Fujiwara vs. Ibarra: A judo teaching moment

'Iolani's Hunter Fujiwara, left, threw Saint Louis' Tyler Ibarra in the 121-pound ILH judo final Friday night at Kamehameha. Jamm Aquino / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

In the heat of a martial arts battle, it’s hard to point fingers and blame only one of the competitors when things break down. It takes two to tango, so to speak.

There was an extra-curricular scuffle during the ILH judo championship match at 121 pounds Friday night at Kamehameha and things got heated.

‘Iolani’s Hunter Fujiwara threw Saint Louis’ Tyler Ibarra and apparently won by ippon.

But, not so fast. The three referees conferred as Ibarra looked incredulously at his coaches. It was hard to tell if he couldn’t believe that he was thrown or if he was questioning the way it happened.

Fujiwara also looked irritated and faced away from the center of the mat while waiting for the officials’ call.

In talking to coaches from both sides afterward, what happened was that Ibarra — after being thrown — pushed Fujiwara, who then postured in an unsportsmanlike fashion.

This type of behavior by the two senior judoka — both of whom also wrestle for their schools — goes against the grain of the honor of the sport.

It should be noted that there was also a question of whether the throw was legal or not. Ibarra may have landed on his head first, which, if true and seen by the referees, would have disqualified Fujiwara.

‘Iolani’s Hunter Fujiwara, left, competed against Saint Louis’ Tyler Ibarra during the boys 121-pound final. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

As it turned out, the refeeres awarded Fujiwara the win by ippon.

Then they called all of the parties together afterward to explain that both judoka need to “calm down,” that they were “nearly disqualified,” and if they do the same types of things at the May 5 state tournament, they “will be disqualified.”

Fujiwara and Ibarra immediately made a beeline for separate doors leading out of the Kamehameha gym.

Below are the observations of the coaches — Saint Louis’ Mike Tanimoto and ‘Iolani’s Dan Nishita.

>> Saint Louis’ Tanimoto: “Fujiwara went in for the throw and Tyler landed on his head. They called an ippon for Fujiwara and Tyler kind of pushed him off at the end of the match. Fujiwara postured like saying, ‘What?’

“The referees told me afterward that they were contemplating DQ’ing both of them. Judo is such a fluid sport, so sometimes it’s hard to get all three referees to get it right. I understand you’re not always going to get the calls. Even if you don’t get the call, you still honor the sport. They explained it to me and I thanked them for the time. From my perspective, Tyler hit his head and once that happens it’s an automatic disqualification (of the thrower). Tyler hit his head first and then rolled. You have to honor what they call. Judo is an honorable sport. I wasn’t disappointed in either (judoka). They fought valiantly. Emotions got the best of them. That’s what coaches are for. To teach them about life and how to control their emotions.”

>> ‘Iolani’s Nishita: “I didn’t see what Ibarra did. The refs told me he kind of pushed off of Fujiwara. For both of them, though, that is not what we’re looking for in the sport of judo. We try to hold it up to a higher standard as far as sportsmanship. I thought the throw was clean from what I could see. I was on the far side and Fujiwara’s back was to me. I didn’t see the exact landing, but it looked like a clean throw to me. No bad intention or bad technique. If he fell on his head, it was just the circumstance of the throw.”

It was Fujiwara’s second ILH judo title.

Punahou senior Nicolas Nakaoka (161 pounds) became a three-time ILH champion, and Punahou sophomore Brayden Bella (108), Mid-Pacific junior Evan Nishida (132) and Mid-Pacific sophomore Charlize Jasmine Pascual-Tabuyo (139) won their second league crowns.

Mid-Pacific sophomore Sophia Saiki (109), Punahou junior Tyler Kawakami (198) and Punahou sophomore Noelle Nakaoka (139) — along with Ibarra — were all finalists who did not get their second ILH championship.

In the boys team standings, Punahou placed first with 150 points, followed by ‘Iolani with 116 and Saint Louis with 96.

Punahou also captured the girls victory with 142 points, followed by Pac-Five with 80 and ‘Iolani with 68.

A list of individual champions follow.

>> Boys 108: Brayden Bella, Punahou
>> Boys 114: Ammen Tawfik, Mid-Pacific
>> Boys 121: Hunter Fujiwara, ‘Iolani
>> Boys 132: Evan Nishida, Mid-Pacific
>> Boys 145: Cameron Nishida, Mid-Pacific
>> Boys 161: Nicolas Nakaoka, Punahou
>> Boys 178: Kainoa Titcomb, Saint Louis
>> Boys 198: Kekuewa Wong, Pac-Five
>> Boys 220: Legend Matautia, Punahou
>> Boys 285: Charles Kam, ‘Iolani

>> Girls 98: Kayce Tanimoto, Pac-Five
>> Girls 103: Maddy Kogachi, Punahou
>> Girls 109: Kari Tanji, ‘Iolani
>> Girls 115: Taylor Arkakaki, Pac-Five
>> Girls 122: Marisa Iha, Punahou
>> Girls 129: Skye Realin, Kamehameha
>> Girls 139: Charlize Jasmine Pascual-Tabuyo
>> Girls 154: Bella Wong, Punahou
>> Girls 172: Joyce Caberto, Damien

Mid-Pacific’s Charlize Jasmine Pascual-Tabuyo, left, competed against Punahou’s Noelle Nakaoka during the girls 139-pound final during the ILH judo championships. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.
-Pacific’s Evan Nishida, bottom, competed against ‘Iolani’s Travis Kon during the boys 132-pound final. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.
Punahou’s Hudson Pak, right, threw Saint Louis’ Kainoa Titcomb during the boys 178-pound final. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

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