17 Enso Athletes Qualify for Elite International Competitions

Seventeen Enso athletes have qualified for highly selective international competitions in 2018. We are so proud to have our students representing themselves, our dojo, and the United States of America as they travel around the world this spring.


International School Sport Federation (ISF) High School Games
Marrakesh, Morocco
May 2-9, 2018

Team USA is bringing just seven athletes to this competition – and three are from Enso Karate! Very big congratulations to A.J. Cesar, Christine Conanan, and Zachary Gin. They qualified for the games based on their impressive performances at the ISF USA Team Trials in February 2018.

The International School Sport Federation (ISF) is recognized by the International Olympic Committee and promotes the values and interests of education through sport.

“This is an impressive honor to represent your country in this prestigious event,” said Sensei J.B. Mirza, AAU National Director, in a letter sent to qualifying athletes. “Your commitment and dedication to the sport of karate has given you this opportunity to compete against the best.”

  • AJ Cesar, 16, is a junior at Oak Park River Forest High School who earned the rank of Nidan (2nd degree black belt) in July 2017. He is a three-time national champion in kata (forms) as well as a national silver medalist in kumite (sparring) at the AAU National Karate Championships. He represented Team USA in 2014 at the WUKF World Karate Championships in Poland and in 2016 at the Honolulu International Karate Championships.
  • Christine Conanan, 15, is a sophomore at Oak Park River Forest High School. She earned the rank of Shodan (1st degree black belt) in July 2017. She has won four national medals at the AAU National Karate Championships, including gold in kata in 2016 and gold in kumite in 2017.
  • Zachary Gin, 14, is an 8th grader at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. He earned the rank of Shodan in February 2016. He was the 2017 national champion in both kata and kumite at at the AAU National Karate Championships.


World Union of Karate-do Federations (WUKF) World Karate Championships
Dundee, Scotland
June 14-17, 2018

Fifteen Enso students will represent the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU)’s U.S. Team at this year’s WUKF world championships. They qualified by either earning an individual medal at the 2017 AAU National Championships or through a rigorous team trial event held in Ft. Lauderdale earlier in 2018. Those athletes are:

  • Sensei Jay Nacu (42)
  • Sensei Denise Nacu (44)
  • Pamela Wolf (64)
  • Toby Nierras (18)
  • Victoria Gin (18)
  • Milen Rios (17)
  • AJ Cesar (16)
  • Christine Conanan (15)
  • Angel Conanan (14)
  • Zachary Gin (14)
  • Maxine Ivey (13)
  • Maile Nacu (13)
  • Mateo Nacu (11)
  • Milo Platz-Walker (11)
  • Brianna Santucci (10)

Two additional students – Ryan Daly (13) and Davian Barber (12) – also qualified for the competition but are unable to attend.

“We are so proud of how hard each of these athletes have worked to earn the honor of representing their country in international competition,” said Sensei Jay Nacu, owner and director of Enso Karate. “They will learn a lot from preparing for and competing at these games, and they will bring those lessons back to Enso and make all of us stronger.”

Sensei Denise Nacu, co-owner and director at Enso Karate, added: “The entire Enso community is behind these amazing athletes. All our students are pushing a little harder in class to help them prepare. All our instructors and coaches are helping them think about strategy and prepare mentally. Many of our dedicated parents are making sure the kids have everything they need before they travel. And of course AAU is helping them prepare and strategize. It’s truly an all-in effort. The cheers in Chicago will reach us in Morocco and Scotland!”