Author Archives: Bill Viola

About Bill Viola

About the author: Bill Viola Jr. is Amazon best-selling author and creator of the award-winning Sensei Says® life skills curriculum. He experienced the "Golden Era" of MMA firsthand as his father, Bill Sr., is credited as the co-creator of the sport of mixed martial arts in 1979. His book Godfathers of MMA inspired the critically acclaimed SHOWTIME film Tough Guys where he acted as a producer alongside an Academy Award accredited team. The Viola family owns and operates Allegheny Shotokan Karate in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania now celebrating their 50-year anniversary (1969-2019). He is currently the President of Kumite Classic Entertainment Corp.

A Spooktacular Day

Congrats for winning the karate competition and the costume contest! Sara Russell won 1st place in sparring and won the most “Spooktacular Costume” award.

The 2011 Spooktacular Martial Arts Championship was held October 22nd, in Millersburg, Ohio. The karate event was sanctioned by the National Black Belt League…showcasing competitors from across the East Coast, including Team Kumite who represents the Pittsburgh area.

Representing the Allegheny Shotokan Karate School and Team Kumite of North Huntingdon were Hope Chase (1st place 11-12 year old Jr. Black Belt) Bess Chase (1st place 9-10 year old Jr. Black Belt) Bridgit Chase (1st Place 13-14 year old Jr. Black Belt) Luke Lokay (1st place 8-9 year old novice) Nick Kosan (3rd place 12-13 year old advanced boys), Cameron Klos (2nd place 10-11 year old advanced boys), Sara Russell (1st place 10-11 year old girls), Gabriel Anthony (1st place 8-9 year old novice), Colton Wobrak 4th place six & under beginners), Liz Leaseburg (2nd Place 11-12 girls novice).

The Spooktacular was the last opportunity for competitors to gain a seed into the 2011 Sport Karate World Games. Norwin Senior, Dominic Leader, is the defending 2010 World Champion for the continuous contact and the only World Champion from Western Pennsylvania last year. Earning acceptance to compete and join Leader at the World Games are Bess, Hope, and Bridgit Chase.

The team will complete it’s season by attending the annual Laurel State Karate Championships held December 10th at the White Oak Athletic Association. The event, sanctioned by the Pennsylvania Karate Rating Association, is recognized as the oldest running karate championship in the Central Westmoreland area, showcasing the region’s top talent for over 30 years.

Mon Valley Champs

The 2011 Mon Valley Open Martial Arts Championships was held September 17th at the Joe Montana Gymnasium, Charleroi, PA. The karate event was sanctioned by the Professional Karate Commission and showcased competitors from the tri-state area.

Representing the Allegheny Shotokan Karate School of North Huntingdon were Nick Kosan (1st place 12-13 year old advanced boys), Cameron Klos (1st place 10-11 year old advanced boys), Sara Russell mobile casino (1st place 10-11 year old girls), Rachael Bartuska (1st place 12-13 advanced girls), Gabriel Anthony (1st place 8-9 year old advanced), Luke Lokay (2nd place 8-9 year old advanced), Liz Leaseburg (1st Place 11-12 girls novice). The team will travel to Millersburg, Ohio next month to compete in the National Black Belt League’s Spooktacular Marital Arts Championship. The NBL sponsors the Sport Karate World Games held in Sacramento California.

Viola MMA Innovator

By John Santa,
Monday, July 4, 2011

Bill Viola still can remember the meal like it was yesterday.

For the former East Allegheny science teacher, who in 1979 was promoting local karate and kick boxing events with partner Frank Caliguri, it was a meeting that changed his life.

“One day we were meeting at Denny`s,” Viola recalled. “I said, ‘What do you think, Frank?` He said, ‘You know, I hear the same story, I know someone that could beat this guy up, or who`s the toughest (fighter). What happens if Muhammad Ali would fight Bruce Lee? What happens if Bruno Sammartino … got in the mix? Who would win?`”

From those questions, the pair got an idea to supplement their kick boxing and karate events with a new sport.

“We decided, ‘Hey, why don`t we do something totally bizarre?`” Viola said. “‘Why don`t we throw all these people in the ring and see what`s going to happen?`”

The result became Viola and Caliguri`s “Tough Guy Championships,” which pitted various styles of fighters against each other and spawned the first organized Mixed Martial Arts league.

Now, 32 years later, MMA has become one of the most popular sports worldwide.

Last week, Viola and Caliguri were enshrined at the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at the Senator John Heinz History Center as part of a new exhibit celebrating the local roots of MMA.

“It`s kind of a big honor to be down there right next to Franco Harris, and you go a little bit further, then there`s Danny Marino,” said Viola, a North Huntingdon Township native. “It`s unbelievable.”

Viola first began working to promote kick boxing and karate events in the early 1970s by starting CV Productions with Caliguri.

“In those particular days there was no Internet, there was no texting, there was very little communications,” Viola said. “The way that we would get the word out for a show is, you could advertise in the paper or you could get television or radio.”

The rivalry between different types of fighters helped create the buzz that has made MMA so popular.

“For a kick boxing show we would get maybe 100 phone calls of people asking questions,” Viola said. “You`d get 1,500 people at the gate, which was really nice for those days. We must have had in the first week of (MMA) 1,500 phone calls.”

“I can remember they were from Yonkers, N.Y.,” he added. “They were from Michigan, Florida. The word got out and it just went totally out of control. We had to actually hire secretaries. (Before that) we were nothing. We were just mom-and-pop karate schools.”

The first MMA event that Viola produced took place in New Kensington in March of 1980. That event led to the Tough Guy Championships held at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh later that year.

“The first three shows we sold out all three nights,” Viola said. “You could not get in the place. The electricity was unbelievable. No one knew what to expect.”

From there, Viola and Caliguri had plans to hold events all over the country, culminating with a national championship prize fight to be held in Las Vegas in 1981.

“We thought it was crazy at the beginning,” Viola said. “Now, amplify that by 10.”Â

Those bouts never took place because MMA became banned in Pennsylvania in 1981 when a fighter died during a fight not affiliated with CV Productions.

Although Viola`s tenure promoting MMA events ended prematurely, it still left a lasting impression on the local sports scene.

“The Sports Museum has brought to light the central role that Pittsburgh has played in the sports of boxing and wrestling, focusing on such greats as Bruno Sammartino and Kurt Angle,” Anne Madarasz, co-director of the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum, said. “This exhibit adds a new chapter as we trace the roots of mixed martial arts in the United States back to the Pittsburgh region.”

For Viola, to be associated with the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum is a true honor.

“That was our project, our child,” Viola said. “We were the brainchilds of this. We were the Barnum & Bailey promoters of this event. We went completely out of the envelope when no one believed it could happen.”

Read more: Viola honored as Mixed Martial Arts innovator – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Bill Viola MMA Pioneer

Godfather of MMA

Fight of the year

Ali Viola

Wow. What a slugfest.  Ali Viola and Colbey Northcutt fought in what many are calling the fight of year!  Although Ali hasn’t trained all year due to her Soccer schedule, she showed why she is an NBL World Champ.  Great fight to both ladies. Kumite Classic, Pittsburgh PA Karate tournament, championship, competition.

Demetrious Cox

Former Allegheny Shotokan Karate Member Demetrious Cox wins the Franco Harris Football Challenge at the Kumite Classic.  Cox a Jeanette standout is the #1 ranked cornerback in the WPIAL and highly sought after D-1 recruit.  Good Luck at Michigan State Dede!