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Originally published January 17, 2015 at 5:06 PM | Page modified January 17, 2015 at 10:37 PM

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Prep Pass: Mercer Island’s Taylan Yuasa is a grappling success

The senior wrestler placed sixth at state last year and is a nationally ranked judoka in his weight class in the brown/black belt category.




The Seattle Times

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Thanks for the interesting sports article. Fascinating how the family got into judo at the request of a child and find... MORE

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Thwack. Thwack. Thwack.

It’s Tuesday night at the Budokan in Seattle, and Taylan Yuasa is throwing his training partner to the mat in succession.

Christine Nguyen,a sophomore at UW, barely flinches. She knows how to break fall, even with Yuasa, a nationally ranked judoka, doing the throwing.

Most of Yuasa’s opponents in wrestling don’t have the luxury of understanding what a breakfall is.

So when the senior 113-pounder hits an Uchi mata, where he hooks his arm around their head, sticks his leg in between their legs, tucks his chin and donkey kicks them in the air in one movement, they’re not sure what’s happening.

But Yuasa doesn’t try to use his fancy Judo throws often in his high-school wrestling matches.

“If my opponent really opens up the move I’ll take the opportunity,” says Yuasa, ranked fifth nationally in his weight class at the brown/black belt level.

“But right now I want to prove that I can be a really good wrestler, not a wrestler who knows some Judo moves.”

No problem there. Yuasa placed sixth at state last season and is currently ranked seventh in the state at 120 pounds in Class 3A, although he’ll likely wrestle at 113 the rest of the way.

He's 22-4 and 108-31 for his high-school wrestling career. On Friday, he earned the 50th pin of his high-school career.

Taylan started Judo when he was 11. His little brother Tegan wanted to do the sport and dad Mark, the outdoors writer at The Seattle Times, obliged to take the kids to the Budokan two to three days a week.

Wrestling might not be in Taylan’s future, but Judo certainly is.

He’ll receive his black belt soon and plans to compete in the sport beyond high school.

“Whenever I start something, I want to finish it, and that’s why the black belt is so important in the process. I don’t want to leave anything undone.”

But first is getting into the state wrestling tournament, and doing well there. Last year, Taylan had a knee injury that limited him down the stretch. This season, the competition at 113 is stacked.

“It’s always a challenge,” says Yuasa. “But that’s why I’m doing it.”



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