Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tarsis interviewed by

Alliance Black Belt Tarsis Humphreys was reciently interviewed by

Interview: David Webb, 11 August 2010
Images by kind permission of Alicia Anthony @

Perennial podium finisher over the past few years, Alliance stalwart, Tarsis Humphreys, reached the pinnacle of his Jiu Jitsu career back in June 2010 when he won the Meio-Pesado event at the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Mundials with an emphatic win over his rival Romulo Barral.

With his pinpoint leg attacks that home in like a crude missile, Tarsis provides much of the backbone to the phenomenal success of team Alliance and amongst the likes of Rubens Charles, Michael Langhi, Marcelo Garcia, Bruno Malfacine, Bernardo Faria and Antonio Peinado he conveys a tremendous intensity for the team in both Gi and no-Gi events. A black belt student and fanatical supporter of his teacher Fabio ‘the General’ Gurgel, he his began his Jiu Jitsu journey at the age of 13 years old in his home city of Sao Paulo, Brazil and until recently was still training out of the same academy. caught up with Tarsis having just opened a brand new facility in Miami, Florida (Alliance Miami) where we talk of his most recent success, his inspirations and what he believes the future holds for him in the world of Jiu Jitsu.

As always, enjoy!

Interview: Tarsis, many thanks for taking time to do this interview for, can we start with asking how you originally became involved in Jiu Jitsu and what drew you to the sport in the first place? Were you the sort of kid that came to Ju Jitsu at an early age or was it something you discovered as a teenager?

Tarsis Humphreys: I started Jiu Jitsu when I was 13 years old after a friend of mine showed me some moves. I loved it. I just started training with Fabio Gurgel, and never looked back

KC: So was being born in Sao Paulo a natural path in joining team Alliance what with its representation in the area or were there other teams with academies that you could have quite as easily chosen?

TH: I was very lucky as my Mom put me at Fabio Gurgel’s school, originally I wanted to train with Flavio Behring, but Fabio’s school was closer to my home, and my mother offered to teach Fabio some English classes in return for Jiu Jitsu for my brother and I – we didn’t have any money to pay for Jiu Jitsu

KC: 2010 was another great year for Alliance at the Mundials as you took the team championships for the third time. We often hear champion athlete’s mention how important a ‘team’ is to their success and Romulo Barral spoke in a recent interview about his time at Gracie Barra with the likes of Braulio Estima and Roger Gracie also representing Gracie Barra. What does it mean to you to be part of such a successful team and with that sharing the mats and celebration with guys such as Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles, Marcelo Garcia, Lucas Lepri, Sergio Moraes and Michael Langhi and have mentors like Fabio Gurgel and Romero ‘Jacare’ Cavalcanti?

TH: This is the most important part, Alliance Jiu Jitsu, is the most technical, and has the most different styles during the training and this makes all the difference. We have a lot of black belts training everyday; everybody trains so hard there and Fabio is an awesome teacher, he knows everything, all the details, he is the best, and “Jacaré” is a really good coach as well, he teaches everything to Fabio – great instructors.

KC: Many congratulations on the opening of your new academy in Miami, Florida!

Is the new academy under the ‘Alliance Jiu Jitsu’ banner or is this the start of a ‘Tarsis Humphreys Jiu Jitsu’ project?

TH: It is Tarsis Humphreys, under Team Alliance – Alliance Miami.

KC: And what were your motives for opening an academy in Miami? Did you ever think about opening an academy in San Diego, California? I ask because that area has become synonymous with quality, world-class Jiu Jitsu teams and academies.

TH: My uncle lives in San Diego and I have been there many times, but I really like Miami, a like the climate, and here I have a new area for my Jiu Jitsu. Miami doesn’t have many good teams and I stay closer to Brazil. Everything is going well here.

KC: You are a pretty inspirational competitor for many fans of Jiu Jitsu (me included), who, if anyone, was inspirational for you when you started to come through the ranks and are there any Jiu Jitsu fighters that your enjoy watching on the circuit right now more than others?

TH: Thank you for that. Many fighters have inspired me: Fabio Gurgel, with his tight game. “Tereré”, and his smartness in using the rules, Lucas Lepri, “Cobrinha”, Michael Langhi who are all very technical, and with a beautiful Jiu Jitsu. Roger Gracie, Xande Ribeiro, Ronaldo “Jacaré” Souza. There are many fighters and I try to take a little piece of all of them and put it in my game.

KC: Conditioning seems to be a big part of your preparation for competition what does your preparation for an event such as the Mundials entail and are you still working with Edmilson Dantas of ‘LPO System’ for your strength and conditioning regime?

TH: Yes this is the guy; he does an incredible job and is very professional. He knows how to prepare somebody for Jiu Jitsu, and other sports, i believe in him and he’s training. He made me a true champion together with [Fabio] Gurgel teaching me all the Jiu Jitsu i know.

KC: It seems Edmilson has quite a stable of sportsmen and women using his strength & conditioning programme. Is he responsible for any other Jiu Jitsoka from Alliance Jiu Jitsu?

TH: Yes, Luana Alzuguir and Antonio Peinado. In the past he has worked with the likes of Gabriel Vella, Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles, “Tereré”, Eduardo Telles and André Galvao.

KC: Wow, that is quite an impressive batch of clients. Back in June you joined an elite crop of Jiu Jitsoka and became the 2010 Mundials champion, your first Mundials title as a black belt competitor, how did that feel?

TH: I feel great about it, it’s like I accomplished a mission in my life. I have really wanted this for many years and then i did it!

KC: During you final match against Romulo Barral, Romulo sustained quite a severe injury to his knee, which he has subsequently had surgery upon. We often here from high level sportsmen and women post event where they attest to the rigors of training and the fact that they came into the event not 100% How hard is it to compete at the top level without carrying some form of injury onto the mat before you even start? And is this something that Jiu Jitsoka must learn to deal with because of the rigors of our sport?

TH: For sure, I bet with you that all the top fighters must have some injury at some point during competition; this is part of any sport. The big deal is that you don’t let your opponents know your weak points.

KC: I heard on a recent interview where Luca Atalla from Gracie Magazine was quoted as saying that when you came off the mat from your recent encounter with Roger Gracie (2010 Mundials Absolute division) you commented to a friend “Roger is doing different Jiu Jitsu to the rest of us”. What did you mean by that? Are Rogers skills and abilities that far removed from everyone else’s, even at the top end of our sport?

TH: Yes he is totally different. He is big, and he is a Gracie!

He knows all the details, he is very tight and his Jiu Jitsu is very progressive and forward, it’s just too easy for him, but he is not invincible just very hard to beat.

KC: If that is the case, what are you guys going to do to combat it?

TH: Train very hard! We have to be stronger than him and we must have good strategy and better judo than Roger.

KC: Okay, back to competition. People often say that the Jiu Jitsu ‘season’ runs from around January – June [starting with the Europeans, followed by the Abu Dhabi Pro and Pan Ams and culminating in the Mundials in June] as your season, in terms of really high level championships, has finished for 2010 what are your goals for the rest of 2010 and leading into 2011?

TH: To build my gym with lots of students and make a great job with my students. I am thinking about the Abu Dhabi no Gi event for next year; i want this title, as I don’t have it yet.

KC: What makes Tarsis Humphreys ‘tick’ in terms of setting goals and ultimately achieving them? And do you sit down with your coaches (at Alliance and Edmilson Dantas) to work a plan to achieve goals or do you just strive to attain them yourself?

TH: If you want to be professional and the best, you need many people working with you. Jiu Jitsu coaches for preparation and also sponsors, without them it is very hard.

KC: Recently there has been much talk about a submissions only match better Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles and Rafael Mendes – taking Jiu Jitsu back to it’s roots. What do you think to the event in concept and is this something you would enjoy being involved in?

TH: I think this it is gonna be a real fight.

Mendes fights only to be a champion, he doesn’t look to submit. But he is respecting the rules and this is aloud but I don’t think this is beautiful Jiu Jitsu. I find it boring to watch.

I think this event is very good because they gonna show who is the real best and who really fights – who is the best fighter.

KC: You have had some really tough battles over the years including: versus Braulio Estima, Andre Galvao and Romulo Barral, which of these guys would you like to meet in a submissions only match like the one being billed for Cobrinha vs. Mendes

TH: Anyone, they are all great fighters, but I like to compete against Galvao.

KC: Many top level Jiu Jitsoka, although being fantastic athletes in all areas of the game, do indeed have specialties in terms of strategies and techniques. Examples would be Roger [Gracie] with his Jiu Jitsu 101 (great strength and posture combined with his guard pass into mount to submission game), Romulo Barral is great at the spider guard and Cobrinha and Rafael Mendes have been battling with the 50/50 for a while now. Your specialty seems to be leg attacks. Is this something that you have spent time developing and do you train with individuals from certain backgrounds (Samboist for example) to improve this portion of your game?

TH: I don’t train specifically for leg locks or foot locks but I fight with all my body. I think if the body has two arms, two legs and one neck, why limit your attacks. For that reason I attack the legs and feet. Other fighters forget about the lower body, I don’t [Laughs].

KC: Tarsis, thank you so much for taking time to answer my questions. Before we wrap up is there anything else you would like to mention, anyone including friends, family or sponsors you would like to thank?

TH: Thanks to all my family, my girlfriend, friends and to all my sponsors: Maxxcomm, CK Park, Keiko Raca, Quality Nutrition. Also my friends Marcelo and Carlinhos Kalil and Miles Rico and of course my Jiu Jitsu coaches Fabio Gurgel and Romero “Jacaré” Cavalcanti and finally Edmilson Dantas for his conditioning.

Thank you to you too, for this space, and sorry about my English, I hope you understand everything.

KC: Thanks for such a great interview Tarsis! All the best.

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