Sports & Recreation

Bambusa MMA instructor Ty Upshur, students Lakota, Shaylee, Aubri, Morning Star, and Ty Scabby wrap up a class and show their medals that they received in Jiu-Jitsu competitions.

Community Members Find Fitness with Jiu-Jitsu and MMA Training

By Tasha Silverhorn

Au-Authm Action News

In June 2010, Bambusa MMA opened on Mesa Drive and Brown Road in Mesa.The studio promotes family fitness through classes in the martial arts jiu-jitsu and karate, as well as mixed martial arts cardio and strength training. Members of the Scabby family from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community have been regulars at Bambusa MMA since August 2010, and they now consider the studio and its certified instructors part of their family.

Robert “Bobby” Scabby first heard from a friend about “this new place opening up nearby,” just a few blocks from Lehi, that was inexpensive and a great place to get into shape. Scabby and his son started attending jiu-jitsu classes at Bambusa MMA, while Scabby’s wife Andie started attending their women’s workout classes.

Soon the word got out, and Scabby’s siblings, nieces and nephews, cousins and friends started going to classes at Bambusa MMA.

“It definitely keeps us conscious of what we eat, and it has gotten us in shape,” said Andie Scabby about how her children have benefited from the children’s jiu-jitsu classes. “Lakota (their son) lost eight pounds and put on muscle.” It has kept their entire family in shape, including their daughter Morning Star.

In fact, six Scabby children participated in the third Arizona Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Kids Cup on Saturday, April 23 at Westwood High School. Three of them, Lakota, Shaylee and Ty, placed third in their weight divisions.

“[Jiu-jitsu] keeps me in shape. There are a lot of things to do and to learn,” said Lakota Scabby, 11. “If someone tries to bother you, you would know what to do to defend yourself. I’m glad I’m doing it.” Dakota’s favorite moves are arm locks called Americana and Kimura.

Shaylee Scabby, 10, likes taking the class just as well as her cousins. “We would rather be at class than bored at home,” she explained. Her favorite moves are arm bars, chokes and the Americana arm lock.

Since it opened last year, Bambusa MMA has seen attendance grow. “The theory behind Bambusa MMA is we are like the strongest plant out there that works in groups and bunches; we work together as family and grow together,” said Ty Upshur, a champion Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner and former cage fighter who is an instructor at Bambusa MMA.

“We continue to get more Native Americans coming in and seeing what we’re all about,” Upshur said. “It’s a very safe place; there are a lot of police and firefighters [who work out here]. There are a lot of role models for the children to look up to.”

Participants in both the children’s and adult programs are placing and winning medals in jiu-jitsu competitions. “We’re getting amazing results with the women, getting them in shape. It’s just old traditional hard work and martial arts,” Upshur explained.

“It has gotten us in shape, and it has broken up the monotony of being at home and just watching TV,” said Bobby’s older brother Gabe Scabby about what he and his children have gained from taking classes at Bambusa MMA. “Now we have really good discipline, we learn and we are keeping in shape through conditioning. It’s a great place for those who are bored with their workout routines.”

Bambusa MMA offers a one-week free trial to new customers. For more information, call (480) 464-5595 or visit

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