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Kings of Anglia Issue 10 Magazine Offer

Blind Terri scoops black belt

PUBLISHED: 20:00 07 June 2003 | UPDATED: 13:59 03 March 2010

BLIND Terri Sawkins has completed a remarkable feat - she has achieved a black belt in Korean martial arts.

The 45-year-old has been training in Kuk Sool Won for four years and has not let her disability hold her back.

BLIND Terri Sawkins has completed a remarkable feat – she has achieved a black belt in Korean martial arts.

The 45-year-old has been training in Kuk Sool Won for four years and has not let her disability hold her back.

Together with other Ipswich club members, Daren Ramsey, Marie Ward and Mark Smith, Terri was presented with her black belt by the founder grandmaster from Korea.

In order to pass, the quartet had to learn 226 techniques.

Before the ceremony, the Ipswich club took part in the UK championships in Norwich and competed against 45 other teams.

Ipswich came fifth overall, winning 37 medals – 15 gold, 11 silver, six bronze and five copper.

Main instructor at Ipswich is kyo sa nim John Garrod. He said: "The club had a good result at the championships. We only entered 23 people, so to come away with 37 medals is not a bad result."

On Terri's achievement, he added: "She has done absolutely fantastic.

"The technique requires a lot of hands-on involvement because it's based on self-defence and she's done really well.

"She has had no special privileges and trains with everyone else. She has overcome her disability and has done brilliantly.

"During practice, we often close our eyes and it's totally disorientating, I don't know how she does it.

"We don't treat her any differently, but we do give her a little extra space to make sure she doesn't clash with anything."

Terri, 45, has been blind for 23 years. She started the sport in 1999 after completing a women's self-defence class.

Terri, who comes from Colchester, said: "The martial arts class was running at the same time and I told the instructor how I wished I could join in.

"He gave me six lessons at home to learn the basics and then I joined.

"I never intended going for the grades, I was doing it for self-esteem. I am chuffed to have got my black belt, but there were a lot of people involved in helping me achieve it.

"I love the freedom of movement. I can let go and fly around a bit. I have just started staff sparing – hitting people with a stick – and it's really exciting."

If you are interested in learning the martial art then ring John Garrod on 01473 411883. Lessons are held on Monday's at Copleston High School, Wednesday's at Halifax Primary School and Friday's at Whitton Sports Centre.

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