Tag Archives: martial arts

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

 

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

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.

Irwin Karate

Bill Viola Hines Ward karate

Looking for the most experienced karate school in the Irwin area?  Allegheny Shotokan has been an Irwin Karate landmark since 1969.

Irwin, PA Karate Martial Arts is home of World Champions.  Pictured is Sensei Bill Viola, Pittsburgh Steeler Hines Ward, and NBL World Champion Dominic Leader of Team Kumite. Allegheny Shotokan Karate is the most established karate school in the Irwin North Huntingdon Norwin area.  Home of Champions in the Pittsburgh region.  Contact us for a free lesson.

irwin karate

North Huntingdon Karate

norwin ninjas

Allegheny Shotokan is North Huntingdon, PA”s home for the very best Karate and Martial Arts training.  The school is home of NBL World Champions.  Self Defense classes for men, women or children.  Allegheny Shotokan Karate is the most established karate school in the Irwin North Huntingdon Norwin area.  Founded by Bill Viola, Home of Champions in the Pittsburgh region since 1969.  Contact us for a free lesson.

norwin ninjas

Master Viola

Shihan (Master) Bill Viola founded Allegheny Shotokan Karate in 1969. Viola is master of the martial arts and member of the USA Karate Hall of Fame. Viola established Allegheny Shotokan Karate in 1969 and over the past 5 decades Viola has taught thousands of students and coached hundreds of regional, national, international, and World champions. Arnold Schwarzenegger recognized his school as the number #1 team in America in 1998. In 1992 Viola hosted the USA Karate Junior Olympics under the sanction of the USAKF, the national governing body for Karate in the United States and member of the US Olympic Committee. Viola’s experience lead him to be named to the USA Karate Organizing Committee, responsible for coordination of the USA Karate National Championships. In 2003 The USA Karate Federation named William Viola as Man of the Year, and was awarded the lifetime achievement award.

Viola has promoted hundreds of events in his career and in 1979 he co-founded CV Productions Inc. with his partner Frank Caliguri. In 1980 the company introduced a new sport to America, which now known as MMA. The first mainstream mixed martial arts competitions in the United States began in Pittsburgh in 1980. Viola is a documented innovator and pioneer of modern mixed martial arts in America, honored by The Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum in 2011. The Heinz History Center, in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institute, unveiled an exhibit on 23 June 2011 to document Viola’s mixed martial arts roots. As a result of Viola and Caliguri’s unique new sport concept, Pittsburgh is considered the birthplace of modern mixed martial arts as a sport in the United States.

Viola has had the unique opportunity to teach all five of his children Shotokan Karate; Bill Viola Jr., Addie Viola, Jacque Viola, Alison Viola, and Joce Viola have all earned black belts and have served as instructors at the Allegheny Shotokan Karate School.

William Viola II is an American entrepreneur, martial arts instructor, event promoter, and mixed martial arts pioneer. Viola is recognized internationally for his promotions and advancement of martial arts as a sport.

Viola was born in Brownsville, PA and graduated from the California University in 1969 with a teaching degree. He did his graduate work at the University of Pittsburgh and served as a science teacher in the East Allegheny school district from 1969 to 1999.

As a high school student, Viola studied shotokan karate in the early 1960s. Viola established his first karate club, Allegheny Shotokan Karate, in 1969 at Park Terrance Junior High School (East Allegheny School District). He later achieved rank from late Grand Master Robert Trias (United States Karate Association), and late Grand Master George Anderson (USA Karate Federation). Viola was a champion competitor in kata and kumite and retired from competition in 1979. He has coached hundreds of regional, national, and international champions.

Viola has promoted over 200 events in his career beginning in 1975 with karate and kickboxing competitions, followed by a host of unique productions including; The Crossroads Antique Faire, auctions, baseball card shows, martial arts banquets ,seminars, and mixed martial arts fights.

In 1979 he co-founded CV Productions Inc. with his partner Frank Caliguri. In 1980 the company introduced a new sport, the first mainstream mixed martial arts competitions in America. Caliguri and Viola are credited with inventing the “Toughguy” competition and promoted 10 mixed martial arts style fights across Pennsylvania including the “Battle of the Brawlers” and “Battle of the Superfighters.” Viola is a documented innovator and pioneer of modern mixed martial arts in America, honored by The Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum in 2011. The Heinz History Center, in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institute, unveiled an exhibit on 23 June 2011 to document Viola’s mixed martial arts roots. As a result of Viola and Caliguri’s unique new sport concept, Pittsburgh is considered the birthplace of modern mixed martial arts as a sport in the United States.

In the 1970s Viola founded the annual Laurel State Karate Championships. In 1990, the Laurel State Championship was sanctioned by the NBL (National Black Belt League) and joined the Northeast National Conference. In 1986 s Viola was appointed Pennsylvania regional administrator for the USA Karate Federation. He promoted the Allegheny Mountain Championships, a qualifier for the USAKF National Championships. In 1992 Viola hosted the USA Karate Junior Olympics at the University of Pittsburgh Field House. The USAKF was the national governing body for Karate from 1985-1995 in the United States and member of the US Olympic Committee. Viola’s tournament experience lead him to be named to the USA Karate Organizing Committee, responsible for coordination of the USA Karate National Championships.

In 2003 The USA Karate Federation named William Viola as Man of the Year, and inducted him into the USA Karate Hall of Fame. He was awarded the lifetime achievement award by the USAKF. In 2010 Viola resurrected CV Productions Inc. and promoted Caged Kumite, a pro-am mixed martial arts fight held in conjunction with the Kumite Classic at the Monroeville Convention Center.

Viola has had the unique opportunity to teach all five of his children Shotokan Karate; Bill Viola Jr., Addie Viola, Jacque Viola, Alison Viola, and Joce Viola have all earned black belts and have served as instructors at the Allegheny Shotokan Karate School.

Other Companies and Promotions include:

  • Viola Estates (Commercial & Residential Real Estate)
  • Bullpen sports memorabilia
  • Crossroads Antiques Faire

Viola has been inducted into the following Hall of Fames:

  • USA Karate Hall of Fame
  • National Federation of Martial Arts Hall of Fame
  • PKRA Hall of Fame
  • Pittsburgh MMA Hall of Fame
  • Kumite International Hall of Fame