Category Archives: News

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.

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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

 

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. 

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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

The Mixed Martial Arts Family Tree

mma pioneers

MMA Family Tree Pittsburgh native Bill Viola Sr. credited with creating Mixed Martial Arts in America

Yoi and double yoi.  You heard that right… Two Parmanti eatin’ terrible towel waving  “Yinzers” from Western Pennsylvania are credited with creating a new sport [MMA] over 14 years before the UFC. These weren’t your average yinzers though, they set sights on a “billion dollar” prize and would have won if it wasn’t for Commonwealth outlawing the sport with the passage of the Tough Guy Law in 1983.  Who knew??  Fascinating story of what if, but #Pittsburgh is documented as the birthplace of MMA. BURGH PROUD!  Read the book or Watch the Showtime Documentary

How a Pittsburgh karate pioneer Bill Viola Sr. fits in the mixed martial arts family tree from Pankration to UFC.  Learn more about the History of MMA

history of mma timeline
History of mixed martial arts mma timeline
bill viola pittsburgh
Bill Viola Sr. & Frank Caliguri credited with creating the modern sport of MMA mixed martial arts

 

 

Shihan Viola’s life story comes to Showtime network

“Toughs Guys” make television history on Showtime

showtime

 

When you think of MMA, most people think Dana White.  He has been the face of the UFC and mixed martial arts for years.  A new documentary reveals the true creators of MMA:  Pittsburgh martial artists Bill Viola Sr. and Frank Caliguri (1979-1983). Their company CV Productions was the first MMA promotion in America and established the first league in history.  They were ultimate fighters ahead of their time who invented the Tough Guy Contest.

Emotional day! In 2007 I set out to share the untold story of the “Tough Guys.” These are the men who created the sport of MMA while Dana White was still in elementary school and 13 years before the UFC existed. A decade later and my book (along with my cousin Fred) “Godfathers of MMA” is coming to life on SHOWTIME ? The same network that just set PPV records with Mayweather vs McGregor, will broadcast the real origins of MMA in America. Pittsburgh is the “City of Champions” and now can add “Birthplace of MMA” to its banners! It may have been the wrong place wrong time… but it was one hell of a ride. Congrats to my dad and Frank on being a part of American sports history!!!!!!! #toughguys #godfathersofmma #showtime -Sensei Bill Viola Jr.

tough-guys-showtime-mma

 

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 made ts world premiere on June 15 at the AFI DOCS Film Festival in Washington, DC. It will make its network debut Sept. 15th 2017 on Showtime

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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.

Pittsburgh Karate Champs

norwin ninjas karate

Allegheny Shotokan named ‘top team’ at Pittsburgh Kumite Classic

 | SundayJuly 2, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

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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.

allegheny shotokan karate

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.

For more information about Pittsburgh area karate classes visit www.Norwinninjas.com.

http://triblive.com/sports/otherlocal/12430969-74/allegheny-shotokan-named-top-team-at-kumite-classic

 

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