Category Archives: kata

WKC Gold🥇

Pittsburgh area Team Kumite headquartered at Allegheny Shotokan Karate Dojo earns World Titles.


The World Karate and Kickboxing Commission (WKC) hosted the 2021 World Championships November, 23rd-30th in Orlando, Florida. The weeklong event hosted the world’s best in WKC Tatami-style martial arts competition. Pittsburgh based Allegheny Shotokan “Viola” Karate Dojo earned over 20 medals, including top honors from 20-year-old St. Vincent student Cameron Klos, who was recognized as the overall “Grand Champion.”

WKC Gold medal Gabby Viola

Team USA is comprised of 300 athletes from across the country who won the National Team trials in Detroit this past June. Twelve members from Allegheny Shotokan “Viola” Karate Dojo earned positions to represent the United States at the World Championships. Of that group, ten students advanced to the medal rounds and stood on the podium. Sensei (coach) Bill Viola Jr. said, “It is so amazing to see our athletes represent Western PA on an international level. When they play the star spangled banner for one our students, it’s a special moment. Cameron is leading by example.”

Medaling for Team USA representing Western Pennsylvania
 11-year old Gabby Viola, Gold (female -40kg sparring) Bronze (classical kata)
 12-year-old Xander Eddy, Gold (male -40kg kickboxing) Gold (classical kata) Gold (Traditional Kata) Bronze (male -40kg sparring)
 12-year-old Zoey Bostard Bronze (50+kg sparring) Bronze (50+kg kickboxing)
 12-year-old Rayden Galley Finalist (50+kg sparring and kata)
 14-year-old Riley Evans Bronze (-45kg sparring) Bronze (-45kg kickboxing)
 14-year-old Sammy Pietrzyk, Gold (55+kg female kickboxing team) Gold (55+kg female sparring) Gold
(female team sparring)
 14-year old Kaleb Knock Silver (-55 kg kickboxing) Bronze (-55kg sparring) Bronze (traditional kata)
 15-year-old Austin Hladek, Gold (classical Kata), Gold (traditional Kata), Gold (Weapons), Bronze
 15-year-old Lucy Lokay Bronze (65kg sparring)
 18-year-old Gavin Hladek Finalist (kata & weapons)
 19-year-old Luke Lokay Silver (75kg sparring)
 20-year-old, Cameron Klos, Gold (traditional kata), Silver (classical kata), Silver (synchronized forms),
Bronze (-85 KG sparring) Gold 18+ overall Forms/Weapons Grand Champion

The highlight of the week was Cameron Klos earning top honors in the Adult Black Belt Overall Finals. Klos earned a spot to compete by winning gold for his traditional kata (pattern) during elimination rounds. The finals pitted gold medal winners and elite athletes in various disciplines to determine the “best of the best.” The final four international champions represented Canada, Guatemala, Venezuela, and Klos for the United States. In the end, Klos was named Grand Champion of the WKC.

WKC cameron klos

Senator Kim Ward presented Cameron with a proclamation for his victory upon his return to Pittsburgh. He will perform for the County Commissioners at the Greensburg Courthouse of December 16th.

Klos, a Cyber Security major at St. Vincent College, holds a 4.0 GPA. Sensei Viola Jr. says, “It takes a special kind of work ethic to juggle an international karate schedule and remain at the top of his class in college. Cameron personifies dedication. His is earning a ‘black belt in life’.”

The 2022 WKC World Championships will be held in Dublin, Ireland. The team will be fundraising throughout the year to attend and defend their titles. For more information visit

Olympic Glory

ariel torres olympics

Olympic Aspirations Hit Home in North Huntingdon 🥇🥋

Karate made its Olympic debut last week in Tokyo, Japan the birthplace of the sport, but for one local dojo it’s been a long time coming.  Students filled the parking lot of Allegheny Shotokan “Viola Karate” in North Huntingdon to watch the games live on a 20 ft. screen like a drive-in movie theater. While Judo and Tae Kwon Do have been part of the Olympic program for years, this the first time in history for karate.    The event was special for Bill Viola Jr. and his father Bill Viola Sr. who have been dreaming of an Olympic berth since the 1980s.  Viola Sr. helped spearhead the grassroots Olympic movement in Pennsylvania decades before.  Viola Jr. said, “It’s taken over 40 years for Karate to make its way to the Games, and we’ve been cheering every step of the way.” 

The Viola’s have been instrumental in the sports development and were part of a big push to get karate included in the Pan-American Games in 1999.  Doug Selchan, a member of Team USA, began his training with Sensei Viola and was able to win a Gold Medal at karate’s PAN-AM debut in Winnipeg, Canada. Sensei George E. Anderson was responsible for getting the Olympic Karate movement started in the United States, and he enlisted Sensei Viola to oversee Pennsylvania and help coordinate national events for USA Karate. The USA Karate Federation (USAKF) was the National Governing Body for Karate from 1985-1995 in the United States and member of the US Olympic Committee.  In 1986 Viola was appointed Regional Administrator for the USA Karate Federation and promoted the Allegheny Mountain Championships, a qualifier for the USA National Championships.  In 1992 Viola hosted the USA Karate Junior Olympics at the University of Pittsburgh Field House.  Viola’s tournament experience lead him to be named to the USA Karate Organizing Committee, responsible for coordination of the USA Karate National Championships.  Today that group has transformed into the USA-National Karate Federation (USANKF) under the banner of the World Karate Federation (WKF) which oversees Olympic karate.  On March 9, 2019 Viola Sr. was inducted into the USA Karate Hall of Fame as a “Pioneer of USA Karate” specifically for his contributions to the Olympic karate movement.

George Anderson (President of USA Karate with Sensei Bill Viola Sr.

Viola Jr. was a multiple time USA Karate National Champion and Team USA Member.  He has since passed the torch to his students, namely his daughter Gabby.  At just 10-years-old, she is highly accomplished already winning Gold at the WKC National Championships and earning a spot on WKC Team USA.  She has been recognized as a 5x State Champion and currently ranked #2 in North America by North American Karate Association (NASKA). This month Black Belt Magazine published her as “Top 5 Female” competitors in the country.  At the 2021 US Open in Florida she was awarded 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.  However, her biggest inspiration is training with the best athletes in the world, including the first Olympic champion in karate history.  Six-time defending European Champion Sandra Sánchez of Spain became the first-ever Gold Medalist in the sport on August 5th 2021.  Gabby has had the rare opportunity train with Sandra, and that experience has left a lasting impact.  She even named her special edition Olympic Barbie “Sandra,” touting it as she claimed Olympic glory. 

Olympic Gold Medalist Sandra Sanchez with Gabby Viola

As for the United States, they won their first-ever and “only” karate medal of the games when Ariel Torres secured bronze for Team USA in kata.  Torres, from Hialeah Florida, works with 20-year-old Viola Karate student Cameron Klos.  Torres is like a big brother to Cameron, mentoring him in the ways of International Competition.  Klos a student at Saint Vincent University, is a 2020 North American Sport Karate (NASKA) World Champion, WKC Team USA Member, and Kumite Classic Champion.  He travels to train with Ariel and studies remotely via Zoom weekly with him for private lessons. Ariel is preparing Cameron for a bid to make the USA Karate National Team. The same team Ariel represents and competed for in the Olympics.    

Sensei Cameron Klos with Olympic Bronze Medalist Ariel Torres

Sensei Bill Viola Sr. says, “I’ve trained thousands of students, many who have had Olympic aspirations and skill.  It was satisfying to see the Olympics on television, knowing my students have personal connections to these champions.  I know all the hard work has finally paid off.”  Viola Karate has been serving Western Pennsylvania since 1969 and is a member of the USA-NKF under the auspices of the United States Olympic Committee.  Their sister program is the award-winning Norwin Ninjas.  


A form:  A choreographed pattern of movements that simulates a “imaginary fight.”

  • Japanese prounuciation 型  “kata” Translates as “Form” or a mold, law, or model.
  • Chinese pronunciation 型 “hsing”
  • Korean pronunciation 型 “hyeong”

Important Kata Terms:

  • 分解  Bunkai (analysis)
  • 応用  Oyo (application)
  • 演武線  Embusen (kata line)

Circa 1891 The Japanese Army was very impressed with “te” but lost interest due to poor organization and outdated training methods. Master Itosu took steps to modernize karate by intoducing the “Pinan” Kata as a form of physical fitness and removed the dangerous elements (tegumi). (Funakoshi later named them Heian to suit Japanese nationalism). In 1901, Itosu started teaching Karate at the Shuri Jinjo Elementary School and by 1905 he teaching at the First Junior Prefectural School. Karate became part of the official physical education of Okinawa’s school system, eventually making its way to mainland Japan via Funakoshi in 1922.

“Heian” The word “Heian” is Japanese and shortened from two words – 平 heiwa (peace) and 安 antei (stability)

Heian 1-5 are the most popular kata in the world.

  • 平安 Pingan (Chinese) “stay safe”
  • 平安 Pinan (Okinawan) “stay safe”
  • 平安 Heian (Japanese) “peaceful”
  • 平安 Pyong-an/Pyung-Ahn (Korean)

SHITEI 指定 Kata “designated” (Heian & Tekki Shodan)  These kata introduced by Yasutune Itosu

  1.  平安初段 Heian Shodan – (peaceful mind, first level)
  2. 平安二段 Heian Nidan – (peaceful mind, second level)
  3. 平安三段 Heian Sandan – (peaceful mind, third level)
  4. 平安四段 Heian Yondan – (peaceful mind, fourth level)
  5. 平安五段 Heian Godan – (peaceful mind, fifth level)

Okinawan “Naihanchi” kata and naihanchi-dachi demonstarate elements of Tegumi and tai sabki. This Shōrei-Ryu kata was later remaned “Tekki” 鉄 Tetsu (Iron) 騎 (to ride or sit horseback) by Funakoshi who also renamed the straddle stance to Kiba-dachi (Cavarly Horse Stance)

鉄騎初段 Tekki Shodan – (iron horse riding, first level)

鉄騎弐段 Tekki Nidan – (iron horse riding, second level)

鉄騎参段 Tekki Sandan – (iron horse riding, third level)

SENTEI 選定 Kata “Selection” are (4) required kata (compulsory):

9.  Bassai Dai (Passai) 拔塞 (to penetrate a fortress – major/big) Japanese meaning of 拔(batsu) is “to pull out or to extract” in Chinese “拔 (bá)” can mean “to seize or capture” and 塞(sai/soku) means a “place of strategic importance” or fort. Bá sāi (拔塞) would mean “to seize or capture” a “place of importance. Some moves symbolize a battering ram used against fortress walls.  Introduced by Peichin

10. Kanku Dai 観空大 (Kushanku) (to view the sky – major/big) The first movement views the sky, which symbolizes the universe and shows your opponent that you are unarmed. It was Master Funakoshi’s preferred kata.  Introduced by Kung Hsiang Chun

11. Jion 慈恩 (love and goodness) or mercy is a term in Buddhism. It is also the name of a temple (Jionji 慈恩寺) in China.

12. Enpi 燕飛 (Wanshu/excellent wrist) The quick up and down movements of this kata are reminiscent “flying swallow” where it gets its name . Enpi is one of the oldest kata in Shotokan. The “Funakoshi 15” Heian 1-5, Tekki 1-3, +4 Sentei kata, + these (3)  Introduced by Wang Ji

13. Hangetsu 半月 (Seisan) meaning half moon based off the hangetsu dachi (half moon stance).  Bushi Matsumura

14. Jitte 十手 (ten hands) also spelled Jutte is designed to fight against ten opponents.

15. Gankaku 岩鶴 (Chinto) (crane on a rock) The main stance in this kata (tsuruashi dachi) resembles a crane ready to strike at its prey. The movements are supposed to simulate a fight in the narrow alleyways of Okinawa. The former name was Chinto.  Bushi Matsumura

Other Advanced Kata:

16. Bassai Sho 披塞小 (Passai) (to penetrate a fortress – minor/small)  Yasutsune Itosu

17. Kanku Sho 観空小 (Kushanku) (to view the sky – minor/small) Kanku Sho was created from Kanku Dai. The movements and performance line are similar.

18. Sochin 壯鎭 (Hakko) (strength and calm) The name of this kata comes from its stance (sochin or fudo dachi), a strong, rooted stance. The purpose of this kata is to teach defense against a stick.  Yoshitika Funakoshi

19. Chinte 珍手 (rare or extraordinary hand) Chinte has a lot of circular and roundhouse techniques. These are rare and are not typical of the shortest distance between two points concept of Shotokan.

20. Goju Shi Ho Dai 五十四歩大 (fifty four steps – major/big) This kata is one of the most advance kata of Shotokan. Master Funakoshi called it hotaku (knocking of a woodpecker) because some of the techniques resemble a woodpecker tapping its beak against a tree.  Yasutsune Itosu

21. Goju Shi Ho Sho 五十四歩小 (fifty four steps – minor/small) This is a smaller version of Goju Shi Ho Dai. It is also one of the most advanced kata of Shotokan.  Yasutsune Itosu

22. Meikyo 明鏡 (Rohai) (bright mirror) The first movements of this kata suggest the smoothing of water to make it as calm and even as a mirror. The triangle jump at the end of this kata is said to have a secret meaning portending to a miracle.  Tomari-te

23. Niju Shi Ho 二十四步 (twenty-four steps) The movements in this kata resemble waves breaking on a cliff. The former name of this kata was ni sei shi.  Seisho Aragaki

24. Unsu 雲手 (cloud hands) Unsu has several techniques that symbolize parting the clouds with open hands. Classically pronoucned “un-shu” Considered Rare Kata:  Seisho Aragaki

25. Wankan 王冠 (king and crown) The shortest kata in Shotokan introduced by Funakoshi’s son (Gigo/Yoshitaka).

26. Ji’in 慈陰 (love and shadow) or inverted mercy. Along with Join and Jitte begin with left hand covering right (ancient Chinese) Tokui kata 得意 is your “free” or favorite kata. It translates into: speciality, pride, triumph aka your best! Its pronounced: (toe ku eee) *Kata has been described as the soul of karate.  Tomari te

There are 26 standard Shotokan Kata. Some count Taikyoku “first cause” (Kihon Kata) as a 27th

27. Gigo Funakoshi also created partner kata known as “Ten no Kata” 天の形 Which translates as kata of the universe/heaven in 1930s. He was sent to learn kata from Okinawan master Kenzo Mabuni and as a result of these teachings, the curriculum of Shotokan is believed to have included Sochin, Nijushiho and Unsu.




Bassai Dai

Shihan’s favorite kata.  Bassai Dai.

Okinawan martial artists call it Passai while Japanese karate-ka refer to it as Bassai.  Master Funakoshi originally spelled the name of this form パッサイ (Passai) but changed it hold more Japanese connotation later.  In Korean the kata has several names: BassaheeBal SePal ChePalsekBal SaeBa Sa Hee, and Bal Sak.

The origin of “Bassai” remains obscure but some historians believe it dates back to ancient “leopard-lion” Chinese forms: various dialects called it   Baoshi, Pausai, or baasai in which had stomping action and similar movements.  Some hold it represents Wuxing Quan Kung Fu while others say it was part of Fukuen Crane style.  It’s a mystery.  Most scholars agree that the kata was brought to Okinawa by Sokon Matsumrua and budoka of his generation.

Passai (拔塞, katakana パッサイ), also Bassai (バッサイ), is one of the most recognizable “kata” in the world with countless Okinawan, Japanese and Korean variations.  Versions of the kata include Passai sho (拔塞小) or minor Passai and Passai dai (拔塞大) or major Passai.

拔(batsu) is “to pull out or to extract”

In chinese 拔(bá)” can mean “to seize or capture”

塞(sai/soku)” means a “place of strategic importance” or fort

Bassai (披塞 or 抜砦) in Japanese literally means to remove an obstruction. The Kanji (Japanese characters) 抜塞 are variants of the Chinese 拔塞 (bá sāi) so the meaning falls somewhere in between.

1973 translation of Karate-do Kyohan lists Funakoshi’s explanation of the form name as “Breaking through [penetrate] an enemy’s fortress.” This expresses more of the students attitude then the literal translation.