Tom DeBlass – The Way of the Samurai

January 31, 2012

In the world of MMA, most times the competitors that step into the cage or ring are referred to as fighters, but for New Jersey’s Tom DeBlass, he wants to be known as a martial artist.

DeBlass, who is a long time student of retired UFC competitor Ricardo Almeida, learned long ago that he’s not involved in MMA because he wants to talk the most trash or hype up a fight. He’s there to carry on the traditions that his teacher taught him, and his teacher before him.

He carries a sense of respect, honor and tradition with him whenever he steps foot in the cage. It’s something that DeBlass learned early on from Almeida, and he’s carried it with him everyday since.

“Ricardo’s a gentleman rather than just a fighter. I don’t think you’d ever hear Ricardo be disrespectful, you couldn’t hear anyone say a bad word about him. Unfortunately, a lot of MMA guys now have a persona almost of a WWE wrestler, ‘I’m going to smash this guy, I’m going to beat this guy’ and I think with Ricardo and he really lived the way of the warrior. Almost the samurai approach,” said DeBlass when speaking with

“I know myself I’ve done the same. I’ve been with him since I was 20 and I’m 29 now, he actually molds who you are as a person in many ways.”

It’s that certain code of honor that DeBlass learned from Almeida that he uses whenever he prepares for his own fights. Currently 6-0 as a pro fighter, looking to move to 7-0 with his next fight in Ring of Combat in February, DeBlass is carrying on a proud tradition in the Gracie family.

From the lessons handed down from Renzo Gracie to Ricardo Almeida, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructor now passes those down to DeBlass. With that knowledge, DeBlass hopes to one day pass the torch to his students, but for now he’s carrying the family flag himself into the cage every time he competes.

“As a martial arts instructor, it’s what my teacher did, it’s what my teacher’s teacher did. I never wanted to be an instructor, I wanted to be the instructor that my students can say ‘yeah, my instructor did that.’. I never wanted to be an instructor that gives orders, but never does. I always want to step up to the plate and prove who I am. Not just with winning, I’ve been lucky in that sense, but just to prove that I am who I say I am,” said DeBlass.

“It’s what Ricardo did, it’s what Renzo did, it’s in the bloodline. Even though we may not share the same blood, it’s in the bloodline, it’s what we do, it’s what warriors do.”

“Those who shed blood with me will forever be my brother.”

That’s what Almeida told DeBlass a long time ago after learning the same from his instructor Renzo Gracie. While DeBlass isn’t actually related to Almeida or Gracie by blood, they are family and like all of the teammates that work under the Gracie name, they are like brothers and sisters.

From UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar to former welterweight champion Matt Serra, the Gracie bloodline flows through the team and with each new branch that grows in the family tree, the tradition carries on.

DeBlass is proud to be the latest family member to be able to bring the Gracie tradition to MMA through his own blood, sweat and tears.

“We joke around, we have fun, we fool around always, but when it comes time to train, we battle. It’s a great deal of pride we carry into that cage,” DeBlass stated. “It’s us in there together. I want to fight hard for my team.”

With a perfect record thus far in MMA, DeBlass is carrying that flag proudly and he will look to do so again in his next fight in February. If all goes well, then it might be time for DeBlass to make his next move, something his teacher did, and his teacher did before him.

“As long as I’m fighting, my goal is to be the best in the world. Anything I do, I want to be the best in the world,” DeBlass said.

“Right now, the goal is to get in the UFC. I think I’m improving at a fast rate with the help of my coaches, Mark Henry, Professor Ricardo, and I’m a man on a mission right now.”

Follow @DamonMartin on Twitter or e-mail Damon Martin.
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