Eli LaRue earned his black belt in American Freestyle Karate at the Malta Martial Arts Leadership Training Academy in Lexington on Friday, October 21.
Son of Mike LaRue, medical assistant for Carilion Internal Medicine in Lexington, and Rebecca, his wife, Eli completed the two-hour test conducted by Jeremy Hipes and Ryan Payne, both third-degree black belt instructors.
Before testing his students, Hipes revealed to viewers that statistics show that only one in 100 students who start taking karate lessons reach the black belt level.
Mike and Rebecca’s daughter Emma, seven; was on hand to watch his older brother receive his black belt, and Michael and Marilyn Franklin, Eli’s grandparents from the paternal side of the family, were in the audience, having driven from Ala. for the event.
Prior to being hired by the Carilion Clinic Internal Medicine, Mike LaRue was employed at the Jackson River Family Practice in Low Moor for 15 years. Both Mike and Rebecca are residents of Clifton Forge.
Hipes administered the black belt test at his dojo, located across from the Tractor Supply Mall in Lexington. George and Dean Jenkins, Eli’s grandparents on the maternal side of the family, were on hand to watch Eli take his test.
George and Dean reside in Clifton Forge, and the sound booth at the Historic Masonic Theater is named after George, the original drummer of the Virginia Opry who made his theater debut on October 17, 1992.
George retired in 2013 from WestRock where he had been employed as a storekeeper.
Dean has also retired. She was an entrepreneur at Clifton Forge where she owned a business, It Is Paper.
George and Dean’s eldest daughter is married to a doctor. Jennifer’s husband is Dr. Kevin Broyles, an emergency physician at Roanoke Memorial Hospital.
Kevin and Jennifer have two daughters, Isabelle, 15; and Amelie, 12.
The Lexington Karate facility is geared towards offering classes for families and for adults.
On a wall of the dojo are posted the following words: self-control, respect, self-discipline, knowledge, concentration, courage, intensity and honor. Each word or phrase represents a belt in the martial arts program.
During the black belt tests, Caleb Carpenter and his wife Kate were on hand to watch their son, Elisha, a 12-year-old blue belt, partner with Eli to allow him to perform the various martial arts techniques required during the testing session.
|Eli LaRue of Clifton Forge demonstrated his karate skills during the test he passed to earn his black belt in American Freestyle Karate at the age of 10. (Photo by Mr. Ray Allen)|
|Elisha Carpenter, a blue belt from Clifton Forge, stands behind Eli LaRue to help out as a test partner. LaRue received his black belt at age 10. (Photo by Mr. Ray Allen)|