COMPETITOR OF THE YEAR
9-year-old beats adults to win
By JOSH BOUTWELL
Andalusia Elementary School student Landon Caldwell is only 9 years old, but he managed to win the USYKA Competitor of the Year in 2015 over every age group, including adults. Landon said it felt “very good” to win the award.
United States Yoshukai Karate Association Director Soshu David Koda presented Landon with the award on March 12 and during the 2015 year Landon’s 264 points were more than any other competitor in any age group, including adult black belts.
Landon is a brown belt and began taking Yoshukai Karate at the age of 6 after hearing of a friend in kindergarten taking karate. Karate is not something that comes easy, especially for a child, but after a lot of hard work Landon became the best competitor in his age group winning the 2015 Brown Belt Division and losing just one tournament during the entire season coming just one tournament win shy of a perfect season.
One of those tournament wins included a Semi-Knockout Tournament in September at the dojo of David Koda. Koda is the son of the USYKA founder, Hiroyuki Koda, and considered to be one of the top martial artists in the country.
Landon and his parents, Joey and Erin Caldwell, attribute much of Landon’s success to his instructor Mark Rudd.
“We owe everything to Mr. Rudd, he is an outstanding martial arts instructor, but also an awesome role model,” Erin said of the karate instructor. Landon typically trains six hours per week with Rudd and also has even begun helping teach a beginner’s class with his instructor.
Landon and his mother also had high praise for Mr. Koda, “He is a very nice man, and does a really good bo-kata (weapon demonstration), and shows great sportsmanship when he competes,” Landon said of the USYKA Director.
Mrs. Caldwell added, “Mr. Koda is another really great role model for kids as well,” she said.
The 2016 USYKA season has just begun and Landon again is leading the way as the leader of the Youth Brown Belt Division again. He is also second place total in points, with 98, among all age groups.
Despite his young age Landon already has both short-term and long-term goals in the world of karate. In February of 2017 Landon will be going for his black belt, a very rare feat for someone with four years martial arts experience. He also hopes to follow in Mark Rudd’s footsteps by becoming a martial arts instructor in the future.
The USYKA will be holding the South Alabama Karate Open on June 11 at Straughn High School.