A 23-YEAR-OLD visually impaired woman has shown that sight loss doesn’t have to be a barrier to doing martial arts.

Helen Tran, who lives in London, was born short sighted but lost her sight completely and suddenly later.

She struggled to regain the self-assurance that she lost when she lost her sight and wanted to find an outlet for it.

“Losing my sight in this way made me feel very vulnerable,” Helen, who is registered blind, said.

Her father was involved in Taekwondo so she wanted to give it a try as she had always had an interest in martial arts.

Helen met London Instructor Master Diego through her social worker 1.5 years ago.

Diego said at first he didn’t know how it would work in a group session at his venue due to health and safety reasons.

“But I was really keen to meet Helen and offer her one-to-one sessions to see if she felt comfortable and if she enjoyed it,” he said.

Helen took to Taekwondo quickly but there was a barrier in the way – the need for a venue.

Diego couldn’t provide Helen with the one-to-one training needed at his club.

Thomas Pocklington Trust stepped in and provided a space – a room at the Balham Resource Centre – for Helen and Diego to train as regularly as they wanted.

Diego and Helen are still training together after 1.5 years.

Helen has reached 7th Kup and looks forward to working towards higher belts.

Diego said people were unsure if she could do it but he knew she could.

“They had not seen her training like I had,” he said.

“When she took her grading’s they saw straight away that she was more than capable. She only needs her cues to guide her. Her Taekwondo is great.”

Helen said she is interested in teaching Taekwondo to both sighted people and people with sight loss further down the track.