Emily triumphs over illness

KOREAN Martial Arts specialist Emily Draper has gone through the pain barrier to retain her UK Grand Champion title for the third successive year.

KOREAN Martial Arts specialist Emily Draper has gone through the pain barrier to retain her UK Grand Champion title for the third successive year.

The 16 year-old is one of Europe's most exciting young prospects in the Korean discipline of Kuk Sool Won but, for the past 12 months, has been struggling with a mystery illness which has severely affected her legs.

Despite numerous trips to the hospital, doctors are still at odds to fully diagnose the illness - which brings sore lumps to the skin and arthritic pain - however one offered explanation has been the emerging infectious Lyme disease.

Amazingly though, although the illness has brought considerable discomfort during training and competition, Draper still managed to retain her European title in the 13-17 years category last summer and recently claimed her third successive UK title in Birmingham.


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The teenager, who regularly travels down to the Bury St Edmunds-based Kuk Sool Won Martial Arts Club from her home near Norfolk's Wisbech, said: “It is hurting quite a lot, but I'm dedicated to continuing my training and just want to keep on competing.”

Kuk Sool Won is the national martial art of Korea and encompasses many different disciplines.

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The system is also notable for its many modern day elements, such as gun defence and weapon improvisation.

Senior instructor at the Bury St Edmunds' club Richard Jones said: “She's in quite a bit of discomfort but every time she's got a competition she just pushes through the pain.

“Emily is developing into a fantastic martial artist and is going to be a very strong senior competitor, of that I have no doubt.”

Draper first started in Kuk Sool Won three and a half years ago at a Mildenhall-based club, purely to learn some self-defence. However, after taking huge enjoyment from the varied disciplines within the martial art, including stick fighting, she rapidly improved and went on to pass her 1st Dan blackbelt in June 2005.

When Richard Jones opened the Bury St Edmunds Kuk Sool Won Club two years ago, Draper joined him and soon became promoted to an assistant coaching role at the age of 15.

Draper is now looking forward to attempting her 2nd Dan grading next month, before defending her European title in King's Lynn on June 1.

For more information on the Bury St Edmunds Kuk Sool Won club, please visit: www.ksw-bury.co.uk, or e-mail: kuksool_bury@yahoo. co.uk.

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