Squeezing the Most Out of BJJ Training Time with Tom DeBlass
One might say that Tom DeBlass wears a lot of hats in the BJJ world. He is a jiu jitsu black belt under the illustrious Renzo Gracie lineage, earning it directly from Renzo's first black belt Ricardo Almeida. He runs a thriving BJJ academy that has not only survived the ongoing pandemic and subsequent economic meltdown that has scorched the landscape of BJJ academies across the globe, but has grown to nearly 500 students.
Tom DeBlass leads a growing affiliation of over 30 students across the globe. He is also heavily involved with the ADCC organization as both a certified referee and promoter/host for the North American East Coast Trials. Most recently, after a nearly 6 year layoff, he has decided to return to the MMA cage, having signed with the illustrious ONE FC organization with his first fight coming up very soon before the end of 2020.
Tom DeBlass is also one of the most sought after BJJ coaches and personalities on Social Media. Receiving thousands of questions and messages a week, his accessibility and willingness to help practitioners from all walks of life is legendary. Add to all of these things that he is the loving father of two young children, spending as much time with his son and daughter as he can, it's clear to see that Tom DeBlass is a busy man.
What is the key to his success with time management? How is he able to accomplish so much with the same 24 hours in the day that we all have? How can we learn from his experience and get more out of our lives and especially our jiu jitsu training time.
Never one to pontificate or to lead without serving, Tom DeBlass earned his black belt driving hours to Professor Ricardo Almeida's academy after long days as a special education teacher. He built a successful, thriving academy of nearly 500 students by investing countless hours into his business plan and building a team of instructors and students who work tirelessly to support the mission of the academy.
As an already successful professional athlete with ADCC grappling credentials, UFC and Bellator MMA credentials, he would drive untold hours into New York City to train alongside his students Garry Tonon and Gordon Ryan in the laboratory with the mastermind John Danaher before ADCC 2017. By maintaining a 100% focus on whatever task he is working on at the time, Tom DeBlass has the ability to juggle so many tasks, being successful at each and always looking for new worlds to conquer.
Check out the video below excerpted from his mindset instructional THE ROAD TO BLACK BELT available from BJJ Fanatics. We'll break down some key points afterwards.
Making the Most of Your BJJ Training Time with Tom DeBlass
As Tom DeBlass states in the video, "Everyone wants to train more than they can." We all know the feeling after our first few classes as the jiu jitsu bug begins to take over every waking hour. Sitting at dreary jobs watching the clock, wishing we were learning something new on the BJJ mats becomes a way of life for most practitioners. By getting our goals in line with why we are training, we can make sure we keep a healthy mindset about training and don't turn BJJ into another problem or chore that we really don't need in our lives.
For 90% of practitioners who don't have world championship aspirations, BJJ is an amazing stress reliever and a way to get into better shape. For the average person in their gi, BJJ class is an hour or so when they can turn off the problems of the world. By not aligning our goals properly and having realistic expectations, we can create a problem out of BJJ when it doesn't have to be.
Any BJJ is better than no BJJ
As Tom states, one class per week is still 52 classes per year and presents itself with a great opportunity to grow as a person or martial artist. Early on it's important to begin assessing our goals and trying to figure out exactly what it is we want out of jiu jitsu. We need to be honest and have a healthy dose of realism when putting our jiu jitsu training plan in order.
If someone had extremely limited time and could only train one or maybe two days a week, but they also had aspirations to be a world champion, they're going to struggle. Simply because having a lofty goal such as to be world champion requires a great deal of time on the mats. It can be assumed that most if not all world champion BJJ athletes are training 6 or 7 days a week and in many cases, multiple times per day. To be the best of the best, even at such a young sport as BJJ, requires nearly a full-time jobs worth of effort each week.
Should the person that has those world championship aspirations give up BJJ before they start? No, but they must realize that their job is going to be much much harder. They are going to need to spend a lot of hours on those days they can train, drilling, sparring and absorbing as much as they can. They are going to need to spend much of their time outside of the academy working on other aspects of their athleticism, whether that be cardio, strength and conditioning, or flexibility. They are going to need to spend long hours studying and drilling on their own outside of the gym. And even if they are able to replicate the number of hours outside of the academy as current world champions spend inside, there are still no guarantees.
With limited time, it may be better to adjust your goals. Perhaps prepping for your first local tournament and hoping to take home gold is a great place to start. Even with your sights set on local gold at a smaller tournament, the road is not going to be easy with limited mat time. Be realistic and if you can't reason with the passion inside to be a world champion, maybe it's a sign to change your life to allow you to train more frequently.
Professional athletes like Tom DeBlass, his student Garry Tonon and Garry's student Gordon Ryan have all made incredible sacrifices of time and money and investments of blood, sweat and tears to achieve their goals. They've been able to maximize the natural talent they were born with to an incredible work ethic to get where they wanted to go.
The key point here is that one must align their goals within BJJ so as not to turn BJJ into a negative aspect of their life. If you're constantly comparing your development, skill or career to a professional BJJ athlete and you are a parent with a full time job and other responsibilities, you are setting yourself up for incredible frustration.
BJJ Fanatics and the Golden Age of BJJ Information
Today athletes are extremely lucky. With the advent of the internet, the sharing of information has never been easier. With websites like Reddit, YouTube and BJJ Fanatics, the access to world class instruction is right at everyone's finger tips. Gone are the days when the only way to learn from world class athletes and instructors was to travel to seminars and spend a few hours trying to absorb as much as you can in one sitting.
Now with ease, you can go to the internet and have a complete catalogue of instructional videos in your inbox from the likes of John Danaher, Gordon Ryan, and Tom DeBlass, amongst others. This proliferation of high-quality BJJ instruction has revolutionized the sport and martial art of jiu jitsu.
With 14 instructionals just from Tom DeBlass and a total library that's well over 500 titles, BJJ Fanatics has an answer to every question you can have about a particular position, athlete or approach.
Ways To Be Involved In BJJ When You Can't Be There
For Tom DeBlass, it is possible to be involved in BJJ seven days a week, even when you can't train. This is crucial for athletes with aspirations to be the best they can be. When they're not training, they can be working on solo drilling techniques, using a grappling dummy to practice, or studying matches and instructional videos.
Getting oneself into the best possible shape they can be in while off the mats can also go a long way to ensure that you are maximizing your learning. When you're not in the best possible shape you can be, you can impede your growth and development on the BJJ mats. It's harder to move yourself and much harder to move others when you're not in the best possible shape.
Using creative visualization can be a good way to work on your BJJ goals outside of the academy. Running through techniques or visualizing your competitions in the evening as you prepare to fall asleep can be a good way to run through events and reinforce positive growth and outcomes in your training and competition. Supplementing whatever training time you have with mental exercises can go a long way.
Be 100% Present When You Are At the Academy
No matter how many hours or days you are able to train BJJ, one of Tom DeBlass' key tenets is to always be 100% present on the mats. He shares the story of the athlete who trains five or more days a week, but is late for class, skips warmups, doesn't training live and doesn't drill mindfully.
Contrast that with an athlete that can only train 2-3 days per week, but they are there are time, giving it 100% during the warm up, staying fully focused during the instruction, drilling with the proper intensity and staying to train live after class or work additional drills. It's easy to see which athlete or student is going to improve faster. Even though the first athlete has more "time" on the mats, the true quality of the time is determined by one's presence mentally on the mats.
Compare You to Yesterday's You
The last point about training quality and mindset to leave you with is that we must use ourselves as our measuring sticks. By constantly comparing ourselves and our development to others who may have more time to train or perhaps different physical advantages, we are setting ourselves up for frustration. Someone who starts BJJ in their mid-30's, who perhaps works long hours or has children and a family or both, simply cannot dedicate as much time to training and skill development as the early 20's college student living in their parent's basement with endless time to train.
By focusing on you and your development, you will begin to see improvements over time. Look at your past performances, your overall knowledge 6 months, a year ago and you will be quite pleased by your improvement and will be inspired to continue working hard to become the best version of yourself that you can become.
In short, you need to love jiu jitsu on the good days and the bad days as Tom DeBlass always says. He is also often telling his students that you don't have to compete to train BJJ, but if you want to, it should come as a consequence of your love of jiu jitsu and you need to be ready for the sacrifices that come along with the life of the competitor. It's not going to be easy, but the rewards you will gain from it will change you forever whether you win or lose on competition day. By having the proper mindset approach every single time you step on the mats or do anything in life, you will ensure that you will be successful no matter what.
Tom DeBlass is one of the most revered BJJ instructors in the world. With a home academy nearing 500 students and over 30 affiliate academies across the globe, Tom DeBlass has built a career on presenting the highest quality jiu jitsu knowledge to his students. His latest offering from BJJFanatics.com is new LOCKDOWN BLUEPRINT available now. Building on his masterful instructionals about half guard, butterfly half guard and deep half guard, DeBlass puts his stamp on the LOCKDOWN. Get yours here or at the BUY NOW link below!