10 Questions for Pan-American Champion: Tammi Musumeci

1481862_10202442978254655_661905338_nTammi Musumeci is one of the brightest, up and coming stars of Jiu-jitsu right now. A black belt training out of American Top Team under Emyr “Shark” Bussade in Florida – her recent victories at the Pan-Ams catapulted her onto the national stage in Jiu-Jitsu. A world champion at each belt color leading up to black, there seems to be no ceiling for the young 19 year old black belt – who berimbolo-ed her way to Pan-American gold. Coming off her most recent victory, Tammi took some time out to talk to us about her career in Jiu-Jitsu thus far and much more

1. How did you get started in Jiu-Jitsu and how long have you been training?

I started Jiu-jitsu at the age of 6 in New Jersey at Fatjo’s MMA, which had a Jiu-jitsu program. Mr. Fatjo ran the children’s program the way adult programs are run so he required discipline, respect, dedication and commitment. He worked us hard and expected a lot from us. We earned our stripes and belts and appreciated when we were promoted because it wasn’t just because we were students who paid tuition – we earned it. He gave me a strong foundation that allowed me to continue to grow in BJJ as an adult. I have been training about 13 years.

2. You are are fairly young. What about Jiu-Jitsu kept you coming back instead of doing other things? I started jiu-jitsu when I was 6 and in Kindergarten so I am doing it more than 2/3 my life. Throughout my childhood, I tried soccer, basketball, and softball, all while still doing jiu-jitsu, but when it was time to sign up for a second season, I would just decide to stick with Jiu-jitsu because it was what I liked the most and it was already such a big part of my life.

3. What is your normal training routine?

Normally I train jiu-jitsu 6-7 days a week usually twice a day. I also work out with my strength and conditioning coach, Cody Schovitz, 3 times a week.

4. What would you say has been your biggest obstacle in your Jiu-Jitsu career thus far? 

My biggest obstacle in my Jiu-jitsu career thus far is finding the time to train with my school work. I am a full time college student so between going to class and the countless hours of homework, it is a struggle to make time to train and even find the energy to do so.

5. Do you feel you have to be from a large competitive Jiu-jitsu school in order to have success at major tournaments?

I don’t feel you have to be from a large competitive Jiu-jitsu school in order to have success at the major tournaments. All you need is a supportive instructor and team that will constantly motivate you and keep you confident. Also, you need a strong work ethic. Without a strong work ethic and the desire to accomplish, one will not succeed no matter what large competitive Jiu-jitsu school you are from.

6. How do you think the Jiu-Jitsu in Florida compares to other places like California or New York?

I feel Jiu-jitsu in Florida is huge and comparable to California or New York. It is getting so popular that there are more gyms opening and more competitions offered. Florida differs from California and New York in that it seems to have more of a focus on MMA with big teams such as Blackzilians and American Top Team being here. However, I feel this actually helps Jiu-jitsu to become more popular and to gain more publicity among Floridians.

7. There are not as many tournaments in Florida as in say Brazil or California, how do you go about preparing throughout the year for the major IBJJF tournaments?

Preparing for tournaments is done on the mats. Putting in the time and effort helps to prepare you. You have to respect the sport and realize that you only improve by working hard.

8. There are not as many women as men practicing Jiu-Jitsu, has that ever been a struggle or problem for you?

I have never had a struggle with this situation. I work hard and show respect to everyone I work with so I never had a problem. The problems come when people have too much of an ego and make everything an issue.

 9. You recently won the Pan-American Championships at Black Belt, one of the biggest titles in Jiu-Jitsu. What advice would you give to other women who might be starting Jiu-Jitsu or have been training for some time?

I would tell them to continue to work hard and to make sure that they are having fun with it.  It is a great sport with a great community. It is important to remember that everyone could learn from everyone else no matter what belt they are, so it is important to remain humble and to appreciate everyone who is in the class. Once this is done, egos are not in the way of good, effective training.

10. Thank you Tammi for taking the time to talk. Is there anything else you would like to say?

I would like to thank my instructor Emyr “Shark” Bussade and all my teammates at American Top Team Wellington and also Jonatas Gurgel. I would like to thank Manoel Soares and Gilbert “Durinho” Burns and all my teammates at Jaco Hybrid Training Center. Thank you Bull Terrier and Shoyoroll for the continued support. Also, thank you Florida BJJ for this interview. You guys always run such an amazing tournament.