Mark Wegener A Successful Physical Therapist Encouraged By Jiu-Jitsu
Have you seen Mark out on the mats at GB Dana Point? When you first see Mark you notice that he is a purple belt. If you get to know him more, you will not only realize that he is part of our Gracie Barra family but that he is a successful Physical Therapist. Mark is one of a kind. Along with practicing Jiu-Jitsu for three and a half years he bases his life on healing people with his hands through physical therapy.
Mark owns his own Physical Therapy Wellness Center called Balance Rehabilitation located in Mission Viejo, Ca. He recently, doubled the size of his location after being encouraged in Jiu-Jitsu class to learn from our fears. Mark took the risk and opened a bigger Physical Therapy location and it has been a huge success! We got a chance to get an exclusive interview with Mark.
1. How Old are You? I am 41 years old born October 25, 1971.
2. What is your professional background? I am a Physical Therapist and small business owner. I Have a Doctorate degree in Physical Therapy and am a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. I have had my Physical Therapy practice for 10 years this month.
3. How did you find Gracie Barra Dana Point? Walking with my wife in Dana Point and the school happened to open next to where I was living.
4. How did u become a physiotherapist? What drives you on your profession? I went from high school into two years working construction. At that point, I decided it was time to get an education. I became a criminal justice major and received a two year degree while working at Juvenile Hall in San Diego. At this time (1991), I started to study martial arts under Sensei Thomas Snowden in San Diego. I studied Karate, Aikido, and Traditional Jiu-Jitsu. He had been involved in the Special Forces, was a Medic in the military, and was on the SWAT team in San Diego and taught a form of mixed martial arts before it was popular. He felt that if you learned how to hurt people you should know how to help them. I was intrigued with the notion of helping someone heal with my hands and this started the long process of changing my major in college and becoming a physical therapist. In short, martial arts lead me to become a physical therapist.
5. At what point in your career, you decided to become an entrepreneur and open you own clinic? I graduated from Physical Therapy school in 1999 knowing that I would like to open my own practice at some point. I am a musician and I like to create. My driving force to open my own practice came from the desire to make a vision become a reality, to create. I opened my practice in 2003, ten years ago this month.
6. For how long have you been practicing Jiu-Jitsu? I have been practicing Jiu-Jitsu for 3 ½ years now.
7. Why did you decide to start training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? I have always enjoyed Martial Arts. Going back to my prior Martial Arts experience, I stopped after about 6 years when I went to physical therapy school. I tried other systems and schools over the course of the next 10 tears but never found a good fit. In the early 90s when the first UFC fights were happening we couldn’t believe what we were seeing. The Jiu-Jitsu I studied was nothing like what the Gracie family brought to the table. It never left my mind and when I saw the School, I went in that day and signed myself and my son Austin up. He was 7 at the time and continues to train.
8. What is your rank? Purple Belt with 2 stripes.
9. Did you learn anything in Jiu-Jitsu or Gracie Barra that have helped you as an entrepreneur? Honestly I learn as much about being and entrepreneur and myself in Jiu-Jitsu as I do about technique and “fighting”. Professor Flavio has a unique insight into the mind and what drives people’s actions, inactions, and decisions. I know that he is sharing his own struggles, motivations, and the methods that have helped him in his professional and personal life. He manages to communicate this in a way that motivates me and drives me to be better in all that I do.
For example, after training on a Sunday morning, when Professor Flavio was talking about fear and how we should learn from it. I went to the land lord of my building the next day, Monday morning and negotiated a lease change. I moved my practice within the same building from a 2400 square foot space to our new space that is over 5500 square feet. This was six months ago and absolutely a good business decision.
10. Martial Arts is very popular among children but you clearly see benefits for your self, why do you think adults should practice Martial Arts? As a 41 year old man, a father, and a physical therapist I feel that Martial Arts, and specifically Jiu Jitsu is one of the best overall exercises for a person. It trains the entire body. I had a back surgery one year prior to starting with Gracie Barra. Jiu Jitsu has helped me strengthen by back, increase my flexibility, and increase my overall feeling of health.
11. What are some of the lessons you learned on the mats that have made you a better person? No matter how tired you are, No matter how terrible you feel, No matter if you feel there is no way out, if you are still breathing – Never Give Up.
12. If you could start your Jiu-Jitsu journey all over, what would you have done differently? I would have started when I was able to walk or maybe just roll.
13. You work healing injuries, is there a certain attitude that you find to be the best for people who are dealing with an injury? As I write this today was my first day back in six weeks after an injury. The mental part of an injury is as difficult as the physical part. There are some injuries that a person can train with or through. But, there are others that require the appropriate tissue healing and time. When this is the case, it is imperative to find other ways to train your body and exercise. I don’t care what your injury is you can still find ways to push your body and keep your strength, conditioning, and mental focus. Consulting with a physical therapist can also help get you back on the mats quicker.
14. For anyone considering starting studying Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, do you have any words of encouragement or tips? Do It, it will change your life in ways you did not expect. The people and friends that I have met will be with me for the rest of my life. I did not join Gracie Barra to find friends, but now I have another family. In addition, I have trained in other Gracie Schools in different States and when you walk in you are treated like family, amazing!
“I did not join Gracie Barra to find friends, but now I have another family.” – Mark Wegener