Tarsis Humphrey Interview

Tarsis Humphrey profile: 81kgs, 177cm date of birth November 4th – 1983 Sao Paulo. DM: How did you get involved with Martial Arts?

TARSIS HUMPREY: My first Martial Arts were Karate and Capoeira. I started practicing them because I always liked fights and movies where there was fight action and similar things. It was the opposite of my parents, who work in music and theater. But I guess fights were in my blood since I was a kid. Anyway I nalways took Capoeira and Karate seriously, and I practiced Tae Kwon Do too. But I nalways liked them at all, I always was happy punching and kicking punch-bags. So I wanted to look for a martial art where I could find any kind of interest. So I went to practice Judo, but my mother thought it was a little stupid/brutal martial art due to the throws. So when I was 13 years old I knew the Jiu Jitsu playing with a friend of mine in an old mat at my school. I thought it was very interesting with the locks and chokes and the way that the fight developed itself on the ground. So I talked to my mother about Jiu Jitsu, but at that time she didn’t have much money for paying an academy. My mother went to Fabio Gurgel’s academy and offered him English lessons and he’d pay her by teaching me Jiu Jitsu. So Fabio studied English three times and my brother and I are Jiu Jitsu fighters under Fabio’s supervision nowadays.

DM: So, the reason that you chose Alliance was due to the fact that you could trade English lessons for Jiu Jitsu lessons?

TARSIS HUMPHREY: Yes, but a lot of facts combined with this. A friend of my mother lived close to Fabio’s academy. And my mother’s friend commented to my mother that Alliance was a very serious Jiu Jitsu school and they didn’t motivate fighting in the streets. The Alliance was the calmest Jiu Jitsuschool she always heard of.

DM: How was your start at Alliance?

TARSIS HUMPHREY: I asked some friends of mine about it. When I started I was 13 years old and I couldn’t remember much things. My friends told me that the instructor on that period was Leonardo Vieira and he got crazy/mad at me due to my excess of madness (laughs). Alwaysything that he(Vieira) demanded me to do at trainings, I wouldn`t. I did just the opposite. But I got to create my own style and positions and this repertoire of my game you can see at my training and competitions.

DM: Did you know anything about Alliance or Fabio Gurgel before your joining? TARSIS HUMPHREY: I didn’t know anything, neither Fabio or Alliance. I just had a luck start training in Jiu Jitsu. I just remember that the first time I saw Fabio I was impressed with his size and his very strange ear. I couldn’t stop of looking at his ear(laughs).

DM: How did you see Alliance when you started, and how do you see the team now?

TARSIS HUMPHREY: This team has always been strong. Each black-belt trained by Romero ‘Jacare’ Cavalcanti, were great champions. Fabio, Roberto ‘The Spider’ Traven, Alexandre ‘Gigi’ Paiva, Leonardo Vieira and Rodrigo ‘Comprido’ Medeiros. These fighters mentioned by me formed other excellent black-belts such as Demian Maia, Eduardo Telles, Marcelo Garcia, Fernando Augusto ‘Terere’ and Leonardo Leite. I’m sorry the team did split. But I think Alliance got to surpass this hard-time and we’ve salwaysal champions again like Garcia, I, Antonio Batista, Fabio ‘Monstro’ Pacces, Henrique ‘Piaui’ Rezende and salwaysal other who are growing up and they’ll conquer a lot of titles in a near future.

DM: Since you started on Jiu Jitsu, did you always want to be a competitor?

TARSIS HUMPHREY: Yes, I did. I always wanted to be a competitor. This was always my life-style, to be a competitor. In just one week of training they put me to compete in a tournament inside the academy and I took second place. So in my second tournament I got the championship and my third tournament (Brasileiro) I was runner-up in yellow belt.

DM: Who’s your idol in Jiu Jitsu?

TARSIS HUMPHREY: Fabio Gurgel. He was a great competitor, great champion. Four times Mundial champion, three times Brasileiro champion, three times Brasileiro de Equipes champion, three times State of Rio de Janeiro Championship champion and two times International Masters&Seniors de Jiu Jitsu champion.; I think these titles define Fabio Gurgel such as a great champion. Besides this, his MMA matches against Luta-Livre fighters and his fights at WVC and UFC. He’s an incredible person and he knows a lot about Jiu Jitsu. Fabio is my instructor, and I’m very grateful to him due to his always doing what he proposed to me. Each day we’re closest and we’re great friends and partners.

DM: Did your parents motivate you in your starting in Jiu Jitsu?

TARSIS HUMPHREY: They supported and gave me a good structure to keep myself training. When I was a kid I didn’t have any obligations; I just studied and kept myself enjoying my life. But when I became an adult things were a little harder than before. I fought Jiu Jitsu too keep myself on the game, because I delayed a lot to win some money fighting Jiu Jitsu. However I always was a very determined person who didn’t wait for good things happen, I went to search for them. And I got my sponsor – HUNTER FightWear – when I was a yellow belt due to my efforts. Nowadays they (Hunter) see that I’ve a future on the fightworld and I expect to have success in it.

DM: We see two other important people, besides Fabio, at Alliance. They’re Tatiana Tognini and Marcelo Garcia. How do you see these two persons?

TARSIS HUMPHREY: Tatiana deserves an award. I don’t know how she likes Jiu Jitsu so much and has so much patience. I never saw her getting mad with anything, and she`s have reason to get mad, because she takes care about the inscriptions on the tournaments and it’s not a easy task. And plus, she advises us when we’ve problems.

Marcelo Garcia is my big friend, I admire him a lot and he’s a superb fighter. He has the ‘eye of tiger’ and a will power that is impressive.

DM: How would you define you game?

TARSIS HUMPHREY: I have a complete and differentiated game. I always look to be learning the newest and hardest positions to understand the Jiu Jitsu.

DM: What is your favorite skill?

TARSIS HUMPHREY: I love chokes from the back. In special one where I got the lapel with my arms crossed. With a hand I got to dominate his lapel and the other hand I dominated his leg. I stay in very comfortable situation at my opponent’s side, with my leg over his stomach. If the choke doesn’t work, I’ve other options, to sink an armbar, a biceps-lock or if he revereses the position I can sink a triangle. Even so, if he defends all attacks, he is a very good fighter(laughs).

DM: Into Jiu Jitsu, where do you think you’re strong and weak?

TARSIS HUMPHREY: I think that to become very strong in any aspect is so far right now. because I’m always learning. Maybe due to it, I practiced Jiu Jitsu so much. The positions and attacks of Jiu Jitsu are unlimited and it fascinates me. But I think I adopted a complete game on the feet and on the ground; I stay comfortable in both positions. I think its close to perfection, but I still have a lot to learn in Jiu Jitsu.

DM: In Copa do Mundo 2005 and Mundial 2005, we watched two good fighters in brown belt; they were Vinicius Magalhaes(Gracie Humaita) and Romulo Barral(Gracie Barra-BH). We believe you three will make epic battles next year. Did you know them or have you already fought them?

TARSIS HUMPHREY: I have never faced any of them. On reality I just knew Barral when I saw him fighting against Andre Galvao in absolute and I expected he’d beat Galvao, because he was winning the match by 2-0. But Galvao passed his guard, mounted him and choked him out. On Magalhaes, I watched him at purple belt. No doubts, they are tough and complete Jiu Jitsu fighters.

DM: Do you see – in near future – fights involved you three?

TARSIS HUMPHREY: Yes, probably in absolute. I know I’m faster than both of them and I’ve more stamina, in other hand they’re stronger than me. I’ll try to adopt a strategy to beat them, because they’re technical fighters too. These will be very good fights to watch.

DM: Is there anyone that would you like to face?

TARSIS HUMPREY: This is a tough question to be answered. I prefer tofight who’s on the other side of the mat.

DM: Before Copa do Mundo 2005 and Mundial 2005; which events did you take?

TARSIS HUMPHREY: I started this year competing outside Brazil. In the Arnolds 2005, I fought with gi and I won. Into submission I lost to other Brazilian who I can’t remember the name now, he’s very good. He already was Mundial champion in brown-belt sometime ago and he’s in Miami with Ricardo Liborio. After it I fought State of Sao Paulo Championship and I submitted my all opponents in my weight-class and I took third in absolute.

DM: This year you fought Copa do Mundo, and we believe Gurgel doesn’t like the Copa do Mundo much. But why did you fight?

TARSIS HUMPHREY: Well, nowadays Gurgel changed a little his way of thinking, he hears more from other people and he tries to guide us. I resolved to fight Copa do Mundo just one week before this championship. I felt myself more than ready to compete, so I didn’t see a reason to not fight. I thought also, if I don’t fight I’m going to watch and I’ll not like to see a different champion in first place on the podium, it’d have to be myself. This was one of the reasons of fighting Copa do Mundo.

DM: How did Gurgel react when you told him you’re going to fight Copa do Mundo?

TARSIS HUMPHREY: He just told me to not get injured. I told him to relax because I’d not get injured and I’d win both tournaments. I was too confident, and Gurgel knew it.

DM: Tell me your opinion about Copa do Mundo e Mundial?

TARSIS HUMPHREY: These are two very competitive events. I think CBJJO event had to take care about organization and CBJJ should pay money in the prizes, because they’re in the conditions of making it.

DM: Which one is more important title?

TARSIS HUMPHREY: CBJJ is more traditional; because of it they had more recognition. But to say that CBJJO title isn’t important is a lie. Who watched Copa do Mundo realized how tough is to conquer that title. In my opinion, my fights in Copa do Mundo were harder then the Mundial.

DM: So to win money, like in Copa do Mundo, is it the very good point of the tournament?

TARSIS HUMPHREY: For sure, it motivates you a lot. Who doesn’t want to win 5000R$ in black-belt. It’s very good for the fighters. People talk about: -‘But in Olympic Games nobody gains money’. Well, it’s true, but the medal is a GOLD medal and after the Olympic Games you receive a lot of benefits and recognition

DM: If Copa do Mundo wasn’t in Sao Paulo. Would you fight?

TARSIS HUMPHREY: Yes, I prepared myself for both events and I was anxious to see in which one I’d perform well.

DM: How do you analyze your performances?

TARSIS HUMPHREY: I think I had a great performance, but I’ve got to prepare myself better for the competitions next year. Because, if I didn’t win all this year. I want to make a better preparation in 2006.

DM: Which was the most exciting fight of both events?

TARSIS HUMPHREY: One of my fights in absolute of Copa do Mundo against Tiago Gaia(pesado fighter). The fight was tied and I just got to score points when the clock marked 20 seconds to go. After I attempt three morote-seoi, I scored the points in the third attempt, so I got his backs with the hooks. This fight was a show, and each time I watch my adrenaline becomes high.

DM: Which fight did you perform better?

TARSIS HUMPHREY: All fights of the absolutes. Because I don’t have any obligations; when I face heavier fighters I fight without any pressure in my shoulders.

DM: Was Gaia your hardest opponent?

TARSIS HUMPHREY: Yes, because he’s a Judo fighter(black-belt) with a great guard.

DM: Did you expect to gain the black-belt after Mundial or Copa do Mundo?

TARSIS HUMPHREY: Gurgel knows what to do, so what he decides is the correct decision. I’m a brown-belt now and it’s great, I’ve had a good year. If I fight in brown-belt next year, this will be bad luck for my opponents. But if I get the black-belt on this period, I’ll make all efforts to be a champion.

DM: Are you sad due to no black belt after the championships?

TARSIS HUMPHREY: No, I’m well. Everything came at the right-time.

DM: We believe Gurgel doesn’t give the black-belt to his fighters just because they’re great fighters, but also becuase they’re great people. Do you agree with this?

TARSIS HUMPHREY: Gurgel really has his own criteria to graduate the fighters, mainly the black-belts. So he got to attract more nice people to be Alliance fighters. The atmosphere here is great! You come here just to train and for sure you won’t have problems with nobody here. You can take me such as an example. I train here my whole life and I never had a misunderstanding or I never had this kind of problem. We’re a family and Gurgel knows how to educate us.

DM: I already watched you fighting submission twice in Submission Wrestling de Campos and SJ da Barra Submission Wrestling. What’s your opinion about submission and what Jiu Jitsu adds to Submision and vice-versa?

TARSIS HUMPHREY: To get a good game in submission, you need to be very-well conditioned physically. While Jiu Jitsu, you don’t need to be too much conditioned, because you have the resource of the gi to take advantage, and you can save more gas. Submission in my academy I just train to play a little with my teammates, but for sure I face submission as a challenge. I think submission supports us in the catches of jiu jitsu.

DM: You had opportunity of facing several black-belts in these submission mentioned above. How do you see these opportunities?

TARSIS HUMPHREY: They were cool. I fought Fabiano ‘Pega-Leve’ Scherer and I took him down. Against Gabriel ‘Napao’ Gonzaga I did a good job I tried a submission of his foot and it popped, but he didn’t tap. I fought against Erik Wanderley and he just beat me by advantage, the fight was 2-2 in points. These were good experiences, because they’re good fighters and heavier than me. But next year, I’ll try to win all of the matches that I’ll fight in submission.

DM: I see you love to fight in absolute, either being Submission or Jiu Jitsu. Which is the reason?

TARSIS HUMPREY: I started fighting with 13 years old and just 56kgs. I’m used to fight against strong and heavy fighters. This fact made me to develop a technical Jiu Jitsu. So nowadays I’m strong and technical fighter, so I don’t see a reason to not fight. Absolute and my weight class are two medals and two categories to be disputed. So if you get to win both, you’re REALLY the best fighter, you proved to be the number #1 on the tournament. I like it.

DM: Do you have any intention of fighting MMA?

TARSIS HUMPHREY: I think I will. I love new challenges and I expect, one day, to be a Pride FC champion. There, in Pride FC, are the best MMA fighters from around the World.

DM: Is MMA your main goal now?

TARSIS HUMPHREY: I still want to win some Mundials in black-belt and the ADCC, and then I’ll move to MMA.

DM: Would you like to leave a message to the readers?

TARSIS HUMPHREY: I want to say thank you very much to Gurgel, due to the chance that he gave in my life of training with him; to my father and mother, to my teammates, friends and my brother who supported me my whole life, and GOD for the game and he health He gave me to practice this sport, Jiu Jitsu. And I want to state to all Martial Artists to look for their goal, because anything is possible.

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Denis Martins