Steve DeMasco’s Shaolin Studios in Pittsburgh was founded in 2004 by Senior Masters Steve and Lisa Nakamura, lifetime students of Grandmaster Steve DeMasco. In 2023, the Nakamuras retired from their ownership roles and passed the studio on to their longtime students, Master Michele Montag and Sensei Joseph Cooper. For over 20 years, Shaolin Studios has been providing exceptional martial arts and self-defense training to the Pittsburgh community.
We’re different, and we think you’ll like that.
Our training environment is inclusive of all genders, sizes, physical strengths, abilities and ages. We foster and expect mutual respect, discipline, and control from our students, as that is the Shaolin way. We build community among our students by collectively sharing and supporting one another as we each strive to meet our individual goals.
While our instructor team focuses on the day to day group and private instruction we provide to children, teens, and adults – from age four and older — our team is constantly learning, too. We learn from each other including our students, sharing ideas to make our classes better. Master Michele has accompanied Sr. Masters Steve and Lisa and Grandmaster DeMasco to train and study at the Shaolin Temple, and several of our other instructors have trained there as well, bringing authenticity to what we teach and how we teach . Each of our instructors has spent years with our dojo, first as students forging their own paths in the martial arts. We hold regular instructor team meetings and development sessions as a way to keep learning and improving upon what we do.
the shaolin way
Born thousands of years ago from the monks of the Shaolin Temple in China, Shaolin Martial Arts include beautiful and physically demanding techniques and forms, as well as classic self-defense and personal safety methods. True Shaolin Monks follow a philosophy of peacefulness, believing harm to living creatures – even insects – could mean harming the reincarnation of a deceased relative. Practicing the martial arts brought strong mental and physical discipline to improve their spiritual lives. That practice also provided them with the knowledge and skills to defend themselves at times in history when they were called upon to protect their temple or at times the emperor.
The origins of our practice (Shaolin Chuan Fa, “The Way of the Fist”) can be traced back 1,600 years to the Shaolin temples in China. Around the 6th century, despite a long history of martial arts training, the Shaolin monks realized that their existing methods of self-defense were not effective enough to protect the temple and themselves. As a result, they created the Shaolin Chuan Fa system which uses the five basic animal forms—tiger, crane, leopard, snake, and dragon—as the foundation of their training. By the 1500s, Chuan Fa had become the most effective self-defense system in China and later expanded into Japan where it became known as “kara te” (literally “empty hand”.) Today we practice Shaolin Chuan Fa/Shaolin Kempo, Shaolin Kung Fu and the grappling techniques of Jiu Jitsu or Chin Na.
We are privileged to study with Steve DeMasco, who is the certified Grandmaster of the Shaolin Studios schools, holding a Tenth Degree Black Belt, Shaolin Chuan Fa. Grandmaster DeMasco is a personal Disciple of the Great Master and Abbot of China’s Shaolin Temple, Shi Yong Xin, and he is the Ambassador to the United States for the Shaolin Temple. Grandmaster DeMasco is endorsed by the F.B.I. and is the recipient of the Director’s Leadership Award for his outstanding contributions to the country’s educators and children.
At Steve DeMasco’s Shaolin Studios, our philosophy is that learning Shaolin Martial Arts will result in better physical health, more focus, and increased confidence so that we are empowered to defend ourselves and others. Because of this balance of the physical and mental, Shaolin training is for anyone.