Japan awards Rising Sun honour to Scottish karate expert

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ONE of Scotland's top martial arts masters has been honoured by the Japanese government.

Instructor Ronnie Watt, from Milltimber near Aberdeen, is to receive the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the promotion of karate and understanding between Japan and the UK.

Watt, 63, was one of the first Scots to receive a black belt in 1968 and has taught more than 20,000 people over the past 45 years.

Only the Order of the Chrysanthemum is rated higher in Japan, and it is generally only given to politicians, military leaders or royalty.

Watt said he was thrilled to receive the honour, which comes three years after he achieved his 8th Dan Master black belt.

"It's a really big deal in Japan," he said. "I'm told Clint Eastwood got it for his film Letter From Iwo Jima, and Thomas Blake Glover, the Scottish Samurai, so that puts me in good company."

Watt took up karate in 1965 while he was recovering from a leg injury. He started the Aberdeen Shotokan Karate Club in 1968, became Scottish open champion in 1975 and was a member of the Scottish team from 1974-78.

He coached the British team from 1985-95 and formed the National Karate Institute Scotland in 2001 – the same year he attracted the World Karate Championships to Aberdeen.

In 2005 he became director of the World Karate Confederation (Shotokan).