Little Maisie overcomes deafness challenge to get orange belt in Taekwondo

Coach Tammy Lewis learns sign language so she can help Maisie Skitt-Wright

Maisie Skitt-Wright, who lives in Brosley, Shropshire, joined LMA Martial Arts late last year.

The young man has been registered as deaf from birth and has struggled to find activities outside of school.

But Tammy Lewis, who runs the LMA with her husband Dean, is a cousin of Maisie’s mum Suzanne Skitt and urged Maisie to try kickboxing.

She hasn’t looked back since, and the young man passed her orange belt exam with flying colors.

“Maisie wanted to do some work off campus but was struggling to find anything,” Mrs Lewis said.

“Her mum and dad were also deaf from birth, and – growing up – they didn’t go to any clubs or anything like that.

“I twisted her arm and persuaded her to try taekwondo and she has become an excellent student.

“Learning a martial art is hard enough, but practicing without hearing is especially difficult because there is a lot of shouting. But Messi really took up the challenge and she really enjoyed it.

“She took her first assessment with other students and passed her orange stripe belt with distinction. She’s very smart and it just shows what you can do when you put your heart and soul into something. “

Maisie was the first deaf student Mrs Lewis taught.

After the six-year-old joined the club, a second-class black belt took her a course in British Sign Language.

She said LMA Martial Arts is a club open to everyone.

Mrs Lewis continued: “We think it’s very important that martial arts is inclusive of everyone, regardless of ability.” Taekwondo should be inclusive and polite.

“Masie’s success shows what we can do. Some of the other students have also learned a bit of British Sign Language.

“But the truth is, the other kids didn’t notice the difference between them and Maisie. Instead of yelling at her, they tapped her on the shoulder and went on. It was great.

“We’ve had some parents of children with autism contact us and they’ve asked if they could come along. The answer is yes. We want to include everyone.”

Maisie’s success was even recognized in celebration, with actress Rose Ayling-Ellis describing her achievement on social media as “brilliant”.

The Eastenders star became the first deaf contestant at Strictly Come Dancing in 2021 and went on to win the show.

“I sent Ross a message on Instagram because she has always been a deaf advocate,” added Mrs Lewis.

“She wrote back that she thought what Maisie did was outstanding. We are of course all very proud of her and look forward to seeing her progress on the other belts.”

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