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.
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
Connell Loveless presented the North American International Karate Championships NAIKC NBL Karate tournament this past weekend and Allegheny Shotokan and Team Kumite had a big time showing. The crew swept the continuous sparring divisions with Ali Viola, Billy Leader, Bess and Hope Chase winning big. Also the Jr. Girls team continued their undefeated streak with another first place win (Sara, Hope, Bridget) Great job by Cameron and Ryan in the black belt point sparring divisions. Cam did an awesome gojushiho sho kata. Ryan showed alot best online casino of heart! Bess also dominated the sparring competition. Liz took top honors in her advanced sparring division as did Sara and Ali. Ali advanced to the Grand Championship round vs Morgan Plowden.
Meanwhile at Mickey Forte”s BCAC Mon Valley Tournament (PKRA rated) the rest of team represented well under the direction of Sensei Arnold and Sensei Dave. Great weekend for team Kumite!!!
Pittsburgh Martial Artist Billy Leader named NBL Diamond Award Winner for Sport Karate “Player of the Year”
The 23rd Sport Karate World Games known internationally as the “Super Grands” was held 26th-31st in Buffalo New York. The tournament is sanctioned by the National Black Belt League (NBL) and Sport Karate International (SKIL) which are responsible for the largest sport karate ranking system and league for black belts in the world. The competition is the equivalent of the Super Bowl for martial arts with over 2000 world class competitors representing North America, South America, Africa, Asia and Europe each year at the Games. The competitor must compete at a series of regional and national events to earn a seed and qualify for the competition, a process similar to NCAA tournaments that is required to secure an invitation.
At the closing ceremonies of the World Games, the NBL Executive Office votes on a series of Hall of Fame categories that represent the entire league. For the first time in Pittsburgh history, a local resident was honored with the NBL Diamond Award “Player of the Year.” 21-year-old Billy Leader of North Huntingdon Township was inducted into the NBL Hall of Fame on December 31st 2012 and honored with this prestigious title. Leader’s coach Sensei Bill Viola Jr explains, “It is similar to a league MVP type honor, an award for his entire body of work as a competitor. He was in contention with thousands of international competitors worldwide. This is huge, it puts Pittsburgh on the map when it comes to sport karate.” The Norwin Graduate and Penn State Junior has studied martial arts since he was three years old at the Allegheny Shotokan Karate School in Irwin, PA.
Allegheny Shotokan was founded in 1969 and since has produced more World Champions than any other school in the Pittsburgh region. They school as a rich tradition of representing Pennsylvania and the United States at the World Games dating back to the establishment of the league. Serving as captain of the Pittsburgh based all-star Team Kumite Classic, Leader defeated Andres Garcia of Guatemala (the reigning 6-time World Champion) in the Men’s Light Middleweight Continuous Sparring division en route to an appearance on the main stage for the finals. His brother, 19-year-old Dominic Leader, also advanced to the finals to face Hugo Mendoza of Mexico. Leader’s teammate also includes 20-year old Ali Viola who claimed her 4th continuous sparring World Title by defeating the top international competitors from Canada, Guatemala and Mexico in the finals. Viola had previously become the first female form Pittsburgh to win a World Title in 2006, 2008, and 2009 before winning the Adult title this year.
The Team Kumite Classic Roster also includes a trio of sisters; 14-year-old Bridget Chase, 13-year-old Hope Chase, 11-year old Bess Chase all of Imperial, PA and 17-year-old Connor Burns of North Huntingdon who was inactive due to a torn ACL two weeks prior to the tournament. All of the athletes compete in Black Belt Continuous Sparring, a hybrid of kickboxing which requires high levels of endurance and physical toughness. Coach Viola was very proud of his team stating, “In all, we qualified six black belts who attended the World Games, and all six placed top three in the World. Its an incredible winning percentage, especially when you consider that our school is the only one in the Pittsburgh area to bring home a World Title. They are a special group of students and Billy [Leader] works harder than any other student I have ever had. Winning player of the year is well deserved.”
Billy Leader holds the NBL Diamond Award for Sport Karate Player of the Year inducted into the National Black Belt League Karate Hall of Fame
Pittsburgh was once again represented at the 23rd Sport Karate World Games aka the NBL National Black Belt League Super Grands by Allegheny Shotokan Karate and Team Kumite. Ali Viola claimed her 4th continuous sparring World Title and Championship in Buffalo New York over New Years. She defeated international competitors from Canada, Guatemala and Mexico in the finals. Team Captain Billy Leader defeated Andres Garcia of Guatemala (the reigning 6-time World Champion) in the Men’s Light Middleweight Continuous Sparring division en route to an appearance to the main stage for the finals. His brother Dominic also advanced to the finals to face Hugo Mendoza of Mexico. The team sent six black belts to the competition and all six placed top three in the World and earned NBL title belt. Coach Bill Viola was very proud of his team stating, “This year our team had to face allot of adversity and injury. Ali had bad hamstring injury and Bill could hardly walk let alone fight, but they found a way to persevere. Each year they bring respect back to Pittsburgh. I am also impressed with our Rookies at the Super Grands. The Chase sisters all earned a belt in their first World Games.”
Black Belt Roster @ the Super Grands:
Also representing the team in the SKIL Sport Karate International Games were Liz Leaseburg and Cameron Klos who fought up in the NBL Continuous division with a 5-2 record against world class competition.
Inactive due to injury or sickness included:
Connor Burns: ACL
Joe Powell: Ribs
Raun Churchfield: Pneumonia
Ali Viola poses with her 2012 World Championship All-Star Gear Karate Gloves, and The Leader brothers Dominic and Billy pose with Ali after their big wins. Ali shows off the NBL 1st place belt and Coach Bill Viola Jr. Congratulates NBL Player of the Year Billy Leader
Team Kumite had a spooktacular time at Christine Fisher’s annual karate tournament in Millersburg, Ohio. We represented with 30 competitors and brought home big wins in almost every division. Matt Morrow started off the day winning the 6- boys sparring division with his first big win at an NBL tournament. All of the Norwin Ninjas showed courage and gave 100% in their first travel team event. Cameron Klos won 4 straight matches to win first place in his point fighting in a very competitive group. Gabe Anthony also dominated his division for a big first place win. The team did great in kata as well with Marie Mosa pulling in first place with her Bassai Dai. We are very proud of the heart and intensity that each and every team member showed in the continuous sparring divisions. Bess Chase and Sara Russell put on a great show as the final two standing in the younger girls continuous division while sisters Hope and Bridget took top honors in the older girls group. The Chase sisters brought home a ton of hardware earning some very important points towards The NBL Supergrands. Liz made her first appearance in a black belt division and won her first match in a slug fest Highlights also included Sara Russell defending her “most spooktacular” costume (plus big first place win in sparring) and Rachel Bartuska winning funniest costume.
Thanks to all the parents who took time to support their kids at the competition. The event is the final tournament of the year for the NBL National Black Belt League’s Tecumseh conference which included Bill Viola’s Kumite Classic in Pittsburgh and Connell Loveless’s North American Karate International NAIKC in Michigan. Next stop the Christmas Kumite on Dec. 16th in White Oak.
Allegheny Shotokan and Team Kumite represent Pittsburgh Karate on the Hines Ward Show. WPXI host Alby Oxenreiter, Brett Keisel and Hines were on hand for the program that features Positive Athletes in Pittsburgh. Connor Burns, Dominic Leader, and Coach Bill Viola all represented sport karate and martial arts. Hines was able to learn some karate on air, and warned the Baltimore Ravens to watch out!
Hines Ward demonstrates his best front snap kick and kiai!
Here’s a clip from behind the scenes on the Hines Ward show on youtube:
The demonstration included Hines learning to block a roundhouse kick and counter with a reverse punch. Connor Burns was interviewed by Hines for his community service and taking time out to mentor younger kids. He emphasized self-discipline and the confidence that karate instills. Team Kumite sported the custom kumite classic black & yellow all star gear gloves. Yeah, Champions bleed black & gold! The team is based in North Huntington Irwin, PA. Dominic Leader was the first recipient of the Western PA Positive Athlete award for martial arts last year and continues the tradition of team kumite with the program!
Team Kumite traveled to the first Fall Brawl in Altonna, PA hosted by Steve Morrissey and the PMA Pennsylvania Martial Arts Alliance. Billy Leader was honored as the Grand Champion “Best of the Best” for sparring. He also took an inadvertent elbow that gave him a bloody nose, but if you know anything about the Leaders… that only motivated him more! Also winning first place at the tournament were Liz Leaseburg, Gabriel Anthony, Cameron Klos, Ryan Frankovic, Marie Mosa. Second place winners Rachel, Gavin and Travis. Winning third place was Luke and Colten. In most cases, the team had to eliminate each other in the run offs, but everyone showed great sportsmanship. Next stop… the NBL Spooktacular Karate Championships in Millersburg, OH.