Sometimes during times of darkness, a light still shines. In Aberdeen, Ronnie Watt's Karate continues to glow through this dark period in our city’s history. Guiding students through their karate journey, showing them the path along the way with his National Karate Institute.
During the Covid19 lockdown, all regular classes ceased, and students were facing a long period with no Dojo and no training. Not willing to be knocked down by such a blow, Ronnie and his students very quickly mastered the art of Zoom, to continue Karate training. Using Zoom's internet conferencing technology with fast broadband, Ronnie could teach from his living room to the students in their own homes. Live via the Zoom platform.
After some initial teething problems, Ronnie designed a new style of training to fit small places. By tweaking some of the traditional kata forms to suit and devising new training methods, he was able to keep people moving within the confines of their own home. Since starting on Zoom, things are looking up, and Ronnie has attracted some new students, both young and old. The lightening of restrictions allowed him to take some small groups for more dedicated training, with greater attention to detail, budo and grading. There is talk of a new hall where he hopes to get back to training in larger groups once the restrictions allow.
It has been heart-warming to see the results of the training come through from the more mature ranks of the National Karate Institute. Recently, at a grading outside Ronnie's house, held on his driveway Peter Stuart (71) achieved his brown belt after the grading which required him to perform 7 of the Shotokan kata and the Shodan syllabus.
Notably, Brian Welch (80) achieved his lifetime dream of becoming a Black Belt. It has been 10 years since his last grading and Brian was inspired to come back to Karate via Zoom by seeing others training during the lockdown. Brian had suffered a period of ill health and injury. He felt self-conscious about returning to a Karate class where many of the students are not surprisingly much younger. Zoom gave him the ideal opportunity to get back into shape at his own pace, in the comfort of his own home. It also meant he could stop and start as needed without feeling any pressure. Easing himself back into karate since the start of the Zoom classes in March.
Many of the young children have also been inspiring. To see them improve and respond to the lessons of Karate and Budo that Ronnie Watt teaches is inspirational. Many are well on their way up the ranks and look set to become the keen champions of tomorrow.
Zoom has been a welcome addition to Ronnie's teaching tools. Though it will never be a substitute for training in person. Especially not with a 9th Dan karate master like Ronnie, with an opponent and other karate students. Nevertheless, Zoom has been a vital connection between Ronnie and his students during the dark cloud of uncertainty that is the Covid19 pandemic.
Ronnie intends to continue the Zoom classes and points out how it can be an essential training method for students to top up their karate once things get back to normal. Though it has obvious disadvantages compared to one on one training in a dojo, there are some positives.
Zoom can be done anytime, anywhere with one or many students. Zoom is still an excellent vehicle for karate knowledge to travel, and for students to learn. For example, recently, Ronnie has had students from around the world joining in his Zoom classes, from Japan, The USA, Germany, Italy and Norway.
Zoom allowed Ronnie to continue the karate lessons during the lockdown. Where nobody could travel, meet or visit a dojo. The Zoom class has kept the karate alive and helped Ronnie shine the light into the darkness.
The gift of Karate
The Japanese word 'karate' comes from old Chinese and means 'empty hand'. Karate-do translates as the way of karate, and literally so 'the way of the empty hand'. Ironically, many of us are facing 'an empty hand' in our future due to Corona's impact and the economic collapse ahead of us. Training karate with Ronnie has helped many of his students stay focused and helped them through this darkness. "Ronnie has a gift", I've heard many people say that. I also agree. And it is a gift he enjoys and shares with others. Over the years, I have witnessed him share his valuable gift many times, with schools and Universities etc. Karate is a priceless generosity that Ronnie has given to many of his students, and his karate teaching guides them into better versions of themselves.
Ronnie and his karate are a much-needed beacon of light during these dark times. The Queen did well to recognise him with her OBE many years ago. As did the Japanese Government with the order of the rising sun, and the Aberdeen City Council, who made him a burgess.
Age is no barrier to self-improvement. Anyone interested in joining the National Karate Institute should contact Ronnie through his website www.Karate.scot