In Solidarity with the Black Community

A Statement from Enso Directors Sensei Jay Nacu and Sensei Denise Nacu

Heartache. Despair. Shame. Rage. Sadness. These are the emotions we have been feeling throughout the week, 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 in our careers as educators. We know we are not alone in these feelings. We see it in the faces of all those around us — at home, on the streets, through Zoom.

We want the Black community to know that we stand with you. We believe Black Lives Matter.

When it comes to systemic racism and injustice, we must all be advocates. We are all part of the problem, and we can all be part of the solution.

Eighteen years ago, we created Enso as a place that values diversity and welcomes everyone. We have always been proud to be a dojo that represents Chicago’s diversity, friendliness, strong work ethic, and healthy sense of competition.  We are so proud of the community that all of us have helped to create. But we also know we can do better, and we are calling ourselves to action to examine how we can fight racism and be more intentionally inclusive.

Beyond our dojo, too, we commit to engaging with our fellow karate-ka to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive karate community. One of the things we appreciate most about karate is that it has given us the opportunity to travel the nation and the world, where we have made many amazing friends. In the spirit of that friendship, we call our fellow karate-ka to action to also listen, learn, and change what needs to be changed.

Since the COVID-19 shutdown began in March, and even more so since George Floyd’s murder on May 25, 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. Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay in touch.

Jay & Denise Nacu

2020 Black Belt Exams Announced!

Our annual Black Belt Exam is a very special day for our community. It’s a day when students are asked to demonstrate their technique, endurance, and mental fortitude in front of a panel of sensei — as well as their karate peers and their friends and family.
Beyond the physical exam, of course, is the development of character and values that we hold as karate-ka — which students will be asked to reflect on through essays and conversations with their sensei. Each black belt candidate has faced obstacles, gained perspectives, and developed values — all of which will help them through this important step in their journey.
Everyone at our dojo can be part of this process! You’re all welcome and encouraged to attend these open events to support your dojo-mates:
Friday, March 13, 2020 – 7 PM
The Practice Exam simulates the physical part of the Black Belt Exam. The purpose of this step is to give students the opportunity to not only experience a full-length exam, but also to receive feedback from a panel of senseis. This feedback will likely include a list of items that the candidates must work to improve before the next step.
Friday, May 29, 2020 – 7 PM
The Qualification Exam includes another simulated exam experience. At this stage, we will determine who is ready to proceed with the testing process in 2020. A large part of our criteria will be based on how much the student has improved since the initial Practice Exam. It’s possible that not every eligible candidate will qualify for the Final Exam on July 25.
Saturday, July 25, 2020
  • Morning: Special Seminars with Guest Sensei – Open to All! (More Details TBA)
  • Afternoon: The Exam
  • Evening: Celebration Dinner – Open to All! (More Details TBA)

We created this multi-step exam process not only for the sensei to assess the black belt candidates, but also for those students to assess their own readiness. Some students use the Practice Exam and/or Qualification Exam to help them decide whether they feel ready, and it is not uncommon for some students to decide to wait another year before testing. Enso’s instructors and leaders support students through the entire process.

More details will be announced closer to July 25.