TOWYN'S own martial arts sage has celebrated receiving one of the discipline's highest honours with more hard work.

Author and instructor Simon Morrell has become the highest ranked martial artist in North Wales after receiving a 7th dan rank in a hybrid of practical karate, krav maga defensive tactics and kickboxing.

Celebrating 38 years as a martial artist this month, Mr Morrell obtained the grade - which is time earned - for maintaining a seven day a week training regime for six and half years and marked the occasion at his Fight Fortress Combat Academy in Towyn in a brief ceremony with nine of his students - before getting stuck in to an hour's worth of training.

Mr Morrell, 53 originally of Prestatyn and now living in Deganwy, said: "More than anything, what this means to me is it shows the students what you can achieve through hard work.

"The next highest ranked person in North Wales is my daughter Luka with a third dan, and even though she's expected to get her fourth later this year, this has show her how much more she needs to do to get to my level.

"I think all of the students feel honoured though to be trained by someone with a seventh dan ranking, it's definitely given us all a bit of a lift. But I tried to keep it modest, so we got right back to work and did a full hour's training."

So modest is the martial artist, he has eschewed the Japanese tradition of marking the final dan - an indicator of increased understanding beyond the black belt - to tenth with a special ceremonial belt.

Mr Morrell added: "I've kept the same £200 black belt for 28 years. In karate, you begin with a white belt, but the funny thing is with all the wear and tear the higher I've gone, it's actually three quarters white again now.

"To me, this represents all the times I was in the gym, alone and I could have just sat back with a cup of tea and decided not to just sit on my laurels. I like to lead by example, there's too many instructors out there who don't have the commitment to practice what they preach.

"I had thought about retiring it a few years ago, but now I'm going to keep until die and pass it on to my wife or daughter."

Mr Morrell is currently in the process of distilling this experience into My Fear, Your Fear, a semi-auto-biographical self help book - his seventh published by wife Julie's company Blue Porch Publishing - which is due to be completed in October.