The warrior’s way

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Nick Wilson
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
(Editor's note: This is part one of a three-part series about Armed Forces members involved with mixed martial arts)

By day, he's on the flightline turning wrenches on B-2 Spirits, enabling them to maneuver in and out of enemy territory unnoticed when called upon by her leaders. By night, he's on the grindstone prepping for his next fight in the octagon.

Senior Airman Steven Dickerson, 509th Maintenance Squadron low observable structural maintenance technician, is currently training as a mixed martial arts fighter and is protecting an undefeated record.

Dickerson said fighting helps take his mind off Whiteman's rigorous operations tempo after duty hours.

"Once I walk out of those flightline gates, knowing that I have training excites me," Dickerson said. "The anticipation of competition is a stress reliever for me."

In addition to relieving stress, the training also keeps Dickerson concentrated on his current priorities, which include becoming a well-rounded Airman and fighter.

"MMA helps me a lot with staying focused on the ultimate goal," Dickerson said. "The stressors and baby steps you go through to get to that goal can be ignored once you learn to stay focused."

Dickerson said MMA also gives him the positive mentality that is needed to stay focused on the task at hand, whether he is completing maintenance objectives in a timely manner or making someone tap out on the mat.

"Martial arts teaches a lot of discipline," Dickerson said. "The ability to control aggression and put it toward something positive is a great mindset. You can take that extra adrenaline rush you got from someone setting you off and use it to do a better job and make yourself a better fighter."

Not only is aggression control needed to be successful in the octagon, but it is also needed to be successful in the Air Force.

"The same traits that would make him a great mixed martial artist are the same traits that are needed in the military to make him a great Airman," said Billy Matheny, Warrior Jiu-Jitsu MMA trainer.

Matheny is a trainer at Warrior Jiu-Jitsu in Warrensburg, Mo.

Matheny said self-control, confidence, discipline and self-respect are needed to be successful throughout all facets of both the military and mixed martial arts world.

"We aren't going to win wars because we are great combat fighters," Matheny said. "We're going to win wars because we have what it takes to be great combat fighters."

Dickerson said that with the right mindset he can do anything, regardless of how difficult the task may be.

"Self-motivation is a key for me," Dickerson said. "If you don't believe in yourself, you don't have anything."

Dickerson said his jiu-jitsu classmates also play a part in keeping him motivated during practices and matches.

"My fight team is definitely a family," Dickerson said. "Along with beating each other up in the cage, we also hang out together. It's like being around a bunch of brothers and sisters."

Dickerson said he enjoys the challenge of pushing himself to reach a goal. As a competitive person, he is always working to take his game to the next level.

"I've been watching Steven very closely during sparring sessions and I've noticed that he is very dedicated to training," said Matheny. "He has been picking up on the techniques very quickly. His heart and mind are in it throughout each session."