Carmel Valley native and Gracie Barra studio owner finds his life’s passion in martial art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Mark Bursztyn

By Karen Billing
Staff Writer

The martial art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu forever changed Mark Bursztyn’s life, now he’s doing what he can to give back to the community he grew up in and share the art form that promotes self-improvement, control and the ability to protect yourself.

Bursztyn, who is known to all in the martial arts community as “Doze,” opened his Gracie Barra studio in Sorrento Valley in July 2010.

Gracie Barra, founded by Carlos Gracie Jr., is one of the largest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu associations with over 150 schools worldwide and local locations in Encinitas, Carlsbad and Linda Vista. At age 23, Doze is the youngest owner of a Gracie Barra school.

“Owning this school has taught me so many things about myself and it’s still kind of fake to me that I own this business and have all these responsibilities,” Doze said. “My biggest responsibility is for the kids and for all my students to view me as a mentor.”

Born and raised in Del Mar and Carmel Valley, Doze was part of the first graduating class of Ashley Falls School and attended Carmel Valley Middle School and Torrey Pines High School, class of 2005.

He wasn’t always as driven and focused as he is today; during and after high school he struggled to find the right path. It wasn’t until he met Coach Rafael Ramos and started training in Jiu-Jitsu that he was able to change his life.

“I was pretty lost,” Doze said. “It helped transform me from an unhealthy, negative lifestyle to a positive lifestyle.”

Five years ago at age 19, Doze cleaned up his diet, gave up the party scene that had taken a tragic toll on numerous classmates and became committed to his training.

Doze had never liked team sports so the independence of martial arts appealed to him—“It’s up to you how far you want to go with it,” he said.

He decided to take it pretty far, training to achieve his brown belt and eventually began teaching at Gracie Barra Encinitas. He also started competing in 2009. At the Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships in Long Beach last year, Doze was among the top 20 in the world.

Doze likes to think of Jiu-Jitsu as a physical art rather than a martial art. There is no striking, everything in the art is designed to control your opponent using body weight and joint manipulations. By learning the grappling techniques, students can learn how to control a person much larger than them.

“It’s such a great art for kids to learn because bullying is such a huge epidemic right now,” said Doze, who wants kids to know they have a right to defend themselves.

With Jui-Jitsu, students are learning to defend themselves by controlling not just their opponent but also the situation.

“You’re defending yourself without hurting anybody. It feels terrible to be in a fight, terrible to lose a fight and terrible to feel like you hurt someone else,” Doze said.

He described how one bullied student was able to use a Jiu-Jitsu position to hold down a kid who was harassing him until adults were able to arrive.

In class, students work on coordination, strength, balance and Jiu-Jitsu movements, techniques and submissions.
“It’s a 45-minute class that would wear some adults out,” Doze said.

Kids ages 4-6 aren’t taught submissions but are still getting a great workout. Doze said he loves teaching the kids and while he has other coaches at the school, he tries to get his administrative work done at other times just so he can be out on the mats.

Students of all ages are learning self-confidence, discipline and responsibility at Gracie Barra.
“I just want the school to be a place that no matter who you are you can come here and have a great, positive experience,” said Doze, not wanting any young people to learn the hard way like he did. “I wish I had a place like this when I was in high school.”

It’s indescribable for Doze to think of how far he has come, although the word “euphoric” does come to mind.

He works very hard—in addition to running the school he is still training in mat sessions, lifting weights, maintaining an extremely healthy diet (“ I have no cheat days”) and aiming to become a world champion.

Doze said he likes to lead by example and if he’s telling his students to make good choices he wants to show them how he is, too. While some martial artists may only get into top shape when they have a competition coming up, Doze likes to always be in fighting form.

“There’s no yo-yoing going on,” said Doze, before adding like a sage before his years. “Excellence is a repetitive motion.”

Class schedules for Gracie Barra can be found at The studio is located at 11211 Sorrento Valley Road, suite W. For more information, call (858) 633-8054.

Related posts:

  1. Martial arts studio emphasizes discipline without violence
  2. Artist finds niche market in mixed martial arts
  3. Carmel Valley native named Rhodes Scholar
  4. Carmel Valley trainer helps make ‘fitness fun for life’
  5. Carmel Valley man finds calling with Miracle League of San Diego

Short URL:

Posted by Lorine Wright on Jun 24, 2011. Filed under Carmel Valley, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply



Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6