Black belt success for mum Terri

TERRI Sawkins has won medals for her sport.She received her coveted black belt in a variation of Kuk Sool - a Korean martial art - and then took part in a national tournament at Norwich Sports Village last week.

TERRI Sawkins has won medals for her sport.

She received her coveted black belt in a variation of Kuk Sool - a Korean martial art - and then took part in a national tournament at Norwich Sports Village last week.

There were many winners but her achievement was more remarkable than most because Terri is blind.

She has been in the sport for four years after she was hooked after a self-defence class and has progressed up the rankings and through the belts.

Both her children have trained in the sport, Kristian, 16, is a blue belt and Heidi, 14, a brown belt.

Terri, 45, who travels by train from Colchester to Ipswich for her classes admitted she never thought she would land her black belt.

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She said: "I never intended to go for a black belt. I just want to keep going as long as I can. I didn't want to grade but they put me in and, from time to time, gradings came along.

"It is exciting to get this far. I will go on with it. I don't really have ambitions but want to take advantage of things when they come along.

"In 1996 I climbed Ben Nevis, I've also abseilled and water-skiied. There are loads of things I would like to do but for a single mum on benefits most are not realistic.

"On my 40th birthday I went water-skiiing and last year I went swimming with dolphins. But I never thought I would get a black belt.

Terri has been blind for 23 years and admits she has never seen her children. "Perhaps it is a good thing," she joked.

Paying tribute to her instructors she said: "It is down to the instructors who have been teaching me and pointing me in the right direction. Kuk Sool Won is about commitment and they certainly have that. I do most things that everyone else does, though I don't do much sparring.

"The forms and techniques, and I practise the full weapons sparring as well.

"I am very grateful for the Ipswich club for taking me on.

Daughter Heidi said: "My brother started first, mum joined and then I joined. "We have gone along together though but with school work it is hard to carry on. Mum still goes every week."

Chief instructor at Ipswich is Kyo Sa Nim John Garrod, he said: "She has done absolutely brilliantly. There is a lot of hands-on because it is based on self-defence but she does all the techniques. She has overcome her disability.

"I have only know here four or five months since she came over to Ipswich after training at the Colchester club but I think it is a fantastic achievement to get her black belt.

"We do practise sometimes by closing our eyes it is amazing how difficult it is. She competes with everyone else and is not left behind in any way.

"We don't treat her any differently. We do have to give her a bit of space to make sure she doesn't clash with anything."

"There are thousands of people training in Kuk Sool Won in the country, from Caithness down to Bristol, and as far as I am aware Terri is the only one who is blind."

Kuk Sool is a comprehensive martial arts system derived from the rich and varied martial arts techniques and traditions that have arisen in Korea through the ages. Kuk Sool is a complete martial art that is dedicated to the cultivation of mental and physical strength and well-being, and to the preservation of traditional Korean martial arts.

Although its origins may be traced back to antiquity, the present Kuk Sool system was devised only recently.

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