Journey Continues for Master Ray Adams and Master Dave Zezza

The Journey Continues for two North Huntingdon

Martial Arts Masters

pittsburgh karate masters

karate masters
Left-Right: (The Masters Club) Bill Viola Jr., Dave Zezza, Bill Viola Sr., Ray Adams, Ray Walters. Not pictured Jack Bodell

On Wednesday August 29, 2018 history was made at the Allegheny Shotokan Viola Karate Dojo. North Huntingdon / Irwin Residents Sensei Ray Adams, 76, and Sensei Dave Zezza, 63, were promoted to Master Rank in the art of Shotokan karate. It has been a lifetime of study, practice, and diligence that both men agree that has been, a journey and not a destination.

Karate is a journey, not a destination

Adams first donned a karate gi (uniform) in 1970. It’s a routine he still carries on today. He was a photography teacher at East Allegheny High School when and met fellow teacher Bill Viola Sr. (Founder of the dojo). Adams explains, In those days karate was brand new. Sensei [Viola Sr.] had been teaching the students in the high school gymnasium and I wanted in on the action. Nearly fifty years later, Ray is still kicking, teaching and loving living the martial way.

His training partner Dave Zezza, shares his passion as both men obtained 5th Dan (degree). Zezza, a systems consultant, began in his late thirties, and at age 63 hes never looked back. Affectionately nicknamed Tombo or dragonfly in Japanese, he is the resident Kobudo weapons expert at the dojo. Zezza sports a dragonfly tattoo on his arm to signify his commitment. Viola Sr. explains, Our philosophy is old school. Black belts come and go, but to be a master we require a unique combination of character, skill, and teaching ability with decades of training.

Adams and Zezza are still “learning.” They explain that a black belt is just the beginning. Now at master rank, they don’t plan on slowing down. Zezza explains, “I’m always thirsty for knowledge.” Both men thank Shihan Viola and Sensei Ray Walters for pushing them. They also acknowledge their friend and fellow Alumni of the dojo, Sensei Joe Bauccio, who relocated to Florida. Bauccio is training towards joining them in the ranks soon.

Adams and Zezza join a very elite club where only a few other Masters have ever etched their names. The exclusive fraternity requires a lifetime of dedication to be inducted. The only other Masters in the Allegheny Shotokan Karate Association are Bill Viola Sr., Bill Viola Jr. Ray Walters, and Jack Bodell.

The men exemplify that age is truly just a number, as both plan on kicking as long as their bodies allow them. If they can’t kick, they will just punch. Adams and Zezza also teach and share their knowledge weekly with the younger members of the dojo and train themselves every Saturday morning and attend Shihan Violas black belt class every Monday night.

The official presentation to the dojo members and “gong” ceremony will take place Wednesday September 5, 2018.

Master can be defined as an artist of consummate skill. Adams and Zezza are a perfect examples of men who continue to evolve and share their experience. We are blessed to have them apart of our karate family. The Viola Karate dojo will celebrates its 50-year-anniversary in 2019. The new Masters are looking forward to a reunion workout .

Master Zezza and Adams know all 27 Shotokan Kata (listed below) so Shihan gave them a challenge outsideof their comfort zone. They had to learn a kata other than Shotokan style and learn the differences in method, technique, and execution. The Goju kataSuparinpei was chosen.


Zezza and Adams follow the “martial way” Budo.

1.Taikyoku Shodan / Kihon kata(憭芣扔畾) Means ~ first cause first level Introduced by ~ Gichin Funakoshi
2.Heian Shodan (撟喳畾) Means ~ Peaceful begining level Introduced by ~ Yasutsune Itosu
3.Heian Nidan (撟喳鈭畾) Means ~ Peaceful second level Introduced by ~ Yasutsune Itosu
4.Heian Sandan (撟喳銝畾) Means ~ Peaceful third level Introduced by ~ Yasutsune Itosu
5.Heian Yondan (撟喳畾) Means ~ Peaceful fourth level Introduced by ~ Yasutsune Itosu
6.Heian Godan (撟喳鈭畾) Means ~ Peaceful fifth level Introduced by ~ Yasutsune Itosu
7.Tekki Shodan (擉畾) Means ~ Iron Horse first level Introduced by ~ Yasutsune Itosu
8.Bassai Dai (怠憭) Means ~ To penetrate a fortress (dai=major) Introduced by ~ Peichin.
9.Kanku Dai (閬喟征憭) Means ~ To view the sky (dai=major) Introduced by ~ Kung Hsiang Chun
10.Enpi (憌) Means ~ Flying swallow Introduced by ~ Wang Ji
11.Hangetsu () Means ~ Half Moon Introduced by ~ Bushi Matsumura
12.Jion () Means ~ Thought to be named after the Chinese temple Jion-ji. kata and comes from Tomari te
13.Sochin (憯舫) Means ~ Preserve Peace Introduced by ~Yoshitika Funakoshi
14.Meikyo () Means ~ Mirror of the soul and comes from ~Tomari-te
15.Jiin () Means ~ Named after the saint and comes from Tomari te
16.Gojushiho Dai (鈭甇拙之) Means ~ 54 steps Introduced by ~Yasutsune Itosu
17.Jitte ()Means ~ Ten hands and comes from Tomari te
18.Gankaku (撗拚韌) Means ~ Crane on a rock Introduced by ~ Bushi Matsumura
19.Tekki Nidan (擉鈭畾) Means ~ Iron Horse second level Introduced by ~ Yasutsune Itosu
20.Tekki Sandan (擉銝畾) Means ~ Iron Horse third level Introduced by ~ Yasutsune Itosu
21.Chinte () Means ~ Incredible hands Introduced by ~ Yasutsune Itosu?
22.Bassai Sho (怠撠) Means ~ To penetrate a fortress (sho=minor) Introduced by ~ Yasutsune Itosu
23.Kanku Sho (閬喟征撠) Means ~ To view the sky (sho=minor) Introduced by ~ Yasutsune Itosu
24.Nijushiho (鈭甇) Means ~ 24 steps Introduced by ~ Seisho Aragaki
25.Unsu (脫) Means ~ Cloud hands Introduced by ~ Seisho Aragaki
26.Wankan () Means ~ Kings Crown Introduced by ~ Gigo Funakoshi
27.Gojushiho Sho (鈭甇拙) Means ~ 54 steps Introduced by ~ Yasutsune Itosu

Suparinpei – “108 Hands”

Suparinpei is the most advanced Kata in Goju-Ryu and contains the greatest number of techniques. It is translated asthe number “108.” 108 is suggested to have origins in Buddhism and can represent the “108 sins of man”. On the Chinese New Year, temple bells are rung 108 times to “drive away the evils of man.” In japanese we call this kata Hyakuhachiho.