’s Boyce Park.

The goal is to “kick” Parkinson’s Disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Huntington’s Disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s Disease, according to the event’swebsite .

Viola, who lost his grandmother to neurodegnerative complications, developed the kick-a-thon , along with former state Sen. Sean Logan, who developed the 5K after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.

Her family believes she can be an inspiration to the other students in the dojo.

“She’s so little and she’s so strong. … That’s why we’re sharing this story. We are all about hope,” Viola says.

“What does karate teach you, Gabby?” he asks his daughter.

“Be tough, and have courage,” she says.

Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, or via Twitter @MaryPickels.

Doug Selchan USA Karate Pan American Games Gold Champion

selchan kumite

Profile:  USA Karate Champion Doug Selchan

U.S. Karate Team Captures Gold in Men’s Kumite

Doug Selchan
Doug Selchan USA Karate and Pan American Games Champion

U.S. Olympic Committee Press Release  WINNIPEG, Canada

The U.S. karate team ended its competition at the 1999 Pan American Games the same way it began the Games — with gold medals.

George Kotaka (Honolulu, Hawaii), John Fonseca (Northbrook, Ill.) and Doug Selchan (North Huntington, Pa.) each won a gold medal in men’s kumite in their respective weight divisions to give the U.S. a total of five individual gold medals. Akiru Fukuda (Huntington Beach, Calif.) and Kellie Kennedy (Seattle, Wash.) won gold medals in men’s and women’s kata on Sunday.

“We started with gold, and we ended with gold,” an elated U.S. head coach Tokey Hill said. “I can’t ask for more out of my boys and girls than that. They delivered.”  Kotaka came back to defeat Alberto Espejo (COL) in the finals of the under 65kg. After giving up the first point with 2:43 remaining, Kotaka scored five times and held Espejo scoreless for the remainder of the bout.  “It was really nerve-wracking, but once we got out there, the jitters were gone and it was time to fight,” Kotaka said. “I initiated the attack and he (Espejo) countered it on the first point. But I knew that sooner or later, because there were three minutes, I could come back and get some points back.”

Fonseca never trailed in his bout against N.L. Sardenberg (BRA) in the men’s under 80kg, needing only two minutes to score the maximum points to earn the gold. “He (Sardenberg) is a very strong fighter, very sharp,” Fonseca said. “But  every body has good and bad days, and I felt very on today and maybe he was a little off.”

Selchan completed the karate competition with a hard fought win over Altamiro Cruz (BRA) in the men’s over 80kg. The bout was stopped several  times after Selchan suffered a scratch above his right eye early in the match. Selchan recovered to take a 3-2 lead with 27 seconds remaining and then scored an Ippon with 10 seconds remaining to put the match out of reach. Cruz scored with three seconds left, but time expired with Selchan leading 5-3. “I knew I had it all along,” Selchan said,

“Not to sound conceited, but  this week I was very confident. I was in pretty good shape, felt strong and felt good. I needed this win. It was a big win for me.”

Men’s Kumite Individual +80kg Gold Medal Match

  • Doug Selchan (USA)
  • Altamiro Cruz (BRA)
  • 3T. Manuel Costa (URU)
  • 3T. Yoel Diaz (CUB)

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