Willie Nelson might use a multi-colored guitar strap, but he’ll soon be wearing a new black belt.  The country legend will receive his fifth degree black belt in the modern Korean martial art of Gong Kwon Yu Sul in a ceremony in Austin, Texas on April 28th — just before his 81st birthday.  Willie’s teacher, Grand Master Sam Um, admits the singer is not the typical student.  He tells the “Houston Chronicle” that most people stop training in their 40s, while Nelson began studying the mixed martial art in his 60s.  Um adds that Willie “has great discipline,” and when he’s on the road he’ll send Um videos of his practices for critiques.  He also admits that Willie now has a higher rank than he has, and that Nelson “could take” him “in a fight with no problem.”

Willie 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.  Last year, Nelson told Men’s Health Magazine, “ 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.”