Claire Lawrence is regional campaigns officer for RNIB in the East Midlands. She's also an accomplished contemporary artist, fitness and MMA fighting enthusiast. She was registered partially sighted when she was 16 and then registered blind at 18.
Through the work that she does and her individual passions and hobbies, Claire is constantly working to improve accessibility for blind and partially sighted people, and show that having sight loss doesn't mean that you can't achieve your goals.
"This is a film of me during one of my combat training sessions. I am registered blind and learning Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). My trainer Dan Powell is also severely sight impaired; he's a personal trainer, Judo instructor and cage fighter. This film was a few weeks ago, so I'm much stronger now. We focus on accuracy and muscle memory. Dan wears a bright top so there is a clear contrast between himself and the pads/gloves. Along with general fitness training we have progressed to knees, elbows, throws and actual sparring. All exercise is adaptable to any disability. Dan is a fantastic trainer and has enabled me to do something I've always wanted to do. "
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When Dan and I work together he always wears a top that contrasts with the pads, this gives me a better chance of hitting them rather than him!
The different types of punches are numbered, 1,2,3,4 etc and usually I react correctly to the number that Dan says.
Hitting the pads has become muscle memory, sometimes I need to throw a light jab to work out the correct distance, but from that I can form all the different punches.
I never believed that I would be able to move around a room and throw punches as my eyes tend to be very slow on tracking things, so moving objects seemed like an impossibility. This is not the case. Dan has perfected by posture and arm positioning so that I don't really have to think too much about what I'm doing.
On a standard boxing/MMA training session I will throw over 1000 punches. We are currently working on throws, kicks, elbows and knees. Combat training has increased my confidence greatly.
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