Tarsis Humphreys Interview:

Tarsis came up with some big wins at this years ADCC, including defeating the likes of David Avellan and Braulio Estima

Photo courtesy of J-Sho and www.BJJ.EU.comThose who follow jiu jitsu have had their eye on Tarsis for a long time. Yet only recently with impressive performances at the Mundial, Pan Ams and now ADCC is he getting the recognition he deserves. A young black belt at 23 years old, Tarsis is a product of one of the world’s best academies – Alliance, Sao Paolo; run by “the general” Fabio Gurgel. (This is the same academy that produced many of the superstars of today, including Marcelo Garcia, Terere, Telles and many of the standouts of what is now Brasa). If there are 10 truly great jiu jitsu professors out there, Fabio is definitely one of them and he has proved it time and time again with the students he produces (not to mention his own stellar competition record). OTM had a chance to catch up with Tarsis before ADCC, find out a little about his thoughts on training, fighting against the worlds best and his plans for the future.

OTM: So how did you become involved in jiu jitsu?

TH: I started because of a friend of mine – he trained with Behring. In physical education class I was never really into soccer and I didn’t like punching the air in karate and then I saw Jiu Jitsu – technical armlocks, chokes. After that I said, “Mom, I want to do this”.

OTM: Does Marcelo still sweep you with the x-guard?

TH: Sometimes.

OTM: What are your goals in the sport?

TH: I want to win Abu Dhabi, which is coming up this next week. And I want to win the absolute too – it’s a lot to ask but you have to think big. Also I really want to win the mundial as a blackbelt, – again, my goal is not just to win my weight class but also win the absolute. I’ve medaled at the mundial at every belt and I won the copa do mundo as a brown belt. Like I said I’ve never won the mundial but I won my weight class and absolute at both the Pan Ams and Brazilian Nationals last year and I was runner up in this years Pan Ams in both my weight and open class as a blackbelt. So I think I have the conditions and experience necessary to win the mundial.

OTM: You seem to really step it up in competitions – how do you prepare yourself to win?

TH: I always train two times a day in jiu jitsu and I do physical preparation specific to jiu jitsu. When I’m in New York, I work conditioning with Gilson Oliveira and in Brasil I do the same kind of training at Unica Gym with Luciano Delia.

OTM: Are you in a rush to fight Roger or re-match with Xande?

TH: Of course, absolutely. I think the experience with Xande really helped my jiu jitsu for competition. Now I’ve trained more and refined my game I’d like to test my evolution. As for Roger (and Xande), I want to test myself against the best. Not just a to see where I’m at, I want to win.

OTM: How is training with “the General” Fabio Gurgel?

TH: It’s always been exceptional and now it’s even better because recently re-enforcements arrived in the form of Cobrinha and his students. The academy is full of competitors and the technical level and intensity of training are very high. So I have nothing to complain about (laughs).

OTM: How are you preparing for Abu Dhabi?

TH: I started the training for the Brazilian qualifier, I didn’t feel all that well but I continued to train hard I went to Ecuador, fought and won and then went to New York to train with Marcelinho and everyone at Fabio Clemente’s academy. Marcelo and I are focused on only one thing to win Abu Dhabi, and there is nothing to distract us.

OTM: What is your background training jiu jitsu without the gi and how do you approach this aspect of jiu jitsu differently?

TH: In Brasil we train every Friday – training with the gi makes it very simple to adapt to training without it. Now that ADCC is getting closer, we are training everyday specifically for the tournament. Without the gi one needs to have very well defined sequences of techniques, you need to be more explosive, quicker, understand how to adjust your control points to dominate your opponent. Sometimes it feels easier to train without the gi – but to really excel like Marcelinho it is incredibly difficult.

OTM: Any plans for mixed martial arts in the years ahead?

TH: Absolutely, I believe that I will begin fighting in three or four years but you never know. It is definitely one of my goals – first I want to accomplish what I have set out to accomplish in jiu jitsu. Down the road I will definitely be looking for new challenges – my style of jiu jitsu is very well suited for mixed martial arts.

OTM: Who have been your greatest influences in jiu jitsu?

TH: My professor Fabio Gurgel of course, Rickson Gracie, and really everyone because I feel that everyone has something to offer, some position or submission or defense or way of being that I can learn from. I constantly study other fighters in order to improve myself.

OTM: How do you like New York?

TH: Well, it’s a big city kind of like Sao Paulo – you can get anything you want anytime you want. It’s great, the city is full of life, full of diversity and I always feel at home walking around here. Now that I have friends here, it’s even better.

OTM: Cool, thanks for your time. Is there anyone you would like to thank?

TH: I would like to thank all my sponsors and everyone who supports me. Especially my family, my professor Fabio who gave me an opportunity to train and who always trained me for free when I didn’t have to means to afford jiu jitsu. I would also like to thank all my sponsors: Maxxcomm, Haiti Tatames, Unica Academia, Keiko Raca Kimonos, Gilson Oliveira my personal trainer and my chiropractors Jason, Felipe and Ted Egawa.

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Paul Schreiner