Editor’s note: This article was originally published April 16, 2014
Put another notch in Willie Nelson’s belt – or perhaps five more notches: On April 28, he’ll receive a fifth degree black belt in the art of Gong Kwon Yu Sul from Grand Master Sam Um at the Master Martial Arts studio.
The ceremony will take place at 7:30 p.m. at the studio, located in Suite C-4 at 3425 Bee Cave Road in Westlake Hills. Gong Kwon Yu Sul is a modern Korean form of martial arts, which Nelson has been practicing for decades.
"It’s a good form of exercise, especially as you get older," he said in a press release. "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."
Nelson, who released two albums last year, the pop-country "Let’s Face the Music and Dance" and the duets collection "To All the Girls…," has another due this summer, produced by Buddy Cannon. He’ll also co-headline a summer tour with Alison Krauss & Union Station.
In a 2004 cover story for No Depression magazine, writer Joe Nick Patoski wrote about being treated to a display of Nelson’s martial arts activities in an interview at Nelson’s home in Luck. "Willie Nelson kicked the —— out of the bag for two minutes straight, hard enough and relentlessly enough for me to quickly conclude I don’t ever want to get in a street fight with him, no matter how old he is," Patoski wrote.
Nelson will turn 81 either one or two days after the black belt ceremony, depending on the source; an interesting explanation for that is here.