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Willie Nelson Receiving 5th Degree Black Belt in Korean Martial Arts

Willie Nelson
David Buchan, Getty Images

Willie Nelson may be approaching 81, but he isn’t letting his age hinder his physical fitness. The Red Headed Stranger will receive his 5th Degree Black Belt in the art of Gong Kwon Yu Sul, a modern Korean martial arts system.

Nelson has been practicing martial arts most of his life. It began in Nashville, when he started studying kung fu as a young songwriter. In the past 20 years, he has been training in the art of Tae Kwon Do and Gong Kwon Yu Sul, using his time in his tour bus, Honeysuckle Rose, as a means of practicing techniques.

Last year, Nelson told Men’s Health Magazine, “Really, all my life, Charles Atlas and Bruce Lee were on my mind. It’s a good form of exercise, especially as you get older. I went through school playing all kinds of sports. I played shortstop. I ran track. I played football. I was a pole vaulter. Then when I went to Nashville, I got into some martial arts and kung fu. I liked it. We used to offer kung fu lessons to the kids in town. It’s good for you.”

The country legend will receive his 5th degree black belt on April 28 in Austin, Texas. Grand Master Sam Um will be promoting Nelson at his studio, Master Martial Arts, and it will be an early birthday present for Nelson, who turns 81 two days later.

Nelson will embark on a tour with Alison Krauss & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas on May 1 — and since he’ll be on the road through July, he will have lots of time to keep perfecting his technique on the bus.

Next: See Willie Nelson in Football Gear

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