By: King Eddie
For Raquel Paaluhi, the latest edition of a defining moment took form at the recent Abu Dhabi trials here on O'ahu. Through two divisions, Raquel found nothing but victory, as she worked her way towards punching her ticket to the Abu Dhabi Jiu-Jitsu tournament in Dubai.
On the day of the trials, Raquel was merely looking to do her best and express her skills on the mat. She wanted to find the practical uses for what she has been sharpening at Gracie Technics, under the wing of Rylan Lizares. But as the trials progressed, Paaluhi found herself in the winners circle time and time again.
"It was amazing. I kind of didn't believe it even as it was happening."
Raquel made her way from opponent to opponent, challenging some of the toughest females in the sport. Some of her opponents were from here in Hawaii, and others from the mainland or brazil, but it was no matter to Paaluhi where they were from. It only mattered to her that they stood in her way. So one by one she dispatched of them, on her quest to make the cut for Abu Dhabi.
Though winning by points is not a bad way to win, the finish is what every player seeks. Raquel found that success four times during the trials, and likely none more sweet than her final match in which her opponent chose to have disrespectful words with Paaluhi's sister, moments before the start of the match. If you know the Paaluhi family, you can see what that was a mistake. Raquel attacked the match with furious resolve, and took her opponents arm home as a trophy.
As a white belt competing against blue and purple belts, many questioned the legitimacy of her ranking. But to that Raquel responds by acknowledging her instructors reluctance to prematurely promote his students. She does not question her belt ranking, she merely follows the instruction of Lizares, and understands that he will know when the time is right to promote. But the Jiu-Jitsu politics aside, Paaluhi proved that no matter her rank, she is up for the challenge of competition.
Now that Paaluhi punches her ticket to Dubai, she will represent Hawaii in a competition that is recognized as one of the toughest and most prestigious in the world. And as we, here in Hawaii, look on in admiration, we can add another marker to the book of Raquel's progression. Over the years she has blossomed right in front of our eyes, and has led the way for female martial artist here on the islands. Her iron will and unwavering determination are a beacon of example to those who wish to compete. No matter the challenge, adversity, or setback, Paaluhi powers through.
Stay logged in here to MMAhawaii.com as we update Raquels progression throughout her journey to Dubai in April.