• Don't mess    April 29 
Country legend Willie Nelson is now a 5th-degree black belt

Here's a unique birthday present.

Country singer and songwriter Willie Nelson, who will celebrate his 81st birthday on Wednesday, got going with the festivities a bit early, receiving his fifth-degree black belt in the martial art of Gong Kwon Yu Sul on Monday night.

"I'm pretty healthy at 81. I think a lot of it has to do with the exercise that you do," Nelson told the Associated Press. "I think martial arts is one of the best exercises you can do. Mentally, spiritually, physically, everything."

Nelson's love of martial arts is well-documented; the country legend talked about his practice with Men's Health in 2013, noting that "you have all this time you're given in life, and it's better to have something to do with it. Keeps you out of trouble. Sometimes."

Grand Master Sam Um, who began working with Nelson more than two decades ago, told the AP he was initially worried about the singer's health, but that "he has more stamina than I do."

Below, a couple of images from Nelson's ceremony. --Sarah Eberspacher

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