A BRIDGWATER man has become the first blind man in the UK to achieve a white belt in the martial art of nunchaku.

Mark Perry, 43, who lives in Halswell Close has been training with nun-chucks for nearly four years and formalised his training with a special intensive course with Sensei Smith at his Dojo in the Lake District.

Mark was born with retinitis pigmentosa, a rare condition which has seen his eyesight gradually deteriorate and now he says his vision is like 'looking through a McDonalds straw with frosted glass on the end'.

"If I am being completely honest, there is not a lot you can do when you are blind, and it was a friend who initially suggested trying nun-chucks," Mr Perry said.

"I have always liked martial arts and thought I would give it a go and, yes, I knocked myself silly to start with, but I enjoyed the fact it was a tactile skills and I could hear the chain to work out the movement.

"The fact that it hurt when I got it wrong just meant I learned quicker."

Mr Perry trained intensively with Sensei Smith before passing his examination which tests fitness, movement, discipline and skill.

"I was quite emotional when I found out I had earned my white belt," Mark said.

"I am a very determined to do this, and I will not let my disability stop me from doing something I love.

"It has taken me a long time to find something I am passionate about and my friends and family say it has brought me out of my shell."

Mark does not want to stop at his White Belt, and wants to continue to train and earn more belts.

He has been given permission to train at the Bridgwater YMCA when their facilities are available.

His teacher Rich Smith said: "Mark is an amazing guy.

"He is driven and passionate, and that is the sort of person I want training with me.

"I am happy to support him further, and I think he is a great example of how anything is possible if you put your mind to it."