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Viola Legacy

Ali Viola world champion

A Pittsburgh Legacy “Building Champions in Life”

Pittsburgh, PA — January 5th, 2015

Winning World Titles is nothing new for the Viola family, especially for Duquesne University law student Ali Viola.  Over the course of the past decade, she has become a 7x National Black Belt League (NBL) World Champion with international honors that have made her the most successful female karate fighter in Pittsburgh history. She has followed in the footsteps of her martial arts pioneer father and International Champion brother, Bill Viola Sr. and Jr.  Although she doesn’t have anything further to prove on the mat and wasn’t planning on competing in 2014 due to college commitments, it was a very special season for the family.

Photo Courtesy of Pittsburgh Tribune Review

The 2014 World Games marked a ceremonial passing of the torch, a karate tradition that has been a rooted in Pittsburgh for fifty years.  Ali Viola competed alongside her 4-year-old niece, Gabby Viola, the youngest competitor at the World Games and the next generation of Violas to represent Pittsburgh.

The 25th Annual 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 thousands of world class competitors representing North America, South America, Asia and Europe each year at the Games. The competitors 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.

Gabby’s Aunt [Ali] added two World Titles to her resume, one for Women’s Middle Weight sparring (defeating a contender from France in the semi-finals and then the number #1 ranked fighter from California, Ashlee Grant, in the finals); the second victory was a team title that included teammates Willie Hicks (Texas) and Luis Jimenez (Mexico).  Jimenez, a friend of Ali’s coach and brother Bill, also entered his son Joey Jimenez (the second youngest competitor at the World Games).

Gabby and Joey formed a unique bond that extended beyond the ring as they learned about family, respect and tradition.  Although neither Gabby nor Joey won the overall division (Gabby 4th and Joey 6th) they learned something much more valuable—the importance of carrying on a legacy!  Each walked away with an Amateur International Title and took the first step towards creating their place in martial arts history.

As Viola Sr. says, “Titles come and go, but a legacy is forever.”  The school’s motto is “Building Champions in Life.”  He prides his students on being community leaders and exceling in the education.  Ali Viola is a first year law student at Duquesne University and former Division-1 soccer star at Youngstown State.  She currently works at Eckert Seamans Law Firm and is an assistant coach for “Team Kumite” the all-star travel team founded by her brother.  She avidly supports the Western Pennsylvania Police Athletic League and also trains boxing at the Third Avenue Gym downtown Pittsburgh in her free time.

Gabby Viola is currently a yellow belt in the Norwin Ninjas program at Allegheny Shotokan Karate and is coached by her father (Bill Jr.) and instructed by her Aunt (Ali) and Grandfather (Bill Sr.) aka “Papa Sensei.”  For the past fifty years, the Viola name has been synonymous with martial arts excellence and Gabby is next in line to carry the tradition.  More importantly, she is learning how to build character through martial arts.  Viola Jr. adds, “Respect, discipline and focus are the cornerstones of karate and those traits will help you throughout your schooling, your job, and life.”

For generations, the Viola family has put Pittsburgh on the map in the world of martial arts.  Bill Viola Sr., the family patriarch, has been a pioneer of karate since the 1960s and is credited as the co-creator of the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) in 1979, a decade before the UFC was a household name. In 2011 The Western PA Sports Museum and Heinz History Center honored him with an exhibit documenting Pittsburgh as the birthplace of modern MMA. In all, Viola Sr. has five children [Bill Jr., Addie, Jacque, Ali, and Joce], all of whom have earned black belts and excelled in international competition.


Bill Viola Jr. has created the Mecca for martial arts in Pittsburgh, promoting the region’s largest and most prestigious competition known worldwide as the “Kumite Classic.” He’s an accomplished martial arts author and movie producer whose credits that include Tapped (2014) starring UFC Champions Lyoto Machida and Anderson “Spider” Silva.

About Allegheny Shotokan:  Bill Viola Sr. established Allegheny Shotokan Karate in 1969, and has since produced more World Champions than any other school in the Pittsburgh region.  The school has been representing Pennsylvania and the United States at the World Games dating back to the establishment of the league.  www.alleghenyshotokan.com

Other students from Allegheny Shotokan and Team Kumite who represented at the World Games were:

  • Sara Russell
  • Cameron Klos
  • Nick Kosan
  • Hope Chase
  • Bess Chase
  • Brigid Chase
  • Luke Lokay
  • Brady Johnson
  • Austin Hladek

World Champs

ali viola world champion

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:

Billy Leader

Ali Viola

Dominic Leader

Bridgit Chase

Hope Chase

Bess Chase

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

 

Hines Ward Show

hines ward team kumite

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!

pittsburgh karate

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!

From dancing with the stars, football and even karate, Hines ward is a true sport and great role model! Visit his website http://www.positiveathlete.org/

North American Internationals

sensei bill viola

Team Kumite traveled to Novi, MI (just outside Detroit) to compete in Connell Loveless”s North American International Championships, part of the NBL National Black Belt League Tecumseh Conference.  Representing the team were: Coach Bill Viola

team kumite novi mi

  • Billy Leader: 1st place continuous
  • Dominic Leader:  1st place continuous , 1st place point
  • Connor Burns: 2nd place point
  • Bri Chase: too many to list
  • Hope Chase: too many to list (on stage for The high school uses a cohort model in which a vice principal, a counselor, and two resource teachers follow the students from 6th to 8th grade, providing academic, emotional, and social continuity throughout out their years at King. Grand Champion)
  • Bess Chase: 1st place continuous among others
  • Cameron Klos: 1st place point, 3rd kata
  • Sara Russell: 1st place point
  • Gabe Anthony:  1st place point, 1st place weapons
  • Liz Leaseburg:  2nd kata, 3rd point

Team Kumite collected some important points towards the NBL Supergrands.  Next stop is Christine Fisher”s Spooktacular in Millersburg Ohio to finish out the conference.

Monroeville Ninjas

norwin ninjas

Monroeville Ninjas  @ The Monroeville Sports Center.  Build Self-Confidence, Self-Esteem, and Respect. Children ages 4-7 years old.  Serving the Pittsburgh:  Gateway / Penn Hills area.  Award winning martial arts & karate program for kids.  New course begins Sept. 27th-Oct. 18th

Only $99 for 8-weeks includes FREE uniform and headband!  Click here to Register.  

Space is limited, first come first serve.

Classes held @ 
Monroeville Sports Center
855 MacBeth Dr.
Monroeville, PA 15146
 
monroeville ninjas
 
Norwin Ninjas, Spartan Samurais and Monroeville Ninjas are part of Kindergarten Karate www.kindergartenkarate.com

EA Old School

EA

Allegheny Shotokan “Old School” days at East Allegheny School.  Sensei Bill Viola began teaching Karate in 1969 and the club flourished into the 1970s.  Allegheny was chosen both as a reference to Allegheny Country, East Allegheny School District, and the fact that “A” was at the beginning of the phone book (a clever marketing strategy in the days before the internet).

Today , Allegheny Shotokan operates in Irwin / North Huntingdon in the suburbs of Pittsburgh.

bill viola circa 1969

 

Karate Olympics 2020

karate 2020

At Allegheny Shotokan we pride ourselves in training both open and traditional karate.  We are excited to hear the news that tTraditional Karate Kumite is making a strong bid for the 2020 Olympics.  Bookmakers are publishing the first rankings of IOC shortlisted sports seeking inclusion in the 2020 Olympic Games program. According to these lists, Karate is the leading bid far before squash and baseball.

Breaking news… Karate is the odds-on favorite to make the 2020 Olympics!   

Karate is 1/2 to win the nomination ahead of squash at evens, baseball and softball at 5/4, wushu at 5/2, roller sports 8/1, sports climbing 10/1 and wakeboard 10/1. via British Bookmaker William Hill. 

Karate officials claim that there is now more than 50 million participants worldwide who practice the sport.

  • KARATE IS A POPULAR COMBAT SPORT – Leader among sports federations and practitioners. Leader in broadcasting and media communication. When combat sport is mentioned, KARATE immediately jumps to mind.
  • KARATE BUILDS SOCIAL INTEGRATION – Lifelong practice of humility, mutual respect, rejection of violence, physical health and emotional control ensures that KARATE practitioners become good role models and ethical citizens.
  • KARATE IS FOR ALL – Karate is integrative, practiced worldwide in all cultures and nations. Disability is not an obstacle and a specific body type is not required.
  • Social Integration – One of the key elements that defines Karate is respect for others. Practitioners consider themselves equal whatever their social or economisc background, culture, language or gender may be.
  • Fairness and Humility – Karate practitioners are noble; not only do they learn to see the sport as a competition, they also consider it a lifelong practice in wich all are equal and help each other attain their goals.
  • Physical and Mental Balance – Karate practice teaches control of agressiveness and violence, overcoming shyness and improving confidence. Psychomotor capacity is improved through coordination of movement, synchronisation and reflexes.
  • Rejection of violence – Practising Karate implies learning to control one’s strength. This sport penalises contact. Violence is not part of Karate.
  • Overcoming Difficulties – Karate provides the will to overcome and to respect others. Practising Karate strengthens the spirit wich prepares people to deal with obstacles and difficulties in everyday life.

Ali Viola

Ali Viola

3x NBL National Black Belt League World Continuous Sparring Super Grands Champion Ali Viola represents Team Kumite based in Pittsburgh, PA.  The All-star karate team trains in North Huntingdon Irwin at Allegheny Shotokan Karate. She is  the only female NBL World Champion in Pittsburgh history and the #1 ranked fighter in Pittsburgh. She has been training in martial arts since she was 3 years old.  She currently leads the D-1 YSU Youngstown State girls soccer team as the goal keeper.

Ali Viola vs Colbey Northcutt.  Ali wins Survivor 2012 over Northcutt.  Great fight by both ladies.

 

Ali Alison Viola vs Colbey Northcutt.  Viola wins by 18

ali viola

Pittsburgh sport karate champion Ali Viola is a kumite classic team member and Norwin graduate. She is a state, national, international, and World Champion.