Jason Thompson, 2nd Space Warning Squadron, is a mixed martial artist who trains in both striking and grappling. Thompson is scheduled to fight in an event during the Buckley Air Force Base Fight Night Feb. 9, 2013 at the base fitness center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rau/Released)
Rick “The Reach” Van Seters, 460th Space Communications Squadron, spars with mixed martial arts instructor Alan Muriera from the Buckley Health and Wellness Center, Feb. 6, 2013, in preparation for his upcoming bout during the Buckley Air Force Base Fight Night Feb. 9, 2013 at the base fitness center. Team Buckley is hosting at least seven fights as part of the first mixed martial arts event on base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rau/Released)
by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rau
460th Space Wing Public Affairs
2/8/2013 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Two Airmen are about to break Article 114, Dueling, of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but neither of them are going to lose a stripe.
Jason Thompson and Rick "The Reach" Van Seters are scheduled to fight in separate events Feb. 9 during Buckley's Mixed Martial Arts Fight Night at the base fitness center.
Airman 1st Class Thompson is with the 2nd Space Warning Squadron, while Airman Van Seters is with the 460th Space Communications Squadron.
Both of these fighters share the same basic reason for starting in mixed martial arts -- the challenge.
"It has to be the challenge," recalled Thompson on why he got started in MMA. "It is the ultimate test of self -- the ultimate competition between you and another person."
Van Seters also developed into an MMA fighter when he needed something more intense in his life, he said. He had been kickboxing for seven years, but stepped it up to Mauy Thai last year.
Regardless of why they started, both Airmen train rigorously every day as part of their fighter lifestyle.
"I do a lot of training," said Thompson, "but my primary focus right now is on grappling. I do CrossFit exercises, swimming, running, isometrics -- anything to shock my body into a good as shape as I can."
All of this physical training isn't enough for Thompson; he believes that taking care of his body is just as important, he said.
"It's a daily regimen. I wake up, eat my oatmeal, my eggs whites, my grapefruit, and take my vitamins," he said. "For me, nutrition is huge. I take it more seriously than other people I met because I need that edge. I don't have the genetics that a lot of these other people do, so I have to be very careful and conscious of what I consume."
For the 6-foot-4-inch tall Van Seters, cardiovascular training plays a core role in his fight preparation.
"I do a lot of running and biking. In a usual workout, I will do a three-mile run and about a 10-mile bike ride," Van Seters stated. "Most fights end up with one guy getting tired, his arms drop, and he gets knocked out. Somebody might have better technique than me, but if I can outlast them and throw more stuff, they are going to get winded and fall."
While MMA does include blood and knockouts, it also teaches core values to those willing to learn, according to both fighters.
"It has made me more disciplined and a good worker," Thompson said. "I pride myself on my work ethic and being the best in all areas of my life, and I think MMA has made this a habit in my life."
"The Reach" echoed this sentiment about how MMA has improved his performance as an Airman.
"It drives you to do your job better," said Van Seters, "because you kind of have to win at everything you do. You start winning in fights, and you kind of have to win as an Airman, too."
MMA doesn't just teach you how to fight, it also instills work ethic and humility, Thompson said. Not only that, but its values transfer well into the ever-changing environment that is military service.
"You learn to embrace challenges and get comfortable with being uncomfortable," Thompson explained. "You put yourself in situations where you are forced to overcome fear."
Van Seters also believes MMA teaches the most basic lesson in the cage that every Airmen serving lives every day, he added. "Failure is just not an option out there."