B'ville family earns black belts

Village Green just got four times safer.

The Schmidt family, namely Bob, Barb and their two children, Jimmy and Lauren, tested for their first- and second-degree black belts this past Saturday. Bob and Jimmy, 11, are now second-degree black belts and Barb and Lauren, 9, are first-degree black belts.

The family belongs to the Clay LaVallee's, where Bob and Jimmy have been training for more than five years. The two became interested in the sport after attending the testing ceremony of a neighbor.

"Jimmy was inspired by the awesome ceremony we attended," Bob said. "We received a three-month trial membership and started together."

Two years later, young Lauren was intrigued and convinced her mother to join.

"I was glad to get the kids into a program that would benefit them both physically and mentally," Bob said.

How did the kids feel about their success?

"I feel proud and accomplished," said Jimmy, a sixth-grader at Ray Middle School.

"I feel happy, excited and proud to be a black belt," said Lauren, a fourth-grader at Reynolds Elementary School.

The Black Belt Spectacular was held this past weekend at the Civic Center. The ceremony is held three times a year, each promoting 60 to 80 participants from all five schools in the area. According to Bob, there were more than 2,000 spectators at Saturday's event.

Want to be a black belt?

According to Bob, LaVallee's USA Black Belt Champions is a multi-styled system that includes styles such as Mauy Thai, Brazilian Ju-jitsu, Kenpo and Tae Kwon Do. As with any sport, the program takes dedication, endurance and time.

"Typically, it takes three and a half years to earn your black belt," he said. "You start out as a white belt, followed by yellow, orange, purple, blue, green, brown, red, then high red belt. After high red belt, you go into "cycle," which is more intense training that lasts from four to eight months."

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