Shaolin’s Well-Run NYC Academy and His Half Guard to Back Take

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Logo on the wall of Vitor Shaolin’s GMA academy above the mat area / Photo by Erin Herle

I found the building for Modern Martial Arts, Vitor Shaolin’s academy but would have passed it by if it weren’t for Shaolin’s logo mounted on the front. Locating the button to be buzzed in and making my way up to the third floor, I knew that my visit would be an organized one because Jen, the assistant who helps manage the school, had exchanged emails with me upon my arrival.

Located by Times Square, the third floor houses a few different offices but  leading down the hall one can tell it is a large space that Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro occupies. This GMA school opened in 2008 and has served as the location for many seminars over the years including Anderson Silva, Andre Pederneiras, Kyra Gracie and more.

Vitor Shaolin is holder of four world titles and exerts his energy towards his students and well-run academy these days. As I entered the academy, Jen knew exactly who I was. Shaolin had to step out and in turn, his brown belt student Alex was teaching but made sure to have Jen call him when I got there so he could apologize– a huge token of respect.

As I took pictures, Alex joked about looking good for the camera. There were many belt colors training together, the mood was serious in training but the sarcasm that lingered was a great offset that secured the bond between the group of students. The class was run well as they drilled techniques then rolled without a time counting down above their heads but determined by the leader of the class instead. There were many women, belt colors and ages. The diversity gave “weigh” for both large and small partners to receive technical training with similar bodies.

Surely, these students had a good sense of respect among each other as well as a maturity that allowed the school to run well despite Shaolin’s absence.

Seeing all of the martial arts equipment and tools among the journals located on the bench gave insight into the technical abilities the students hold and the type of training they receive. The decorated logo on the wall and the comfortable relationships show that this place is an incubator for learning on many levels, on and off the mat.

To learn more about the way Vitor Shaolin extends his knowledge onto the mats at his academy, check out

See a half guard variation to take the back below in the video and the photos below!

[flickr set=72157632494085582]


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