The 45-year reign of Scotland’s karate king is celebrated in a new book.
Aberdeen instructor Ronnie Watt has reached levels of excellence usually achieved only by the Japanese masters of the martial art.
His accomplishments are detailed in a new biography, Ronnie Watt, 8th Dan, with forewords from First Minister Alex Salmond and the founding and current presidents of the World Karate Confederation.
Mr Watt, 62, said it had been a real eye-opener to go back over his career with the book’s author, Clive Clayton.
“It was fantastic to sit down and think back to the start and see how far I had come, and it has been really well-received by people all around the world,” he said.
“I’ve had e-mails from people as far away as Australia telling me how much they enjoyed it.”
Praise has also come from the Japanese consul general, who invited the father-of-two to Edinburgh last night to recap some of the glory days.
It was the latest in a series of honours to come Mr Watt’s way since he became one of the first Scots to receive a black belt in 1968.
The title of the biography refers to the 8th Dan Master black belt he was awarded two years ago, an accomplishment he described as his “pinnacle of achievement”.
In the book he remembers being introduced to the idea of karate by the antics of the character Oddjob in the James Bond film Dr No and karate-style stunts in 60s TV series.
At the time the apprentice engineer was recovering from a serious injury that almost cost him a leg, but when a friend told him about a new karate school that had opened in Aberdeen, he went for the first lesson, which was to change his life.
“I knew it was for me,” he said. “It was captivating, the whole mind-body thing, and here was something I could do where my damaged leg would not be a liability.”
Over the four-and-a-half decades since then, Mr Watt, of Culter House Road, Milltimber, has taken his art to ever higher standards.
In 2005, he was inducted into the Combat hall of fame for his outstanding contribution to the worldwide promotion of karate.
In 2001, he attracted the World Karate Championships to Aberdeen.
In 1993, he received the Glover Trophy for his good works and, in 2007, the services-to-sport award from Aberdeen Sports Council.
His greatest pride comes from watching his pupils shine on the international stage, however.
At the last world championships, his cadets won 11 medals, a record he hopes to topple at next year’s event.
Mr Watt currently runs classes for about 300 people at venues across Aberdeen and, despite approaching an age when many of his contemporaries are looking forward to nothing more active than picking up their bus passes, he has no intention of hanging up his black belt just yet.
Karate has been good to him, he says, and he wants to give others the same life-transforming opportunities.
For information on classes, or to order copies of the book, contact Mr Watt on 01224 734607.