Willie Nelson is a man of many talents. Not only is he an award-winning musician, actor and activist, he is also a martial arts master! He will receive his 5th Degree Black Belt in the art of Gong Kwon Yu Sul, a modern Korean martial arts system, during a ceremony on Monday, April 28 at his martial arts studio in Austin. The ceremony takes place one day before his 81st birthday.
Willie has practiced martial arts most of his life. He started by studying kung fu as a young songwriter in Nashville. In the past 20 years, he has been training in the art of Taw Kwon Do and Gon Kwon Yu Sul, often practicing technique on his bus while traveling to shows.
“Really, all my life, Charles Atlas and Bruce Lee were on my mind,” he told Men’s Health Magazine before his 80th birthday. “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.”
Willie will kick off a co-headlining tour with Alison Krauss & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas in May. He will also release a new studio album later this summer.