“Full Karate Kid” – Luke Combs Recalls Watching Willie Nelson Hammer A Punching Bag With Crane Kicks At 84 Years Old

Luke Combs country music
Full Send Podcast

It’s time to get comfortable if you were lucky enough to come across this post today, because this is one of the greatest stories I think I’ve ever heard in my life.

Luke Combs sat down with the boys of the Full Send Podcast last year, and the fellas talked everything from his rise in country music, to his friendly competition with Morgan Wallen, and plenty more. But the absolute best story came at the very end of the episode, when he told told the tale of the first time he actually got to hang out with the one and only Willie Nelson.

Luke was in Maui, Hawaii for a songwriting festival, and his wife, Nicole, was still working full-time at the time. So at the end of the trip, she had to get back to Nashville, and Luke decided to stay a couple more days, because he had to be in Seattle for a radio interview in about 48 more hours. One of the guys in charge of the show and festival he was there for asked Luke if he wanted to play golf one afternoon, since he was there by himself for the next couple days. And while they were golfing, he invited Luke to go play poker at Willie Nelson’s house later that night.

Luke had met Willie very briefly two days prior, but didn’t say much more than a passing “hello” to the country icon.

That evening, they pull up to Willie’s house on the ocean in Maui, and Luke said it looked like it was straight out of a 1970s suburb. But the guy that brought him was on a phone call, and told Luke he could just go on in the house.

Of course, Luke starts to panic, thinking Willie probably doesn’t even know who he is or that he was even going to be at poker night:

“It’s just sittin’, literally, right on the ocean in Maui. It’s insane. So we pull up, and I don’t even know if he knows that I’m supposed to be there or not… dude, I don’t know. So we get out, the guy I’m with, he’s on the phone, and he says ‘Go ahead and just go in.’ And I’m like, ‘dude this is like a lot of pressure, bro.’ I go in, and I’m thinking everybody’s gonna be yukkkin’ it up…

It’s just Willie Nelson in there… by himself… watching TV in the garage. And I’m walkin’ in, like 6-pack of Miller Lite, you know, the plastic ring six-pack. And he’s like, ‘Hey, man.’ And I was like, ‘Hello.’

Like, what is happening right now?”

Of course, it doesn’t take long for Willie to whip out his signature accessory, and Luke already knows he’s in for it (he’s heard all the same stories we have, I take it):

“So we get in there, we’re talkin’ for a minute dude, he rips the piece out, dude, you know what I mean? The peace pipe. And I’ve heard the stories… Toby Keith literally has a song called “I’ll Never Smoke Weed With Willie Again,” you know what I mean?

I’ve heard the song, I’m aware of the moment, you know. And I go, alright man, when this thing comes, you only got one, dude, you can’t go twice on this deal.”

A couple more of Willie’s friends start showing up at this point, and as it comes around the table again, Luke made a massive error…

He hit it again… HARD.

He also noted that he was the youngest guy there by 30 years, and of course, only knows the one other man who had invited him to Willie’s house. Later on, NBA hall of fame coach Don Nelson walks in (yes, it’s true), and luckily for Luke, buys him out of the game.

He moved to sit at another little table in the room, where he’s the only one who can see down an adjoining hallway:

“I’m at this table, there’s a hallway going right here, but nobody at the poker table can see down the hallway, right? Only me, I’m the only guy in the entire planet at this time that can see down this hallway.

And I remember one of the guys at the poker table, he’s sittin’ directly across from Don Nelson, and I can’t see him, because he’s behind Don, and I just see this guy go like, he just kinds pops out like this, and he’s like, ‘Luke, you need a water, bud?’

And I’m sitting over there, I’m like, ‘No, man, I’m cool, dude.’ And he goes, ‘Nothin’ wrong with needing a water, bud. Got plenty of water over here.’ I got this mason jar, I must’ve drank two gallons of water, dude. I’m, for sure about to die.”

Luke said he kept getting up to splash water on his face in the bathroom, and different people just kept bringing food out, while he’s just trying not to die and take it all in.

Willie Nelson The Karate Kid

At one point, I guess the game wasn’t exactly going Willie’s way, when Luke watched him get up and head down that hallway only he could see from his perch at the little table:

“And I remember Willie getting up, and he walks down, I’m sitting at this table, he doesn’t say anything to anyone, he gets up, these guys are playing poker. He gets up, he walks right past me, all the way down the hallway, and there’s this punching bag at the end of the hallway.”

And what does he do? The red headed stranger starts full-on punching this bag, crane kicks and all, thinking not a single soul can see him or knows what he’s doing…

“And he stands there, arms out, like full karate kid and starts just kicking this punching bag. Tossing crane kicks, dude, he’s 84… just hammering this punching bag. And I’m looking at the poker table, and I’m like, what is happening? Nobody sees this happen.

He goes out, is out for five minutes, could’ve been five hours, I don’t know the difference at this point… comes back in, stops at the thing, hits one more crane kick, walks back in, doesn’t say a peep about it.”

I honestly think that’s the best thing I’ve ever heard in my entire life…

The whole entire night, from Luke walking in unannounced, to getting stoned to the bone, to Willie going off on this punching bag… it’s just pure gold. You really cannot make shit like that up. For Luke, it really felt like he’d finally had his moment with Willie… watching him attack a punching bag down a hallway in Maui in the middle of the night while he’s high as a kite:

“Sits back down like nothing happened, and I’m like, that’s my moment. I’ve had my moment with Willie Nelson, and it was him doing the crane kicks at God knows what time it is in Maui baked out of my gourd at his house.”

It’s the kind of story you’d hope and pray for if you ever really got a chance to hang out with Willie, but seems too good to be true. Really, Luke summed the entire debacle up best:

“It was wild. It was absolutely wild.”

And if you want a really great a laugh today, do yourself a favor and watch Luke tell the entire story himself.

It is well worth your time, and that’s a promise:

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock