Category Archives: karate tournament

Gabby Viola and Lucy Lokay Sport Karate People’s Choice

lucy lokay gabby viola karate

For Immediate Release:  2/13/20                     Contact:  Call/Text Bill Viola Jr. 724-640-2111

Pittsburgh Karate Girls Honored by Peers with National “People’s Choice” Meet Gabby Viola and Lucy Lokay

Gabby Viola and Lucy Lokay in karate action
14-year-old Lucy Lokay and 9-year old Gabby Viola

Often times people associate martial arts as a rough-and-tumble sport dominated by male competitors, but two Pittsburgh area karate girls shattering the stereotypes.  9-year-old Gabby Viola and 14-year-old Lucy Lokay were recently honored by the national karate media and their peers with nationwide “People’s Choice Awards.”  Sportmartialarts.com and Point Fighter Live are the equivalent to the Academy Awards and Grammys for sport karate. They are the two most popular media outlets in North America and recognize the top athletes at the beginning of each season with year-end recognition.    

9-year-old Gabby Viola was nominated as “Competitor of the Year” by Point Fighter Live.  The honor, dubbed as a  “Power Award” was voted on by coaches, competitors, and promoters from across North America.  After a nationwide poll, Viola not only won her category (edging out a talented competitor from El Paso, Texas) but was the highest vote getter of the show. The physical award will be presented this April in Warwick, Rhode Island at the Ocean State Grand Nationals.

Gabby is a third generation Viola to win national honors.  She’s following in her Dad Bill Jr. and Grandfather Bill Sr.’s footsteps. She began her training as a toddler and has been a national champion since she debuted at the 2013 Kumite Classic.  She’s a member of Team USA, and defending Gold Medalist from the WKC Nationals Championships.  Gabby is an inspiration to other girls as she’s been battling  bowel disease.  At 7-years-old, she was diagnosed with chronic inflammation and ulcerative colitis.  While there is no cure for the condition, but she is fighting for remission every day and proving that nothing can stop her karate dreams.  She is currently treated with infusions at UPMC Children’s hospital and is scheduled to visit Washington, DC this May to lobby for new treatments for the disease with .

When asked about the recognition Gabby said, “I’m really happy.  I hope this helps get me to Japan!” She’s on a mission to fund raise to watch her Idol Sandra Sanchez from Spain compete for a gold medal at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.  Gabby had the opportunity to train with Sanchez in Orlando, Florida this past July. When she’s not competing, she loves playing piano, dance, and teaching her 2-year-old brother karate. 

Gabby Viola dreams of Olympic karate
Gabby Viola hopes to attend the 2020 Olympics

14-year-old Lucy Lokay was recognized by Sportsmartialarts.com in the “Overall Youth Female” category.   She received enough preliminary votes nationally to beat out thousands of other competitors and earn a nomination in the final four, and a trip to Chicago, Illinois for the awards ceremony.  Lokay explains, “I was so honored.  I mean these other girls are already starring in TV shows and movies, and I’m just a small town girl. I’m just getting started. It’s crazy.”

Her coach Bill Viola Jr. agrees, “Lucy was the youngest in the field nominated by SMA.  This puts her name on the radar for the entire league.  She has a bright future.”  Although Lucy took runner up, just to share the stage with North America’s top female martial artists was empowering.  She is ranked #2 in the World Rankings by the North American Sport Karate Association.  Not since one of her mentors, Ali Viola, a decade ago has any female from the tristate area ever been nominated for an SMA award. 

Lucy is dedicated to giving back as a representative of the Western PA Police Athletic League, volunteering for their community initiative.  She works alongside Pittsburgh Police and community leaders to help those less fortunate learn martial arts and boxing and helps organize “Stuff-a-Store” toy drives with her mother Amy. 

Throughout the long season, Gabby and Lucy traveled to Illinois, California, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, New York, West Virginia, Ohio, New Jersey and Canada to compete.  The honors are based on an entire year’s body of work.  

Gabby Viola and Lucy Lokay Karate girls
Gabby and Lucy

Gabby and Lucy are members of Allegheny Shotokan “Viola” Karate Dojo which recently celebrated its 50 Year Anniversary.  The Dojo was honored with a proclamation from County Executive Rich Fitzgerald who recognized “Sensei Viola Day” on September 23rd 2019 for the Pittsburgh region.  Sensei Bill Viola Sr. has 4 daughters, all of whom have earned their black belts.  Now his Grand Daughter Gabby and Lucy carry on the tradition of strong inspiring ladies from the dojo!

The team is gearing up for the 2020 WKC World Championships held in Madrid, Spain and fundraising to visit Tokyo, Japan and attend the 2020 Olympics.  

For more information visit www.alleghenyshotokan.com  

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#gabbyviola #lucylokay #karategirls #karate #pittsburgh

NASKA World Champions

naska ring

NASKA World Champions

luke lokay, xander eddy, cameron klos

The North American Sport Karate Association (NASKA) sanctions the most prestigious karate tournaments in the country and abroad.  For the last thirty years, the league has tracked and ranked competitors throughout the tournament season to determine the World Tour Champions.  The ratings are compiled annually, with the highest point total determining who earns the World Championship Belt and ring. 

naska world champion

North Huntingdon residents Xander Eddy (10 years old), Luke Lokay (16 years old), and Cameron Klos (17 years old) became the first Western Pennsylvania martial artists to win a NASKA title since their Coach, Bill Viola Jr. and his sister Addie were ranked #1 in NASKA in the 1980s.

bill viola addie naska
Bill Viola Jr. and Addie Viola #1 Ranked NASKA (1989)

Sensei Bill Viola Jr. said, “I am so happy to pass the torch to these kids. They are an inspiration to this community and a testimony of hard work and dedication.  They made all of Norwin and Pittsburgh proud.”

The 2019 World Championship awards were presented at the AKA Warrior Cup in Chicago, Illinois.  It is the longest running tournament in America founded in 1964.  The tourney hosted the NASKA Banquet on Thursday January 23rd 2020.  NASKA President Larry Carnahan from Minneapolis, MN presided over the ceremony in which the three Western Pennsylvanian black belts earned #1 rankings and World Titles for their age categories.

NASKA World Tour Champions:

  • 10-year-old Xander Eddy         World Champion (10- Open Weight  and 10- Black Belt)
  • 16-year-old Luke Lokay            World Champion (16-17 Light Weight Black Belt Sparring)
  • 17-year-old, Cameron Klos      World Champion (15-17 Open Weight

16-17 Heavy Weight black belt sparring

The trio are members of Allegheny Shotokan “Viola” Karate Dojo which recently celebrated it’s 50 Year Anniversary proclaimed by County Executive Rich Fitzgerald as “Sensei Viola Day” on September 23rd 2019 for the Pittsburgh region. 

Xander, Luke, and Cameron traveled to Illinois, California, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, New York, West Virginia, Ohio, New Jersey and Canada to compete during the season.  The honor is based on an entire year’s body of work.   

Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

https://www.post-gazette.com/local/region/2019/09/26/Bill-Viola-Sr-Allegheny-Shotokan-Karate/stories/201909260004

Pittsburgh Tribune Review:

https://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/governments-students-honor-north-huntingdon-karate-instructor-bill-viola/

The team is gearing up for the 2020 WKC World Championships held in Madrid, Spain and fundraising to visit Tokyo, Japan and attend the 2020 Olympics.

For more information visit www.alleghenyshotokan.com  

Press Release

WKC World Champions

world champions
WKC World Champions

For Immediate Release:  11/21/19                   Contact:  Call/Text Bill Viola Jr. 724-640-2111

2019 World Titles brought home to Western Pennsylvania

The World Karate and Kickboxing Council (WKC) hosted the World Championships November, 3rd -9th in Niagara Falls, New York.   The world’s best from 22 countries converged to compete in WKC Tatami-style divisions.  The competition was the largest WKC championships in history with thousands of athletes.

wkc champion
Riley Evans on the podium

Team USA was comprised of athletes from across the country who won the National Team trials in Detroit this past June.  13 members from Allegheny Shotokan “Viola” Karate Dojo earned positions to represent the United States at the World Championships.  Of that group, 5 students advanced to the medal rounds and secured top honors.  These medals are the first ever for the Pittsburgh region.    

Sensei Bill Viola Jr. said, “I am proud of the way these kids represented our community and the United States.  Win or lose, they demonstrated respect and determination.  We they play our National Anthem for Gold, it makes all the sacrifice worthwhile.”

xander eddy karate
Xander Eddy Wins Gold

Medaling for the United States:

  • 10-year-old Xander Eddy, Gold (male kickboxing team)
  • 18-year-old, Cameron Klos, Silver (classical kata) Silver (traditional kata)
  • 12-year-old Sammy Pietrzyk, Silver (female kickboxing team)
  • 12-year-old Taylor Provence, Bronze (female kickboxing)
  • 12-year-old Riley Evans, Bronze (female kickboxing)

 The 2020 WKC World Championships will be held in Madrid, Spain.  The team will be fundraising to send a team to Spain and to visit Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics.

For more information visit www.alleghenyshotokan.com  

50 Year Anniversary – Pittsburgh Karate Legacy

pittsburgh karate

jack bodellSummer of 69’

“That’s one small step for karate; one giant leap for martial arts.”

pittsburgh karate school
East Allegheny Karate Class Circa 1970

1969 was a glorious time to be alive; a new home cost a paltry $15,000, 90% of kids walked to school, and Woodstock was in vogue.  America was on top of the world as Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, Mario Puzo released The Godfather, and a little known dojo named “Allegheny Shotokan” set up shop in the gritty suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Yes, it was the golden era of Karate, and those who donned a crisp white “gi” and tattered black belt had a special swagger about themselves.  The martial arts were provocative and mysterious, and if you wanted to learn its vast secrets, Bill Viola was your man. Unbeknownst to him, the Viola name and Pittsburgh karate would become synonymous.

“Sensei” Viola was a no-nonsense disciplinarian who lived the mantra, “The more you sweat in here, the less you bleed out there,” an ode to his simple yet effective philosophy of intensity and self-protection.  This sense of unwavering willpower has manifested itself through the tens of thousands who have trained under his hand.  Over the past half-century, his powerful brand of punches and kicks has camouflaged life’s most important lessons: respect, discipline, and focus.  The Viola’s preach, “Character is a commodity that can’t be bought, only built.” You aren’t rich until you have something money can’t buy, and for Viola his passion is priceless.  The confidence he has instilled in his students can be found on and off the mat, from the classroom to the boardroom, or from raising a family to protecting a loved one.  Viola smiles, “It’s that indomitable spirit that builds champions in life. Our dojo is a family.”

Read more in Black Belt Magazine

Allegheny Shotokan Karate (1969-2019) is celebrating its 50-year anniversary as the gold standard for martial arts in Western PA.  The family-owned and operated dojo is blessed with 3 generations of Violas who carry on the legacy.  All five of Viola’s children have earned black belts and his eldest, Sensei Bill Viola Jr., now heads the school. Viola Jr.’s daughter Gabby and son Will [William Viola IV] are fixtures at the martial arts studio.  Sr.’s other children Joce and Jacque are Doctors of Pharmacy in North Huntingdon, Addie, a teacher in Bethel Park and Ali, a Lawyer downtown. He’s proud that their karate foundation has helped them pave the way for fulfilling careers.

viola karate
Viola Family: Addie, Jacque, Ali, Bill Sr., Bill Jr., Joce

Viola Sr., now 71, still teaches his black belt class every Monday evening, a reminder to everyone that karate is a lifelong journey.  In fact Ray Adams, 76, joined the club in 1971 and is still actively training today. He is the longest tenured student and says, “I just earned my Master rank and have no plans of slowing down, my next test will be in my 80s.” One of Adam’s favorite training partners and the dojo’s first black belt was Jack Bodell.  Known as the “President’s Bodyguard” as a member of the United States Secret Service in charge of protecting President Jimmy Carter, Jack explains, “Sensei gave me the skills to succeed in life.” Jack Bodell, Ray Adams, Ray Walters, Dave Zezza and Viola Jr. round out the “Master” ranks at Allegheny Shotokan.  Viola Sr., 9th Degree Black Belt, remains the patriarch.

Viola Karate (as it’s more commonly known today) accolades include induction into the prestigious USA Karate Hall of Fame, who named “Sensei V” the Man of Year (2003).  In 2011, Viola was honored with a permanent exhibit installed at the Western PA Sports Museum and Senator John Heinz History Center recognizing him as the co-creator of the sport of Mixed Martial Arts (the display is located next to the Franco Harris “Immaculate Reception”).

Godfathers of MMA / Tough Guys Museum Exhibit

Jr. and Sr. are both official Sport Karate History Generals and recipients of the Sport Karate Museum’s “Lifetime Achievement” award.  The duo was awarded the Champion Associations Willie Stargell M.V.P. Award (2011) for community service, a tribute that includes Michael Jordan and Muhamad Ali as alum. In 2017 the Viola’s were published in the book, Who’s Who in the Martial Arts – Legends of American Karate edition.  Viola Sr.’s life was the subject of the Amazon #1 selling book Godfathers of MMA which in turn inspired the SHOWTIME documentary film Tough Guys (2017) produced by an Academy award winning team. Viola Jr., who authored the book, was also a producer on the film, making a cameo playing his father.

Viola Jr. has been a member of Screen Actors Guild since 2000 after a stint in Hollywood which included stunts, commercials and work on the Britney Spears “Stronger” video. He founded his entertainment company [Kumite Classic] after Injuries sustained in a car crash that ended his competitive career (1999). The company produces the Pittsburgh Fitness Expo (regions largest multi-sport convention) and has a publishing division which has included Kumite Magazine and Tough Guys.  Viola Jr. is currently adapting his book into a screenplay and is in negotiations for a major motion picture. He was featured in Pittsburgh Magazine “40 under 40” list in 2016.

The dojo is internationally renowned as the most successful sport karate school in Pittsburgh region, garnering the only dual Pan American Gold Medalists in both traditional karate (WKF) and kickboxing (WAKO), as well as countless national, international and world titles.

In 1998 Arnold Schwarzenegger recognized them as the #1 school in America and Hines Ward selected Viola’s students as Positive Athletes to represent marital arts (2012-2013).

As karate approaches its first Olympic berth at the 2020 Tokyo Games, Viola was instrumental in the movement as he hosted the USA Karate Jr. Olympics at the University of Pittsburgh’s Fitzgerald Field House in 1992 under the auspices of the United States Olympic Committee. Incidentally, Viola Jr. was a triple Gold Medalist, the only athlete to earn that status. In March 2019, USA Karate honored Viola with the “Pioneer of USA Karate” award for his dedication to the Olympic karate movement. The Viola dojo has always had its finger on the pulse of anything and everything martial arts, and continues as the heartbeat of Pittsburgh karate today.

usa karate pittsburgh olympics
USA Karate Jr. Olympics

Over the past fifty years, the school has welcomed and transformed everyone from children struggling with autism to Olympic level competitors.  “It doesn’t matter if they are a professional athlete or a teenager who is coping with bullies,” Viola Jr. says,   “Each and every student is on their own personal journey of self-enlightenment and courage. Our goal is to help them reach their potential and go beyond.”  This formula of empowerment inspired Viola Jr. to package the family secrets into an Award-winning curriculum—Sensei Says. This life skills education course is the cornerstone of Allegheny Shotokan’s sister programs Norwin Ninjas (4-7 year olds) and Nursery Ninjas (2-3 year olds).

Brownsville:

Viola got his first taste of combat sports in 1955 studying boxing from family friend, the legendary Marion “Slugger” Klingensmith (later to become the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commissioner, Brownsville Mayor and Police Chief, Fayette County Commissioner, and Congressman). He discovered martial arts in the early 1960s as a teenager in high school.  Viola recalls, “My friend Medick Capirano picked up karate at WVU in the ROTC program.  I thought I was pretty tough, but he threw me all over the room when we’d work out on the weekends.  I was addicted.”  He continued training throughout college at California State under The All American Karate Federation, a split-off from the Japanese Karate Association, and then gaining rank under icons Grand Master Robert Trias, the father of American Karate, and Grand Master George Anderson the founder of the Father of Olympic Karate.

Origins of “Allegheny” Shotokan: (1969-2019) 50 Years serving Pittsburgh, PA

The name “Allegheny” represented the school’s first location in Allegheny County (East Allegheny High School) and traditional “Shotokan,” is the base style of Japanese Karate-do taught. Viola began teaching students in the summer of 1969.  His first student was former California State football player Denny Costello, and droves of EA students followed.  The first teacher to join the ranks was Keith Bertoluzzi. Bertoluzzi was the Master of Ceremonies at the Holiday House, Monroeville, PA. He used his musical influence to invite visiting celebrities to attend karate classes including members of the Beach Boys and other musical acts of the era. As Shihan Viola remembers, “Karate in the 60s and 70s was so popular; we [the Senseis] were the rock stars.” By 1971, East Allegheny had become what is known as a “progressive” school incorporating new curriculum.  The district offered Viola the opportunity to teach a regular elective karate course, the first in the nation in a public school.   Over the past 50 years the school has held classes in the suburbs of Pittsburgh including North Versailles, Turtle Creek, Paintertown, White Oak, Irwin, North Irwin and currently residing in North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.

Shihan Viola and Denny Costello Spar (late 1960s)

Philanthropy/Community Service

The school is endorsed by Western PA Police Athletic League (PAL) where Viola Jr. served as a goodwill ambassador as a youth.  He has been involved in charitable work since his senior year at the University of Pittsburgh, when he established “Kumite International” collegiate scholarships.  The partnership program with Western PA Police Athletic League and Eckert Seamans Law Firm allocated $50,000 in scholarship funds for karate athletes.  The program made national news when Lynn Swann (The Chairman of President George W. Bush’s Council of Physical Fitness and Sports) presented the scholarships with Viola Jr. at the 2004 Pittsburgh Fitness Expo / Kumite Classic in Pittsburgh (the mecca for martial arts competition).

Bill Viola Jr and Lynn Swann Award College Scholarship

The dojo has raised tens of thousands of dollars for various causes such as Muscular Dystrophy and Parkinson ’s disease.  In 2017 Viola Jr. and former State Senator Sean Logan created “Kick Parkinson’s Disease”– a cause close to both men as Logan was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in his mid-forties and Viola Jr. spent years caring for his Grandmother who passed away from neurodegenerative complications.  The Viola Karate Dojo has since made it their mission to KICK Parkinson’s disease—literally.  Each year they assemble hundreds of students to kick one mile non-stop though the racetrack at Boyce Park in Monroeville in conjunction with the Logan’s PIND (Pittsburgh Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases) 5K.  The students showcased their skill during record setting heat in 2018 and bumped their 2-year donation to $15,000 to aid PIND.  The In all, over the past three years, the event has raised over $1 million dollars through appropriations, grants and sponsors — 100% of the funds are earmarked for experimental testing and research in hopes of finding the cure in Pittsburgh.

kick parkinsons disease

In 2019 Viola Jr. and his Daughter Gabby will begin advocacy efforts at the Capital to lobby for improvements to our healthcare system as she battles inflammatory bowel disease (Crohns Disease).

#violakarate #alleghenyshotokan #senseisays #senseiviola #pittsburghkarate #pittsburghmartialarts #pittsburghmma #shotokan #karate #budo #pittsburghkaratelegacy

On September 23rd, 2019 Allegheny County Council proclaimed “Sensei Viola Day” for the Pittsburgh Region!  

Allegheny County recognizes ‘Sensei’ Viola for devotion to karate
Sensei Viola Day Sept. 23rd
Governments, students honor North Huntingdon karate instructor Bill Viola

pittsburgh karate history

Pan American Gold

Team USA Member Xander Eddy –  Youngest American to Win Gold at WAKO Pan American Championships

Xander Eddy
Pittsburgh Martial Artist, Xander Eddy wins 2018 Pan American Championships – Gold Medalist

9-year-old Xander Eddy of North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, has become the youngest American to win the Pan American Kickboxing Championships in history.  His record setting performance took place in Cancun, Mexico October 23-28 at Barceló Maya Beach.  Eddy claimed a Gold Medal in the open weight class for Team USA.

Eddy earned a spot on the United States Kickboxing Team by winning the selection trials in Kansas City, Missouri in February.  His teammate, Luke Lokay, a 15-year-old also from North Huntingdon, won the 63- Kg division to qualify. The selection process is limited to one competitor per weight class who is the current national champion officially recognized by their National Olympic Committees or Ministry of Sports.  World Association of Kickboxing Organizations (WAKO) is the largest international organization of kickboxing, and the governing body of Amateur kickboxing sport certified by SportAccord. WAKO is affiliated in 128 nations on 5 continents officially recognized by either National Olympic Committee or relevant National Government Sports Authority responsible for than 4,000,000 practitioners from across the globe

Both athletes faced adversity leading up the championship.  In August, Xander shattered the growth plate in his foot practicing for the event.  The injury was severe to his base leg which was critical for kicking and movement.  It was questionable if he could participate. His training partner Luke tore his ACL and meniscus and broke his tibia and knee cap in 2012. Doctors speculated he may never play sports again. Both competitors overcame the odds and competed at the highest level for kickboxing this side of the hemisphere.

Xander Eddy, the youngest American to win Gold at WAKO Pan American Kickboxing Championships

Competitors from over 30 countries represented. In the final bracket, Eddy dominated 6 rounds against the top ranked athletes from Chile, Puerto Rico and Mexico by a combined score of 30-3. In the finals, he faced Guatemala in a heated fight that pitted chants of “USA” vs “Guate.”  In dramatic fashion, after 2 rounds the score was tied forcing an additional round to determine the champion.  Eddy scored a sidekick to take the lead and as time expired, he executed his patented “axe” kick to win Gold for America.  He became the youngest athlete to win a Gold Medal for Team USA at the Pan Am Championships in history.  Lokay also represented well, but fell to Guatemala in the final bracket claiming Bronze for Team USA.

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., is the director for WAKO region 10 which oversees Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, West Virgina, and Washington, DC. He explains, “Luke and Xander set themselves apart with work ethic. Win or lose this kids are great role models. They have character.”  Eddy was asked to carry in the American flag by his teammates during the opening ceremonies. Eddy accepted, “I just wanted to make my dojo, parents and country proud.” The duo represents Pittsburgh and all of Western Pennsylvania on the international kickboxing and karate circuit.

Luke Lokay and Xander Eddy warm up for competition

Eddy has won every recent major tournament he has attended including Open-Weight Grand Championship Title at North American Open in Las Vegas, Nevada (part of UFC’s International Fight Week), The Battle of Atlanta in Georgia, and US Open ISKA World Championships in Orlando, Florida. His “Norwin” community has gotten behind him in a big way!

congrats xander BK
Norwin Showing its Support

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 International Olympic Committee (IOC).  WAKO Kickboxing is slated to gain IOC membership this December joining traditional Karate which will be represented at the 2020 Games in Tokyo, Japan under the World Karate Federation.

It was nearly 20 years ago that Allegheny Shotokan Alum Doug Selchan won Gold in +80kg Kumite at the 1999 Pan Am Games for Karate in Winnipeg, Canada. Even though kickboxing and karate are technically different sports, Xander’s parents say they are honored for him to follow in such prestigious footsteps.  Pittsburgh has a rich tradition of world-class martial artists.

doug selchan pan am gold

 

Next up, Xander, Luke, and their dojo will be traveling to Los Angeles, California this February for the “COMPETE International Championships.”  #kickboxing #pittsburgkickboxing #teamusa #usakickboxingteam