For the gladiators and combatants, it has given them more than their fair shares of broken ribs, torn ligaments, bruised egos and of course, unparalleled glory. For those at ringside and at home, many nerve wrecking and heart stopping moments; vicariously (albeit via proxy) lived experiences have been felt.
MMA has given us, both participants and audiences alike, an adrenalin rush that arguably not many other sports can boast about. And it continues to do so.
For many, MMA has given them a sort of real life super-heroes and inspirations. Many of the sport’s personalities have lived up to that reputation whilst some, sadly, has taken to the pedestal with a bagful of arrogance and have fallen into obscurity. The people who’ve inspired me in MMA are always the ones whom I’ve felt a kindred connection to. Be it from an almost similar childhood or growing up environment or even in the way of thinking. Folks who have overcome challenges and done something right, even if it’s for that just one time in their lives. One such individual is Landon “The Show” Showalter.
Landon Showalter is a Fighter, Coach, Mentor and a Father. I’ve known him since my days writing for Lockflow, an excellent site for grappling techniques, training tips and MMA news whose forum is populated both by fans and fighters of the sport. Recently, Landon took some time off to have a ‘no-holds barred’ chat with me where he gave exclusive insights into his life; the lessons learned and the respect earned.
Below is Part I of the interview.
How and when were you first bitten by the “Martial Arts” bug brutha?
“As far as I can remember my love for Martial Arts started way back as a young boy. I was 7 years old when I started watching old Kung Fu Theater. Every Saturday I would get up early and wait patiently for it to come on and wouldn’t dare leave the T.V. My mother would yell at me to go play outside! My parents weren’t well-off and couldn’t afford to send me to Martial Arts classes so I would try to mimic the moves I saw on T.V. Bruce Lee was my both my idol and hero as a child. Years later “Karate Kid” the movie came out and I fell deeper in love with Martial Arts. I tried to copy all the moves as well! Come to think of it, as corny as this may sound, both Bruce Lee and Ralph Macchio were my heros……. Yes! …. Ralph Macchio! Hahaha!”
Hahahaha! I’m sure you weren’t alone on that one though! What happened next brutha?
“Years past and as I still was unable to afford real lessons, I continued to mimic and read Martial Arts books to pick up as much as I could. At one point my uncle begun to take me to the park and teach me Tae Kwon Do . He was in the Korean Army and told me it was mandatory to take lessons in the Korean army. He had obtained his black belt in the military. But the trainings didn’t last long. After my childhood blasted past in high school, I decided to live with my father for a bit and at this point in my life I had developed quite a chip and was struggling with grades and authority so my father FINALLY enrolled me in Tae Kwon Do class in a real Martial Arts school. So from the age of about 15-17, I trained in the art . After some time, I realized it wasn’t really the style for me as I would usually get in trouble at tournaments for hitting too hard! Then I blew out my knee throwing a spinning side-kick in sparring, blasted my patella and tore my ligaments.”
“When that happened, I decided to step away from Traditional Martial Arts or Martial arts all together. It was also during this period that I met one Charles Pearson, who was to play a pivotal role in my life later, before he was involved MMA. Many years past and I turned for the bad; getting involved in partying, friends and street fights. Being the only ethnic kid in this small town 20 years ago was very challenging and I was getting picked on daily. I got sick of being bullied by all the “Hicks” and I began to fight back. Once I got a taste of fighting and saw how the other kids reacted, it turned into a bad habit. I got into tons of trouble. From this point my youth turned for the worse and I was constantly in trouble for fighting and more. During my senior year in school, I was hauled up by the principal and he had no reservations about letting me know that I was wasting my time and that I wouldn’t be allowed to graduate with my class. So I decided to cut down on the fighting and getting into too much trouble and focused instead on finishing high school.”
That’s quite a life for a kid. Speaking of which, you’re a proud father yourself as well.
“I was 18 when I met the mother of my 2 eldest kids. Within 6 months of knowing her, I became a father to a beautiful baby girl, Haily Showalter. I was TOO young to have a kid but I made my bed and was determined to take on the responsibilities of fatherhood like a man! Though it was partly due to pressure, we got married anyway as I figured it was the right thing to do. It wasn’t a happy marriage least to say. Years passed and I became a father again. This time to an amazing boy named Chase Showalter. We parted ways a month after Chase was born.”