Real siblings share the winner’s podium

After years of perfecting their Taekwondo Poomsae, the Real siblings each brought home a bronze medal from the junior individuals section of the World Taekwondo Poomsae Championship held in Taipei, Taiwan.

Senior Karyn Real competed in the junior division for the U.S. team, tying with the Danish competitor for 3rd out of the 40 girls who competed, beating the crowd-favorite and top-seeded Korean competitor for her spot on the pedestal. Sophomore Ryan Real also competed in the junior division for the U.S. team and placed 3rd out of the 37 boys.

“I definitely did feel pressure… Since we had to win team trials to get to go to worlds, there’s kind of that unspoken pressure from USA competitors who are watching to see how I perform,” Karyn said.

Karyn also participated in the Junior Pairs competition, but she and her teammate lost to a team from Taipei by .1 points, scoring lower in the first form they performed.

Ryan’s individual matches, on the other hand, beat competitors from Ireland in the quarterfinals in a very close match, winning by .01 points to secure the third place spot. However, he lost to a Vietnamese competitor by .1 points due to his first form marks.

“I felt that my energy in the final rounds was less than it should have been and that is partly due to me being so focused on the competition and what I needed to do next that I negelected to eat and drink as much as I should have,” Ryan said.

In the championship, both Reals performed the same forms for the round. In the first round, they performed taegeuk 7, a form that symbolizes mountain. They would have to show balance in their back leg as well as stability in their movements.

They also performed taebaek which means bright mountain, performing actions similar to that of taegeuk 7.

In the second round they would perform taegeuk 6, a form that symbolizes the water. The movements are smooth and flowing, slashing both arms for a low opening block as well as moving quickly for a fast high roundhouse kick.

Their second form in the round was koryo, meaning a learned man. The form contains knife-like strikes as well as low and high side kicks symbolizing the will of those in the face of adversity.

 In the quarterfinals they performed taegeuk 8, which means earth. It includes a couple jump kicks that and a special mountain block. They also had to perform koryo again.

In the semifinals they performed taegeuk 5 and Keumgang, which means wind and diamond, repectively.

Taegeuk 5 features a sweeping hammer strike as well as a leap into a cross-legged stance, the first in the taegeuk forms. The strikes should be quick, gentle, and strong; depicting nature’s wind.

Keumgang transitions from palm jaw strikes into a crow stance with diamond block. The form symbolizes hardness and strength showing how their defense is impenetrable.

Both Reals spend  15-20 hours a week to perfect their poomsae forms. However, they lack the freedom that representatives from other countries have, because other competitors have schools dedicated for physical education where they practice their form on a daily school basis. To make up for that, the siblings practice with former world champions and Olympians from many different countries.

“I don’t have the luxury of training every day so I have to be extra attentive and motivated,” Karyn said.

Overall, both of the siblings want to improve and remain on USA’s national team. Karyn will move into the senior division once she turns 18. In four years, the Reals will have another chance at representing the country in the World Championship.