The World Karate and Kickboxing Commission (WKC) hosted the 2023 National Championships June, 2-3 in Detroit, Michigan. The North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania based Allegheny Shotokan “Viola” Karate Dojo sent their best athletes to represent Western Pennsylvania. The Team qualified regionally to attend by winning the annual Christmas Kumite.
Competitors who medal (top 4) in their divisions earn a sport on Team USA. Sensei Viola’s “Team Kumite” qualified 17 members, making them the largest group form a single dojo to make the United States Team.
The US Team is comprised of elite athletes from across the country who win the National Team trials and earn a position to represent the United States at the World Championships. Last year, Gabby Viola and Riley Evans medaled in in Killarney, Ireland at the 2022 World Championships. This year, the event moves back to the United States and Orlando Florida in October. Sensei (coach) Bill Viola Jr. said, “It was very expensive to travel to Europe, so I am excited that more students will get a chance to travel to Florida. I know next year will be in Germany, so we need to defend home turf this year.”
Top honors went to Gabby Viola and Xander Eddy. Both are former World Champions who had a rare clean sweep at nationals. Gabby winning 5 gold medals, and Xander winning 4 Gold medals.
Medaling for Team USA representing Western Pennsylvania:
Pictured Left to right
All the competitors are a apart of “Team Kumite” and all-star travel team that trains at the Viola Karate Dojo. The team will next compete locally at the annual “Summer Shiai” hosted by Sensei Bill Viola at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg.
World Karate and Kickboxing Commission WKC – Ireland 2022
The World Karate and Kickboxing Commission (WKC) hosted the 2022 World Championships October, 9th -14th in Killarney, Ireland. The weeklong event hosted the world’s best in WKC Tatami-style martial arts competition. North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania based Allegheny Shotokan “Viola” Karate Dojo sent three athletes to Europe for the championships.
Team USA is comprised of elite athletes from across the country who won the National Team trials in Detroit this past June. Gabby Viola (12-years-old), Riley Evans (14-year old) and Daniel Barrett (17-years old) from Allegheny Shotokan “Viola” Karate Dojo earned positions to represent the United States at the World Championships.
Sensei (coach) Bill Viola Jr. said, “I’m beyond proud of them for just stepping on the mat and representing both American and Western PA. It is such an honor to bring medals home to North Huntingdon.”
The team traveled to London, England for a cultural experience, before arriving in Ireland for the week long tournament. Eighteen countries sent their best competitors to Killarney, Ireland for the WKC World Championships, an event which is hosted by a different country annually.
Gabby Viola, who won the World Title in 2021, said, “This year was the toughest competition she’s faced at the WKC. I was very impressed with the British fighters. They earned my respect. I’m proud to bring home medals in both my categories.” Riley Evans agrees, she actually exchanged her team USA uniform with a competitor from England as a keepsake and sign of camaraderie. Daniel Barrett wasn’t able to garner a medal, but cherished the experience, “I’ve never been overseas, so beyond the competition this is something I’ll always remember.” Barrett lost in sudden victory overtime to Canada in the quarter finals.
14-year old Riley Evans, Silver 🥈 (-45kg continuous sparring), 🥉 Bronze Medal (-45kg sparring).
Gabby is a 6th grader at Hillcrest Intermediate School.
Riley is a 9th grader at Christian Academy.
The girls are a apart of “Team Kumite” and all-star travel team that trains at the Viola Karate Dojo. The team will next compete locally at the annual “Christmas Kumite” hosted by Sensei Bill Viola. It is the qualifier and first step to attend Detroit in 2023. The squad has every intention of making the US Team again and representing American next year.
Pittsburgh area Team Kumite headquartered at Allegheny Shotokan Karate Dojo earns World Titles.
SAINT VINCENT STUDENT KICKS HIS WAY TO A WORLD KARATE TITLE
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.”
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.”
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.
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 www.alleghenyshotokan.com
Team USA Member Xander Eddy – Youngest American to Win Gold at WAKO Pan American Championships
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!
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.
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
The All-Star Team “Kumite” traveled to Orlando Florida for the 2018 The US Open held July 6-7 at Disney’s Coronado Springs Convention Center. The tournament, broadcast live on ESPN2 and ESPN3, is recognized as the world’s largest sport martial arts competition with over 40 countries and 6 continents present. The two-day tournament showcased 200,000 square feet of competition that included karate and kickboxing.
Representing Pittsburgh were 10 members from the Viola Karate Dojo including Sensei Bill Viola Jr., (Head Coach), Sensei Cameron Klos (Player Coach), and Sensei Gary Klos (Assistant Coach). All members placed in the top two in their respective divisions. The students were the only champions from the Western Pennsylvania region.
Results include: Luke Lokay: Gold 14-15 black belt sparring, Silver Clash Contact Fighting, Stephen Jackowski: Gold 12-13 Advanced Kata, Bronze Advanced Weapons, Nicolette Jackowski: Gold 14-15 Intermediate, Silver Kata, Lucy Lokay: Gold 12-13 Advanced Gold sparring, Gabby Viola Gold 6-7 year old Advanced Sparring, Silver Kata, Taylor Provence: Silver 10-11, Silver Sparring and Xander Eddy 4x Gold 8-9 year Advanced.
Lokay and Eddy each earned a spot to represent the United States as members of the 2018 “Team USA” at the Pan American Kickboxing Championship in Cancun, Mexico October 24-28th. Lokay will represent America in the 63- Kg division and Eddy secured the 30- Kg weight class. The selection process is limited to the current national champions officially recognized by their National Olympic Committees or Ministry of Sports.
Lokay, a Norwin High School student explains, “Representing my country is such huge honor. I am training every day to make my family and coaches proud. I know a lot of the kids at the dojo are counting on me.” 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. explains, “Luke and Xander set themselves apart with work ethic. They are both naturally talented, but it’s what you do with that talent that gets you to the next level. They have the determination and dedication to win.”
Eddy is one of the youngest members to make Team USA but has already amassed an impressive resume. In 2017, he earned the Open-Weight Grand Championship Title at North American Open in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event was part of UFC’s International Fight Week. Eddy proudly explains, “I only had one thing on my mind—win.” The victory put him on the radar of the coaching staff. Lokay and Eddy are the first US Team members to earn a team selection for The World Association of Kickboxing Organizations (WAKO) from Western Pennsylvania.
Congratulations to Xander Eddy and Luke Lokay for earning a spots on “Team USA” at the WAKO National Team Trials in Kansas City. The two have been selected to represent America at the WAKO Team Trials in Kansas City and our official members of “Team USA” At the Pan-American Games (Mexico)and Jr. World Championships (Italy). Austin Hladek won Bronze and an alternate position for the Pan-American Games. Gavin Hladek made his debut in the black belt division placing as a finalist.
Today WAKO counts on 128 affiliated nations in the 5 continents, which are officially recognized by either National Olympic Committee or relevant National Government Sports Authority.
The World Association of Kickboxing Organizations or WAKO; is the largest international organization of kickboxing, and the governing body of Amateur kickboxing sport certified by SportAccord. It is formed of two organizations: WAKO for amateur sports and WAKO PRO for professional sports. Besides holding world championships, WAKO sanctions the champions of kickboxing in six rule styles.
WAKO holds a world championships every two years, with youth (18 and under) and adults (18–45) on separate years; only national teams are accepted. Each member country can present only one competitor in each weight class. Competitors are commonly the national champion of their weight class in that particular kickboxing style and many are also officially recognized by their National Olympic Committees or Ministry of Sports.
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 IOC and SportAccord in 2010. WAKO once again participated in the 2013 World Combat Games which were held in St. Petersburg Russia in October of 2013 under the patronage of the IOC and SportA ccord. Three rule styles were involved at the Combat Games – Low Kick, Point Fighting, and Full Contact.
WAKO USA and WAKO PRO govern and sanction the sport of kickboxing in three rule styles that compete inside a boxing ring: Full Contact, Low Kick, and K-1.
WAKO USA governs and supports martial arts competition which takes place on a matted floor in four styles: Point Fighting, Light Contact, Kick-Light, and Musical Forms.
Every two years the WAKO World Championships brings together the best athletes from around the world to compete in each rule style. Each of WAKO’s 85 affiliated national federations can present only 1 competitor in each weight class and the WAKO World Championships determines who truly is the best of the best.
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
Connor Burns pictured above with Pittsburgh Steelers Brett Keisel and Hines Ward on the set of the Hines Ward Show.
Connor Burns is currently a senior at Trinity Christian School in Pittsburgh, PA. Burns transferred from Kiski Prep in 2012 in order to continue his training in the sport of karate and pursue his dream of winning a National Black Belt League (NBL) World Title. He is currently the #2 ranked competitor in of the Can-Am National Conference. He has earned a seed for the 2012 World Games held in Buffalo, NY. Connor is recognized as the #1 ranked competitor in Pennsylvania in the 15-17 year old 143- lb Sparring category. Connor has been studying Shotokan karate for over 10 years and won numerous state and regional titles. He is a member of the prestigious Team Kumite all-star travel team. The team is responsible for the only NBL World titles in the Pittsburgh region over the past decade.
He was honored in 2010 by Trib Total Media and selected to receive the “Outstanding Young Citizen Award” in recognition for his exemplary character, outstanding academic achievement and generous community contributions. He was honored for his dedication in supporting local food banks through the “scouting for food” initiative. He also volunteers his time weekly to mentor younger kids apart of his karate school and competitive sport karate team.
Burns is a well rounded scholar athlete. In addition to his martial arts training, he is deeply committed to earning the Boy Scouts highest rank of “Eagle Scout.” As a member of Troop Unit No. 257 he is currently an Eagle Scout candidate working on his final project to benefit the Norwin Public Library. The Eagle Scouts are expected to be leaders in life, and set an example for the entire community. As a senior patrol leader, he was responsible for 65 kids in charge of organizing all troop events, meetings and activities. Burns finished the 2011 school year with a 3.75 GPA.
Connor is also an accomplished pianist, playing since he was 4 years old. He was selected to perform for the CFA commencement program in 2009, and has volunteered for numerous chapel services at Christian Fellowship, Saltsburg Baptist Church, and Calvary Baptist Church throughout the years. He is a model student, champion athlete and avid supporter of the community.