- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Russian President Vladimir Putin — known for his shirtless photo ops, including one on horseback that grabbed international headlines — can now lay claim to another feat related to physical fitness: He’s earned a new high rank in karate.

Mr. Putin, 62, earned his 8th Dan black belt in karate, Business 2 Community reported. The belt was awarded due to his “contribution in promoting Kyokushin-kan karate in Russia,” a letter from senior federation members stated, the B2C site reported.

Mr. Putin already holds a 5th-degree black belt in judo — an accomplishment that can be viewed on one of the many videos of the Russian leader giving demonstrations. One especially notable video includes a grappling session between Mr. Putin and Hollywood actor Steven Seagal, B2C reported.

Mr. Putin, meanwhile, has said of judo: “Judo teaches self-control, the ability to feel the moment, to see the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, to strive for the best results. I am sure you will agree that these are essential abilities and skills for any politician,” B2C reported.

The president has also received an honorary 9th-degree black belt in Taekwondo — the highest rank possible, which brings on the title of grand master.

Kyokushin is a form of full-contact karate that does not provide participants protective gear during sparring sessions.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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