Shifu Ferreira began studying martial arts when he was five years old, in New York City, under the guidance of his father in the art of Judo. By the age of six, his family moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he continued his studies. By the time he was ten, he wanted to try other arts. Over a period of seven years he studied many traditional disciplines including Jiu Jitsu, Karate, Aikido, Kendo, Tae Kwon Do and Muay Thai among others. In 1984, his mother (a Taijiquan Instructor and Acupuncturist) introduced him to Dr. Wu Chao-hsiang (武朝相 - Wǔ Cháoxiāng) and he started his lifelong study of Bei Shaolinquan (Northern Shaolin Style), Kuoshu and Chinese culture. Shifu Ferreira received from his Master, Dr. Wu, the disciple name of Niú Shèng (牛勝) in 1987. Nelson moved back to the US where he competed in both Lei Tai (擂台 - Full Contact Fighting) and Taolu (套路 - Forms) competitions in the early 90's. In 1995 he founded the Zhong Yi Kung Fu Association (忠義國術館) in Madison, WI where he has dedicated himself to preserve his Master's teachings and promote Kuoshu (traditional Chinese martial arts) in the area. He has furthered his studies with teachers such as Shifu Steve Kleppe a disciple of Master Wing Lam, Shifu Robert Louie a teacher under Master Wong Jack Man, and, his elder Kung Fu brother, Mr. Stan Henning.
Shifu Ferreira has led the ZYKFA Competition Team to the following achievements:
- 3rd Place (Taolu) at the 1999 USCKF International Championships
- 1st Place (Taolu) at the 2000 USCKF International Championships
- 3rd Place (Taolu) at the 2002 USCKF International Championships
- 2nd Place (Lei Tai) at the 2003 USCKF International Championships
- 2nd Place (Taolu) at the 2004 USCKF International Championships
- 3rd Place (Lei Tai) at the 2004 USCKF International Championships
- 2nd Place (Lei Tai) at the 2005 USCKF International Championships
- 2nd Place (Lei Tai) at the 2006 USCKF International Championships
- 1st Place (Lei Tai) at the 2007 USKSF International Championships
Shifu Ferreira was the Coach for the U.S. Kuoshu Team at the 1st Pan-American Kuoshu Championship held in Brazil (April, 2001) where 14 of his students were part of the US Team, he was also selected as a Coach for the US Team at the World Kuoshu Championships held in Brazil (November, 2003) where four of his students represented the US Team. In 2006 he was selected to coach the US Team, again, at the World Kuoshu Championships held in Singapore, with five of his students being selected as part of the US Team. He has led the US Team to a Third Place finish at the 2001 Pan-American Kuoshu Championships and a First Place finish at the World Kuoshu Tournament (2006).
Currently Shifu Ferreira is the North Region Director (third term), member of the Executive Committee (second term) and member of the Hall of Fame Committee for the United States Kuoshu Federation (USKSF), he is is also a certified judge (national) through the USKSF and organizes the USKSF North Region Tournament. Shifu Ferreira also teaches seminars on Bei Shaolinquan (北少林拳), Kuoshu (國術) and Lion Dance (舞獅) on a national and international level to different schools and organizations.