What? ILH judoka wants to lose to learn

Punahou's Brayden Bella won by ippon over Damien's Marc Armas in an ILH judo round-robin tournament earlier this year. Bella is the No. 1 seed at 108 pounds in the state tournament. Cindy Ellen Russell / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Losing is not the American way.

Everybody loves a winner, right?

True. And Charlize Jasmine Pascual-Tabuyo is a winner. She hasn’t lost nationally or in Hawaii in judo since 2013.

So, how hard will the following statement be to wrap around one’s brain?

Mid-Pacific’s Charlize Jasmine Pascual-Tabuyo is trying to repeat as ILH champion this spring. Cindy Ellen Russell / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

“For me, I don’t look for the win or the loss,” she said. “If I lose . . . I think I’d rather lose than win because I learn from my mistakes.”

Bingo. Winning is the American way, yes, but so is losing. If you think about it, for every winner, there is a loser.

Those thoughts come from a Mid-Pacific sophomore, who won the high school state championship a year ago and is a six-time international champion, a seven-time national champion and a former member of the U.S. Cadet world team.

We caught up with Pascual-Tabuyo at the ILH round-robin season-opening tournament at Punahou on Friday. She didn’t participate because she is nursing an injury.

She was introduced to us by Punahou coach Ray Bella as “the best in the world.”

Well, that was a small stretch. She said she is ranked 55th in her division in the world.

She did, however, talk about accomplishing the seemingly impossible. It was while she was recalling all of the support she has received — and tearing up about it.

“I wouldn’t have gotten to my state title if it wasn’t for my team,” she said. “They showed me a lot of support. Sorry I’m tearing. My family, my friends and my club members. I owe a lot to my coaches for always believing in me, making sure I can do it and showing me that I have the strength and the courage to do the impossible.”

Ah, the impossible. Is that what it’s all about for Pascual-Tabuyo, who was actually leaning back and sighing when the words “impossible” came out? A point of emphasis.

“I say the impossible because I’m the first in my family to compete at this high level at a very young age. I think it was impossible because I never thought I would be up here at this level.

“My first couple of judo practices, I was thinking it was OK at the age of 5, but there were times I didn’t want to do it and I was balling my eyes out. When I won my first national title, I was like, I’m so happy because I never thought I’d get to this.”

After her first national loss as a youngster, Pascual-Tabuyo spent from 2011 to 2013 pretty much doing whatever she could to get better.

“I would go against every single hardest person out there,” she said. “I went againt my sensei’s daughters, who were like really good. I would train as much as possible and then at the U.S. Open nationals in Florida, I went against the No. 1 ranked person in the world and nationally and I threw her. It was an ippon and I won that gold medal.”

The impossible.

One thing Pascual-Tabuyo learned in a loss is to be in the right weight class.

“At worlds, I did pretty good,” she said. “My first match, I won in eight seconds against (a girl from) Peru. In my second match, I got the first score, a wazari, but I lost by ippon.

“I should have thought of going down a weight class — to 57 kg instead of 63. My opponent from Taiwan was 6-3 and I was only 5 feet at the time. I didn’t place. It was a good experience, I did learn a lot.”

Two Punahou underclasssmen excelling

There are a ton of talented judoka in the ILH, OIA and around the state, according to coaches we spoke with at Punahou on Friday.

Two up-and-comers with a ton of potential are with the Buffanblu — freshman Marisa Iha and sophomore Brayden Bella.

Punahou’s Marisa Iha defeated Pac-Five’s Taylor Arakaki in the ILH round-robin tournament at Punahou on Friday. Cindy Ellen Russell / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

“They both have super powerful throws that they work on all the time,” coach Bella said. “I’ve worked with both of them for years and watched the national tournaments and they’re just amazing kids. I’m very hopeful for them.

Iha and Bella won their weight classes Friday.

“I’m always nervous,” said Iha, who started in judo seven years ago, won a national tournament in Indiana, and is making the jump to varsity from intermediate. “You have long practices and you have to balance school and tests. I’m just trying to improve my throws and do well throughout the season.”

Ibarra back for more

Tyler Ibarra, a Saint Louis judoka who also wrestles, is back to defend his ILH judo championship and try to improve on his fifth place at states. He also won in his round-robin Friday night.

Saint Louis judoka Tyler Ibarra. Nick Abramo / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

“Tyler started as a freshman with no judo experience and he has come a long way with a little bit of club training,” said Crusaders coach Mike Tanimoto. “He’s one of the favorites this year. He’s going to have to battle some other really good players. Because of his tournament experience, he definitely has the upper hand.”

Ibarra was (kind of) the whipping boy for Corey Cabanban in wrestling for years. He was Cabanban’s training partner but also a competitor himself. Cabanban won four state titles and is competing at a tournament in Virginia this week.

“I like wrestling better because in a sense it’s easier,” Ibarra said. “I also like judo because of the throws. In wrestling you can feel the guy out. In judo, you can throw him and he can counter you and put you on your back and win at the same time. So you don’t know quite what to expect sometimes.”

And being Cody’s practice partner?

“It was a good experience overall,” Ibarra said. “He makes me work harder. Just someone with extraordinary talent. Every day I practiced with him, we knew Corey was going to come out on top, but I was still going to do my best against him.”

But did he ever make Cabanban worried, even a little bit?

“Corey is someone who knows he’s got it in the bag,” Ibarra said.

Coach Tanimoto has quite the judo resume.

“The Saint Louis wrestling coach, Al Chee, was my head coach in wrestling in high school at Kamehameha,” Tanimoto said. “I took second at states twice. That wasn’t my sport. I was judo — a high school and national collegiate champion (at San Jose State) and world team member.”

Out there, like some others, trying (and sometimes succeeding) at doing the impossible.


  1. turfwar March 24, 2018 8:26 pm

    Would really like to know what club she trains with.

  2. Judo spectator April 20, 2018 9:15 pm

    Judo P4P RANKING?

  3. Judo Athlete April 21, 2018 9:01 pm

    @turfwar she trains with Hawaii Tenri Judo Club.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email hawaiiprepworld@staradvertiser.com.