Cerebral palsy no match for martial artist
THREE years of dedication to the sport of tae kwon do is about to pay off for Coffs Harbour resident Luke Fieldhouse.
Luke is today vying for a black belt in the sport - an achievement made more remarkable by the fact he developed cerebral palsy at birth, a nervous system disorder that affects his movement, muscle tone and motor skills.
But none of that has stopped him from doing what seems, on the surface, almost impossible.
The 23-year-old said although he'd been interested in martial arts since he was a child, he never thought the sport would be within his capabilities.
"I started in 2012 - I was travelling to Sydney for the first time on my own and decided to learn a few tricks to keep myself out of trouble," he recalled.
Luke contacted the owner of a local martial arts school, Master Michael Landas, asking him for advice and guidance.
"Whatever technique I couldn't do with my legs, I just learnt how to get the same thing to happen with my hands," Luke said.
"One of the main reasons I do it is to stay fit and build up a bit of muscle - I have got a lot stronger since I started training with Michael."
Within three years, Luke has not only mastered various combos, punches and joint locks but pushed himself through the grades.
"He's been able to improve his range of motion enabling him to extend his arms further and with more flexibility," Michael said.
"He pushes himself probably harder than half the people I train - I have no doubt in my mind he's going to be able to do this."
Luke said achieving a black belt would mean the dedication had paid off.
"I've started things in the past that I've pulled out of," Luke said.
"This has been three years in the making - this is the first thing I've started and carried through all the way to the end."