Tom McMahon

BJJ Fighter Tom McMahon

Tom McMahon: That Guy with Glasses

Thomas McMahon looks like your high school science teacher - receding hairline and glasses – if your high school science teacher also happened to be built like an M1 Abrams tank. McMahon has been involved with the martial arts on a consistent basis since the age of five. He started out taking Tae Kwon Do and earned a black belt by the time most kids are starting high school. However, shortly after he made his belt, he got into a fight and when it went to the ground, he didn’t have a way to retaliate or defend himself. After this experience, he went searching for a style that is as effective on the mat as it is on the sidewalk. He tried many styles including Aikido, Aikido, and Ninjutsu, but nothing clicked until he saw Royce Gracie in the first UFC.

Learning Curve

Tom progressed very quickly in his early stages once he began studying BJJ in 2006 under Pedro Carvalho and Emilio Santmarin, rising quickly through the white through purple belts. He even made brown belt faster than any student in the history of the school. This was largely due to his previous experience in multiple martial arts, but also in his athletic lifestyle, and his dedication to training as much a six times per week. However, he admits that there was a time after college when he blew off doing the martial arts, concentrating instead on his career. He says though, that martial arts will always be a part of since he has been practicing for so long. In 2012, he relocated to Minneapolis and joined Alliance Team under Damian Hirtz and just two years later – in 2014 – he was awarded his black belt.

Some of Tom’s career highlights include:

  • World Champion 2009 in weight class – adult purple belt 
  • Pan-American 2nd Place for 2009 in weight class – adult purple belt 
  • Pan-American champion for 2010 - adult purple belt 
  • Masters Worlds second place for 2012 - open brown belt
  • Masters Worlds champion for 2012
  • #1 Ranked Masters brown belt for 2012 and 2013
  • Masters Worlds champion for 2013 in weight and open brown belt
  • World Pro champion for 2015
  • New York open champion for 2015
  • Pan-American bronze medalist

His career includes over 125 bouts and 50 medals to his credit.

Rise Again BJJ

Coming to competitive BJJ as an adult means striking some tricky balances between BJJ life, work life, and family life. However, Tom seems to have mastered this successfully. In 2015, Tom founded Rise Again BJJ, with the tagline “Just get up more times then you fall down.” Though he still holds down a career as a logistics manager for Target, he takes time to compete five or six times a year. His persistence and dedication are inspiring to anyone who has ever tried to balance doing what they love with doing what they must. Expect many more successful matches from the guy who looks like someone’s high school science teacher – and expect him to win.