A north-east pensioner is “fighting fit” after earning his black belt in karate – at the age of 80.
Brian Welch was forced to give up the martial art around 10 years ago when he was struck by a number of health problems, including a heart attack and twisted bowel.
But the determined pensioner, from Stonehaven, was inspired to make a comeback to karate via Zoom after seeing others training during lockdown.
The retired police officer enrolled in virtual classes held by Ronnie Watt, chief instructor of the Aberdeen-based National Karate Institute Scotland, and his efforts finally paid off when he earned his black belt in karate last week.
Brian said: “I had my last grading 10 years ago and I managed to get my brown belt, then, unfortunately, I fell ill with several serious illnesses including a heart attack and a twisted bowel which stopped me going for a number of years.
“I’ve been doing karate on-and-off for around 12 years but spectated for a while until my health improved and I then decided to go for it again.
“I spoke to Ronnie and he said it was no problem at all. I came back and started training gradually through the virtual classes in my garage.
“Zoom helped me come along quicker than I initially thought. It was beneficial because you are there by yourself and you don’t have the added pressure of other people watching.
“Ronnie is a very patient and understanding instructor, especially when it comes to someone of a mature age like me.”
And former Grampian Police sergeant Brian says he is now “fighting fit” after his latest grading.
He added: “I’m delighted to have finally achieved my black belt, it’s been a long time coming but I was always determined to get it and knew I would eventually.
“Once I was back up to standard again I just decided to go for it. I’m fighting fit now.”
Brian wants to teach others that age is no barrier to going after what you want.
He added: “When people see me they don’t realise how old I am, people think I am 15 years younger than I am.
“I would tell anyone else in my situation not to let age bother them. The classes keep your body and mind healthy.
“Just because you are a particular age, it doesn’t mean you are ‘passed it’.
“Anything is achievable if you put your mind to it, and I managed after being seriously ill.”
Instructor Ronnie Watt, 73, said: “At this age we all really value keeping fit and training in such an uncertain and worrying time.
“Brian is really enthusiastic and it’s amazing what he’s achieved.
“He was a brown belt last time he did karate and through training with me on Zoom he’s really managed to come far.”