Category Archives: Black Belts

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…

Journey Continues for Master Ray Adams and Master Dave Zezza

black belt

The Journey Continues for two North Huntingdon

Martial Arts 🥋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. 

 

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.  

Sensei Ray Walters

Sensei Ray Walters

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.  

 

Allegheny Shotokan

Allegheny “Viola” Shotokan Karate, established in 1969, is a Martial Arts School based in Western Pennsylvania. The club was founded by Sensei William Viola. The name “Allegheny” represented the school’s first location in Allegheny County (East Allegheny High School). “Shotokan,” is the base style of Japanese Karate taught. Over the past 40 years the school has held classes in the suburbs of Pittsburgh including Turtle Creek, North Versailles, Paintertown, White Oak, Irwin, North Irwin and currently residing in North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.

The school is based on the traditional principles of the Shotokan Karate. Later the school became affiliated with the United States Karate Association and USA Karate Federation.

In 1969 Bill Viola began instructing Keith Bertoluzzi, his first student at East Allegheny High School. Bertoluzzi was the Master of Ceremonies at the Holiday House, Monroeville, PA. Bertoluzzi used his musical influence to invite several celebrities to attend karate classes including;

During the 1970s and 1980s the club was a dominant force at martial arts competitions, successful in both karate and kick boxing championships. The school is credited with sponsoring numerous championships including the Laurel State Karate Championships founded in the 1970s.

jack bodell karate

In 1980, members of the dojo entered mixed martial arts style fights know as Tough Guy competitions.  Shihan Viola is recognized as co-creator of the sport of mixed martial arts.  read more 

tough guys

In 1987

the school organized the USA Karate Allegheny Mountain Championships, a qualifier for the USAKF National Championships. In 1992 the school was instrumental in bringing the USA Karate Junior Olympics to the University of Pittsburgh Field House. Shihan Viola hosted the event with George Anderson (President USA Karate). The USAKF was the national governing body for Karate in the United States (1985-1995), and member of the US Olympic Committee.

USA Karate Team Members Jack Bodell, Rich Sowash, Doug Selchan and Dustin Baldis began their training at the school. Bodell was the first black belt promoted by Shihan Viola and would go on to be a member of the United States Secret Service protecting President Jimmy Carter. He also served as a referee for CV Productions during the Tough Guy Contest (The first mixed martial arts company in America).  Bodell would open additional schools in the 1980s including West Newton, PA (School of Orthodox Shotokan Karate).  He instructed Selchan and Baldis before relocating south to Memphis, Tenn.  Selchan took over as head instructor for the dojo. Doug went on the win a Gold Medal the 1999 Pan-American Games  in the +80kg Kumite for the United States.  While in Tennessee, Bodell trained USA Karate Team Member Clay Morton.

Sensei Bill Viola Jr. was recognized as the only black belt triple-gold medalist at USA Karate’s Jr. Olympics earning top honors in Kumite, Kata, and Kobudo. As a Junior his was a multiple time national champion and All-American Athlete. Master George Anderson asked Viola Jr. personally to be a member of USA Karate Team. He entered the Adult division in 1995 and earned at least one Gold Medal 1995-1999 each year making him a 5x USAKF National Champion before retiring.  In 1998 he was the only Adult Male to win triple gold (Kata, Kumite, -65kg Kumite).  Sensei Bill split his time competing in both Olympic-style USA Karate and Open Style NASKA/NBL events throughout his career.

jack bedell
Sensei Jack Bodell, Shihan Viola, Sensei Bill Jr.

 

2003 The USA Karate Federation named William Viola as Man of the Year, and inducted him into the USA Karate Hall of Fame largely in part of his body of work at Allegheny Shotokan.

Allegheny Shotokan Karate is the only karate school in Pennsylvania Karate Rating Association 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 Demo team in the United States of America.

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).

Modern Champions:

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 the only NBL World Champions in the past decade including; 3x World Champion Terrance Tubio, 3x World Champion Alison Viola, most recently 2010 World Champion Dominic Leader.

In 2010 Allegheny Shotokan launched Norwin Ninjas, a specialized course designed to build self-confidence, instill respect, and teach discipline to children ages 4-7 years olds.

Viola Family

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 the.

Notable Alumni:

Keith Bertoluzzi, The first karate student in Allegheny Shotokan Karate history. -1969 Co-worker of Sensei Viola at East Allegheny School District.

Jack Bodell, Former agent of the United States Secret Service charged with protecting President Jimmy Carter.

Art Timko, Department of Tobacco and Alcohol

Ray Walters, Senior Ranking Allegheny Shotokan Black Belt Instructor

Ray Adams, Longest running active student -since 1970.

Dave Jones, Recorded a TKO of Mike Murray in round 2 March 1980 in the first mixed martial arts competition in United States.

Rich Sowash, represented the United States at the 198 Pan American Junior Championships in San Jose, Costa Rica winning a bronze medal in WUKO Kata.

Doug Selchan began his training at Allegheny Shotokan and represented the United States at the 1999 Pan-American Games in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada winning a Gold Medal in 80+ Kilo Kumite.

Bill Viola USA Karate National Champion, Sport Karate International Champion, Founder of Kumite Classic Entertainment.

Addie Viola USA Karate National Champion.

Rocky Whatule Professional comedian and actor, Host of Hollywood Rockin’ Wrap-up

Terrance Tubio 3x NBL World Champion

Billy Leader Team Kumite Captain, NBL World Games

Ali Viola 3x NBL World Champion Continuous Sparring: 2006 weight World Champion, 2008 Middleweight World Champion, 2009 Middleweight World Champion Buffalo, New York. 2010-present Division 1 Goal Keeper for Youngstown State University.

Dominic Leader 2010 NBL World Champion