Incirlik Airman lives to fight, fights to live

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Raymond Hoy
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Whether he's working on computer hard drives, or punching somebody in the face, Staff Sgt. Michael Limiac is meticulous in his work. 

The 39th Medical Support Squadron medical information systems technician spends much of his day tediously working on computer hardware and software. The gloves have to come off in a job requiring dexterity, attention to detail and constant vigilance to ensure everything works as it is supposed to. After work, the gloves go back on while he grapples with his mixed-martial-arts opponents. 

Mixed martial arts, quickly becoming one of the fastest growing sports in America, is exactly what it sounds like; a mixture of various martial arts disciplines including jujitsu, karate, boxing and wrestling. Limiac, the son of a retired Air Force master sergeant, began MMA when he was about 6 years old while his father was stationed at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. His art at that time was more imitation than real form and substance. 

"When I was young I watched a lot of Bruce Lee and Jet Li movies," he said. "I started by just imitating their moves." 

From there Limiac began to take the sport more serious; eventually blossoming into a full-fledged passion that followed him into his Air Force career. The real draw of MMA came after a kickboxing school he attended while stationed at Fairchild AFB, Wash., his first duty station, incorporated more MMA styles in their training. 

Sergeant Limiac continued to pursue his MMA passion no matter where he was stationed; eventually bringing others into the fold. While deployed to Ali Al Salem AB, Kuwait, he started a training group with other servicemembers; eventually starting another training group when stationed at Kunsan AB, Korea. 

He then put the skills he'd been building to the test. While stationed at Andersen AFB, the birthplace of his martial arts love, he competed in MMA as a professional. He finished his tour there with a record of three wins and four losses. 

His time training with his fellow Airmen allowed Limiac to train against people a bit bigger than he is. And at just 155 pounds, the ground game is the key to his success when facing larger opponents. 

"MMA is as much about strategy as anything else," he said. "I will usually fight from the bottom against a larger opponent. This lulls them into a false sense of security. From there, I can force them into a hold and put them to sleep. 

"MMA is like chess, for every move there is a counter move," he added. 

That strategy is what helps him in practice rounds against Staff Sgt. Roberto Cruz, a 39th Comptroller Squadron budget analyst and grappler who is nearly a third larger than Limiac. He is one of more than 20 Incirlik Airmen who have answered Limiac's call to improve their skills and get a great workout. 

"Mike [Limiac] pulled me in about six months ago," Cruz said. "The people these sessions attract are generally in the same boat I am; looking for a place to blow off some steam and take it out on someone." 

However, Limiac's involvement keeps the environment focused on the task at hand: take what you've learned and teach it to others. 

"He really teaches us a lot and keeps it organized," Cruz explained. "He keeps it in a format that helps at any skill-level; male or female. We usually roll for about two hours, wear ourselves out and go home having learned some new skill we can use during the next session." 

Ultimately, Limiac uses these workout sessions to promote something he loves and feels could be a valuable asset to anyone willing to learn. 

"My intentions were to create a true fit-to-fight lifestyle," Limiac said. "I feel everyone should have at least a minimal knowledge of hand-to-hand combat. The Army and Marines both incorporate this training in their combative training, and I think it's something the Air Force should look into. 

"In my years in the Air Force, all we've been doing is prepping for the PT test," he added. "I think we should be preparing to stay fit to fight with a warrior mindset. I started training in MMA because it's a well-rounded sport where physical and mental toughness are used to overcome any situation. Every Airman should have that ability while on the battlefield.

"Who knows," he said. "Maybe in a few years the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines will all be on the same page when it comes to hand-to-hand combat. Then we could hold a friendly inter-service competition every year. Now that would be awesome!"

The future plans of the military notwithstanding, Staff Sgt. Michael Limiac will continue to push himself and others. MMA, along with the Air Force, is a passion that has driven his life since he first copied Bruce Lee's signature jump kick in his backyard on Guam.

"It will always be part of my life," he said. "I've always lived by the motto: Live to fight, fight to live."

NOTE: Anyone interested in learning, or furthering their ability in, MMA can drop by the Fitness Center Aerobics Room every Tuesday, Friday or Sunday at 7 p.m. For more information, contact Staff Sgt. Michael Limiac at 676-1149.