The Road to a Black Belt


Photo courtesy of Blaise Silverman

Blake Silverman, pictured in black tee in the front, with other students at LMKarate. Photo courtesy of Blake Silverman.

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Karate is a journey of perseverance and hard work. A method for exercising both mind and body, karate is a popular choice of hobby for many people of all ages. The greatest achievement of all may be, after years of time and sweat, to earn one’s black belt. Sophie Denby, Tyler Haynes and Blaise Silverman are just a few in the FCHS community who have done so.

Denby, a junior, was only two years old when she started karate. She had friends taking karate classes, and decided to try it in order to learn self-defense and become more social. She quickly found that she loved karate and the adrenaline and pride it gave her whenever she scored a point or won a competition. After seven more years of hard work and persistence, Denby earned her black belt. She competes regularly against other dojos, as well as nationally in tournaments.

Karate has taught Denby more than just self-defense. It has also contributed to her ability to handle peer pressure, and helped her overcome her fear of performing in front of large crowds. “It is such an amazing accomplishment and everything working up to it can get very tiring and repetitive, but it is all worth it,” said Denby.

Senior Tyler Haynes started karate when he was two as his parents saw it as a good opportunity for him to be active. After seven years, Haynes also earned his black belt. One of the hardest things on his road to black belt was actually persevering through a lull where he felt as if he wasn’t going anywhere. He competed one year in competitions when younger, though they weren’t exactly for him, and while he doesn’t do karate anymore, he will always carry the things he learned when doing it with him. ” was able to apply everything I had learned and put it into something physical that represents hard work. I can do anything if I try. That’s the whole point of karate. Everything can be done with effort,” Haynes said.

As for Silverman, this FCHS junior was born with karate in his blood since his father, Abrams Academy teacher Rob Silverman, owns LM Karate, the dojo on Route 53. After seven years of perseverance, Silverman earned his black belt and still actively competes. He also now teaches karate four to five times a week and notes that it’s never too late to start karate. “Adults come in all the time having no experience,” he said.

If you have an interest in starting to learn karate in Fluvanna, visit or contact LMKarate at (434) 589-KATA (5282). You can also email them at [email protected].