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.
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.
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.
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 will have its world premiere on June 15 at the AFI DOCS Film Festival in Washington, DC.
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.
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
Tough Guys #1 Amazon Best Seller Mixed Marital Arts MMA Book
An interview with the Bill Viola Jr. (Author of Amazon #1 best seller Tough Guys).
Tough Guys (2017) Kumite Classic Press
By Clem Williams |
Why and when did you decide to write Godfathers of MMA?
The real story of who invented the sport of MMA in America was in jeopardy of being lost forever. My father and his business partner created a regulated MMA in 1979, and I needed to set the record straight. They deserved credit and I was shocked that all of the history books available were clueless. It began as a passion piece to provide information and morphed into the most the most comprehensive book on early MMA history.
What is the book about?
You get an inside look into the minds and events of the men who “mixed” the martial arts a decade before the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship.” They created a new sport in the form of the Tough Guys.
How did things with the movie get started?
Shortly after the exclusive preview run of Godfathers of MMA, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Robert Zullo stumbled upon the Tough Guys exhibit featured at the Heinz History center. The display recognizes Pittsburgh as the Birthplace of MMA. The display is located right next to Franco Harris’s immaculate reception and catches a lot of attention. Zullo explains, “I couldn’t believe I’d never heard about this story. I was enamored with the time, place and machismo of the whole thing. I just had a gut instinct to meet these guys.” Zullo reached out to his brother Will and childhood friend Craig DiBiase a producer [MinusL] and Director Henry Roosevelt from New York City. Zullo also got his Academy Award winning cousin, Ross Kaufmann, on board. Two years later after 52TB of filming, the Tough Guys Doc was born.
When did the movie start in production?
Production began in the summer of 2015. One of the feature locations was Allegheny Shotokan Karate in North Huntingdon. My favorite location was Ritters Diner which we retrofitted to look like a 1979 Dennys. I played my father in a famous scence where we hashed out the name ‘Tough.’
Was it all filmed in Pittsburgh?
We had 18 locations from Florida to New York but the bulk of the footage and interviews were from Western Pennsylvania (North Huntingdon, New Kensington and Pittsburgh).
How did the name Tough Guys come about?
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Pittsburgh was the epitome of a blue collar ‘tough’ city. This sport would be an open call for the ‘toughest’ guys on the planet to fight, so Tough Guys was fitting for the era.
Who starred in it?
The documentary stars the men who lived it. We were fortunate to film the original fighters and pioneers. One of the stars was Dave Jones. He trained at my father’s dojo and actually worked for North Huntingdon Township as part of a ‘road gang’ and laborer. Dave fought in the first fight and won by TKO. He was fearless–I looked up to him as a kid.
Can you tell me about the production process…your role, how production went, any details you can add about the highlights of the movie? I
had the unique experience to wear many hats on the project: the production end, consulting end, and even played a 1979 version of my father in the famous ‘Denny’s Restaurant’ scene. Since my book was the master outline, I had to on point.
When did the movie premiere?
Initial praise 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). The world premiere of “Tough Guys” took place at the American Film Institute (AFI) Docs on June 15th 2017 at the famous Landmark Theatre in Washington, DC. It was screened the day after the mega Mayweather / McGregor announcement. The film sold out.
And when did it air on Showtime? September 15th
Will it be shown again in the future? It aired all of September and October. Then it will be distributed internationally.
Do you have plans to write anymore books or be involved in any other movies?
After the Showtime debut, my commemorative edition of the book retitled ‘Tough Guys’. It just hit #1 on the Amazon Best Sellers list for sports today. It’s received critical acclaim and we’ve been getting offers for a screenplay to turn the journey into a major motion picture. That is my ultimate goal. With the right team, I know this could an Oscar worthy drama.
How passionate are you about MMA?
I am most passionate about teaching and sharing my knowledge. It’s a family legacy. All my siblings are black belts and now I am mentoring my daughter (Gabby) and will have my son William Viola IV who was just born in September on the mat soon.
What, exactly, is MMA?
MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) is a sport that combines all disciplines of combats sports (boxing, karate, wrestling, judo etc.) fighting into regulated competition. My father is credited for writing the first legitimate rule book in 1979. The UFC, the sports largest franchise, was sold for 4 billion dollars in 2016. If Pennsylvania didn’t outlaw the sport in 1983, my father and Frank would be at the helm of that empire.
The 2016 class of 40 Pittsburghers Under the age of 40 who are shaping our region was celebrated by Pittsburgh Magazine October 21st at the Rivers Casino. For the past 18 years, Pittsburgh Magazine and the Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project has complied a prestigious list to honor and recognize outstanding people ranging from CEOs to non-profit leaders who are changing the city for the better. These influential leaders are featured in November’s issue of Pittsburgh Magazine, now on newsstands. The list is considered the premier honor for young professionals in Western Pennsylvania.
The process to narrow an entire city and region down to just 40 recipients is a daunting task that included a through selection process. Viola Jr. caught the eye of the committee through his reputation as a leader in the martial arts industry and the recent award winning books. As the author of “Godfathers of MMA,” his work is recognized at the Heinz History Center, in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institute with an exhibit that chronicles Pittsburgh as the birthplace of modern mixed martial arts. The book, inspired by his father’s [Bill Viola Sr.] life story is the subject and basis of the film; Tough Guys (now is post production).
As graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, he is the creative force behind Kumite Classic Entertainment which oversees the region’s largest multi-sport event (The Pittsburgh Fitness Expo). His resume includes film producing, talent management, journalism, and mixed martial arts historian. He is a member of the Sport Karate Museum Hall of Fame and recipient of the Willie Stargell Pittsburgh MVP Award. His most recent work is the creation of the “Sensei Says” martial arts curriculum, which has had a direct positive impact on the North Huntingdon community implemented with “Norwin Ninjas.” Norwin Ninjas is the sister program of his families karate business (Allegheny Shotokan Karate) which his father, Bill Viola Sr., established in 1969. The Ninjas teach life skills, and mentor kids to become future black belts. Viola Jr. explains, “We build champions in life.” He is part of a growing Pittsburgh karate legacy that that includes all four of his sisters and his daughter, Gabriella Capri Viola, a Kindergartner at Stewartsville Elementary.
The award has garnered the attention of community leaders, as Viola Jr. has received congratulations from The United States Senate, as well as the Allegheny County Council who issued an official proclamation honored Viola Jr. for his achievement, and praising his, “passion, commitment, visibility, diversity and overall impact on the region.”
The ceremony was is presented by Dollar Bank and in association with BNY Mellon, Carlow University, Junior Achievement, UPMC Health Plan among others. The full list of 40 under 40 winners can be view at www.pittsburghmagazine.com
Sensei Ray is a “Master” rank (6th Dan) and the Senior instructor at Allegheny Shotokan. He is known as Mr. Basics “Kihon” teaching the building blocks of Shotokan Karate. His Kihon class on Saturday mornings has been a tradition for decades. Sensei Ray has had the unique opportunity to train with karate legends such as Master Hidetaka Nishiyama, Shihan Osamu Ozawa, Master Fumio Deumra, Master Kenneth Funakoshi, Master Hidy Ochiai and Bill “Superfoot” Wallace. Sensei Ray was the chief coordinator for the Laurel State Karate Championships and USA Karate Allegheny Mountain Region Trials (member of the United States Olympic Committee) for thirty years. He has been training in Shotokan Karate-do for over 36 years. Below are photos from Sensei Ray’s promotion to Rokudan at the Annual Christmas Kumite.
Check out our 2017 Logo. Viola Karate since 1969. Building Champions in Life… A Pittsburgh, PA Legacy.
Allegheny Shotokan Karate aka “Viola Karate” founded in 1969, is an award winning Martial Arts School. The club was founded by Sensei William Viola II. The name “Allegheny” represented the school’s first location in Allegheny County (East Allegheny High School) in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. “Shotokan,” is the base style of Japanese Karate taught. Since its establishment, the school has held classes in the suburbs of Pittsburgh including Turtle Creek, North Versailles, Paintertown, White Oak, Irwin, North Irwin. The school currently resides in Irwin / North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.
The dojo was founded on the traditional principles of the Japanese Karate Association (JKA) and The All American Karate Federation and later became affiliated with the United States Karate Association and USA Karate Federation.
In the late 1960s Viola began teaching private lessons in the Brownsville, PA area. By 1969 Viola accepted a position at East Allegheny High School and established Allegheny Shotokan Karate in the school gymnasium. Among his earliest students was fellow teacher Keith Bertoluzzi, who was the Master of Ceremonies at the Holiday House, Monroeville, PA. Jack Bodell, would become the Viola’s first black belt and later a member of the United States Secret Service responsible for the protection of President Jimmy Carter.
Mixed Martial Arts
In 1980, Allegheny Shotokan Karate member Dave Jones of North Huntingdon represented the school in the first Tough Guy Contest, a Mixed Martial Arts competition, by recording a TKO victory over Mike Murray of Vandergrift in the 3rd round.
Over the years, the dojo earned the nickname “Home of Champions” as a dominate force at martial arts competitions and kickboxing championships. Allegheny Shotokan has produced hundreds of regional, national, and international champions including titles from; Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), United States of America Karate Federation (USAKF), United States of American National Karate Federation (USANKF), National Black Belt League (NBL), Sport Karate International (SKI) North American Sport Karate Association (NASKA), and Police Athletic League (PAL) Pennsylvania Karate Rating Association (PKRA).
USA Karate Team Members Doug Selchan and Dustin Baldis began their training at the school. Selchan went on the win a Gold Medal the 1999 Pan-American Games for the United States. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karate_at_the_1999_Pan_American_Games Allegheny Shotokan Karate is the only karate school in Pennsylvania Karate Rating Association (PKRA) history to win all seven grand championships at the Pittsburgh Karate Championships in 1996. Viola’s son, Bill Viola won 8-consecutive black belt overall state titles (1992-1999) and was inducted into the PKRA Hall of Fame. In 1998 the school was honored by Arnold Schwarzenegger as the #1 Martial Arts team in the United States of America.
Allegheny Shotokan is the home of Team Kumite, an all-star travel team. The dojo is the most successful sport karate school in the Pittsburgh region producing World Champions in including; Sara Russell, Dominic Leader, 3x World Champion Terrance Tubio, 7x World Champion Alison Viola
William Viola has had the opportunity to teach all five of his children Shotokan Karate; Bill Viola, Addie Viola, Jacque Viola, Alison Viola, and Joce Viola have all earned black belts and have served as instructors at Allegheny Shotokan.