The confidence to ‘knock out’ emergency actions

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Danielle Quilla
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing public affairs
In the blink of an eye, an amateur mixed martial artist felt the impact of the opponent's fist on her jaw. It was the hardest hit she had ever taken, but it wasn't enough to bring her down. Although this was only her second MMA fight, the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu-based fighter had come a long way in the six months she had been training.

Ever since a friend introduced her to the sport in April 2015, MMA has become a big part of life for Senior Airman Cierra Shelrud, 6th Air Mobility Wing Command Post emergency actions controller, and it has helped her gain more confidence in her abilities as a fighter and as an Airman.

"You learn a lot about yourself when you are inside the cage," said the 26-year-old from Cape Coral, Florida.

Before joining in the Air Force in 2012, Shelrud worked as a certified nursing assistant and never thought she would be able to take a punch.

Now in her second fight on Oct. 17, 2015, she found herself holding her own against a fighter who she thought had more experience.

"When she got me perfectly on my jaw, the only thing I was thinking was I was done, but I snapped back to it and got back on her," she explain. "You really learn what you can and cannot do."

Like MMA, where every fighter has a different style, anything can happen during a shift at the command post. Since it is her role to act as the eyes and ears of the wing commander and serve as the focal point of operations, it is important for Shelrud to correctly assess and react to different situations as they happen.

"You just have to believe in the system, know that it works, and go with your instinct," she said when asked about being an EA controller. "Jiu Jitsu and MMA have given me the extra confidence to know I am making the right decision."

With the experience she has gained from her recent fight, Shelrud plans on working on her take-downs and striking to be better prepared for her next fight.

"I didn't think I would be able to do any of this," she said. "When you get yourself in a tough situation, just know that you can do it, don't quit."