Mark Doze and son Ryder: Getting a kick out of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Sports strengthen bond between father and son
WELL-BEING - Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit (The Philippine Star) - June 12, 2017 - 4:00pm

Father and son tandems are at the heart of sports. From the legends, like Earl and Tiger Woods or Doc and Austin Rivers, to the countless number of everyday families who bond over playing and watching sports, it just goes together.

One such pair that was brought closer together by their love for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is Mark Doze and his six-year-old son Ryder.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Mark Doze is a long way from home. Last year, he and his family broke out of their comfort zone and left the United States for the first time to move to Thailand where Mark taught BJJ.  However, things didn’t work out and, with the encouragement of his friend, fighter AJ Matthews, he decided to move his family once more — this time to Manila. 

Despite the many changes that his life has gone through over the past few years, one thing is clear. Mark’s two loves of his life are his family and his sport, and the two complement each other perfectly. 

The sport of BJJ has brought Mark and Ryder closer than ever. It’s father-and-son bonding unlike anything else. The advice and friendship shared here last a lifetime. Through sports, fathers can instill values, such as hard work and integrity, in their sons that they will never forget.   

How did your passion for BJJ lead you to Manila?

MARK DOZE: When I realized that things in Thailand weren’t working out for us, I reached out to everyone I knew and asked if anyone was looking for a black belter. We didn’t want to go back to our life in California. I was ready to help out anybody in the world. Fortunately, I was training with “Razor” Rob McCullough. At the time, he was beating dudes unconscious in the WBC, where he was lightweight champion. When I told him my dilemma, he informed me about UFC GYM and its expansion to other countries outside the USA. One of the cities he mentioned was Manila. 

Why is BJJ ideal for kids?

I’ve been teaching kids for almost as long as I’ve been teaching adults in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. One thing that I’ve found is that before you even start, you have to go into the minds of the children and let them know that this is a situation where you’re being made out to be the victim. But in our training, they’ll learn that they are no longer the victims. Being a victim is a choice. First, you start with the mentality of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu that no matter how small, how weak, or no matter what situation you’re in, you can intelligently defend yourself. So, for kids, the philosophy and the thinking behind it that has come through the study of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is a huge switch for the kids.

What lesson from your dad do you want to pass on to your son?

Just one? There are so many. His parents were immigrants from Poland and Russia and then to Israel running away from the Nazis. My grandparents were holocaust survivors and my father was born in Israel. My dad was in the Israeli army and was very poor. I definitely grew up with the work ethic. He came to the US with $300 and then I grew up in what was valued as a million-dollar house. So, this is a dude who put his mind to something and did it. If you dream it, then you can do it. If you believe anything’s possible, then it is. He worked every day and I barely saw him as a kid. He worked 20-hour days and worked really far away.

Besides all that, the greatest thing I ever got from him that I can impart to my son is the understanding that love is the only reason why we’re here. That experience of loving what you do every day, loving the people that you’re with, loving the hard times, loving the good times, and loving the fact that you get to feel down because you get to feel up. And that was something he really stressed to me while he was slowly being killed by his treatments. It’s cliché, but love really does conquer all. I think that’s the greatest thing I got from him.

Earl and Tiger Woods: Tee for two.

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