By Brenda L. Holmes
PLAINFIELD — Kenny Bigbee’s students cannot stop talking about how much they’re learning at Dragonfly Mixed Martial Arts Academy in Plainfield.
“I am so grateful to Kenny for working with me,” said Tracey Ramey, a student at Dragonfly. “I am doing things now that I didn’t think I could do. I love being a strong person physically and mentally.”
Ramey is just one of Bigbee’s students that sing his praises.
Plainfield High School graduate and stand-out athlete Dustin Parrish has been studying under Bigbee for nearly three years.
“I started late in my junior year,” Parrish said. “I just finished my freshman year of college at University of Indianapolis. I lived over there but came back to Plainfield four days a week to be here. That’s how much I like it. I’ve been to places where it is just fighting. Here, you have a nice balance between the fighting and the families.”
Jay Montgomery offered a testimony about his time at Dragonfly.
“Since my family and I started at Dragonfly strength and conditioning, I’ve gone from 210 pounds to 175 pounds — a 38-inch waist to wearing my son’s 32-inch waist shorts.”
He said he enjoys working out with his son and wife in the family-friendly atmosphere.
“It’s given us all another venue to spend time together and bring us closer,” Montgomery said. “I am most proud of my son and all of the improvements he’s made, not only physically, but also the improvements he’s made in focus and ability to pay attention.”
Bigbee said his Dragonfly family is growing and he’s enjoying every minute of it.
“We came here in 2010,” he said. “So we’ve been here almost three years at this location. Before that, we were in a dance studio. We had a space in Avon beginning in 2007.”
He said his philosophy on mixed martial arts is to empower people with confidence, fitness, and personal protection.
“The root of marital arts is to set goals and achieve them,” Bigbee said. “Then you set another goal.”
Dragonfly Mixed Martial Arts Academy offers programming for children as young as 3.
“For children, we have a general coordination and the conceptual thinking of martial arts,” he said.
As children work through the program, they have work to do at home as well as at school. They earn patches as they complete different levels of skill.
“There are character skills they learn,” Bigbee explained. “They learn to control an opponent and then to finish a situation. With more knowledge comes more responsibility.”
Adult classes begin with strength and conditioning.
“We do a lot of back work,” Bigbee said. “It’s never boring. We change things up every week. We change things up so keep the body shocked. Our classes are full of motivation.”
The academy offers a $20 kick start package. In the package, individuals will be able to take three classes and get a free pair of gloves or T-shirt.
“They also get a nutrition consultation and membership consultation,” he said. “We also have boot camp going on in July,” Bigbee said.
Instructor Matt Balmer offers the nutritional consultation and instruction. Also instructing children is Zeke Garcia and Jim Randall. Randall also helps with adults.
Natasha Walker teaches yoga, pilates, and Zumba. Rosmarie Bigbee, Kenny’s mother, also helps teach fitness, and does nutritional consultations.
Martial arts has been a part of Bigbee’s life since he was very young.
“I was a Navy Seal and have been doing martial arts since I was 4,” he said. “My father was a Guardian Angel.”
The Guardian Angels begin in 1979 in New York City. They trained residents to make citizen’s arrests in violent crimes in their own neighborhoods.
“They came to Indianapolis and trained people here,” Bigbee said. “So I grew up seeing my dad going out at night and coming back with bumps and bruises because he was helping people.”
His father, Kenneth Bigbee Sr., got him involved in martial arts at a young age.
“My dad would use martial arts to help people who were victims of crimes,” he said. “And of course I wanted to be just like my dad. I loved my father so much.”
Bigbee studied martial arts and joined the U.S. Navy. He was a Navy Seal from 1999 to 2004.
“I was the 32nd African American to be a Navy Seal,” he said. “I came back to the area after the military.”
He studied muay thai under Ian Ransburg. Ransburg studied under former world muay thai world champion Matee “Dragon Leg” Jedeepitak. He also studied Brazilian jiu jitsu with Ricardo De La Riva who is a black belt. De La Riva studied under Marcello Monteiro who is a third level black belt.
In 2004, he started teaching Brazilian jiu jitsu, muay thai, and kick boxing. When that facility had to change directions, Bigbee moved his students to a dance studio in Plainfield, and then later opened the studio he now occupies on Main Street.
“When we transitioned here, we did it with no heat,” he said. “I was so proud of my students. The people here in Plainfield have been phenomenal.”
Bigbee, who lives above the studio, works at night as a security officer for the federal buildings in Indianapolis.
“We work under the Federal Protective Service, which is under Homeland Security,” he said.
The academy is at 122 W. Main St., in the Plainfield Town Center. Parking is in the rear of the building.
For more information about Dragonfly Mixed Martial Arts Academy, call (877) 889-KICK (5485), visit the website at www.dragonflymma.com, or search YouTube for “Dragonfly MMA.”