Armond Seidler

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Seidler, Armond Harold "Army"

Armond Harold "Army" Seidler died at his home on Sunday, April 23, at the age of 97, completing a life of accomplishment, energy, optimism, and passion. He was born in 1919 and grew up on Chicago's North Side, served in the U.S. Army in World War II, successfully coached high school football and basketball in Illinois and Iowa, and received his master's and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Illinois, where he met his wife, Helen Bert, from Chicago's South Side. Army built on his doctoral research to develop the Seidler System of bayonet fighting, subsequently adopted by the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army, and was the inventor of the "pugil stick" (many veterans will know what this is). While on the Illinois faculty, he and his colleague and friend, H.E. "Hek" Kenney, also invented the game of flickerball.

In the early 1950s, when many Midwesterners were unaware that New Mexico was a part of the United States (some say this is still the case), Army took his family to Las Vegas, New Mexico, in order to serve as chair of the Physical Education Department at Highlands University, and a couple of years later, to Albuquerque to serve in the same capacity at the University of New Mexico. During his tenure at UNM, he built his department into one of the strongest and most highly recognized programs in the world, presiding over both the expansion of old Johnson Gym into Johnson Center and the construction of UNM's world-class natatorium, which now bears his name. He was elected a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, and spent 35 years as a member of UNM's faculty before his 1990 retirement. From 1956 to 2017, he rarely missed a UNM Lobo men's basketball game, first in Johnson Gym, and then in the Pit (aka The Pit).

Based on his profound knowledge of the physics of human movement, Army also invented the Seidler System of personal defense, which he taught to several generations of UNM students, and wrote the book Defend Yourself. Teaching was his passion; he used to assert that he couldn't believe they were paying him to do it. His greatest pride was in the success of his students.

Beginning in 1948, he spent every summer through 2016 with his family at a lake in Northern Ontario, sailing his 1920s-era wooden sailboat, Army's Navy, by day, and listening to loons and Haydn in the evenings. He deeply loved the opera, from Mozart and Verdi to Gilbert and Sullivan, and read voraciously. He had a joke for every occasion, and no one ever laughed any harder at them than he did.

Army's wife Helen died in 2001, and he lost his younger brother Burt, with whom he had roomed in college, in 2011. He is survived by his children, Kim and Marianne Seidler, Todd and Staley Seidler and grandsons Nolan and Anden, and Toni Seidler and Andy Oleson, all of Albuquerque; by his brother Don and sister-in-law Millie Seidler, of Camarillo, California, his sister-in-law Phyllis Seidler, of Brea, California, his brother Marty and sister-in-law Liz Seidler of Roseville, Oregon, and his beloved nieces and nephews and their children; and by his many students over the decades. The family is also grateful to Army's principal caregivers, Kerry Sanchez and Miguel Ulloa.

Planning for a memorial service has begun, and further details will be provided in the future. In place of flowers, those interested in donating to the Armond Seidler Endowed Fellowship can do so online at

Published in Albuquerque Journal on Apr. 30, 2017