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About Team Kumite

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KUMITE (組手): Japanese for “fighting” or sparring.

team kumite

– literally means “Grappling”  – literally means “Hand”

組手 The Japanese ideograms translate as “grappling hands” aka fist fighting.

Team Kumite is one of the most highly decorated professional sport karate team in martial arts. The roster is composed of national, international, and world champion martial artists who represent the United States at the highest levels of competition intercontinentally and abroad.  Over the past 25 years, Team Kumite has garnered worldwide recognition and countless accolades ranging from Hollywood to the White House. 

Since 1999, Team Kumite has won titles under the banner of every major sport karate organization including:  WAKO (World Association of Kickboxing Organizations), USANKF (USA National Karate-do Federation), USAKF (USA Karate Federation), NASKA (North American Sport Karate Association) NBL (National Black Belt League), and AAU (Amateur Athletic Union, USAMA (United States Association of Martial Artists), PKC (Professional Karate Commission) 🏆🏆🏆. 

In 1998 Sensei Bill Viola Jr. was the ranked competitor #1 in 18-34 male black belt category under the auspicious of USA Karate Federation.  He was named an All-American athlete and member of US Team.  Leading up to the 1999 Nationals, he suffered a fractured neck as the result of an automobile accident.  Dominos fell as shortly after he required esophagus surgery.  The Nissen fundoplication compounded with the cervical injury, ended his competitive career.  He was noted as one of the most successful sport karate competitors of his era, consistently winning both traditional USA Karate and open championships. The diagnosis forced retirement and upended his “way of life.”  Read more

One door closes another door open.

As Sensei Bill sought new avenues to pursue his passion, he outlined a plan to disrupt the current cadre of promoters and leaders in the sport martial arts industry.  Competition had been embedded in his DNA, and although he couldn’t step on the tatami as an athlete, he was determined to revolutionize the landscape of what he called, “complacent leagues.”  He was broken physically but inspired mentally.  The summer of 1999 was the genesis of the KUMITE brand:  Kumite International, Kumite Classic, and Team Kumite.

Why Kumite? In his own words:

“I was the defending Kumite champion [-60 KG division] at the USAKF nationals prior to my accident. I loved fighting, it was my favorite part of the sport. I was always ‘fighting’ for something.  When I was a kid, I was always the smallest.  When I was in school, I had to work twice as hard to get A’s.  Nothing came easy, so kumite was a battle cry.  After my neck injury I couldn’t fight anymore, so I put all my energy into creating something new and exciting.   I was ‘fighting’ for the recognition of up-and-coming champions.  There weren’t any scholarships or real opportunities for the next generation.   The word KUMITE just felt right.”   Now, life imitating art, it was time to fight!”

Kumite Classic Entertainment (est. 1999): Kumite Classic Entertainment is a full scale production company that is best known for its self-titled “Kumite Classic” tournament and expo.  The Kumite Classic is the crown jewel of the Kumite brand, recognized as the mecca for martial arts in Pittsburgh.  The annual martial arts and fitness convention grew into the largest and most prestigious event of its kind with an annual draw of 15,000 spectators and competitors over Memorial Day weekend at the Monroeville Convention Center. Professional athletes, Olympians, and celebrities flocked to Western Pennsylvania for a fusion of sport and entertainment which included over 15 different combat sports and fitness events under one roof.


Kumite International (est. 2000): was established as the first non-profit collegiate scholarship foundation in the United States based on a competitive point structure.  Athletes competed at sanctioned tournaments and earn points towards college scholarships.  The novel concept awarded $100,000 in financial aid through its partnership with The Western PA Police Athletic League and Eckert Seamans Law Firm.  Sanctions under the new KICK (Kumite International Competitive Karate) KISS (Kumite International Competitive Scholarships) held events across the globe from Canada to Italy.

Team Kumite: (est. 2001) Sensei Bill Viola Jr. founded the all-star sport karate team to promote the newly minted scholarship foundation and bring back the storied tradition of the X-Caliber karate team.  The team would single-handedly put Pittsburgh back on the sport karate map winning an unprecedented amount of world titles. Team Kumite was active as a dojo team as early as 1999, but opened the doors with official team tryouts in 2002.

Allegheny Shotokan ➡️ Team Yakuza ➡️ Kumite International ➡️ Team Kumite: The original Team Kumite was a grassroots effort to bring tri-state talent together to compete on the national circuit.  The mission of Team Kumite was to bring Pittsburgh athlete’s to the forefront of sport karate.   An open tryout was held at the Allegheny Shotokan Karate Dojo with aspiring stars representing Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, West Virginia, and Maryland.

Eight independent coaches evaluated all the participants and 3-levels of status were established comprising the Gold, Silver, and Bronze teams.

The tealynn swann karate scholarshipsm made its national competition debut in Washington, DC at Robert Everhart’s Promoters event.  Team Kumite made a splash winning both Junior Grand Championships including the female Grand Championship: Nichole Sullivan and male Grand Championship:  Terrence Tubio. The pair walked away with 7 foot trophies, and the Team Kumite never looked back. Sullivan and Tubio went on to take the National Black Belt League (NBL) by storm, each earning World Titles in their rookie season.  Tubio stood out in a division that featured future world champions such as Joey Castro, Nick Bateman, and Cody Hackman.  MACHO became the official team sponsor and Kumite International awarded its inaugural college scholarships:  Steeler Legend Lynn Swann and Bill Viola Jr. award college scholarships at the 2004 Kumite Classic in Monroeville, PA.  Over $100,000 in sport karate scholarships were available.  Since the birth of Team Kumite, the squad a produced the most regional, national, international and world champion level sport karate athletes in Pittsburgh history.  Today Team Kumite is a 501.c3 non-profit group offering competitors support, recognition, and sponsorship on a larger collective scale.

Currently the Team trains @ Allegheny Shotokan “Viola” Karate School, established by “Shihan” Bill Viola Sr. in 1969.  The school has been the most active tournament dojo in the Pittsburgh region and Western Pennsylvania, producing MMA, Karate, and Kickboxing champions for over 50 years. Through its sister program, The Norwin Ninjas, they are constantly searching for young new talent to work with. The Viola Family is internationally renowned, for coaching champions at all levels. Our karate school staff has experience working with everyone from Olympic-level competitors to professional sports athletes from the NFL and MLB.

team kumite sara russell

Team Kumite

wkc team usa


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

  1. Cameron Klos
  2. Katelyn Regina
  3. Lucy Lokay
  4. Sammy Pietrzyk
  5. Xander Eddy
  6. Bella Guardado
  7. Aidan Johnson
  8. Flora Bilott
  9. Riley Evans
  10. Noelle Kravetz
  11. Becca Nowalk
  12. Dryce Davis
  13. Alexa Daly
  14. Zoey Bostard
  15. Austin Hladek
  16. Daniel Barrett
  17. Remmington Whatule

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.

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