FAIRMONT – A local, longtime karate instructor was recently inducted into the inaugural class of the West Virginia Martial Arts Hall of Fame.
Shihan Larry Carter was inducted Saturday, Oct. 16 and spoke during the event hosted by the Mountain State Brotherhood of Martial Artists at the Knights of Columbus headquarters in Fairmont.
“Everyone who was inducted had a karate bio with the things that we’ve accomplished in our karate careers, and it was just a phenomenal evening,” Carter told My Buckhannon. “I met with lots of friends and karate family who I haven’t seen in such a long, long time. A lot of family and friends were able to attend — I actually had nine family members with me.”
Carter is a seventh-degree blackbelt and master of Shotokan karate.
“I started late in life,” he said. “I was 36 years old when I took my first karate lesson, so I’ve been a karate practitioner for 38 years now and an instructor for 30 years. My school is the Buckhannon Academy of Karate, and I run my dojo out of the Stockert Youth and Community Center.”
Carter’s passion for the martial arts was born when his son started taking lessons in his early teens at the Fairmont Karate Academy.
“I arranged for him to start taking lessons, and he said, ‘Dad, you should take lessons with me,'” Carter recalled. “I said, ‘I’m 36 years old, maybe I shouldn’t,’ and he said, ‘Yeah, you’re probably right Dad, you’ll probably get hurt.’ So then I had to take lessons. My son is a black belt, and my grandson is also a black belt.”
Carter first started instruction in Fairmont, but he moved to Buckhannon to work at Corhart, and that is when he opened his own karate school.
“I have such a passion for karate,” he said. “When I can see understanding click in somebody’s mind — you don’t know how good of a feeling that is until you finally see someone acknowledges that yes, I understand what you’re trying to tell me.”
He offers a once-a-week class called ‘Tiny Ninjas’ for five-to-six-year-old’s Mondays at 5:30 p.m. and an adult class Mondays and Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. that accepts anyone age seven or older.
“Children and teenagers particularly learn respect and they learn responsibility through karate, and then adults gain a sense of accomplishment because they might not realize they can do karate,” Carter said. “They realize, ‘I can do this now even though I am X number of years old.’ I tell everyone, don’t let age be a roadblock if you want to try to learn martial arts, because if you give me everything you’ve got, there’s no reason, no matter what your age, that you can’t earn a black belt.”
Carter said he plans to continue teaching karate long-term.
“I lost my wife five years ago, and she was my passion for 47 years,” Carter said. “I’ve always had the passion for karate. I’ll be 74 in December, and I will continue to do it as long as I’m physically and mentally able. I’m hoping 10 years from now, someone will call me and say, ‘Are you still teaching karate?’ and I’ll say, ‘Yes ma’am.’”
Interested parties can reach out to the Buckhannon Academy of Karate Facebook page or call Carter at 304-613-8676.
“Just as soon as the new [SYCC] building is built, I’m going to get a tournament scheduled,” Carter said. “A lot of my black belt families in North Central West Virginia have told me, ‘We know it’s going to be your first one, give us a call and we will help you any way we can Larry.’ I’m very excited for the new building — I can’t wait to have a tournament.”