We focus on martial arts, qigong, sitting meditation and Buddhist temple forms as a complete, complementary, and grounded method of practicing Buddhist principles in our modern world. Our academy is informed by the practices of the Shaolin Chan and Soto Zen Buddhist lineages. We study, teach, and explore how to apply this philosophy to our everyday lives.

Rev. Yoki Shudo Paula Lazarz, President

Rev. Yoki Shudo Paula Lazarz is a 5th degree Black Sash in Shaolin Kung Fu and an ordained priest in the Soto Zen lineage of Shunryu Suzuki. Her over two decades of study in the martial arts and Buddhist practice has been an exploration of the idea of the historical Shaolin Temple, culminating in Warrior’s Path Buddhist Academy.

Paula is a co-owner of Energy Fitness, Inc., Head Instructor at HealthKick Kung Fu and Board Secretary of Ancient Dragon Zen Gate.

Ben Johnson, Vice-President

Ben Johnson is a Black Sash in both Shaolin Kungfu and Qi-gong. He studied under 34th generation Shaolin Master Shi Yanju, founder of the Chicago Shaolin Temple. During his time with Shi Yanju, Ben became a 35th generation Shaolin disciple taking the ordained name Heng Guang. He also taught at multiple school locations around Chicago.

Beyond martial arts, Ben is a serial entrepreneur, cybersecurity expert, and family-man. Having founded two successful cybersecurity companies, Carbon Black and Obsidian Security, Ben enjoys the challenges of growing teams, building technology, and providing value back to organizations. During his tenure at Carbon Black, Ben saw the company grow from two to 800 employees and earn thousands of customers. He traveled the world meeting with customers and speaking at conferences and has been featured on CBS News, Good Morning America, CNBC, the New York Times, Reuters, Bloomberg, and in many other publications. He also sits on the boards of several technology startups.

Ben taught “Entrepreneurship in Technology” at the University of Chicago in 2016 and 2017. Ben has computer science degrees from the University of Chicago and Johns Hopkins University and now lives in Southern California with his beautiful wife and three boys.

Eli Clarke, Secretary

Eli Clarke has been practicing martial arts for over 30 years. He holds a 3rd Degree Black Sash in Northern Shaolin Kung Fu .and a 2nd Degree Black Belt in Mu Sul Kwon
Tae Kwon Do. Professionally, Eli is a TV Director of Photography/Cameraman, working in the business for close to 40 years. He is married and has a family.

He feels his martial arts background has a been a key contributor to his effectiveness in his professional field. The intense sonic and visual environments require total focus and in-the-moment presence at all times. He knows firsthand how the martial arts, qigong and meditation practice has been an enormous asset to his career and his life in general.

Adrienne Ciancetta, Treasurer

Adrienne Ciancetta, has been practicing Shaolin Kung Fu for the past 14 years. Her passion for the martial arts and desire for people to realize their full potential fueled the creation of Warrior’s Path Buddhist Academy. Her hope is that through the Academy, people will find enlightenment, stability and a sense of community that allows them to achieve their personal and professional goals.

Adrienne is a part-owner and business partner of Energy Fitness, Inc. Additionally, she is a principal at Lakeside Capital Advisors LP, and serves as Lakeside’s Director of Fund Management. She has over 10 years experience in commercial lending and real estate finance and operational roles.

Michael Zdeb, Director

Michael Zdeb is a partner in the Chicago law office of Holland & Knight. His practice involves both the business and private wealth practice areas in his representation of businesses and their owners. He also focuses on private company ownership and governance.

He started martial arts as a teen and enjoyed how the practice made him feel connected and energized. He felt the call to return to martial art practice, after having built a successful law career and after his busy family life started to slow down. Shaolin Kung Fu made sense to him because of its well-rounded curriculum and holistic approach to a balanced wellness.

He hopes to continue to be part of building community through these practices with his involvement in Warrior’s Path.

Robin Ross, Director

Robin Ross is a certified executive and leadership coach.  Robin’s mindfulness-based coaching leverages the latest research in social and cognitive neuroscience. She has coached founders, executives, and high-potentials at organizations of all shapes and sizes – from Fortune 100 companies to social enterprise start-ups in Africa.

In her spare time, Robin is passionate about supporting organizations and endeavors that help promote human flourishing. In addition to serving on the Warrior’s Path Board, Robin is also a member of the DePaul University’s Women and Entrepreneurship Institute, and serves as a strategic advisor to Global Mamas, a non-profit that helps African women create sustainable incomes through fair trade.

Robin holds a Bachelor’s of Business Administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Nathan Paulus, Director

Nathan Paulus is a Bodyworker, Yoga & Taiji Instructor, and a Member-Owner of Five Point Holistic Health. He also teaches Taiji at Alternative Health Group.

Nathan brings his strong ability to sense and move energy to his bodywork practice and credits this ability to his long-standing Yoga and Taiji practice. He teaches a deeper connection to the subtle body and rehabilitating the muscular body and structural issues. Nathan is a believer in an individual’s capacity for self-healing, rather than relying on the notion of being “fixed” by someone else. He teaches with an emphasis on improving and complimenting the process of self- healing.


Our programs, classes and workshops are paid for by private and public donations and monthly supporters.  Please help us bring these essential practices to an ever-widening population.  We are committed to inclusivity and diversity in regards to ethnicity, sexual identity and economics. Your financial support is deeply appreciated.  Please make a donation today.

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