A BLIND Bridgwater martial artist is continuing to make history and inspire others.

Mark Perry, 45, who lives in Bridgwater, has become the first blind man in the UK to achieve three gradings in the martial art of nunchaku.

Mark has been training with nun-chucks for nearly five years and has formalised his training with Sensei Rich Smith, who runs a 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'.

Having achieved his white belt in March last year, Mark has pushed on with his training, and since lockdown has been having training sessions with Sensei Smith via the internet using video calls.

"It is unusual but Sensei Smith is very good at clearly articulating instructions and I have been able to learn a number of new moves and strikes enabling me to pass my third grading," Mr Perry explained.

"I was quite emotional when I found out I had passed as it was something I worked hard for."

Mr Perry first tried his hand at the discipline when a friend gave him a set of nun-chucks, knowing he was a fan of martial arts.

"I gave it a go and soon found it was tactile and I really enjoyed it," he said.

"I have recommended it to other people I know who are blind or partially sighted - it is not always easy to find hobbies if you are blind, but I am lucky to have found something I am passionate about."

Mark has developed a strong relationship with Sensei Smith, stating that the instructor respects him for his determination and attitude to the discipline.

Mark has no plans to rest on his laurels either, saying he is aiming to earn further belts with a view to competing in the sportnunchaku world championships being held next year.

However to do so, he needs more training, and in turn further funding.

Mark said the charity Gardner's Trust for the Blind has agreed to grant him £600 funding if he could match the funding himself.

Mr Perry says he and his partner are in the process of setting up a fundraising page to help meet the target.