“I was shocked!“

Following the award of the tenth master level during the international seminar in Lübeck, Michael Welge held a brief conversation with Grandmaster Bill Newman.

Michael Welge: How did it feel to be awarded the “Tenth“?

GM Bill Newman: It was very strange for me during the award ceremony. In a sense it was almost a physical shock! This was because I normally stand on the other side during an award ceremony. Rather than standing where I have always stood – in the world I am used to, where I hand out the certificates – I was suddenly standing on the other side to receive an award. I felt like a schoolboy in front of the headmaster. A very strange and very hot experience. Even though the circumstances were bound to produce a sweat – it was a very hot day, and the temperature at or rather in the venue (a party boat) was also quite high – the occasion and excitement no doubt contributed.
It’s strange, but we all like rewards. I was very proud and excited when I was awarded the tenth level, but it was just the same with all the other grades I have received. I still remember my excitement when I received my first grade in Escrima. Times were different then, as the world was more oriented towards jiu-jitsu, karate and judo. Accordingly I was awarded my first grade in the form of a black belt. That was one of the highlights of my life. It was the same when I received my second grade – none of these awards left me unaffected, and every one had the same value for me.

Michael Welge: What does the tenth grandmaster level mean to you? It means that together with the WingTsun grandmasters, you hold the highest grade in our association.

GM Bill Newman:  This grade was awarded to me as head of the Escrima division in our organisation. I hardly think that it will suddenly make me capable of walking along the ceiling, and I certainly won’t be able to walk on water. Neither will I have any responsibilities I did not already have.
Being awarded the tenth level does not mean that my work is done either. On the contrary, it drives me on to achieve even more.
I hope that I can particularly show the young people who practice Escrima that there is a life as a martial artist beyond the age of 40, 50 and even 60. It is good to be able to look at your most senior teacher and realise that there is a future. We are still around, we train, work and have fun.
It also stimulates the brain cells to be more active.

Michael Welge: So was the grandmaster grade your life’s ambition?

GM Bill Newman: Let me repeat what I have already said on many other occasions: these titles and rewards are only of importance within our own organisation. We are in the EWTO, and within the EWTO we recognise and respect things we have worked for. Naturally the reputation of the EWTO also ensures that these titles can possess a certain value outside the organisation as well, but II do not believe that anybody outside the EWTO is really interested in what grade you hold. It only has a value to the extent that the organisation has a recognised value.
Accordingly I am very proud and happy to have been awarded the tenth grandmaster level by the EWTO.

Michael Welge: Grandmaster Bill, many thanks for your time.