Diss youngster’s Batto-Do martial arts success

A Norfolk youngster has become the first child in the UK to be graded in a rare Japanese martial art despite suffering from a condition which affects his mobility.

Pierce Linton, 11, from Diss, has achieved a yellow belt in Batto-Do, a form of sword fighting based on drawing and cutting, despite fighting the neuropsychiatric disorder Tourettes Syndrome, which causes involuntary tics and movements of the limbs.

The Diss Junior School pupil attends the Fujiyama School of Batto-Do at Wymondham, which is one of three Junior Batto-Do schools run by Steve Isles across the county; the other two being in Norwich and Great Yarmouth.

Mr Isles is planning to open a fourth school in Diss on July 27.

He said Pierce would be presented with his belt during an assembly at his school on Tuesday (July 17) and praised the youngster for the disciplined attitude he had shown since joining the Wymondham group four months ago.

Mr Isles said because of their age the junior Batto-Do group use harmless wooden swords, known as Bokken, instead of the alloy swords used by adults and nunchaku made from foam instead of wood.

The grading system in Batto-Do is similar to karate and once Pierce has received his yellow belt he could then go on to achieve his red, orange and blue belts, all the way through to black.

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Mr Isles said Batto-Do taught strict discipline and participants had to listen to instructions, which he believed helped Pierce cope with his Tourettes because he has to focus and concentrate as well as improving his hand eye coordination skills.

He added: 'It is quite important to be an all round better person through martial arts and Pierce has displayed that all the time.'

Pierce said he started learning Batto-Do through his grandfather Ian Linton who used to practice the martial art and would practice with Pierce using the Bokken wooden swords.

He added: 'The opportunity was there and I wanted to learn more about Batto-Do. I think it is the precision of the martial art that I enjoy most and it helps keep me active.'

The classes at Diss Junior School will be on Fridays between 5.30pm and 6pm. The first session is free then �20 per month. For more information, visit www.battodo.co.uk.

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