Steve DeMasco’s Shaolin Studios

The place to learn way more than karate.

(hover over images below for more info)

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.

While peaceful at heart, the Shaolin Monks learned the benefits of both a strong mental and physical discipline. True Shaolin Monks would not even hurt an insect, as they believed it could be a deceased relative. However, the Monks needed to learn how to defend themselves as they were often called upon to protect their temple or perhaps the Emperor.

Similarly, at Steve DeMasco’s Shaolin Studios, our philosophy is that learning Shaolin Martial Arts will result in better physical health, more focus and confidence so that we are empowered to protect, not destroy.

Because of its very nature, Shaolin training is for anyone. These methods are used by professional athletes, law enforcement and even students, business professionals and mothers.

We’re different, we think you’ll like that.

While our daily lives revolve around the group and private instruction we provide to children, women and men – from age 3 ½ and older — we are constantly learning, too. In fact, our martial arts Chief  Instructors are trained and internationally certified by the Shaolin Temple in China.

Our training environment is supportive of all genders, size, physical strength, mental strength, and age. We do demand discipline, respect and control, as that is the Shaolin way.

Authentically Shaolin

Likewise, we are privileged to study with Steve DeMasco, who is the certified Grandmaster of the Shaolin Studios. Not only that, Grandmaster DeMasco is a personal Disciple of the Great Master and Abbot of the Shaoln Temple, Shi Young Xin. Grandmaster DeMasco is the Ambassador to the United States for China’s Shaolin Temple, and a Tenth Degree Black Belt Shaolin Kung Fu (30 years). Evidence of our superior techniques and teaching curriculum, Grandmaster DeMasco is endorsed by the F.B.I. and the recipient of the Directors Leadership Award, for his outstanding contributions to the country’s Educators and Children

Learn more about Grandmaster DeMasco, Shaolin Martial Arts and Steve Demasco’s Shaolin Studios locations here.

Your Instructors

Steve Nakamura, Master 5th Degree, Chief Instructor PA State Director

A love of martial arts changed Master Steve’s life when he retired the business suits and neckties of corporate America to open the first SDSS in Pennsylvania. Master Steve is also the PA State Director, overseeing new and existing dojos for SDSS. Master Steve trains directly with Grandmaster DeMasco and accompanies the grandmaster to China on a yearly basis to train and perform at the Shaolin Temple.

Lisa Nakamura, Senior Master 6th Degree Black Belt, Sr. Instructor

Master Lisa is our Senior Black Belt Instructor and leads our Women’s Self Defense and Teen Mentoring programs. She is a 6th degree Black Belt in Shaolin Chuan Fa and the first female black belt trained under Grandmaster DeMasco. Master Lisa is a partner in SDSS Regent Square and she has trained and performed at the Shaolin Temple on numerous occasions.

“I am very fortunate for this opportunity to make a difference in peoples’ lives,” Master Steve explains. “I am so proud of all our students and instructors and I am thankful for their loyalty to me, Master Lisa and our Organization.” Master Steve Nakamura, Chief Instructor PA State Director

Martial Arts Instructor group

Ray George, our first student, retired nuclear engineer and 3rd Degree Black Belt.

Robert Ferry, PNC Bank VP, former Churchill City Council President, 3rd Degree Black Belt.

Dave Farnsworth, 3rd Degree Black Belt, Technology and product development consultant

Kathleen Morgan is a 3rd Degree Black Belt and PhD working for a LIfe Sciences Company in Pittsburgh

Gregory Sinn, Black Belt 3rd Degree and Office Manager for Environmentally Conscience company in the city of Pittsburgh

Rosanna ZelenkoRosanna Zelenko, Black Belt 2nd Degree, Registered Nurse

John Anderson

John Anderson, 1st Degree Black Belt, IT tech and Musician

michele colvard (2)

Michele Colvard, Black Belt 3rd Degree, PhD University of Pittsburgh Executive Director

Grandmaster at Shaolin Temple

Instructors Academy

For individuals interested in owning / operating a dojo in the future, SDSS offers a formal Instructors Academy. Members receive advanced martial arts training, as well as training in childhood education, behavior modification, conflict resolution, anger management, sales, business development, dojo financial management and inventory management. If interested in joining the SDSS Instructors Academy, please see Sensei Steve for details.

Like Sensei Steve and Master Lisa, all our instructors believe that we are continually learning. Together, we take classes, teach one another and broaden our horizons about martial arts and about life. We are very fortunate and thankful to have a group of talented and thoughtful instructors.


Classes for the body, mind and spirit


  • for fun and fitness
  • for the young and young-at-heart
  • for building confidence and strength
  • for serious martial artists and newcomers

Because martial arts is well-suited for all ages, you’re able to enjoy it throughout your life. And as you progress through each stage, you see the benefits — physically and emotionally — of your success. For many, achieving Black Belt is a great goal, in fact, for some students it may be their biggest achievement ever or perhaps enable them to achieve something even bigger later in life (even additional degrees of BB).

As it demonstrates your tenacity and strength of character, colleges, universities, employers and your loved ones will recognize the hard work that goes into such an achievement and it reflects well upon you. And as your life’s journey takes many twists and turns in the road, it’s good to have a solid foundation of martial arts to help keep you centered.

It’s never too early to start believing in yourself. For kids as young as three and a half, martial arts (karate, kung fu, jiu jitsu) is a great way to develop confidence, discipline and character – While having healthy fun.

Over the years, we’ve developed special programs to help children set goals and work to achieve them. And as kids gain experience with success, a healthy self-image emerges, along with the belief that they can do anything if they’re determined.

With a strong foundation of character, children are well-equipped to face the challenges that lie ahead. We also put a healthy emphasis on physical activity. Yes, because kids need exercise. But also because martial arts is a great way for children to develop self-control.

As we explore the physical principles of balance, timing and perfecting techniques, children are able to sharpen their mental focus and build concentration skills that will serve them well throughout life.

The study of martial arts (karate, kung fu, jiu jitsu) is like no other activity, sport or hobby you’ll encounter. Nowhere else can you find a sanctuary for health, focus, character-building and discipline.

Our dojo is not just a place to learn self-defense, though we’ll certainly help you do that. It’s also where we learn to manage our day-to-day fears, anxieties, reactions and habits.

In fact, the concentration and discipline required of a good martial artist carries beyond these walls. This is a place of learning about life or in Zen Buddhist terms, self enlightenment.

The physical benefits of martial arts training are just as powerful. Lower blood pressure. Increased muscular strength. Better flexibility. Less body fat. A more confident self image. Even a greater ability to cope with high levels of stress. All good.

In the dojo

Dojo Etiquette

A dojo is a Japanese term that literally means “place of the Way.” It’s also known as “Kwoon” in Chinese. This is where we workout.

It is tradition to treat your dojo with respect, to protect the integrity of the martial arts and to provide a safe, enjoyable experience for all who enter our doors.

We ask that you please follow a few common sense rules.

  1. Be on time.
  2. Please be kind to our workout mats. Remove your street shoes and wear clean karate shoes or socks; no barefeet.
  3. Keep your dojo clean. Please pick up any litter (even if it’s not yours) and keep the bathroom neat for the next person.
  4. Always bow when entering or leaving the workout area as a sign of respect.
  5. Wear clean uniform pants and a gi top or SDSS t-shirt. You may want to have extras just in case.
  6. Help keep our waiting area uncluttered by putting your coats and backpacks in the back hallway.
  7. Behave respectfully in the dojo. Speak quietly and maintain an attitude appropriate for serious practice. Refrain from eating, drinking, chewing gum and using cell phones.
  8. Treat students in training with respect. If you arrive early, quietly wait in the back hallway.
  9. Junior students are expected to look to higher rank students for guidance and treat them with respect and consideration.
  10. Senior students are expected to set a good example for juniors, protect them from injury, help them learn and treat them with respect and consideration.
  11. Wear your full uniform (gi pants and top) when testing.
  12. Uniform etiquette is white gi through orange belt, black gi from purple belt up and only mixed black and white uniform (pants/top) when black belt.

For parents

In the spirit of continuous learning, please feel free to ask questions as they arise.


In the meantime, here are some frequently asked questions.

Q. Why do we bow before entering/leaving workout area?
A. The dojo is considered a sacred place of learning. We bow as sign of respect for where we learn not just how to protect ourselves, but life lessons.
Q. How do I tie my student’s belt?
A. One of the senseis can teach a parent if desired. Belts are put on once inside the workout area.Teens and Adults should wait until the instructor tells them to tie their belt.

(Put the middle of the belt on your belly button and bring both ends back to front. Wrap left end over right and tuck left end under both loops, Wrap right end over left through just one loop and pull tight)

Q. When does my student get the next belt?
A. With each belt, new techniques as well as new responsibilities are expected. Like our own unique personality, we all learn at a different pace.Some students have greater coordination, some learn defensive techniques and forms easier, some are more disciplined.

The total outlook the student exhibits in their behavior and demonstration of skills determines when they are ready to test.

Q. How will I know when my student has been invited to test?
A. The Chief Instructor will provide you with a test form. The form will have the date, time, test fee and belt rank.Students testing must wear their full uniform (gi) with their SDSS patch sewn on the upper left side.

Q. Why are other children testing faster and/or with a different skill level?
A. Sensei Steve closely evaluates every student’s personal skill level, participation, and effort to decide when testing is appropriate.Testing is a very personal experience, and students are evaluated on their own attributes rather than as compared to other students.

Parents are encouraged to talk with Sensei Steve if there are questions regarding the approach for evaluating rank promotion.

Q. Why are stripes given out at the end of each class?
A. The stripes recognize the efforts of junior students in each class, and help the Chief Instructor understand when a student is ready to test. There is no set number of stripes required to test, but generally, the higher the belt, the more stripes, as the material is more complex. Once the student achieves blue stripe belt, they receive one stripe for proper demonstration of their defensive techniques, kempos, jiu jitsus and forms. At this more advanced rank, students have more patience and discipline.
Q. What if my student has their whole belt full of stripes?
A. A student with lots of stripes can mean several things. If a student desires to move up faster, there are solutions discussed later. It also may be an indication that the student attends fewer classes per week, an interruption in regular lessons due to sickness, vacation, behavior issues, etc.
Q. What can I do to help my student?
A. Simply put, “practice makes perfect.” Students can practice at home (instead of playing computer or video games), increase frequency of lessons (Two group lessons per week are recommended for ages 7 and up), take a private lesson (these are like 3-4 group classes in instruction) and, most importantly, reinforce the 3 dojo rules at home: Self Control, Respect and Discipline. A manual is also available.
Q. Why can’t my student remember his/her techniques and forms?
A. In most cases, the answer is practice.
Q. How often does the student come to class?
A. It is recommended that all students participate in at least 2 classes per week, as this will help the learning process. We offer flexible schedules and semi private / private lessons for those students/parents who have challenges in making 2 group classes per week.
Q. During class, how do they use their time?
A. Classes at all levels include cardiovascular work, stretching, drills, and defensive techniques. Exercises are geared toward the age level and physical abilities of each student group.Yes – you’ll all work hard, but you will have fun! We continually discuss how to practice and maximize results. Good effort, repetition, good technique, and asking for help.


Grandmaster Seminar July 29

Join us July 29th for a special clinic with Grandmaster Demasco on Gun and Knife Self Defense.  Grandmaster is a 10th Degree Blackbelt and 34th Generation Disciple of the Shaolin Temple.  He has worked with the FBI on empty hand combat as well as weapons defense.  Due to the nature of this topic and hands on use of training guns and knifes, the seminar is appropriate for ages 15 yrs. and up.  This is open to students, family and friends of students.  Date:  Saturday July 29  Time:  10:30 – 12:30.  Please contact Master Steve to sign up or to ask questions.


No Jr. Adult and Adult Classes July 29

Due to Grandmaster DeMasco’s Clinic on Saturday July 29, there will not be group classes for Jr. Adults and Adults.  Jr. Adults/Adults are encouraged to either reschedule their class for another day or attend the Dragons Class at 9:30am.  Who knows, you might get a chance to meet Grandmaster!!??

Summer Camp 2017 is June 26 – 30 !!!

summer camp 2016

Summer Camp 2017 Regis  Click here for enrollment form

This year’s Shaolin Studios Summer Camp will be the week of June 26.  The camp runs from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm each day of the camp.  Activities include:  Weapons form, hikes through Frick Park, sports activities, board breaking, kung fu in the park, water battles, pizza party, doughnut day and a final demonstration on the last day.  If you are interested, please notify Master Steve.  This camp fills up quickly, so sign up early!

Summer Camp Update – Weather

Family and friends of our Martial Arts Summer Camp – In the event of rain/thunder on Friday, we will have our demonstration at Shaolin Studios inside.  The demonstration will take place at 12:00 noon.  You can take students home early after the demonstration.  Students may be picked up at the regular 2:00pm time at the studio as well.


Master Steve



Upcoming Events

  1. Belt Advancement/Testing - Please refer to the Calendar
  2. Spring 2013 Black Belt Test May 18
  3. China Trip 2013 July 18-28
  4. SDSS Summer Camp /Teen Leadership Camp 2013 August 5-8
  5. SDSS Pittsburgh Tournament – Date TBD
  6. Women’s Personal Safety Course:  Contact Sensei Steve or Master Lisa for upcoming dates

Learn at your own pace

We’re always welcoming newcomers to our classes. With no contracts or long-term commitments, we urge you to join anytime. Try a free class, just call to schedule.

Class Schedule


12:00-4:00 Private lessons
4:00 Dragons (7-10 yrs)
5:00 Jr Adults 11-16 yrs
6:00 Adults
7:00 Zumba


12:00-3:30 Private lessons
No 3:30 Class for the Summer
4:15-5:00 Tigers (4-6 yrs)
5:00 Dragons (7-10 yrs)
6:00 Instructors
7:00 Adults
8:00 Zumba


12:00-4:00 Private lessons
4:00 Dragons (7-10 yrs)
5:00 Jr Adults (11-16 yrs)
6:00 Adults
7:00 Zumba


12:00-4:00 Private lessons
4:00 Tigers (4-6 yrs)
5:00 Dragons (7-10 yrs)
6:00 Jr. Adults
7:00 Adults
8:00 Zumba


10:00-3:00 Private lessons
5:00-7:00  Testing


8:30 Tigers
9:30 Dragons 7-10 yrs
10:30 Jr Adults 11-16 yrs
11:30 Adults
12:30 Black Belts


10:00 Tigers /Dragons

11:00 Jr. Adults /Adults

7:00pm Zumba

Contact us

Steve Nakamura                    Lisa Nakamura
Principal, Chief Instructor     Partner, Master Instructor

1115 South Braddock Avenue
Regent Square
Pittsburgh, PA

Telephone: (412) 242-8773
Fax: (412) 242-8747


Directions: Click here for map and/or directions

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