Enso athlete Zachary Gin wins two medals representing AAU U.S. Team in Budapest

Great news from Budapest! Enso’s very own Zachary Gin won a silver medal in kumite and a bronze medal in kata at the the Hayashi Shito-Ryu Open International Karate Championships. The event was held on Dec. 9th in Budapest, Hungary, where Zachary had traveled as part of the AAU National Karate Team.

Zachary, 15, has been training with Enso since he was 7 years old, and he earned the rank of shodan (1st degree black belt) in 2016. He has been competing with the Enso Elite Tournament Team since it formed, and he has been a member of the National Team for the last two years.

Congratulations, Zachary, on your impressive performance on and off the tatami!

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!”

Enso Karate Athletes Made Waves at the 2017 Honolulu International Karate Championships

We are so proud of the Enso athletes who participated in the 58th All Hawaii State Karate Championships / 2017 Honolulu International Karate-do Championships as part of the AAU US Team on Nov. 18, 2017 in Honolulu, Hawaii.  The 8 athletes from our dojo earned 22 medals! See individual results below.

  • Brianna Santucci – 1st place kata, 1st place kumite, 3rd place team kumite
  • Mateo Nacu – 2nd place family team kata, 1st place team kata, 2nd place kata, 1st place kumite, 3rd place team kumite
  • Milo Platz-Walker – 3rd place kumite, 3rd place team kumite
  • Davian Barber – 1st place team kata, 1st place kata, 1st place kumite
  • Maile Nacu – 2nd place family team kata, 3rd place kata
  • Maxine Ivey – 3rd place kata
  • Zachary Gin – 1st place team kata, 2nd place kata, 2nd place kumite, 3rd place team kumite
  • Katie Coleman – 2nd place senior kata, 3rd place Kumite

Mahalo to our gracious hosts for a fun and memorable experience!


2017 Chicagoland Karate-Do Challenge draws athletes from the midwest and beyond

The October 29, 2017 Chicagoland Karate-Do Challenge was a great success bringing together about 250 athletes representing 20 dojos from the midwest and beyond. This AAU sanctioned tournament is co-hosted by Enso Karate and Nisei Dojo. Thank you to everyone who made this experience possible. We hope to see you at future events this year!

Stay in touch with the CKC and get on our mailing list for future events.

CKC Facebook page

Adult Karate Students Retreat to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

A special event for the adult karate students of the dojo was held on September 15-17, 2017 in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The Adult Karate Retreat took place on the campus of George Williams College and featured karate training sessions and activities to build the bonds of dojo friendship.  We had many fine meals together, time for a hike around the lake, and late night chats around the fire pit. Our 3rd annual retreat is in the books and we’re already talking about next year!








Enso Elite Karate Team makes strong showing at 2017 AAU Karate Nationals

The Enso Elite Karate Team participated in the  2017 AAU Karate National Championships which was held in Raleigh, NC June 29 – July 1, 2017.

Our team took home 47 medals (16 gold, 20 silver, 11 bronze), and many of our athletes landed in 4th or 5th place in huge, tough divisions. We are so proud of how hard our athletes worked all year to prepare themselves mentally, physically, and emotionally for this intense week. Be sure to check out some of the live stream videos we posted on our Enso Karate Facebook page.



Sensei Jay (35-44yo) — 1st place senior kata

Sensei Denise (35-44yo) — 3rd place senior kata, 1st place team kata

AJ Cesar (15yo) — 1st place kata, 2nd place kumite

Angel C. (13yo) — 3rd place kata, 3rd place kumite, 1st place team kata, 2nd place team kumite

Brianna S. (9yo) — 2nd place kata, 2nd place kumite

Christine C. (14yo) — 3rd place kata, 1st place kumite, 1st place team kata, 2nd place team kumite

Davian B. (11yo) — 2nd place kumite, 2nd place team kata, 2nd place team kumite

Dominique C. (16yo) — 1st place kata, 1st place kumite

Elaine C. (18-34yo) — 1st place team kata

Gabriel M. (9yo) — 2nd place team kumite

Gabriel T. (12yo) — 1st place kata, 1st place kumite

Katie C. (18-34yo) — 1st place team kata

Kepler B. (15yo) — National team athlete

Maile N. (12yo) — 3rd place kata, 1st place kumite, 1st place team kata, 2nd place team kumite

Mateo N. (10yo) — 3rd place kata, 2nd place kumite, 2nd place team kumite (X2)

Maxine Ivey (13yo) — 2nd place team kumite

Milo P. (10yo) — 3rd place kumite, 2nd place team kumite, 2nd place team kata

Pamela W. (55+ yo) — 2nd place senior kata

Richard S. (11yo) — National team athlete

Ryan D. (12yo) — 3rd place kumite, 2nd place team kata, 2nd place team kumite

Suna H. (8yo) — 3rd place kumite

Toby N. (17yo) — 3rd place kumite

Victoria G. (16yo) — 3rd place team kumite

Zachary G. (13yo) — 1st place kata, 1st place kumite, 2nd place ippon kumite

2017 Chicagoland Karate-do Challenge: Tournament & Seminars Announced

The Chicagoland Karate-Do Challenge is an invitational karate tournament which will take place on Sunday, March 26, 2017.

Athletes can compete in kihon (beginners only), kata, kumite, team kata, family team kata, and team kumite. With your support, we will be able to host a successful event with a high level of competition offering athletes the chance to test their skills, forge new friendships, and make new connections.

Registration information can be found here. We hope to see you in March!

Linda Donner
Jay Nacu
Denise Nacu
Tournament Hosts and Organizers

This tournament is hosted and organized by Nisei Dojo and Enso Karate, and licensed by AAU USA. 

Kaminari Zoku 2016, Enso’s Friendly Flash Mob – Glow Version!

In October 2016, Enso Karate students surprised Chicagoans with a glow version performance of Shotokan kata at one of the city’s most recognized sites. Dozens of adults and kids of all ages joined the group to demonstrate kata in synchrony!

Enso Oak Park recognized by public health award