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Tom DeBlass: Always Going Forward
Tom DeBlass is currently one of the most influential and recognizable athletes in the world of grappling. This former UFC and Bellator cage fighter and three time ADCC North American Trials winner is set to appear in his fourth Fight 2 Win Main Event on October 27th in his home state of New Jersey. He is scheduled to take on No Gi Pan American Champ Aaron "Tex" Johnson this time around.
BJJ Fanatics recently spoke to DeBlass specifically about competition and what it means for him at this stage in his career. For many elite jiu jitsu athletes, training and competition are their full time vocations. For the average jiu jitsu practitioner, training and competitions get squeezed in whenever they can be. For DeBlass who runs a highly successful academy of nearly 400 students and a growing Tom DeBlass Jiu Jitsu Association with nearly 20 schools spread over the US and Canada, competition doesn't need to be his focus, but as we learned, it is something that Tom DeBlass does because even at this stage in his career, the act of competing is still teaching him things about himself.
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What does competition mean to you at this stage in your career?
"I like to compete to have fun and to test myself. I like the preparation. Preparing for competition makes me better. It forces me to do things I generally wouldn’t do if I wasn’t preparing for the competition.
When I first started, I had a lot of goals that I have basically accomplished already, so now it’s about getting better and better and learning from my students as well."
What makes you hungry to compete at this point?
"I don’t really think I’m hungry to compete. I’m hungry for jiu jitsu. I like testing myself against people from all over. I’m used to competing so when I don’t do it, it feels a little weird. I’m used to putting myself out there and trying to do my best out there. It’s something that comes natural."
How would you compare yourself today to the Tom from 10 years ago?
"The Tom now compared to the Tom 10 years ago is more technical, stronger, better conditioned, faster. I just think I’m better all around. More experienced of course with a better mental approach to competition. For sure, I was tough, but I would definitely beat the Tom of 10 years ago pretty easily."
What should our takeaways from this quick conversation with Tom DeBlass be? Though what the individual reader will take will be wholly personal, it is clear from these statements that competition for DeBlass has always been an extension of his love for jiu jitsu and a manifestation of the process of trying to constantly improve and learn.
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Competition is also a tool for keeping ones natural complacency and comfort in check. The act of competing and more importantly the preparation for the competition requires things of us that we may not do, were it not for the competition. Whether that means a cleaner diet, extra condtitioning or more drilling sessions, it doesn't matter. For DeBlass the idea of competing guarantees that he is always going forward and always seeking to improve.
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