Author Archives: Bill Viola

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, mpickels@tribweb.com 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)

Norwin Student Gets a Kick From Karate -Pittsburgh Post Gazette By Torsten Ove

 

Mokuso #Focus

Mokuso 黙想

To Focus and Clear One’s Mind

mokuso
Gabby Viola in “Mokuso” a position of focus performed in Seiza where students clear their minds and prepare to train.

At Allegheny Shotokan “Viola Karate” we teach our kids much more than punches and kicks.  We prepare them for the real battles–Mental.  Mokuso is the Japanese term for meditation and we have adopted this practice to help clear our minds before we train. For our Norwin Ninjas we refer to this practice as “5-seconds of Shizuka” a Sensei Says skill.  Loosely translated it means, “5-seconds of silence” and helps calm the children down after a fun drill. Either way, Mokuso is practiced to help relieve stress, sharpen our minds, and channel energy.

Mokuso 黙想 is an opportunity to eliminate all the stress weighing you down and enter a state of peace.  This does not have any religious significance at our dojo, it is purely an exercise for controlling our emotions and concentration.

  • 黙 (mo/dama) Silent

  •   (so) Thoughts

While in your “silent thoughts” you should practice correct breathing.  This will help relive tension (stress).  It should be from your 腹 “hara” aka belly (not your stomach but more of a metaphysical area).  Why?  Your center is where your energy is stored.  If you observe a new born, or even animals you will notice the abdominal breathing. As adults, we tend to breath more from our chest.

Your tanden 丹田 (field) is a few inches below your navel (deep within the hara). Samurai believed that this is where your spirit lived.  It is essentially the body’s center of gravity.  The tanden acts as a reservoir of vital energy 気 (Ki Energy) and through correct breathing you can charge🔌 these batteries 🔋 so to speak.

FYI:  We typically perform Mokuso in 正座 “Seiza” which literally means proper/correct sitting in Japanese. (Kneeling on the floor and folding legs under the thighs and 尻 “shiri” (your butt 😂)  The tops of the feet are flat and big toes cross.

  • 丹 (tan) medicine (medical substance)

  • 田 (den) field

Physiologically the diaphragm controls the breathing.  So one should Inhale through the nose (slowly from deep within the center) and slowly exhale through your mouth.

mushin
Sensei Viola Sr. and Jack Sensei Bodell

This training also prepares you the concept of mushin 無心 (no mind).

  • 無 (mu) not or without

  • 心 (shin) heart-mind

Mushin is having a mind “not” fixed or occupied by thought or emotion…thus the mind is open to everything.In this state you can be to everything. Mushin is free from anger, fear, or ego during combat. In terms of Kumite, I like empathize this mindset as “no fear.”  You feel no pain, you are unstoppable.

I believe you can exhibit Mushin in all areas of training:  Calisthenics, Kihon, Kumite etc.

colin madden, xander eddy, ethan gaudi
Mushin (Free From Pain)

Mushin (No Fear) Shihan Viola #kumite in the 1960s 

In moments of silence, it is said we can discover a pure side of ourselves. Some call it living in the moment. This “void” is a difficult concept to grasp. In Japan there is an expression, “mizu no kokoro” which means “mind like water.” The idea is to “become one” with your attacker in order to make an “instant” reactions (just like still water reacts when its touched).

So practice emptying your cup…

bruce lee kumite

 

“Empty your mind, be formless shapeless — like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it become the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” -Bruce Lee

 

 

mokuso

PIND Kick A Thon 5k

pind kick a thon

2018 PIND 5K, 1 Mile Fun Walk & Kick-a-thon

WHO is PIND?  Pittsburgh Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases (Parkinson’s Disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Huntington’s Disease, Stroke, and Alzheimer’s Disease).

WHAT:  Community service is an important part of building character.  Our dojo is supporting the Annual PIND walk/run by establishing a kick-a-thon fundraiser throughout August.  Students will kick in 1-mile kick-a-thon and parents are welcome to sign up and walk along side them.

WHY:  PIND is an organization that Sensei Bill and all of the Norwin Ninjas and Allegheny Shotokan supports.  He lost his Grandmother and Uncle to complications caused by Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.  It is a cause near and dear to his heart.

WHEN:  July-August raise money. Collect sponsors to support you kicking for 1-mile.  Labor Day Monday September 3rd 8AM is the Kick-A-Thon.  Students will kick for 1-mile. It’s a challenge!  Get ready to sweat!!!!!! Actual Kick-A-Thon is Labor Day.

WHERE:  Boyce Park, Monroeville

 

*Important information.  You must register online by August 20th to guarantee a t-shirt.  You do not have to walk, run or kick to make a donation.  We ask that all students try and raise at least the minimum of $25.  Kick-a-thon will follow the 1-mile walk.  Event begins @ 8AM Boyce Park, Monroeville.

pind 5k registration

 

 

 

Here are some photos of last year’s PIND Kick-a-thon:PIND (Pittsburgh Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases) 5K walk/run/kick held annually Labor Day at Boyce Park in Monroeville.

PIND offers a unique twist to the traditional 5K by incorporating a “Kick-a-thon” portion where local martial artists literally kick for a mile non-stop alongside the walkers. It is a first of its kind in event in the region, possibly the country. The estimated amount of kicks thrown by each participant is 2000, collectively they hope to hit 200,000 kicks to raise awareness.

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

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

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

US Open

us open karate

Viola Karate – Pittsburgh Area Karate Dojo Wins

US Open ISKA World Martial Arts Championships

The All-Star Team “Kumite” traveled to Orlando Florida for the 2018 The US Open held July 6-7 at Disney’s Coronado Springs Convention Center.  The tournament, broadcast live on ESPN2 and ESPN3, is recognized as the world’s largest sport martial arts competition with over 40 countries and 6 continents present. The two-day tournament showcased 200,000 square feet of competition that included karate and kickboxing.

 

Representing Pittsburgh were 10 members from the Viola Karate Dojo including Sensei Bill Viola Jr., (Head Coach), Sensei Cameron Klos (Player Coach), and Sensei Gary Klos (Assistant Coach). All members placed in the top two in their respective divisions.  The students were the only champions from the Western Pennsylvania region.

Results include: Luke Lokay:  Gold 14-15 black belt sparring, Silver Clash Contact Fighting, Stephen Jackowski:  Gold 12-13 Advanced Kata, Bronze Advanced Weapons, Nicolette Jackowski: Gold 14-15 Intermediate, Silver Kata, Lucy Lokay: Gold 12-13 Advanced Gold sparring,  Gabby Viola Gold 6-7 year old Advanced Sparring, Silver Kata, Taylor Provence: Silver 10-11, Silver Sparring and Xander Eddy 4x Gold 8-9 year Advanced.

Lokay and Eddy each earned a spot to represent the United States as members of the 2018 “Team USA” at the Pan American Kickboxing Championship in Cancun, Mexico October 24-28th.  Lokay will represent America in the 63- Kg division and Eddy secured the 30- Kg weight class. The selection process is limited to the current national champions officially recognized by their National Olympic Committees or Ministry of Sports.

Lokay, a Norwin High School student explains, “Representing my country is such huge honor. I am training every day to make my family and coaches proud. I know a lot of the kids at the dojo are counting on me.” 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. explains, “Luke and Xander set themselves apart with work ethic. They are both naturally talented, but it’s what you do with that talent that gets you to the next level. They have the determination and dedication to win.”

Eddy is one of the youngest members to make Team USA but has already amassed an impressive resume. In 2017, he earned the Open-Weight Grand Championship Title at North American Open in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event was part of UFC’s International Fight Week. Eddy proudly explains, “I only had one thing on my mind—win.” The victory put him on the radar of the coaching staff. Lokay and Eddy are the first US Team members to earn a team selection for The World Association of Kickboxing Organizations (WAKO) from Western Pennsylvania.

Read more

 

 

WAKO Team USA

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WAKO Team USA Members

Congratulations to Xander Eddy and Luke Lokay for earning a spots on “Team USA” at the WAKO National Team Trials in Kansas City.  The two have been selected to represent America at the WAKO Team Trials in Kansas City and our official members of “Team USA” At the Pan-American Games (Mexico)and Jr. World Championships (Italy).  Austin Hladek won Bronze and an alternate position for the Pan-American Games.  Gavin Hladek made his debut in the black belt division placing as a finalist.

Jesolo Lido (VE), Italy, 15-23 September 2018:
WAKO Cadets and Juniors World Championships (All Disciplines)

Cancun, Mexico, 24-28 October 2018:
10th PanAmerican Kickboxing Championships (All Disciplines)

wako pan am

Today WAKO counts on 128 affiliated nations in the 5 continents, which are officially recognized by either National Olympic Committee or relevant National Government Sports Authority.

wako worlds

The World Association of Kickboxing Organizations or WAKO; is the largest international organization of kickboxing, and the governing body of Amateur kickboxing sport certified by SportAccord. It is formed of two organizations: WAKO for amateur sports and WAKO PRO for professional sports. Besides holding world championships, WAKO sanctions the champions of kickboxing in six rule styles.

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 SportA  ccord. Three rule styles were involved at the Combat Games – Low Kick, Point Fighting, and Full Contact. 

wako

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.

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Team USA Members Luke Lokay and Xander Eddy

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