Mazi Heydary is a lifelong student of martial arts. Mazi has spent the last 39 years training in various martial arts, including Okinawan Kempo Karate and Tae Kwon Do, and has spent his past 18 years developing his understanding of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. After decades of dedication, Mazi earned his Black Belt from Ultimate Fighting Championship Hall of Fame member Royce Gracie. Mazi currently trains under Royce Gracie, Rodrigo Gracie, and Greg Thompson, Team R.O.C. founder and Royce Gracie Black Belt.
In addition to being the head instructor at the Chapel Hill Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy and owner of Train for Life, Mazi also heads the University of North Carolina’s Jiu-Jitsu Club.
Mazi brings a rare passion for martial arts into his teaching methods. With his technical proficiency and detail-centric instruction, demonstrated through his “lead by example” approach, Mazi can push his students to achievements they never thought possible.
Tim Hufford has been involved in the fitness industry and martial arts for more than 20 years. As a United States Marine, Tim developed a strong sense of self-discipline and motivation. He believes that the path to improvement starts and ends with structure and accountability. His multi-phase approach to training focuses on developing stability, mobility, strength, and explosive power.
In training Jiu Jitsu, Tim takes this structured and multi-phase approach to create complete, well-rounded athletes and practitioners. He strives to create a system that breeds measurable results based on specific goals and milestones. Tim is a brown belt, youth jiu jitsu coach, lead coach of the MMA team, and head of the Chapel Hill Gracie Jiu Jitsu strength and conditioning program. He has been training with Mazi for 8 years and is known for his tireless dedication to the school and the improvement of its students.
Josh is a certified (ACE) personal trainer that has devoted more than 10 years of his life to health, fitness and improving physical lifestyles. His main focus is bringing the structure, accountability and motivational techniques acquired in personal training and incorporating it into the jiu jitsu lifestyle.
A purple belt in the Gracie Jiu Jitsu program and active amateur MMA competitor, Josh has been training with Mazi since 2010. His team mates know him as someone who constantly pushes them to be better physically and improve their jiu jitsu game.
Jeff began training with Mazi in 2006 and has been a dedicated student ever since. He received his brown belt from Royce Gracie in 2016. He teaches the kids and fundamental classes on Saturdays and assists Mazi with other classes. His focus is on fundamental self-defense techniques that use proper leverage to overcome larger, more aggressive assailants.
In 2018 Jeff was promoted to black belt by Royce Gracie after successfully completing a rigorous series of testing to determine if he met the high standards set by the head of our organization.
Outside of the dojo he served as an active duty member of the United States Marine Corps and has been with the Durham County Sheriff's office since 1996. He currently instructs firearms, subject control, and physical training. He was member of the the Sheriff's Emergency Response Team for 15 years and his current rank is Lieutenant.
As a former U.S. Army paratrooper and correctional officer, Carleton has been in or around dynamic physical environments for more than 20 years. He began his journey with Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in 2007 and has been tirelessly seeking to improve himself and his jiu-jitsu ever since. Carleton focuses his training and teaching on realistic techniques that can be used on and off the mat to defend himself in an actual self defense situation.
A father of three young boys who also train jiu-jitsu, Carleton understands that the Gracie Lifestyle can be utilized both on and off the mat. He applies what he can to the everyday aspects of family life, as well as training.
Currently, he is a brown belt under Mazi Heydary.
Mary Holmes began training Jiu-Jitsu in 2008. She was drawn to Jiu-Jitsu for the mental and physical exercise as well as the constant opportunity to test herself.Since then, she has competed in some of the highest-level competitions and won gold in her absolute division in the 2016 master world Jiu-Jitsu tournament four months after earning her brown belt.
In 2018 Mary was awarded her black belt by Royce Gracie after completing a series of rigorous testing to determine if she met the high standards set by the head of our network. Mary was the first home grown female black belt in North Carolina.
Mary currently teaches the Wednesday night women’s class and occasionally leads the no-gi Friday class. She believes in teaching concepts along with techniques so students can apply moves universally and achieve a deeper understanding of the positions.
When she is not training, Mary works as a Family Nurse Practitioner in the Triangle.