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The Art of 5 Disciplines

Welcome to Nikidokai (The Way of the Modern Warrior)

Nikidokai is based on a philosophy of mental and physical fitness growth and family. That’s why we use the Bonsai tree as a symbol. As a tree begins with a single seed and breaks open and begins to root itself firmly to the earth creating its foundation for growth it eventually sprouts from the soil and begins to branch in many directions, each branch different from another yet bound but not limited to the single tree, and from each branch, leafs, flowers or fruits are produced giving life and nourishment to the whole existence on earth from which it grew. The tree gives back to that which gave it life and eventually that tree will create new seeds that will begin the cycle all over again. The tree never asks for anything more than life itself. The tree is at ease at all times, even during moments of turbulence and strife the tree stands erect, strong and relaxed, simply flowing with the tides of nature.

The Bonsai is different in some ways. The Bonsai is cut from the roots of an existing tree much like Nikidokai was cut from the roots of many years of tradition. A Bonsai can be cut from any type of tree, there are many forms of Bonsai, just as Nikidokai is cut from many styles of Martial Arts; there is no limit. The Bonsai is portable, like the principles of Nikidokai’s “Dojo Within You” that say’s one should carry their own dojo within wherever they go. The Bonsai is also shaped and manipulated by its owner, it is an art within it self. The owner of a Bonsai can cut and prune their tree to be whatever they want it to be, give it whatever shape they want it to have. Just as Nikidokai is based in the 5 disciplines and at higher ranks is designed for each student to begin creation of the art that is right for them, as they are the owner and their Nikidokai can eventually take whatever shape and feel they would like it to have. Like the owner of a Bonsai the student of Nikidokai must just first learn how to shape and to care for it, how to grow it, how to cut and prune properly and most importantly how not to let it die.

Nikidokai serves as the soil from which our Martial Art can grow and therefore each student and each instructor is the seed planted firmly in the soil of Nikidokai. Through this we sprout our many branches and just as the tree always continues its cycle we also will eventually create a new seed as we advance and progress always planted firmly in the soil of Nikidokai.

Nikidokai – The Art of 5 Disciplines

The Multiple ways in which Ki participates.

The art of Nikidokai was founded by Hanshi Nico. Based in the knowledge of 5 disciplines Nikidokai is as diverse as it is complex. Yet at its core its simplicity is rarely seen in the Martial Arts.

The Name

Nikidokai was given its name based on what the art represents as most all Martial Arts are given their names. The name is made up of mostly Japanese words, being that 4 of the 5 disciplines are Japanese and that the teachings are representative of what is known in Japan as Budo, (The Way of the Martial Arts.)

Ni (Nico) Ki (Universal/internal Energy) Do (the Way) Kai(Participant)

The Ni of Nikidokai first represents its founder, which is often customary. But this has a dual meaning and gives a great clue to the purpose of NikidokaiNi (in Japanese) also can mean 2 or dual/multiple. So translated can mean “The Multiple Ways in which Ki Participates.” And this is a very important meaning to understand. As students you should contemplate and meditate on this meaning.

The Disciplines

Muay Thai

It must first be understood that when we are talking about Muay Thai here we are referring to Kickboxing and the Muay Thai style of Kickboxing. Essentially these are two disciplines in one. Kickboxing consists of striking and defensive techniques with the hands feet and legs. The strikes are fast and hard designed for optimal damage by exposing and attacking the opponent’s weaknesses. Muay Thai works in the same manner with additional use of such things as elbows, knees, clinching and takedowns. Both are high intensity disciplines that emphasize balance and weight distribution while also teaching one to be light on their feet and effectively mobile.

A great deal of training is about conditioning the body. The cardio aspect of conditioning and fitness is of great importance and can serve a student on many levels.

Muay Thai also conditions the external; hardening the body to compliment the power of the strikes as well as allowing one to withstand the devastating blows a fellow kickboxer could deliver. The most widely known technique in kickboxing is the cut kick. The effects of a cut kick could be likened to that of a blow with a baseball bat.

It is not widely known how Muay Thai originated. What is known is that the art became prevalent some time around 500 B.C. in Thailand and was used within the military of this era and as a hand to hand combat system the Thai’s were a feared and highly effective military force. Overtime the art of Muay Thai became the countries national sport and still is today. The people of Thailand take Muay Thai very seriously and those that choose to become fighters do so at a very early age and dedicate their whole lives to the sport often changing their family names to match that of their schools or instructor.


The art Aikido was founded in Japan around 1930 by Morihei Ueshiba who is still referred to by Aikido students as O’Sensei (Great Teacher.) Ueshiba Sensei was a student of many Japanese Martial Arts throughout his lifetime. He studied many of the former military armed systems such as the spear, the jo (short stick,) bayonet and Samurai Sword. As well he studied unarmed systems such as Judo, and several classical styles of Jujutsu receiving instructors rank in most of these. But it was a chance meeting with a Master named Sokaku Takeda of the Daito-Ryu Aikijujutsu system that truly formulated what would later become Aikido. It was through Takeda that he truly learned the Way of the Martial Arts (Budo.) Aikido was formed out of dissatisfaction with all the many other arts he had studied before. In these he saw only a desire to feed ones ego and destroy the enemy. He felt the Martial Arts were not about performing devastating technique but for refining ones spirit. As a devout follower of the Oomoto-kyo an early 20th century sect of Shinto, Ueshiba was a very spiritual person. After an experience during meditation Ueshiba was enlightened to the art of Aikido.

He found that by combining the physical technique of the Daito-Ryu with the movements and entering techniques of the Jo, Spear and Sword coupled with the art of “blending” with the attack he could have both a very effective form of self-defense and also a form of meditation in motion.

Aikido uses joint locks, joint manipulation or controlling techniques and throws. Aikido is considered a gentle art and is not designed for purposes of attacking another. Aikido starts in body movement and entering techniques. In Aikido one blends with the attacker while extending Ki (energy) while redirecting the attackers Ki. Ueshiba would say “that the moment my attacker decides to attack I will be already standing safely behind him.” This is Aikido. It is designed to clear our minds and create a sense of Harmony with all of nature.

The principles of Aikido are one of love. That we should show compassion even for the person that is attacking us. Ueshiba was once quoted saying that anyone attacking him has already lost, even before the attack. Because it is his will to do violence that has defeated him. This idea is steeped in the principle of universal harmony, which teaches us centering, and unity within ourselves. Ueshiba would often say that the only true enemy is the enemy inside us.


Judo was founded in Japan in the late 1880’s by Jigoro Kano. Kano had studied several forms of Jujutsu but eventually settled on one style at an early age. He had dedicated himself and worked his way to a high ranking when the head of the school had died. The school was left in disarray as many students argued over who should take over as head instructor and many other students began to leave preferring to find another more organized school. Eventually, Kano took it upon himself to rebuild the school and in doing so the Art of Judo was born. He began to dissect the various techniques of the different forms that he had studied always remembering the bickering of other participants over this technique is better than that one and so forth. Eventually, he began to systematize what he felt was the best techniques from each style and omitting the ones he felt were ineffective.

Translated, Jujutsu means “The Gentle Art.” Kano changed the name of his new system to Judo “The Gentle Way,” preferring the concept of Do or Way (as in Path) to the concept of Art. It was his intention to bring back the Samurai concept of Budo to the Martial Arts, which he felt, was now missing in mainstream Jujutsu.

Kano became very much a pioneer for today’s Martial Arts. He is the first to create the colored belt ranking system that most dojo’s use today. Prior to that belts were only white and black and a system of Instructor Certificates were awarded based on proficiency and Mastery, usually no more than four certificates were available to obtain. Kano was also one of the first to teach the arts to women and children in masses as well he turned Judo into an International Sport when he petitioned and was accepted to enter Judo into the Olympic Games.

Judo consists of hip and leg throws, foot sweeps, grappling, joint locks, chokes and submission. Judo utilizes balance and momentum to execute techniques rather than brute force. All of Judo begins with the push-pull theory. If the opponent pushes, I will pull. If the opponent pulls, I will push. It is an art of first feeling what the opponent wants to do and then acting accordingly.


Created in Okinawa, Japan somewhere around the year 1400, Kobudo is a term used to describe the use of weaponry as first devised by the Okinawan farmers centuries ago. These farmers needed a way to defend themselves from invaders, thieves and for a period the Japanese soldiers who occupied Okinawa. In addition, King Sho Hashi banned traditional weapons. So it was the farm tools that they used everyday that became their weapons. Such things as the nunchakus, sickles, tonfas, sai’s, bo staff, eku (oar) were simultaneously tools to grow crops, fish, and harvest as well as instruments of defense. Over time the farmers grew in proficiency with these weapons and began to systematize techniques and katas for use and training. For many years these were all practiced in secrecy. Kobudo is often thought to originally have empty hand techniques and be the forerunner to Okinawan Karate.

In Nikidokai when we speak of Kobudo we are referring to all weapons that we teach. Including the Katana (Samurai Sword,) Jo (Short Staff,) Escrima/Arnis (Filipino knife and stick,) Balisong (Butterfly knife.)

Shorin-Ryu Karate (Kobayashi)

Founded in Okinawa, Karate-Do is one of the most widely known and practiced Martial Arts worldwide. Its origins come from both the Kobudo and Okinawan Te practiced by both the farmers and peasants from the island. The refinement, development, and systemization of technique are owed to the Chinese influence of Kung Fu. It is recorded that certain Okinawan masters traveled to China and learned Kung Fu or that some Chinese Masters traveled to Okinawa and taught their art to the islanders.

Today there are many forms of Karate-Do that exist. The Kobayashi school of Shorin-Ryu was founded by Master Choshin Chabana. Shorin –Ryu means Small Forrest School and is literally translated in Chinese as Shoalin, as in the famed Shoalin Buddhist Temples which was introduced to China by the Indian monk Boddidharma.

Shorin –Ryu is considered a hard, linear style of Martial Art and is designed to end a confrontation in 1 to 2 strikes. It utilizes blocks, kicks, and punches as well as joint locks, throws and foot sweeps and emphasizes conditioning the body to deliver accurate and devastating blows to one’s opponent. Shorin – Ryu uses multiple body parts for attacking and defense including multiple areas of the hands, arms, feet and legs, as well as training in pressure point techniques.

One of the most important aspects of Shorin – Ryu training is the mental training which makes this art one of hardest but most important of Nikidokai’s 5 Disciplines. It is here that true Mastery of Ones Self can be achieved.

The Evolution

Hanshi Nico had grown up in the Philippines and literally grew up with the Martial Arts. His Father and Uncles were students of Master Latino Gonzales and served as bodyguards for the Filipino Government. They were all Champions at various times in the “Old School” Asian bare-knuckle tournaments and formed the Siete Paires (seven pairs) Dojo in the Filipines. For many years Hanshi taught Shorin – Ryu and only taught the arts of Judo, Aikido, Muay Thai and Kobudo to his Black Belts and high ranking students. He felt it was a form of disrespect to advertise he taught Shorin – Ryu when in fact he taught so many other disciplines. This is how the name Nikidokai was created. But Nikidokai evolved.

Hanshi grew tired of seeing all the rote, robot-like movements and techniques of Martial Art students. It is commonly a world where the student begins to emulate the instructor. And equally many instructors force a “style” upon their students. When in fact a simple technique like a straight punch or a wrist reversal can be executed in so many ways but most instructors will discourage this and say, “No, you must do it OUR WAY!”

Hanshi encourages his students to explore technique for themselves and make it their own. And though this may sound like a simple and obvious approach it is very, very uncommon in today’s Martial Arts.

Hanshi believes in giving his students a strong foundation in the arts and then to help guide them to build from that foundation an art that works for them. No two people are alike and to make the Martial Arts a part of you the student must have freedom to discover the arts on their own terms. That is Nikidokai. As Hanshi often says, “the student must learn to put the arts into their bloodstream.” That is how they learn Self Mastery.

The diversity of the 5 disciplines allows each student to explore all aspects of the Martial Arts, the hard, the soft, the circular, the linear, the physical, the mental, the spiritual, stand up, ground work, foot work, blending, entering, angles, defense, attack, striking forms, philosophies, etc. For instance you may never have an interest in striking another person, and through Nikidokai you can confidently defend yourself without ever having to, but you will do so with an acute knowledge of how strikes work, the effect they can have, the power they can develop and so forth.

Most importantly, Nikidokai is a way of life. Your training here will be fun, but it will also be hard and require discipline. It can take you places you may never have imagined you could go. But the journey will be worth it and everything you learn and develop here can be used within all aspects of your life. Remember, Self Defense does not mean just defense against an attacker, but defense against all obstacles you face. Adversity only appears to come from the outside. Look deep inside for that Master that is waiting to emerge. This is your art! Enjoy it!

Hanshi Nico
Founder of Nikidokai
Hall of Fame Member
Trainer of World Champions