BRIDLINGTON martial arts instructor Stuart Hicken is still coming to terms with a huge surprise sprung on him at a meeting of grand masters in Germany.
Stuart, who owns the Bridlington martial Arts and Fitness Centre in Hilderthorpe Road, was invited to represent Great Britian at the World Gathering of The Masters in Monchengladbach last month.
But at the end of the weekend, which was led by the last living descendant of historic Mongolian warrior Genghis Khan, he was gven the highest honour he could have received.
He was made 10th Dan Grand Master and British representative to the World Martial Arts Association - Republic of China, and received certificates signed by the highest representatives in the association.
He said: “I was completely overwhelmed. I couldn’t speak, in fact I was battling to stop the tears from falling, because the last thing I wanted to do was to show any weakness, as they gave me the honour.”
Even better news for Stuart, and his students, is that next year’s Gathering of the Masters will be held in Bridlington.
“I am so honoured that our community club is going to have something as huge as this brought to Bridlington.
“I’ve never had anything like this happen to me in my life. I’ve worked hard to get where I am, I am always so very proud of my students and have only ever done this to help my students, the club and our town.”
Born in Leeds, Stuart moved to Bridlington as a teenager and took up martial arts as a 16-year-old after suffering serious leg and hip injuries in a scooter accident.
Well-known as a singer around Bridlington, he set up his current school five years ago.
He received his invitation to the Masters Gathering last October and trained with his club coaches to prepare.
Having attended a couple of the prestigious Masters seminars previously, Stuart thought he knew what lay in store.
“My jaw nearly hit the floor. The previous meetings were never on this scale, there must have been a couple of hundred people there and I just thought ‘what have I let myself in for?’,” he added.
“There were 20 or so of us demonstrating over the two-day event, to showcase our skills to masters from all over the world.
“To my amazement i found out we were to be assessed by martial arts royalty, head of the WMAA-ROC Dschero Khan, the actual teacher of our own Shotokan Grand Masters.”
After a day of gruelling sparring, Stuart was called out to receive his accolade, with the masters stating they had been ‘honoured’ to have seen him demonstrate his knowledge of martial arts.
The following day he was presented with a book about Grandmasters which features a page on himself.