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Willie Nelson Receives His Fifth Degree Black Belt

Willie Nelson
(David Buchan/Getty Images)

When you think Willie Nelson, chances are you think two things.  You probably think about country music and possibly marijuana.  Obviously his songs stand on their own and he’s an outspoken advocate for the benefits of marijuana.  But did you know he’s an avid martial artist as well?

As a matter of fact, just a few days before his 81st birthday, Willie received his 5th degree black belt in Gong Kwon Yu Sul.  It’s a martial art that combines the free flowing technique application that has become popular in mixed martial arts with the traditional parts of martial arts.  It emphasizes the application of striking, locking and throwing techniques in practical, free-flowing fighting situations.

According to Willie, the reason that he’s in such good shape at 81 years old is the exercise that he does.  He says that whenever he can he tries to get some physical activity in.

“I’m pretty healthy at 81. I think a lot of it has to do with the exercise that you do,” Nelson said. “I think martial arts is one of the best exercises you can do. Mentally, spiritually, physically, everything. I’m sure that’s helped.”


He also added that he was surprised by the honor.

“Honestly, I was surprised to be getting this degree,” Nelson said on his bus before the ceremony. “I don’t know what else is out there. I never thought about anything beyond second-degree black belt.”


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