A BLIND man from Bridgwater is following in his two daughters' martial arts footsteps.

Mark Perry, 46, took up nunchaku by accident about three years ago thanks to a friend.

Since then he has gone from strength to strength, despite having a genetic disorder called retinitis pigmentosa (RP) that hampers his eyesight.

"My core vision is like looking through fog and my peripheral vision is like looking through a straw," said Mark.

"My friend gave me some unwanted nunchucks - (two pieces of wood connected by a metal chain) - because he knew I like martial arts.

"I started using them and found them very tactile to use spinning round my wrist and fingers.

"I've never been interested in traditional blind sports such as football with a bell in the ball, but I quite enjoyed this."

Mark searched online for a sensei (teacher), and discovered the nearest was in the Lake District.

"I saved up and had some money from a charity, and went there for a three-day intensive training course," said Mark

"I passed my first belt (white) and two months later did the same and got my yellow belt."

Mark trained remotely during lockdown and is now working towards his seventh belt (purple) and has won two national awards.

He would like to compete for Team GB in the world championships, but is unable to attract the £45,000 funding needed to train to reach elite level.

"It's frustrating, but nunchaku has made me more confident and physically fit," added Mark.

"Before I used to be the shy guy who never left the house. Now I even do public speaking.

"My two grown up daughters did mixed martial arts and I now understand what they went through. They're quite impressed with my progress.

"I'm registered blind and use a white stick and my eyesight is deteriorating by the month and I'm likely to go completely blind.

"I feel lucky because at least I've had some eyesight and been able to watch my children grow up.

"I'd like to work, but the only thing I could find is sitting in a call centre answering the phone all day.

"But my martial art has made me a happier person."