2020-2023: A COVID-19 Reflection

At this time three years ago, this is what what happening at Enso Karate:

  • On March 8, 2020, just after we began hearing about COVID-19, many of us participated in a tournament in Evanston, IL. While there, we felt a heightened sense of concern over hand sanitizer and crowds. But of course…we still went!
  • On March 11, we shared new “guidelines” that included washing hands and reducing contact. (This was before masking, “social distancing,” or Zoom School were part of our everyday life!) We thought we could train through it.
  • On March 12, we reversed course and closed the dojo for two whole weeks. Remember when that felt crazy??
  • Over the next two weeks, as we began to realize that the “quarantine” could last a little longer than originally thought, we started building out our Online Dojo and figuring out how to teach karate via Zoom. We made tutorial videos, organized 1:1 online training sessions, began planning “pop-up” seminars with other sensei, scheduled online social events, and tested out camera angles. Most of this was done from our front porch, with Sensei Katie, a couple of laptops, and some blankets (and perhaps a few adult beverages).
  • On March 30, we had our first full day of Online Karate!

Information was changing quickly, and we moved quickly with it. We had no idea what the future had in store, but we did know this: Enso Karate has never just been a business; it’s always been a strong, resilient and caring community. That community was about to be challenged as never before.

With you, our students and families, we survived together. Our homes became our dojos. Our Zoom heart emojis became our hugs. And our sense of community remained strong. Together, we provided a much-needed sense of routine and a touch or two of sanity in a world that often felt insane.

Some of us lost friends and family during COVID, and we know everyone missed out on some important life moments, too. But together, we also accomplished some remarkable things. We kept training, we competed, we socialized, we helped keep each other’s spirits up, friendships endured, belt ranks were earned, and we saw countless examples of the true karate spirit.

These years were a time we came together, and we overcame together. We hope these photos serve as a reminder that you are strong, resilient, and amazing!

Zoom. So many Zooms! Zoom for class, Zoom for 1:1 lessons, Zoom for kyu exams, Zoom for tournaments, Zoom for happy hours, Zoom for “kids corner” events. We did it all!

Videos. We finally built out an online dojo — which you can still access today! — that includes videos on basics and heian kata. We had been meaning to do it for years, and it only took a global pandemic to finally make it happen!

Training outside in Oak Park! Outside, in masks, separated by 6 feet of course!

Training outside in Chicago! Nothing like taking over a corner of Millennium Park on a beautiful Saturday.

Pop-Up Sensei! We hosted sensei from all over, providing a great break from our routine while supporting amazing karate-ka in other parts of the world.

At-home exams. Students made lots of progress with Zoom training, and we recognized it.

Silly challenges. Remember these? We are amazed at how many people participated every week. Of course, you had nothing better to do at the time!

Cute photo-ops. At least we thought so. 🙂

Photoshop challenges. Because we also had nothing better to do!

Tournaments. Masked tournaments were no small challenge.