Country legend Willie Nelson has accomplished a great deal in his eighty-seven years, but the Red Headed Stranger has an addition to his long list of accolades. In case you don’t know, Nelson got his fifth-degree black belt in a martial art called GongKwon Yusul in 2014. And this is no honorary black belt or whim on his part, the country legend has practiced this modern Korean martial art system for nearly three decades already.
Though Nelson is best known for being a country outlaw and for his wonderful music, a lot of people did not know that he’s very into martial arts too and has been practicing most of his life. It started when he began studying kung fu as a young songwriter in Nashville. Then he started practicing the art of Gong Kwon Yu Sul, and Tae Kwon Do whenever he is vacant on his tour bus.
Nelson once told Men’s Health Magazine that Charles Atlas and Bruce Lee have always been his inspiration and that they were on his mind all his life. “It’s a good form of exercise, especially as you get older,” the singer said. “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.”
Age Does Not Slow Willie Nelson Down
Today, now that he is eighty-seven years old, Willie Nelson revealed that he’s been doing martial arts as much as he ever did.
“One thing it gives you is a little confidence,” Nelson said about martial arts during an interview with Slate as part of their project 80 most influential Americans over 80.
“You don’t have to worry a lot because you’re capable of handling any situation that comes up. Having no fear is a pretty good thing,” Nelson continued. “I still try to do a little workout every day just to pay for the day. That’s what I call it: You have to do something to pay for the day. So I’ll get up and do a little walking or jogging or whatever, just enough to keep the heart going.”
During the interview, the singer has also revealed that he’s been able to do much writing lately, thanks to the quarantine period brought by the pandemic. “All I have time to do is think. So I’ll write something. Who knows if it’s any good, but at least I’m getting it off my chest,” the country legend said.
And the best part is that he’s working on a new album – a family album, nonetheless, with “all the kids and everybody singing on it, and it’ll be coming out one of these days. I just enjoy being there and recording.”
We’re absolutely looking forward to it!
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