Category Archives: history

Bassai Dai

Shihan’s favorite kata.  Bassai Dai.

Okinawan martial artists call it Passai while Japanese karate-ka refer to it as Bassai.  Master Funakoshi originally spelled the name of this form パッサイ (Passai) but changed it hold more Japanese connotation later.  In Korean the kata has several names: BassaheeBal SePal ChePalsekBal SaeBa Sa Hee, and Bal Sak.

The origin of “Bassai” remains obscure but some historians believe it dates back to ancient “leopard-lion” Chinese forms: various dialects called it   Baoshi, Pausai, or baasai in which had stomping action and similar movements.  Some hold it represents Wuxing Quan Kung Fu while others say it was part of Fukuen Crane style.  It’s a mystery.  Most scholars agree that the kata was brought to Okinawa by Sokon Matsumrua and budoka of his generation.

Passai (拔塞, katakana パッサイ), also Bassai (バッサイ), is one of the most recognizable “kata” in the world with countless Okinawan, Japanese and Korean variations.  Versions of the kata include Passai sho (拔塞小) or minor Passai and Passai dai (拔塞大) or major Passai.

拔(batsu) is “to pull out or to extract”

In chinese 拔(bá)” can mean “to seize or capture”

塞(sai/soku)” means a “place of strategic importance” or fort

Bassai (披塞 or 抜砦) in Japanese literally means to remove an obstruction. The Kanji (Japanese characters) 抜塞 are variants of the Chinese 拔塞 (bá sāi) so the meaning falls somewhere in between.

1973 translation of Karate-do Kyohan lists Funakoshi’s explanation of the form name as “Breaking through [penetrate] an enemy’s fortress.” This expresses more of the students attitude then the literal translation.

 

 

 

Shin

The Fives “Spirits” of Budo (martial way) are:

  • Shoshin: (初心) Beginners’ Mind
  • Zanshin: (残心) Remaining Mind
  • Mushin: (無心) No Mind
  • Fudoshin: (不動心) Immovable Mind
  • Senshin (先心) Purified spirit; Enlightened Attitude/Mind

Shoshin

The state of shoshin is that of a beginners mind.  It is a state of awareness the remains always fully conscious, aware, and prepared to see things for the first time.  The attitude of shoshin is essential to continued learning.  Great quote:  “Don’t expect me to teach you.  You must steal the techniques for yourselves.”
Zanshin
The spirit of zanshin is the state of the remaining.  It is often described as a sustained and heightened state of awareness.  In karate technique terms, true zanshin is a state of focus or concentration before, during, and after the execution of a move.  Zanshin is the state of mind that allows us to stay spiritually connected, not only to a single attacker, but to multiple attackers and even an entire context; a space, a time, an event.

 

Mushin
No mind, a mind without ego.  A mind like a mirror which reflects and dos not judge.”  The original term was “mushin no shin”, meaning, “mind of no mind.”  It is a state of mind without fear, anger, or anxiety.  Mushin is sometimes described by the phrase, “mizu no kokoro”, which means, “mind like water”.  The phrase is a metaphor describing the pond that clearly reflects it’s surroundings when calm, but whose images are obscured once a pebble is dropped into its waters.
Fudoshin
An unshakable mind and an immovable spirit is the state of fudoshin.  It is courage and stability displayed both mentally and physically.  Rather than indicating rigid, inflexibility, fudoshin describes a condition that is not easily upset by internal thoughts or external forces.  It is capable of receiving a strong attack while retaining composure and balance.  It receives and yields lightly, grounds to the earth, and reflects aggression back to the source.

 

Senshin
Senshin is a spirit that transcends the first four states of mind. Sen (as in sensei) means “before” and we know shin can mean mind, heart, soul spirit, truth etc.  It is a spirit that “harmonizes” the universe.  Senshin is a spirit of compassion that embraces and serves all humanity and whose function is to reconcile discord in the world.  It holds all life to be sacred.  Fully embracing senshin is essentially equivalent to becoming enlightened and may well exceed the scope of daily martiala rts training.

 

Shoshin can free a student from a frustrating plateau of learning, giving him the sight to see what he would not see before.  Zanshin can raise one’s total awareness enhancing randori and free-style training.  Mushin can release the student’s anxiety under pressure enabling better performance during testing.  Fudoshin, can provide the confidence to stand one’s ground in the face of overwhelming physical attacks.  The serious aikidoka should find ways of incorporating these budo spirits in his daily training.

Shoshin: This is like a little baby born into the World, eyes wide open trying to absorb as much information as they can.

Zanshin: Is a state of heightened awareness. Great example 2 vs 1 kumite.

Mushin: in like being in the “zone”. Body just takes over with no thought.  Michael Jordan used to get into the “zone” and everything just worked.

Fudoshin: Self-control and strong composure. Student must show patience and hold their ground waiting for the opponent to attack so they can catch them.

Senshin: The ultimate mindset.  One we all wish to obtain.

FYI:  Senshin is the name of the “Sophisticated Mind” brand of Sake.  This may be cheating, lol.

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