a MINI martial arts guru has karate chopped his way to the top by achieving a black belt despite being registered partially sighted.
Real life karate kid Thomas Barbour did not let his eye condition stop him from achieving the top ranking in Tang Soo Do, a Korean martial arts that he has practised since the age of four.
The nine-year-old of Woodside Road, Woodlands, was born with Ocular Cutaneous Albinism - a genetic pigmentation abnormality which causes involuntary back-and-forth movement of the eyes making it incredibly difficult for him to focus. The determined youngster who practises the martial arts at the Tang Soo club at St Laurence’s Church Hall in Adwick, said: “It was really difficult but when I got the black belt I was really happy, my family and everyone at the club are really proud of me.”
And Thomas is not the only martial arts expert in the family following in the footsteps of big brother Reece Barbour, 11, who become one of the youngest ever people to be awarded the top rank in Tang Soo Do back in 2009 despite suffering from the same condition.
Dad Thomas, 31, said: “We are so proud that Thomas has overcome his vision problems to get the black belt, his condition affects his balance and makes it difficult to focus so the fact that he has managed to achieve this is amazing.
“Both of my boys have done so well and everyone down at the club is really supportive of them and thrilled with their achievements.
“They are registered as partially sighted on the blind register and it does affect their day to day lives. It’s not unusual for us to get phone calls from the school saying one of the lads has had a fall and broken their glasses but they cope with it so well.”
Tang Soo Do is a Korean martial art which literally means the way of the hand.
It has its roots in various styles of martial arts including Chinese Shaolin kung fu and Japanese karate.
Tang Soo Do was introduced to the UK by Master Kang Uk Lee who, in 1974, was invited to organise the United Kingdom Tang Soo Do Federation.
Thomas said: “I really enjoy Tang Soo Do and I want to carry on doing it when I’m older and keep getting better.”