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Two SCV boys excelling on the karate mat

Posted: August 1, 2014 10:13 p.m.
Updated: August 1, 2014 10:13 p.m.

Kieran Tamondong wins the 13 and under forms world title while performing in Orlando, Florida. Courtesy photo.

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Kieran Tamondong and Kevin Stevens have been making major waves in the karate world even though they prefer different sides of the same coin.

The two 12-year-olds, who train at the Rising Sun Karate Academy in Stevenson Ranch, compete in karate tournaments all over the United States and will soon be representing their country internationally.

Tamondong prefers competing in sport karate, which is a combination of gymnastics and martial arts and is used a lot in the entertainment industry. Traditional, which Stevens prefers, is more formal and has less of the flash that sport has.

Tamondong and Stevens have competed in both styles but have their own reasons for wanting to focus on one style over the other.

Growing up, Tamondong saw the sport karate being practiced on TV and was immediately hooked.

“When I was younger I was watching the Power Rangers and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and I thought it looked cool,” Tamondong said. “I like both but I prefer sport karate because I feel it’s more challenging.”

Most recently, Tamondong won the 13 and under forms world title at the US Open Martial Arts Championship while performing in Orlando, Florida. He also won gold medals in traditional form and creative weapons at the USA Karate Federation’s premier event the USA Open. His performance earned him the No. 1 ranking for the 10-11 age division in Kata, or choreographed movements.

All of that has led to up him being invited to join the World Kickboxing and Karate Association Mat Sports Team that will be competing in the World Championships held in Tuscany, Italy in October.

That’s a lot for a 12-year-old to handle but Tamondong enjoys the process.

“I love the training because it gets me better and I get to learn more and improve what I do know,” he said. “At first I was nervous when I started to perform but now I just pretend there aren’t any people around do my forms.”

Tamondong wasn’t the only one from the Rising Sun dojo to be invited to join an exclusive team.

Stevens, who likes to compete in traditional karate tournaments because he prefers the traditional judging style over sport karate judging, won gold in the 12-13 elite kumite, or fighting, and bronze in 12-13 elite kata in the USA Karate Nationals, the official national karate championships sanctioned by USA Karate.

His performance there earned him a spot on the US Junior National Karate team in the 12 to 13-year-old male elite kumite divison.

That means if karate were to become an Olympic sport, he would be part of the team going and representing America.

“It was very, very exciting to be asked to be a part of the team,” Stevens said. “To be in the Olympics, competing in the first karate competition would be pretty amazing. That would be my dream.”

While that is all hypothetical for now, what is for sure is that Stevens will be traveling to Lima, Peru later this month with other top competitors to represent the United States in the Pan American Karate Federation games.

“Since I won at nationals I’ve been training extra hard,” Stevens said. “I’ve doubled my strength and conditioning workouts and focused more on my fighting.”

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