Shaolin History – Nick Cerio

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One of George Pesare’s first students was
Nick Cerio. A native of the Boston area,
Cerio was now working in Providence.
In 1964, Cerio happened to be studying
Tae Kwon Do at a school George Pesare
used to teach his new students.
After watching a class one day, Nick Cerio
asked permission to attend. George Pesare
accepted Nick Cerio as a student, and thus
started the career of one of martial art’s
most notable masters, and the man who
would later be the catalyst for the spread
of Shaolin Kempo throughout the world.
Nick Cerio received his black belt in
kempo in 1966.

In 1966, Nick Cerio broke from George
Pesare and struck out on his own. When
Nick Cerio began as an instructor, he
taught only twelve combinations, and
three forms – these were Kata 1, 2, and 3.
Within the year, Nick Cerio began
collaborating with early and original
students on the east and west coast.
Armed with an extensive new amount of
knowledge about his original system, he
began to create. The result of this was
what we now call Kata numbers 4, 5, 6, 7,
and 8 and an additional fourteen punch
defenses for a total of twenty-six. Later,
he also added additional forms.

These later became known as Pinan #1
through Pinan #7. Pinan #1 and Pinan
#2 were modified versions of Kyokushin –
Kai Taikyoku #1 and Heian #4, and
Heian #5, and named them Pinan #3, #4,
and #5. The original Pinans would go
through some revisions. The original
Pinan #2 which emphasized “power
striking” movement was essentially lost
in 1969, and was replaced by a Pinan
which contained multiple rising blocks,
and identical footwork as in Pinan #1.
Nick Cerio was also the first individual to
call this curriculum “Shaolin Kempo
Karate,” and establish the use of Chinese
titles for himself and his instructors.

Among some of the films that can be
purchased today, is a film of Professor
Cerio made in 1974 where he can be seen
performing some of the techniques and
forms of this early Shaolin Kempo prior to
the formation of Nick Cerio’s Kenpo –
it is noteworthy to mention that he is
also addressed as “SiFu” in this film.


Nick Cerio kenpo video “The 5 Animal Style”