FORT HOOD — Tashianna Wilkerson’s intensity increases as her husband gives and receives kicks and jabs inside an Ultimate Fighting Championship-style fighting cage.
Wilkerson knows the damage a combatives fight can do to a person’s body, but despite her worries she’s supportive of her husband, Staff. Sgt. Brad Wilkerson, a member of Fort Hood’s combatives team.
“I get so intense. It’s like, ‘Please don’t hit him.’ You just don’t want anything to happen to him,” she said. “But I know he can take it. He’s a strong man.”
Her husband competed Saturday in the 2013 III Corps and Fort Hood Combatives finals at Abrams Physical Fitness Center at Fort Hood. He lost in the first round of the middleweight class after the referee stopped the fight.
Chris Hill’s husband, Col. David C. Hill, 36th Engineer Brigade commander, participated in an exhibition fight of commanders and command sergeants major from different units, which kicked off the finals.
“They’re setting an example that the leaders are willing to do what they ask their soldiers to do,” said Hill as she watched her husband fight combatives-style for the first time. “It’s good for the morale of the soldiers to see their leaders go out and take part in some of these activities.”
Mayra Bruner’s husband, Sgt. James Mitchell Bruner, is an instructor at the combatives fight house.
“It (can) take a bit more to coach and teach than it does to fight,” she said. She likes to do whatever she can — from cooking him chicken and steamed vegetables to making him protein shakes — to keep him in shape for instructing and fighting.
Although worry surfaces when she sees other fighters injured, she’s seen her husband fight often and knows what he’s capable of and what his limits are.
“If he pushes that limit, I get worried, but otherwise I know he’ll be OK,” she said.
Wilkerson is proud of her husband, and although watching him fight can be stressful at times, she does what she can to support him, such as preparing a hot epsom salt bath, giving him a rub down, helping him stretch, cooking him grilled chicken and making sure he stays hydrated.
“I would rather him stay in boxing, (which he has done his whole life),” she said. “But, it’s what he loves to do and I love to watch him. I get excited when he wins the round.”