An Aberdeen-based karate master is providing free online classes in a bid to boost morale during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Ronnie Watt, who has been a professional karate instructor for more than half a century, says the free classes are a “way of giving something back”.
The well-known martial arts master has been campaigning to keep fitness at the top of the agenda for many years and says it is “vital now more than ever” that people keep moving for their physical and mental health.
After overcoming initial technical teething troubles, the latest class, which took place on Mr Watt’s 73rd birthday, attracted almost 90 participants.
Mr Watt said he is now receiving e-mails every day from parents whose children are taking part in the classes, thanking him for the classes.
He said: “We’ve had a hugely positive response to the project from students and parents are just over the moon with what we’re doing.
“We have around 300 members and having almost 90 taking part right from the start is fantastic.
“Aberdeen has always been vulnerable to economic downturns and this is not just impacting the oil industry – people are losing their jobs right across board.
“With the added effect of people having to stay at home where possible, it’s a perfect storm both physically and emotionally on people and the longer this goes on, the worse it could be for people.
“Karate is a fantastic way to get both a physical and mental workout so I’m providing these classes free of charge to members as a way of giving something back.
“The response we have had from people has been fantastic and we are now moving from providing two classes per week adding a third on Saturdays.”
Four schools in Aberdeen helped alert students to the project and with the latest announcement that restrictions on movement are set to last for at least another three weeks, Mr Watt says he will continue teaching online until people can physically attend classes again.
Mr Watt has been teaching karate for 56 years, teaching more than 20,000 students and has achieved international recognition for his work promoting the relationship between Scotland and Japan.
In 2010 he was accorded the rare honour of being presented with the Order of the Rising Sun on behalf of the Emperor of Japan and received an OBE in the 2011 Mey Years honours list.