Abu Dhabi (HawaiiNewsNow) - Waianae's Raquel Paaluhi never meant to stand among the worlds elite Jiu Jitsu fighters, it just kind of happened.
The 22-year-old is in Abu Dhabi this week for the Jiu Jitsu World Championships and she admits it's still a shock.
In January, Paaluhi entered a regional trial for the tournament on Oahu at the urging of her father and coach.
Paaluhi -- who is a white belt in jiu jitsu -- was simply taking a break from her professional mixed martial arts career and then surprised herself by winning the open division.
"I'm very privileged to have this opportunity." Paaluhi said. "I would have never imagined the year would have started this way but i'm glad that it is. I want to do my best to represent Hawaii. Represent Hawaiians. Get the "W" and bring home that gold medal."
There's more than a medal at stake, there's nearly 400-thousand dollars in prizes that will be given away to contestants in divisions that vary in belt, sex and age.
Paalhui is believed to be the first hawaiian female to make the trip. Her first match is scheduled for Friday. Hilo's BJ Penn, a UFC veteran, is also in attendance as a guest.
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