Seeklander is the owner of Shooting-Performance LLC, a full-service training company and the American Warrior Society.  He’s is also the co-host of The Best Defense, the Outdoor Channel’s leading firearm instructional show. He’s a multi-championship-winning professional shooter, nationally recognized firearms instructor and holds the highest rank, grandmaster, from the United States Practical Shooting Association. Seeklander is also a lifelong martial artist in the traditional sense, holding a black belt in Okinawan Freestyle Karate. As a firearms trainer and martial artist myself, I was eager to take a course from Seeklander. After the course ended, I had the chance to get a quick interview with Seeklander. I wanted his insights on training, tools, and the need to train unarmed martial arts with weapons training (something I am passionate about the need for). I thought I’d share with you the insights I learned, in Seeklander’s own words.

Mike Seeklander

We all have at least one role model martial artist that we'd love to get to train with. For some, this dream training is strictly hypothetical (sorry, Bruce Lee fans), but other people get the chance to train with their icons at seminars, tournaments, or events like the Martial Arts SuperShow.

Recently, I got the chance to train with someone I greatly admire: Mike Seeklander.

[Mike Seeklander responds to a question at a recent training event.]

Seeklander is the owner of Shooting-Performance LLC, a full-service training company and the American Warrior Society. He's is also the co-host of The Best Defense, the Outdoor Channel's leading firearm instructional show. He's a multi-championship-winning professional shooter, nationally recognized firearms instructor and holds the highest rank, grandmaster, from the United States Practical Shooting Association.

Seeklander is also a lifelong martial artist in the traditional sense, holding a black belt in Okinawan Freestyle Karate. As a firearms trainer and martial artist myself, I was eager to take a course from Seeklander.

After the course ended, I had the chance to get a quick interview with Seeklander. I wanted his insights on training, tools, and the need to train unarmed martial arts with weapons training (something I am passionate about the need for). I thought I'd share with you the insights I learned, in Seeklander's own words.

Mario Morris: Mike, in your opinion, how important is it to add unarmed, hand-to-hand combatives to your daily firearm training?

Mike Seeklander: Well, defensive combatives, meaning empty-handed stuff, is probably one of the most important skill sets you can have. Honestly, if I were to give the average person a skill set, either train them in firearms…or empty-handed combatives, I'd probably give them empty-handed combatives first. These skills are so much more commonly used and needed in the day-to-day self-defense type situations most people face. If we just teach them firearms, you get the whole, “if you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail" [mindset]. Other than awareness and avoidance, the mentality [that you'll probably need to use hand-to-hand fighting in an actual scenario] is one of the most important concepts people need to have.

[Seeklander demonstrated alternative methods to firing your weapon at training event.]

Mario Morris: You've trained in several arts, correct?

Mike Seeklander: I've done Okinawan freestyle karate, aiki jiu-jitsu and jiu-jitsu. I've also done judo, and a couple different other arts.

Mario Morris: If someone has never trained in a martial art before, should they start with a ground-based art or a striking art, or do you think they can do both simultaneously?

Mike Seeklander: I think you can absolutely do them simultaneously. In today's age, with [the popularity] and the advancement of mixed martial arts, you're going to be able to find a place to train both Brazilian jiu-jitsu-based grappling skills, a Thai-style kick and knee system, and a boxing-type hand system, where you can learn to strike with empty hands. Brazilian jiu-jitsu, of course, can be used both standing on the ground. I don't think you can beat that in terms of a cross [of different arts]. If you go to any reputable MMA facility, they're going to have all of those individual arts there.

Mario Morris: During training today I mentioned that, after using BOB [XL] for a long time in my classes as a punching bag, we recently tested him out as a shooting target as well. Have you used him for that purpose?

Mike Seeklander: Well, actually, this is kind of cool. Before you or anyone else told me that I could shoot BOB, I was already shooting him. I've shot BOB on national TV, on The Best Defense in multiple episodes – as a matter of fact, in every season for the last three seasons, I've shot BOB.

Mario Morris: Why do you use BOB as opposed to a paper target?

Mike Seeklander: [The biggest reason is that] BOB is a 3D target. He looks realistic. You can also put a T-shirt or a vest and a hat on him, and he looks like a real person. Now, of course, we haven't just shot BOB. We've stabbed him. To have a target, or, I should say, a tool like that, that you can practice striking, shooting, and stabbing – that allows an integration [of self-defense methods] that you can't do with any other target I'm aware of. I do a lot of live fire, close-quarters training, where I'm striking and shooting, striking with the weapon, moving offline, all that. I think it's a rare thing to find a tool that allows you to use it for all of that.

[Seeklander demonstrates proper weapon use at a training event.]

Mario Morris: Do you think BOB is a good target for all levels of training?

Mike Seeklander: Absolutely. I especially think any high-level group should have a variety of tools, including BOB. They need to be integrating different stuff. To work a close-quarter rifle skill, you need to have the ability to pull a rifle back and get into a good close-quarters position, but at the same time, you need to understand the dynamic of what throwing a muzzle strike is going to be like, and what it's going to be like to shoot off a muzzle strike, and then build a shooting position. I think those are all things you can do with BOB. BOB is an awesome tool.

Check out this free training course with Mike Seeklander utilizing his integrated training techiques.

Final note from the author: Defensive training, both empty hand and firearms, is a constant path of learning and progression. Not every gun range will allow you to perform the concepts mentioned; however, the resources are there if you look for them. If you're serious about being able to train and use a gun for self-defense, your best bet is to find a martial arts school and get the basics of fighting movements down, then look for a training institute that incorporates both.

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Do you want to maximize your self defense skills? Learn the game of combat chess and most importantly the queen of all moves.

Allow me to intercept those who would object to the title of this article. I'm not claiming that there's a secret move, shortcut or hack that will give you the edge in any fight. Even if there was an ultimate weapon or strategy, you likely would avoid it because you
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Looking to buy some weights to gain some strength?

Looking at Dumbbell, Kettlebells or Weighted bar? How about an all in one that won't just save you some good amount of money but also space? Look no further, we bring you the GRIPBELL!

Let's face it, when we do want to work on some strength building, we don't want to go around shopping for 20 different weight equipment things. That would just not want us to even do any sort of strength training. But what if we only needed a few, a few that can do the things we want without having 20 things lay around? That's where the GRIPBELL comes in. Let me clarify with you first, these are not some heavy duty, muscle exploding weights, they are for building the level of strength we as martial artists want without going crazy and insane in bulk sizing!

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Many different types of "blocks" are taught in most martial arts school. We are taught high blocks, low blocks, middle blocks, knife hand blocks, etc. Some schools will also teach how to use the legs to block an attack, as well.

The purpose of this writing is to possibly open some minds to the possibilities of going outside the box and considering alternatives to the basics.

Blocking is taught as a way of protecting oneself from harm. Truly, we don't "block" anything, as a non-martial artist would think of it. What we call "blocking" is more of a redirection of an opponent's attack, or even a counterstrike against the opponent's attacking limb.

To block something would mean to put something, like your arm, leg or other body part directly in front of the attack. That would certainly hurt and possibly cause some damage. The goal should be to move the attack out of the way in order to prevent injury and provide a way to fight back. For example, many schools teach blocks as a limb moving toward the strike such as a circular high block.

The movement required for a block might have other uses, if you keep an open mind. The blocking techniques can also be used as attack techniques. For example, your "low block" may be used as a striking technique against the outer thigh of the attacker. Your high block might be used as a strike to the jaw. The set up for a block can be used as a deflection, as well as the actual block.

Doing a block or a series of blocks will most likely not end an attack. A block needs to be followed by a counterattack. While the block is usually taught as a separate technique in order to learn it correctly, it should also be used in combination with a counter.

The more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know. Intensive books can and have be written about basic techniques. With this writing, I am hoping to create interest in exploring the additional possibilities for what we have been taught and what we teach others.

About Grand Master Stevens

GM Stevens has been training in taekwondo for 47 years under the tutelage of the late legendary Grand Master Richard Chun. He holds an 8th degree black belt and is certified in the USA and in Korea. Grand Master Stevens is a member of the Board of Directors of the prestigious Richard Chun TaeKwonDo World Headquarters organization. He has been very active in his community and has been a volunteer with the Glen Rock Volunteer Ambulance Corps for over 11 years. He is a certified member of C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team).

Gary Stevens Taekwondo is located at 175 Rock Road in Glen Rock, New Jersey.

For more information: call (201) 670-7263, email: or go to

Having partners at or above your skill level is important for improving in your martial arts training. At some point, however, you will probably find yourself with a shortage of skilled partners, especially if you are an instructor.

This can happen for any number of reasons: students can move away, change their work schedules, start a family, etc., and just like that, you find that you're the highest-ranked student, or sole instructor, in your gym or dojo. This doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, if you take advantage of it, even working exclusively with lower-ranking classmates or students can improve your skills.

I used to host a twice-a-week training session at my dojo where I invited mostly black belts from other schools (as well as a few of my advanced students) to come and run drills. It was a blast. These were tough two- to three-hour sessions where I got to work with fighters of all different sizes, speeds, and technique preferences. My sparring improved dramatically over the next few months, and I don't think I've ever been in better shape. But unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. And as the old saying goes, "You gotta work with what ya got." So, make it hard on yourself.

I like to set handicaps when fighting my students. Specifically, I focus on forcing myself to work on improving my weak areas. Is you right leg weaker than the left? Then only kick with the right leg when sparring your students. Not much of an inside fighter? Don't kick at all. Training with partners of lesser skill not only helps you improve your weak points but gives them an opportunity to improve as well by working on strategy. It's also great for building their confidence. It can also be a low-cost opportunity to test new techniques and combinations, which benefits you as well.

In grappling, just like sparring, there is little benefit to wrapping lower ranking classmates into pretzels over and over, for them or you. Instead, let your partner put you in a bad situation. Let them get the mount; help them sink in that choke or armbar. If you start standing, such as in judo, allow your partner to get the superior grip before attempting a throw. This way you will get comfortable working out of a weaker position and your less-experienced partner can perfect their technique (and get experience using multiple techniques, if you get out of their first one).

You might think that giving advantages like these to students who may be far beneath your skill level is much of a challenge. Trust me, you'll reconsider that sentiment when you wind up sparring a 6'5" novice with zero control over his strength after deciding to only use your weak leg, or have a 250-pound green belt lying across your diaphragm trying to get an armlock after you let them get the pin. Remember, this is exactly what you signed up for: a challenge.

If you find yourself at the top of the heap without partners who are sufficiently challenging, there is no need to despair. Use it as a low-stress opportunity to improve your weaknesses and develop avenues to help your less experienced classmates and students to grow. You may even be surprised. One day they might present more of a challenge than you ever imagined!
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