In his youth, Joe Tate watched a video of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), presented by the largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion company in the world, and he was fascinated with it. He really enjoyed the art of the fighting style and wanted to try it.
“When I was old enough to move to the city, I started to look into training, and years later I finally found a gym with everything in it,” said Tate, who comes from the Gila River Indian Community and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.
He has been training for two years, currently at Power MMA and Fitness in Gilbert. During that time Tate has become a much healthier person. “I have lost 140 pounds,” he said.
One of the main classes Tate has been taking is Brazilian jiu-jitsu, which is a martial art and combat sport that focuses on grappling. “I also do some boxing, which is my next specialization, as well as muay Thai,” said Tate. Muay Thai is a martial art combat sport from Thailand.
Tate works out for three hours every day at Power MMA and Fitness. He is very proud of where he comes from, and on his gi (the outfit he wears while fighting) are patches for his communities: the Man in the Maze and a Piipaash warrior shield design.
“I see a few [other] Natives come out here to the gym, and when I do I always go and encourage them to keep coming,” said Tate.
Tate worked in law enforcement before moving back to the Community and working as a teacher’s aide for the last year at the Early Childhood Education Center. “I always loved working with children,” he said. About getting fit and becoming a martial arts fighter, he said, “I look at it as influencing people from the Community who have become diabetic or unhealthy to want to live a healthy lifestyle.” His motivation is to continue being healthy and being a positive role model.
He likes it when he is able to set a goal, work toward it and finally meet that challenge. He said, “At first it feels like you really push yourself, then you feel like giving up, and then you start telling yourself that you cannot do it. But you continue, and you try harder. When I am done, I feel I have accomplished something.”
He said that the sense of continuing what he is doing comes from his heart. “It feels difficult sometimes, but I don’t give up.”
Tate is currently undefeated in the state in the ultra-heavyweight division for jiu-jitsu. At the end of this month, he will compete again at the Arizona Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu State Championship, to be held at Westwood High School in Mesa, June 29-30.
“I want people to come out and try this sport, and I am going to keep on winning and be an example. My ultimate goal is to make it to the world championship this year in Brazil and create a team from the Community,” said Tate. “I want to become the first Native American World Champion.”
Tate would like to thank his coaches, who have been helping him through his journey. “My grappling/jiu-jitsu coach is Andre Maracaba and my boxing coach is José Benavidez Sr.”
His favorite fighter is Ryan Bader, who is one of the owners of Power MMA and Fitness and ranked the No. 6 light heavyweight in the world.