Meet Our Trainers

Andrew Scala


Born and raised in Connecticut, Andrew Scala made the life-changing decision in 1992 to move to Japan and train full-time in the martial arts. He sought out a teacher with direct samurai ties so he could train and study the ways of the warrior. He spent nearly a decade in the daily practice of aikido, karate, bo jitsu (6-foot staff), jo jitsu (4-foot staff), iaido (sword) and kobudo (other ancient weapons), and achieved the highest ranks ever awarded in his dojo. He also achieved the rank of expert in Manriki Gusari, the chain. One of Andrew’s greatest honors was an invitation by the Jietai, the Japanese Military, to demonstrate the martial arts to more than 200 high-ranking military officers.

In 2000, Andrew returned to the United States to teach the hidden beauty and positive effects martial arts can have on anyone. He is the proud owner of the award-winning Darien Martial Arts Academy, chosen as best martial arts studio in Fairfield County in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. When not teaching, Andrew enjoys being outdoors with his wife and 7-year-old son. He is currently working on a book regarding his experiences living and training in Japan.

Nicole Nason

Founder & Head Trainer

Nicole Nason, Founder: Nicole Nason moved to Connecticut after a successful career as an attorney and senior executive in the federal government in Washington, DC. She discovered the Darien Martial Arts Academy while searching for martial arts instruction for her daughters. Intrigued by the program, Nicole began training one-on-one in karate, aikido, bo jitsu and jo jitsu with Sensei Andrew Scala. After five years of intense work and study, Nicole earned a black belt in karate. She and Scala Sensei travelled to Hokkaido, Japan, together to find inspiration for Project Koe. The result was the creation and development of the Koe in Classroom and PK Kickboxing programs. Nicole is an ACE-certified group fitness instructor, and she combines her love of martial arts with her commitment to fitness and health through teaching the Project Koe programs.

Before founding Project Koe, Nicole also held two positions in government requiring U.S. Senate confirmation, including Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. As the Nation’s chief vehicle safety regulator, she testified frequently before the U.S. Congress and appeared often on local and national news programs. Previously, Nicole also worked as an attorney in the U.S. Congress and served as the Assistant Commissioner of Government Affairs for the U.S. Customs Service. She now lives with her husband David and their three children, ages 7-14. (In this USA Today story in 2006, she noted that kickboxing was a favorite hobby!)