COVID-19: How Enso is Responding UPDATED 7/5

Message sent July 5

Dear Students & Families,

You’ve been waiting patiently, and now we’re excited to share Enso Karate’s Training Guidelines for In-Person Training During Phase 4 of Chicago’s COVID-19 Recovery.

As you know, Enso will remain an Online Dojo for the month of July. But we are also operating on special schedules for the three remaining Saturdays in July to offer limited in-person training for those who wish to participate:

  • Saturday, July 11th — Dojo Training. In-person training at the Chicago dojo will be offered for a maximum of 10 students per class
, and those classes will also be livestreamed via the usual Zoom link. Please note the three classes will run on a special schedule to allow us time to clean and disinfect between classes.
  • Saturday, July 18th — Outdoor Training Event (2:00-3:00 PM). We will run our standard Saturday Zoom classes and then, in addition, host a special outdoor training event near Buckingham Fountain. More details to be announced next week. Mark your calendars!
  • Saturday, July 25th — Dojo Training. Same schedule as July 11th, unless we announce otherwise.

We will open registration for the first dojo class on Wednesday. Before then, please take time to review Enso’s new guidelines carefully. They include information on our safety procedures, as well as on our special schedule, how to register online, and our expectations of students. We expect all students choosing to participate in our in-person trainings to acknowledge that they have and understood these guidelines, which are everyone’s responsibility to implement well.

Thank you for your patience as we experiment, learn, and make changes. We truly appreciate it. As always, please let us know if you have any questions or feedback.

All our best,
Sensei Jay and Sensei Denise

Message sent June 28


Dear Students & Families,

It’s hard to believe that July is almost here — and that we’ve spent nearly one-third of the year practicing social distancing to contain the spread of coronavirus. We are continually re-assessing how to live, work, and train safely in this ever-changing new environment.

This week, we spent a lot of time digging into the Phase 4 rules issued by the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago, and the Village of Oak Park. As you may know, Chicago has issued its own full version of the State’s rules with additional restrictions — for example, 25% capacity limits rather than 50% capacity limits for indoor training. There are also different rules for training indoors and outdoors (though both would require masks in Chicago). And there are variations on the guidelines for both gyms and youth sports. The process and requirements for reserving park space is also new, as many clubs and gyms are beginning to move their classes outdoors.

On top of all that are the wishes and considerations of our students; we greatly appreciate the thoughts and questions you all have shared with us. What we’re hearing now is that while we want to train together in the dojo, many people don’t yet feel comfortable doing so. And, more specifically, that training in a mask would be difficult for an activity that is so centered on breathing.

Taking all these factors into consideration, we have decided that Enso will remain primarily online for the month of July. However, we are continuing to develop plans to train safely at the dojo (with the option to participate via Zoom) on Saturday, July 11th and Saturday, July 25th.

On Saturday, July 18, in addition to Zoom classes (not in the dojo), we will hold an outdoor training as a special event in the afternoon. Like our annual beach trainings, this event will provide an opportunity to train together in a unique outdoor environment.

We will announce further details about these changes next week.

Thank you for your patience as we experiment, learn, and make changes. We truly appreciate it. As always, please let us know if you have any questions or feedback.

All our best,

Sensei Jay and Sensei Denise


Message sent June 21

Dear Students & Families,

Thank you for sharing so many sweet photos of the fathers in your lives. We miss seeing you in person, but training online has certainly allowed us to peek into each other’s homes and lives in new ways.

We know you may be wondering about our plans for training in July. Like you, we continue to follow the news about COVID-19 and the “Restore Illinois” plans and guidelines. We are currently in Phase 3, which does allow for some in-person, outdoor training. Governor Pritzker has indicated that as soon as this Friday we might move into Phase 4, which we think will allow for some in-person, indoor training. (Specific guidelines for Phase 4 have not yet been released.)

Enso will continue to take a cautious approach to re-opening. We know from our surveys that many of you are not interested in in-person training just yet, but we also know some of you are willing to give it a try within the state’s new guidelines — which include social distancing, limited class sizes, increased sanitation, and other measures to keep us safe.

Here’s our plan: In July, we will hold in-person trainings on three Saturdays (July 11, 18, and 25).

  • If we are still in Phase 3, these classes will be held outdoors at locations TBA (2 times in Chicago and 1 time in Oak Park).
  • If we move to Phase 4, these classes will be held indoors at the Chicago dojo.
  • Online training will also continued to be offered on Saturdays. If we’re in Phase 4, we will live-stream the in-person class. If we’re in Phase 3, a different, concurrent class will be offered online.
  • Specific class schedules and in-person training rules will be released soon. We will ask all participating students to commit to following the new guidelines.
  • Tuition options and fees will remain the same for July.

This change is in some ways very small — We are only modifying our schedule for three total days in July, and we will remain a primarily Online Dojo for another month. But, in other ways, this change feels very significant. It will be the first time we’ve trained side-by-side in three months — and it feels a whole lot longer. This will be an experiment to test out our new procedures in a limited way so we can be ready for a potentially more robust re-opening in the future.

We ask for your continued patience as we study the state’s guidelines as they are released, and then develop and communicate our own procedures with all of you. We’ve said it many times, and we want to say it again: We are so impressed with your strong spirits and so humbled by your dedication to Enso and to karate. Thank you for your friendship and support!

All our best,
Sensei Jay and Sensei Denise

Message sent June 14

Dear Students & Families,

Thank you for joining us yesterday for our All-Dojo Spirit Training!! It was great to see the whole dojo come together and cheer each other on. Your spirits continue to inspire us every day.

As always: The training continues. Don’t forget that our next Kids-Only Meet-Up is tomorrow afternoon at 4:30 PM, and this week’s challenge is a Father’s Day Challenge!

We miss seeing you all in person so much. Until we can get back together again, we will see you online.

All our best,
Sensei Jay and Sensei Denise

Message sent June 7

Dear Students & Families,

Last week felt like a year. As we read the news, watched the protests, listened to friends, and reflected on our own lives and our own leadership both at the dojo and as educators, we felt heartache, despair, shame, rage, and sadness. We want the Black community to know that we stand with you. We believe Black Lives Matter.

This year, the bonds we’ve created at Enso and beyond have been more important than ever. Thank you for being amazing and being part of our dojo family.

We are looking forward to next Saturday, when the entire dojo will gather together for our All-Dojo Spirit Training in place of our regular 10:00 AM class. Later that afternoon, we’ll continue with our Belt & Certificate Pick-Up in the South Loop and Hyde Park. See below for all the details.

We miss seeing you all in person so much. Until we can get back together again, we will see you online.

All our best,
Sensei Jay and Sensei Denise

Message sent May 31

Dear Students & Families,

This weekend, our community experienced some great joys followed by some deep turmoil.

On Saturday morning, 48 of our students participated in Enso’s first-ever virtual belt exam. They demonstrated the highest standards of Enso — determination, strength, control, endurance, and spirit.

By Saturday evening, fires and looting were occurring in the neighborhoods where many of our students live. We are incredibly saddened that the actions of some individuals have directly impacted the safety and well-being of many in our community, and have overshadowed the purpose of the protests. We are heartened, though, to know that many people in the Enso community have been in touch with one another — to offer help, to offer love, to offer a spare room or a free ear. The bonds of this diverse community are strong, and we are thankful for each and every one of you. Stay safe.

We hope karate continues to provide you with a great source of stress relief and a positive community. If you haven’t already, please register for one of our new June offerings — Basic, Standard, or Unlimited — ASAP. The new schedule begins tomorrow.

Here’s what’s coming up this week:

  • Monday: Karate Olympian Sakura Kokumai joins Enso. Tomorrow from 5:45-6:15 PM, we will have an Olympian with us on Zoom! See your email for details, including a modified schedule.
  • Thursday: Two New Class Options.
    • Family Karate for New Beginner Students (ages 6 and up). 5:00-5:45pm. We’ve added a new family class just for students who are brand new to karate. If you know any friends who may be interested, please send them our way!
    • Black Belt Teens – Kata and Kumite. 6:00-6:45pm. We have also added an advanced kata and kumite class taught by Sensei Elaine, Sensei Toby, and Sensei AJ. This class is just for our teens.
  • Friday: Happy Hour + TRIVIA! (21+). Be prepared for 7 rounds of pop culture trivia about the 2000s!!
  • Saturday: Belt & Certificate pick-up. We have pick-up locations in Oak Park, Hyde Park, and South Loop – see email for details.

We miss seeing you all in person so much. Until we can get back together again, we will see you online.

All our best,

Sensei Jay and Sensei Denise

Message sent May 25

Students & Families,

A very happy graduation wish to all our students who are celebrating the completion of grad school, college, high school, 8th grade, or any other major educational milestone! You probably weren’t able to celebrate in all the ways you imagined you would, but this spring will certainly be unforgettable. Your hard work will still lead you to a bright future. Congrats!

We have three big reminders as we close out May:

  • This is a truncated week. There are no classes today in honor of the Memorial Day holiday. There are also no classes on Saturday, when we will be holding belt exams. Be sure to train hard Tuesday through Friday!
  • June registrations are due by May 29th, and we need everyone to take action. Because we’re moving to a monthly schedule, we need everyone to take action if they wish to continue training. We’re happy to answer questions about our new monthly training options.

Enso Karate is hosting many social events in June – a list is included below and always available on our Events page as well.

We miss seeing you all in person so much. Until we can get back together again, we will see you online!

All our best,
Sensei Jay and Sensei Denise

Message sent May 17

It’s hard to believe it’s our eighth week as an Online Dojo. You’ve all been awesome! We have three big reminders as we close out May – with details below.

  • Memorial Day Holiday Break is this weekend! There will be no classes Friday, May 21st – Monday, May 25th. Hope you enjoy some sunshine!
  • June registrations are due by May 29th, and we need everyone to take action. Because we’re moving to a monthly schedule, we need everyone to take action if they wish to continue training. We’re happy to answer questions about our new monthly training options.

Enso Karate is hosting many social events in May and June – a list is included below and always available on our Events page as well.

We miss seeing you all in person so much. Until we can get back together again, we will see you online!

All our best,
Sensei Jay and Sensei Denise

Message sent May 10

Happy Mother’s Day! To all the moms who train, moms who teach, and moms who support — We appreciate you all!!!

Now let’s dive right in. Today’s topic: Getting ready for karate training in June.

  • This Week: This is Week #7 as an all-online dojo. We continue to be impressed by how hard everyone is working and humbled by your support. See our Online Dojo for our weekly challenge and schedule.
  • This Month: Our May schedule includes a Kids Only Meet-up with a Lego theme (May 18th), our Memorial Day holiday break (May 22-25), and our groundbreaking Online Belt Exam (May 30th). See our Events page for all the details.
  • Next Month: In place of our normal 12-week “summer session,” we are moving to a monthly plan that will give us flexibility to adapt our schedule as needed. Please see all the details.

We can’t thank you enough for continuing to share your feedback with us. The survey submissions, emails, and Facebook messages have been both helpful and heartwarming. Together, we look ahead to brighter days!

See you online!

All our best,
Sensei Jay and Sensei Denise

Message sent May 3

AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!!! We honestly don’t see ourselves as super heroes, but we sure are having fun with graphics during our at-home time. We miss seeing you all in-person, so we’re just trying to bring a smile to your face in whatever way we can. 😀
In other news — It’s May! Somehow everything feels a little bit brighter when the weather improves, even during this challenging time in our lives. As this is a new month, we have a new calendar of activities. Please be sure to mark your calendars:
  • Friday, May 8, 7:45pm – ’90s-Themed Virtual Happy Hour for Adult Students
  • Monday, May 18, 4:30pm – Kids-Only Virtual Meet-up – It’s Lego time!
  • Friday-Monday, May 22-25 – Memorial Day Holiday (no classes)
  • Saturday, May 30 – Online Kyu Belt Exam (details coming soon)
Another thing that’s making us feel bright is hearing from all of you. Here are just a few of the wonderful comments we’ve received from students and parents:
  • “We really appreciate your efforts to make sure people’s karate is not affected during this pandemic time. We appreciate that you are doing whatever you can using the tools and technology available to make sure the learning doesn’t stop. We especially love the 1-on-1 sessions; they are very useful.”
  • “Thank you so much for putting in all this work to continue teaching. It’s great to still have contact with all the senseis and dojo members, and the stress relief factor is greatly appreciated. I like the focus on things you can do in smaller spaces and find it useful to work on details that we may not pay enough attention to during regular classes.”
  • “These virtual classes are most helpful — not only to keep us in good karate shape, but also to maintain the Enso community in this unprecedented and most challenging circumstances. Once again, you have shown that your commitment and professionalism are really off-the-chart!”
We can’t thank you enough for sharing your feedback with us — and, of course, for your continued dedication to karate and to Enso.
See you online!
All our best,
Sensei Jay and Sensei Denise
PS: We know that auto-renew payments for summer session are scheduled for May 23rd. We will be in touch very soon about our plans to move to a monthly schedule and fee system, which we think may work better for both our students and our business during this time. Stay tuned!

Message sent April 26

Here’s the story…of a lovely dojo! Thanks so much for continuing to be part of Enso. Sometimes we really do feel like the Brady Bunch when we’re Zooming with you all — in part because of the individual screens, but also because we feel like one big happy family!
This past week we saw our students write messages of thanks to people in our community, compete in a virtual kata tournament hosted by AAU Karate, and gather for fun and games together during our kids-only and adults-only social meet-ups!
This week we continue on our now-routine Online Dojo schedule. Check below for details on this week’s challenge (last chance to enter the drawing for a new Adidas kumite gi!), and stay tuned for announcements about our May meet-ups and events.
See you online!
All our best,
Sensei Jay and Sensei Denise

Message sent April 19

For those of you not on social media, we also wanted to highlight this special message from our instructors. We all miss you, but we’re all so proud of your hard work and great spirit — keep it up!
We had a lot of fun seeing how people are sparring at home this week, through both our at-home challenge submissions as well as watching you train on screen. It just goes to show that even though it’s not the same as sparring at the dojo with all our mats and equipment, we can definitely still find ways to train hard and have fun doing it!
Below you’ll find all the details for this week’s announcements:
  • Monday @ 4:30 PM is our Kids-Only Meet-Up
  • Friday @ 4:30 PM is the deadline for AAU’s Virtual Tournament
  • Friday @ 7:30 PM is our ’80s-Themed Happy Hour (21+)
  • Throughout the week is our “Thank You Challenge”!
See you online!
All our best,
Sensei Jay and Sensei Denise

Message sent April 12

We are two weeks into our All-Virtual Dojo experience, and we’re so proud of the great energy we’re seeing on screen! From kinder karate to our adult students, everyone is showing up and working hard. Keep it up!!

We also had a lot of fun at this week’s meet-ups and really enjoyed seeing your at-home fitness routines as part of our first at-home challenge (winner: Daniel!). We also learned from our survey that managing stress and building mental discipline are just as important as making progress in karate right now. Please see our Online Dojo for ways to continue participating!

All our best,
Sensei Jay and Sensei Denise

Message sent April 5

We made it through Week 1 as an all-virtual dojo!!

We are so impressed (but not at all surprised) by the strong spirit of our students and families. Even though this isn’t what we’re used to, students are showing up and working hard, instructors are volunteering to make videos and provide personalized feedback, and parents are re-arranging living rooms and troubleshooting technology to make it all happen. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you all for your dedication to karate and to Enso.

Another big thank you goes out to everyone in our community who is working to keep people safe and healthy right now. We know we have students, as well as parents and partners of students, who are out there working as doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals, as well as drivers, cooks, and other essential parts of our world. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

In Week 2 of our Online Dojo experience, we’re hosting four meet-ups for parts of our community — kids, adults, Enso Elite team members, and the 2020 black belt candidates. We’ll continue to send daily reminders of our schedule as we continue to adapt to this new way of training and communing together. It’s also included again below for your reference.

And, of course, all our Online Dojo information lives permanently at (check your email for the password) — bookmark it!

All our best,
Sensei Jay and Sensei Denise

Message sent March 29

Dear Enso Karate Community,

Thank you so much for all the kind and encouraging feedback you’ve sent our way over the last two weeks. As we’ve seen the extreme and heartbreaking situation unfold in our city and our world, we are grateful we are able to “work from home” and do our part to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. We are especially thinking about many of the people in our community who continue to provide essential services.

During this time, we have been strategizing the steps we need to take as a small business, working on turning our small living room into a home dojo, managing our other professional responsibilities as physical education teacher (Sensei Jay) and professor (Sensei Denise), and figuring out how to manage home life and school with our children. These times are stressful, but we have hope and faith that we will get through this.

Now that we are officially back from Enso’s “Spring Break,” we want to extend a special welcome to you as we step back into karate training together. As planned, we are launching new online offerings for our current karate students starting Monday, March 30. While we would much prefer to see you all in the dojo in real life, we are excited for new ways to train and socialize with you online.

How long will the Online Dojo last? Uncertainty is challenging. But with so many state and city closure dates changing all the time, we are operating under the premise “until further notice.” Like you, we’re following the news and will continue to follow official guidance from the City of Chicago and State of Illinois.

Transitioning to an all-online dojo experience will continue to take some trial-and-error, and we are so grateful for everyone working behind-the-scenes to make it happen. Thanks to all of our students and families for their patience as we figure it out.

Karate is the thing that binds us together, and karate is all about having a fighting spirit, compassion for others, and the strength and discipline to improve ourselves and the world around us. We are so thankful for all of you and our awesome Enso Karate community — not even a pandemic can break our spirit!

All our best,
Sensei Jay and Sensei Denise

P.S. As we roll out our new online experience, please do reach out with your feedback and suggestions! We would love to hear from you.


Message sent March 16, 3:00pm

Dear Enso Karate Community,

The coronavirus has quickly disrupted our daily lives, creating uncertainty and deep concern. The health and well-being of our communities is most important, which is why we have made the decision to suspend our regular classes at least until March 29 (as announced previously).

Our instructors have been working hard to find ways to maintain karate training and keep our community connected. Please read the email sent to all current students to learn about our planned offerings and what you can expect from Enso Karate this week.

As we face this crisis, we as a dojo have so many strengths to get us through. We have an amazing community of students and families, outstanding instructors, and lots of technology and creative ideas! We know that online training is not like being at the dojo, but we hope some new ways to participate will help keep your karate training going and provide some ways to interact with your fellow karateka.

During this very trying time, small businesses like Enso will struggle to stay afloat. We understand that you, too, might be under financial strain at this time. But we ask, if you can, please continue your tuition. The future of the Enso community depends on it.

We truly miss seeing our Enso family at the dojo. Please try our online offerings and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you. Take care and be safe.

All our best,
Sensei Jay and Sensei Denise

PS: Our first 11 videos have already been released on our new Online Dojo (password sent via email to current students)! And, for our adult students, we’re hosting a Virtual Happy Hour on March 17th at 7pm!



Message sent March 12, 2:30pm

Dear Enso Karate Community,

Information surrounding COVID-19 is changing very quickly. Since we sent our original message last night, we’ve seen some compelling evidence that it’s important for everyone to stay home — starting now.

And so it is with a deep sense of disappointment — but also with an empowering sense of certainty — that we cancel all training at both the Chicago and Oak Park dojos, beginning immediately. 

For now, we are canceling classes through the end of our Spring Break, which was previously scheduled through March 29. We’ll be in touch regarding whether the dojo will open on March 30 or remain closed longer.

We are already brainstorming creative ways to stay engaged with you and your child as we hunker down over the next few weeks. Please stay tuned as we take a moment to more fully consider options and opportunities available to us.

Stay safe!
Sensei Jay and Sensei Denise Nacu



Message sent March 11, 10pm

Dear Enso Karate Community,

In the face of school closures, event cancellations, and other interruptions to our daily lives due to COVID-19, we would like to share how we are responding at Enso. Here we describe several specific actions our dojo will follow to play our role in reducing the chance of spreading the virus.


  • Hand washing. We will ask all students and guests to wash their hands when they arrive and before they leave the dojo.
  • “No handshake” rule. We will refrain from handshakes, hugs, and high fives for now. Of course, bowing is absolutely ok!
  • Class activities. We will modify our training to significantly reduce the need to come into prolonged contact with each other. For example, rather than correcting techniques by touching each other, we will instruct students to provide verbal feedback.

Of course, we reiterate the CDC recommendations to wash your hands, avoid touching your eyes and mouth, and stay home if you’re feeling sick.


During this uncertain time, it’s important to keep up your self-care routine — including exercising and spending time with friends. That’s one of the reasons why, at this time, we plan to hold all classes in the Chicago and Oak Park locations as scheduled. (Please be reminded that Enso has a Spring Break scheduled for March 23-29.)

We will of course monitor the situation as it develops and follow the advice of public health officials. If our plans change, we will update our community by email and post on our website.

Like a lot of you, we are concerned. But there’s a lot we can do — individually and as a community — to reduce the spread and support one another. That’s what this message is all about.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us (

Sensei Jay and Sensei Denise Nacu