Featured Fighter: Darson Hemmings, a Top Competitor.


Who is he??


Anyone who has competed or just simply been around the BJJ community in the GTA and North America for that matter should know the name Darson Hemmings. Recently the “Tap Star” standout returned from California where he took 1st place in the ADCC North American Championships in the under 65 kilo division. This means he has earned a berth into the ADCC World Championship event in 2013. GrapplersPlanet.com caught up with Darson for a one on one question and answer session:


                                       On the mat at ADCC North American Championship

    GP: When you landed in Toronto with your Gold from ADCC what were your thoughts and or feelings returning home?


DH: When I arrived back to Toronto I felt inspired and motivated to continue to train here in Toronto. I came to a realization that all my life I have been around the right people like Mark Bocek, Rob Di Censo and Misha Cirkunov. I realized I was blessed to be in a room with not only great fighters but some of the top talent in the world and that I was indeed on the right track and to continue working hard to achieve my goals.


GP: What were the major events or accomplishments (either personal or BJJ) that led you to the ADCC North American Championships?

DH: One month before the ADCC I decided I had enough with the work force and went back to training/ teaching for a living. I kept getting signs from friends and people around me basically saying its time for a change, something new and exciting! It was hard to lose the guarantee of a constant easy pay cheque but I knew there was more out there for me. I just had to believe in myself and the hard work that was put in. In the end that’s all I can rely on to make me feel comfortable is that “hard work WILL pay off”.


GP:    Who was your toughest opponent and why?


DH: Edwin Najami was my toughest opponent of the event. He is a major up and comer on the scene training under Romulo Barral. He was extremely tall for the weight class. We ended up going over time where I was forced to use areas of my game I wasn’t too willing to go.


GP:    Were you able to use a technique that you have worked on for a long time that helped you to win your gold?


DH: At the event I started drilling some new positions. Its always risky changing up your game but I have a way of connecting everything to an old technique or something I do or used to play. By doing this it never makes the transition to the new move difficult. Once I rep it a few hundred times I find ways to relate it to as many things I can. Keeping everything related and tight makes my jiu jitsu simple.


GP:    How do you prepare for a tournament such as ADCC? (training)


DH: Preparing for ADCC was easy, I simply do what I do everyday. Get on the mats and roll. I’m fortunate to train at Xtreme Couture where my fitness area is connected so I will dip my feet over there when I feel I have the energy. But I predominantly roll, drill, study footage of the best players and my opponents. My workout routine is mainly cardio oriented, also I power lift in the “caveman” area minimum twice a week to supplement my jiu jitsu.


GP:    What advice do you have for the youth of the sport that are currently training and look up to competitors such as yourself?


DH: For the youth growing up I’d say firstly a black belt is just a white belt that never gave up. I believe that stays true no matter how much my credentials increase. Keep working hard, just like anything else you will have good days and horrible days that will try to break your will power. The key is don’t give up. A good tip is to study your favorite guys. By watching them it gives you something to go to class to work… always looking for something new to add to your game or simply trying to BE like that fighter for a week or two.


GP:    Are there any teammates or training partners that contributed to your success?


DH: I travel around the GTA to get my full week of training but I have a few that stick with me to get that full 24/7 BJJ training that I love so much! I would have to thank Marek Nowak & Chris Larrea. 2 guys I’ve built up. They are both now successful blue belts on the competition scene. Between these 2 guys I spent hundreds of hours teaching them, beating them down, and later years taking a few beating myself. I am super proud to say I work side by side with these guys.


GP:    Who are your greatest influences and why?


DH: When I do receive a compliment on my game it’s usually about my willingness to play so many positions. I thank the many bjj players i’ve studied over the years: Rafael Mendes, Marcelo Garcia, Andre Galvao, Braulio Estima, Ryan Hall, Jeff Glover, Sim Go, Cobrinha, and Robson Moura… Just to name a few of my major influences.


GP:     What are your future plans career wise (next tournaments, MMA, coaching, teaching, etc…)


DH: Since the ADCC my next move is going for the Gold at the 2012 NoGi world Jiu Jitsu Championship. Since day 1 I’ve wanted the title “world champion”. Now I’ve built some momentum and self belief I believe my goal is closer than ever to grip hold of. With strong sponsors like shoyoroll brand now behind me, the options are endless. 2013 will be a big one in terms of BJJ for me. Ill be making my return to PRO M.M.A sometime next year as well.


GP:     What do you feel is the next step for competitive BJJ in Canada or the world for that matter?


DH: The next step for professional Jiu Jitsu in Canada has already arrived. The champions are getting what they deserve (money, trips, sponsorships). If we were to add anything right now it would be to lower the pricing of tournaments to allow a bigger crowd of competitors. Wrestling tournaments cost average $20) BJJ is a bit more prestigious but some of the prices are simply outrageous and not everyone can get sponsorship. This in the end will keep competitors form every competing and realizing their full potential unfortunately.

Darson has big plans for 2013 including a possible return to the MMA cage. He has returned to training and teaching full time including a recent NOGI Seminar at Nova Uniao Jiu Jitsu Mississauga. Be sure to check out his Darson Hemmings Pro Fighter page on Face Book and support this local fighter with a bright future, you will not be disappointed.


Interview by Jason Rapsey.

Here is Darsons Finals Match at ADCC 2012.


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