Interview: Tayane Porfírio talks move to Gracie Barra

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Tayane at GB Fulham. Courtesy of Tayane Porfírio

From Rio das Pedras to London. Tayane Porfírio caught everyone by surprise this Tuesday as she published a picture of her wearing Gracie Barra colors. A black-belt who rose to fame at Alliance, she told Graciemag exclusively that she was indeed moving to the team led by Carlos Gracie Jr., and for very specific reasons.

Tayane said she had no problem with Alliance and that she went to Gracie Barra Fulham to seek better career opportunities and be able to help her family in Brazil.

But what made the rounds on social media was the question of whether now, with Tayane at GB, fans can expect a clash between her and Gabi Garcia.

We can’t blame you for being curious, so keep reading.

GRACIEMAG: Talk about leaving Alliance.
TAYANE PORFÍRIO: I arrived on the team in 2014, five years ago. The relationship with the team was always chill, both with the teachers and the other competitors, whether at headquarters or branches. My relationship with Gigi [Paiva] was always wonderful; I hold him as a father. He took me in, and taught me a lot beyond BJJ. About values, principles; he oriented me countless times, professionally and personally speaking. A true master. A guide. The talk with Gigi was a tough one. The subject, like it or not, is delicate. I don’t want people to think Gigi lost an athlete; in fact, Gigi made me this athlete. Now he has just made his athlete conquer the world. His credit will always be “She was a student of Alexandre Paiva,” “She is a black-belt under Gigi.” I’ve been with him from the blue belt. He made me the Tayane Porfírio I am today!

How did GB approach you?

Nobody, in fact, invited me or convinced me to be a part of the GB team. The decision to come to Gracie Barra in London was just one of embracing the opportunity that I have here. London has more infrastructure and quality of life.

I was already considering leaving Brazil for multiple reasons, like safety, recognition, etc. I first went to London in 2016, and before that I used to dream of this place through films and photos; I ended up falling in love. London and Portugal have always been my passions. Besides, here I have friends; I don’t feel helpless, and I will learn English. We know how important that is for any profession, especially for fighters. Needing to travel, teach seminars and knowing how to communicate well. I feel that that moment has finally come. I had been studying this possibility since August; I would talk to my friends about my situation in Brazil, and they always said I needed to leave Brazil to teach, have a better financial condition, etc. I think I know how things go, I know people will say I’m a traitor and stuff like that, but who’s going to pay my bills? I am! The people in the field of BJJ need to grow up and stop talking so much crap. I’m no less of a Brazilian.

What is your real motive for moving?

Here I will be able to get a good salary, doing what I love, and be able to help my family! Unfortunately, in Brazil you have to pick between paying rent and eating. BJJ isn’t recognized in Brazil like it should be. People complain about a seminar that costs R$ 40 — they think it’s expensive. You charge R$ 100 for a private lesson and they call you nuts. Also, there are many companies that see the athlete as a beggar. They don’t understand the logistics of sponsorship. We need clothing, sure, but sports clothing doesn’t pay the power bill, for instance. Athletes get hurt, need to pay for medical consultations, medications, physical therapy, etc. The main reason for moving is my family. I’ve always been a person who cares a lot about my family, helps them. If they are well, I’m well. I got to a point of being unable to help my parents, and that became painful. My dad can’t work because of health problems, and my mom works herself to death to provide for my siblings and nephew. I want to see my family well and feel accomplished working with what I love.

And when can we expect to see your debut with GB?

I don’t know yet. I need to organize myself and for my family to adapt to this as well. My brother was living with me, my mom went back to the Northeast… Basically, lots of things happening. I need to structure myself to then get back to the action.

With your move to GB, it’s inevitable to project a collision of stars — you and Gabi. How do you think that plays out?

Well, I prefer not to talk about fighting her. I think that everybody has a type of attitude in exposing themselves, and it’s not cool to talk specifically about just one athlete, even because there are many athletes at the Worlds and nobody knows whether we’ll cross paths. A collision of stars is something we see many times in different organizations. I understand the expectation of the public, but I have nothing specific with anyone. There are many athletes “on this collision course” and nobody knows for sure who will collide and how it will end. What’s important is for us to always fight clean, with honesty and professionalism. I’m extremely happy today to be one of the athletes who stand out. I’m 24, there’s still lots to come, and I know that many other athletes will appear. I believe that each one makes a difference in their field and they all have room to shine! Again, I will use this sentence: God works in silence, plans in private and honors in public!

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