Who Is Tom Davey?

Photo used with permission of Tom Davey

Coach Tom Davey has not even reached black belt, but every day he teaches more students than most black belts do in a year.

From his gym in Australia, the BJJ brown belt from Adelaide uses his online resource, The Grappling Academy, to not only break down techniques into simple, bite-sized bits of easily digestible information, but to give BJJ students around the world advice on such topics as dealing with bad egos and getting through those godforsaken blue belt blues.

If you’ve been following the BJJ media for so much as a month, you’ve no doubt seen Tom Davey.

But who exactly is he?

That’s the question the Jiu-Jitsu Times wanted to answer when we caught up with Coach Tom via social media. What we found out is that he is, in many ways, the perfect BJJ coach. He is incredibly passionate about his art, but he is also relaxed and easy to talk to.

He wrestles crocodiles and kangaroos every day, too!

Okay, that last part was a lie.

He was, however, a pleasure to talk to. Check out the interview below to see why.

Jiu-Jitsu Times: First up, can you tell us a little about yourself: where you grew up, what martial arts you’ve studied, and what got you interested in BJJ?

Tom Davey:  I grew up in Adelaide in South Australia. I began martial arts at a Jeet Kune Do academy where (after 1993) my instructor started training with the Machado brothers and Gracies in LA. He would bring back little tricks as we obviously had no BJJ schools back then. It was then that BJJ started taking over my life (in a good way) until I could start formal classes in the gi in 2005. I always kept up my MMA training and received my black belt in MMA under John Will a few years ago as I also teach MMA at my BJJ school. I think I always loved BJJ more, though, as it rewarded the smarter athlete more and, to be honest, it was more fun to me!

JJT: You’re a brown belt in BJJ, right?

TD: Yes that is correct. Under Coral Belt Carlos Machado. John Will (5th degree) is also still a coach of mine to this day, especially my coach “as an instructor”. I am lucky to have awesome coaches supporting my journey.

Posted by Tom Davey on Wednesday, March 15, 2017

JJT: That’s huge! What kind of teacher is Master Carlos? How would you describe his style of instruction?

TD: Master Carlos is the nicest guy on and off the mats. He is a passionate coach but an absolute badass on the mats. I have some footage I am uploading on YouTube soon of him just destroying me as a 54 year old. He is definitely a guy who ‘feels’ his BJJ and really has helped polish my game. My other coach professor John Will is much more of an engineer. So, I have had a great balance as Carlos really transforms your game with little tips and wisdom, but I did have a massive arsenal to polish from my time with John Will.

JJT: Speaking of tips and wisdom, your Youtube channel, The Grappling Academy, seems to be doing really well. Who inspired you to come up with that channel?

TD: Great question! I was sitting with a student and friend of mine, Paul, having coffee. He is a retired investment banker and I said to him, “If I had your net worth, the only thing I would change in my life is that I would try to spread my knowledge further to more students”. I truly am lucky to do what I want with my life and divide it between BJJ and family time and the rest is now history!

Used with permission of Tom Davey.

JJT: So, you basically said, “I got this knowledge. Might as well spread it all over the world”?

TD: Basically yes. I always “over studied” in BJJ as I was used to University level study, so researching and studying BJJ for hours a day has been my life for over a decade now. So, there was a lot of accumulation of knowledge and, even with teaching full time, I felt like I wanted to get more of this knowledge out. I, like everyone, still have so much to learn so I am glad to help play a part in other people’s BJJ lives and hopefully make their journey easier or more fun.

JJT: I remember in a video, you once described BJJ as “just a bunch of play” and “not even real fighting.” I loved the line so much that I included it in a recent article of mine. Did you get any hate mail or angry comments for that line? I can just imagine a bunch of angry jocks screaming at the screen, “Jiu-jitsu is NOT just play! Jiu-jitsu is life!”

TD: That is awesome, I’m honoured you liked the viewpoint! Haha, and yes, I did get about 1 in 20 responses being negative to the idea but hey, each to their own. I personally love BJJ and it is my whole life but I think people tend to take it way too seriously. It already is this crazy kind of primal act so it isn’t necessary to add to that with trying to be a mean/tough guy. We train in our pajamas people!

I personally love BJJ and it is my whole life, but I think people tend to take it way too seriously. It already is this crazy kind of primal act, so it isn’t necessary to add to that with trying to be a mean/tough guy. We train in our pajamas people!

JJT: Right you are! I mentioned on more than one occasion that spats look like my 6-year-old kid’s pajamas.

TD: In a way I was honoured that the occasional ‘hater’ felt the need to comment on it. I wouldn’t waste my time personally but in an odd way I am chuffed that they did. I remember years ago when I first wore spats, I wasn’t wearing underwear underneath because I thought it was like cycling lycra, where you wear nothing underneath. So when we finished gi training and I took off my pants for no-gi, I was like, “This is too weird for me” and now I never wear spats.

JJT: Hahaha! I suppose as long as nothing was visible. Australians have a reputation in the US for being really tough. This is no doubt thanks in part to the “Crocodile Dundee” movies. Do you think that reputation is justified?

TD: Well, I personally wrestle crocs and kangaroos daily, so I think that yes, it is justified. LOL! I think, like all countries, we have a lot of die hard BJJ athletes and in Australia, being the ‘scrappy tough underdog’ is like a cultural hero of sorts.

JJT: Hahaha! Kind of like the cowboy in America. Where do you get most of the ideas for your videos? Are they from student questions, or perhaps things you wrestled with while coming up through the ranks?

Used with permission of Tom Davey.

TD: Those are definitely two sources of video ideas. I also watch a lot of competition footage and try to make videos on areas where I feel the BJJ community as a whole perhaps has a ‘blind spot’. We tend to watch the best competitors and emulate what they do because they are such great competitors. However, sometimes the best competitors don’t have the best technique per se so I try to fill in some blanks some times. My motivation is always to help push BJJ’s evolution as an art.

JJT: Alright, Coach Tom, I think we’re about ready to wrap it up. Any parting words or shout-outs?

TD: I would love to thank my instructors, students, and loyal followers of The Grappling Academy Youtube channel for their support. Thank YOU for your time Chris and keep up the amazing work with Jiu-Jitsu Times! Thanks for having me on! OSS!

JJT: It was our pleasure!

You can check out the latest video from Coach Tom Davey below:






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