Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has gifted us with many athletes who have made their mark on the sport. Almost always, these figures became household names by dominating the competition circuit for a good number of years. Others took a different route and became instruments of good by sharing their time, knowledge, and experiences to help their community. Today, we’ll talk about a unique individual that has done both. This is the story of BJJ black belt and World Champion, Tom DeBlass.
Who Is Tom DeBlass?
Tom DeBlass is an American combat sports athlete who competed in Jiu-Jitsu, submission grappling, and MMA for many years. He is the head coach and owner of Ocean County Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He has produced many world-class competitors, including Kyle Cranmer, Jen Allen Russell, and BJJ World Champion Garry Tonon.
Tom was born on May 14, 1982, in New Brunswick, New Jersey. His first taste of martial arts came at the young age of 5 years old when he trained in Taekwondo. He trained in the Korean striking art for roughly 13 years.
In his teens, DeBlass switched his attention to track and field and became the county champion long jumper in high school. He was forced to stop competing in the sport due to an injury he received when he was 18. Even though his track and field career was cut short, it was only the beginning of bigger and better things.
He started training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under the tutelage of Eric Colon. He then moved to train under Ricardo Almeida, a renowned Renzo Gracie black belt with vast experience in competitive MMA. Ricardo Almeida, being a great competitor himself, saw the potential in Tom and helped him progress through the ranks. Tom DeBlass received his BJJ black belt after 6 and a half years of consistent training.
Tom DeBlass And Jiu-Jitsu
Building a career in combat sports, regardless of whether you want to be an athlete or a coach, is never easy. Tom started coaching in BJJ at 24, a smart move as he has a background in education. He opened his own gym, Ocean County Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and started teaching students from all walks of life.
As mentioned, he has produced many standout athletes that now compete in submission grappling and MMA. His gym is also particularly known for building a strong women’s program and is very inclusive to everyone who wants to train. Whatever your goals, OCBJJ is an excellent option to train at if you live nearby.
Now let’s talk about Tom’s achievements in grappling. As a competitor, Tom DeBlass is known for having one of the best half guards in modern Jiu-Jitsu. He won many prestigious titles along the way, including the Pan American Jiu-Jitsu Championship when he was a brown belt. He also won the World No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu Championship (Masters 1) and Pan No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu Championship as a black belt. Aside from these titles, he is a 3x ADCC North American Trials Winner and the ADCC East Coast Trials director. His notable matches include bouts with MMA star Renato “Babalu” Sobral and ADCC champion Orlando Sanchez.
Tom is also an accomplished MMA fighter with 9 wins and 2 losses. He competed in various organizations, including Ring of Combat (heavyweight and light heavyweight Champion), Ultimate Fighting Championship, and Bellator MMA. He signed with ONE Championship on May 17, 2020.
Advocacies Using Martial Arts
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Martial arts have been one of Tom’s primary endeavors since he was young. Like most of us, Tom’s life has had many ups and downs, and training in Jiu-Jitsu helped him discover who he is and what he is capable of. Learning how to defend yourself from harm can be a beautiful thing – martial arts training teaches self-control, responsibility, and perseverance. By grinding daily on the mats, you’ll learn that not everything is about you and that being part of something larger than yourself is equally important. Funnily enough, learning how to fight can teach us to live at peace with ourselves.
He released his autobiography named How You Bear It: Triumph and Resiliency in Life in 2021. The book recalls his life as a young kid in New Jersey, struggles growing up, upbringing in martial arts, battles with depression, life as a father, and many more. It is a fantastic read and is highly recommended for anyone that loves a triumphant story. The book hit the #1 Bestseller spot on Amazon under Martial Arts Biographies.
Here is Tom’s Instagram post thanking his fans for their support.
“I was notified early this morning my book hit the Amazon #1 bestseller for martial arts on its release day.
There are thousands of martial arts books on Amazon. They rank the top 100 (books) daily.
Yesterday mine was the #1 bestseller.
That was a goal of mine, to be a best-selling author, and we reached it on the first day. However, I want to hit bestsellers overall, not just martial arts, but also the bestseller on other platforms as well.
I’m thankful, pretty surreal.”
In February 2023, he started working with parents and gym owners across the United States and spearheaded a non-profit, anti-bullying campaign using the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. As of this writing, the Buddies Over Bullies initiative has gained tremendous support from gyms and practitioners not only in the US but also worldwide.
Seminars And Instructionals
Recently, Tom DeBlass partnered with Evolve MMA and held a masterclass of a seminar. It is safe to say that all attendees got their money’s worth and more.
If you wish to learn a thing or two from the man himself, we encourage you to check out his instructionals on BJJ Fanatics. He is a well of knowledge, and you will come out of it a much better grappler!
From a once self-described “runt” to now one of the most influential figures in Jiu-Jitsu, Tom DeBlass continues to inspire generations of martial artists to do good despite their circumstances.
Anyone can transform their pain into power. Check your local gym and try out Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu today.
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