PINT-sized 64-year-old Thai Nguyen can pack a punch now she has rekindled a lifelong passion for martial arts after 51 years.
The Doubleview resident came to Perth in the aftermath of the Vietnam War in 1979 with her two children and husband but had to leave her practice of judo behind.
Mrs Nguyen now practices traditional Japanese martial art aikido-aikijujutsu at a Scarborough dojo and has come leaps and bounds according to her instructor.
“When I was a teenager, the government requested all the martial arts around Saigon to come to public high schools to demonstrate because they thought that would be an advantage to the enemy; there was a war between the north and the south so a lot of young men had to fight,” she said.
“The government wanted the young generation to get involved to get fitter and tougher and that’s when I fell in love with martial arts at first sight.
“A lot of incidents happened, there were a few deaths in my family, morale was low and there was a lot of depression in my community at that time.”
However, a busy work and family life in Australia prevented her from pursuing martial arts – until now.
“I never stopped thinking about it; I did mention to my husband that I wanted to do learn martial arts again but he always said ‘no you’re too old and too small, everyone can beat you’.
“But now my children are all grown up it is time for me to get back to something that I have always loved.”
Head of School Colm Harney said Mrs Nguyen’s dedication was admirable.
“She is our most enthusiastic student, she is the first to the dojo every night and she never misses a class; she is an example to everybody,” he said.
“The ethos of our club is to be inclusive of everybody because we can accommodate anybody of any age, size or ability.”
Mrs Nguyen said she encouraged others to get involved in martial arts.
“If I can do it you can do it; look at me I’m this old and I can still learn; there is still so much to learn,” she said.
“It is something you really feel you can belong to.”