Noah Ringer sees many similarities between acting and martial arts.

“They both take a lot of determination and focus,” says the 13-year-old thesp, who became a black belt shortly before playing lead character Aang in M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Last Airbender,” based on Nick’s hit “Avatar” toon series.

It was first-time actor’s background in martial arts that earned him the role, after he heard about open auditions through his taekwondo club in Texas.

“It’s a really funny story actually,” Ringer says. “I wasn’t interested in martial arts at all, but my mom found a taekwondo school that was about 20 minutes from our house, and she kept taking me back there for a year before I finally tried it.”

Ringer loved the first class and committed himself to learning taekwondo, applying the same determination and focus that he used after being cast in “The Last Airbender.” Since he’d never acted before the audition, Ringer relied on an intense period of study with an acting coach.

Though critics were harsh toward the film (with fans of the Nickelodeon series that inspired it upset that Shyamalan had chosen a non-Asian kid to play the young Asian monk), “The Last Airbender” has earned more than $300 million worldwide. While Paramount decides whether to greenlight a sequel, Ringer is shooting “Cowboys and Aliens” for director Jon Favreau.

After doing two period pieces, Ringer wouldn’t mind something a little different for his next project. “I’d love to do a modern role,” he says. “It would be nice to wear regular clothes and not be wrapped in three layers of wool in a monk outfit.”