Nick Cerio

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.