A black belt in any martial arts discipline equals a level of mastery. At 12 years old, Brandon and Jordon Santalucia accomplished that feat early. Studying tae kwon do since 5, the identical twin brothers take a lot of pride in the hard work that goes into moving up the belt ladder. Although these black belts do not mean they have reached the top of the ladder, the Santalucia brothers are more excited about reaching this mark than the other belts before it.
"The boys are motivated," their father, Peter Santalucia, said. "These two are some of the most motivated and caring kids you'll ever come across."
There are three types of promotions in most disciplines of tae kwon do. Younger, inexperienced students rise level-to-level under the label of geup. Once a student has grown past these levels, the master or teacher can choose to promote them to pum in some cases. This is what Brandon and Jordon have risen to.
Advanced mastery of the sport is recognized with dan belts. These black belts move past the junior black belt the Santalucia twins have earned. For example, master Buddy Palmer, the tae kwon do instructor who has led Brandon and Jordon's training over the years, owns a fifth-degree black belt.
The two boys hope to someday reach that level.
"We just want to keep going and move on to the next belt," Brandon said. "We like doing it because it's fun."
The test the Santalucia twins took for the junior black belt included forms incorporating punching, kicking, striking and blocking. Other facets of the arts that needed mastering included control, sparring and breaking several wood boards. In late August, Brandon and Jordon both scored above the 90th percentile on the test. Students only need to reach the 75th percentile or above to qualify.
"They are very good for being as young as they are," Palmer said. "They have a chance to do some really good things in tae kwon do."
The Santalucia family moved to Spring Hill from Buffalo, N.Y., in 2004. In New York, Brandon and Jordon trained at Master Chong's World Class Tae Kwon Do. They entered two separate tournaments there and both times came in third place. When they moved, the two, then 8, were considered red belts.
After registering at the Hernando Branch YMCA in Spring Hill, Peter believed both would be able to continue their training as red belts. However, the family was shocked to find out their new instructor planned on regressing them back to white belts to get them onto his training schedule.
"They were absolutely disappointed," Peter said, "but the way they went back into training, despite the setback, showed us a lot about the type of kids they are."
After training for the past few years at the local YMCA on Tuesday nights, the Santalucia twins are moving into a more dedicated martial arts school under master Palmer. Now the two will train Monday nights in a class at the Christian Church in the Wildwood in Weeki Wachee. The training becomes more advanced with each two-hour session.
Before long, Brandon and Jordon might be the ones called masters of tae kwon do.
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