PDA

View Full Version : The Voice Steven Seagal interview


Please visit our sponsor:
 

AikiWeb Sponsored Links - Place your Aikido link here for only $10!


aiki-jujutsuka
02-27-2013, 01:18 PM
Hey everyone,

It's been a while since I've been on here... long story short I am going to be emigrating to Japan later this year to marry my fiancee and start a new life with her. Once I've got myself sorted out and settled into married life I fully intend on carrying on my martial arts journey and believe this will be the right time to make the transition from AJJ to Aikido.

Anyway, back on topic not sure if anyone has seen this interview with Steven Seagal but it seems fairly recent.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvGBDU3k9-M

I've only watched part one but Seagal talks about how he began Aikido and references several of his early teachers and speaks about his relationship to them. He talks about moving to Japan and his connection to O'Sensei and his students as well as his experience of using Aikido. The final question addresses the nature of his black belt gradings and while I feel the interviewer generalized in his estimation of modern gradings, it was interesting to hear how severe Seagal's gradings were. Overall I thought the interviewer was respectful and the tone of the interview genuine, showing appreciation for traditional styles of martial arts, which is refreshing. I thought Seagal spoke well and incorporated some technical Aikido language where appropriate. I'm sure across all 4 parts this is a fairly comprehensive interview. I always enjoy listening to Seagal and he continues to inspire me.

I am not as knowledgable as I'm sure many of you are with the Aikido instructors and masters Seagal cites in this interview but I will look forward to reading your impressions and opinions of Seagal's answers.:)

graham christian
02-27-2013, 03:07 PM
Congratulations first of all.

Thanks for posting the vid, I hadn't seen that one before. I found it excellent, even refreshing. It seemed very straightforward and open to me. A great insight into his own personal views and experience.

Now I'm going to watch the other three.

Peace.G.

Hellis
02-27-2013, 03:21 PM
I like some of the early videos of SS doing Aikido - I watched the video and there are some interesting bits, but SS seemed very uncomfortable ? or perhaps it was me that was uncomfortable, I will not be watching the others.

Henry Ellis
Co-author of `Positive Aikido`
Aikido Controversy - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMuDqKOjnls

aiki-jujutsuka
02-27-2013, 04:46 PM
Thank you Graham and I agree with you about the interview.

Henry, I understand what you mean but I think Seagal was just being mindful of keeping his answers concise and clear so that people don't misconstrue what he means. Personally I think Seagal came across as very modest, clearly he has much experience of the Aikido world and developed a deep passion for Aikido, but when you begin to talk about the mysticism of some schools of Aikido it can be easily twisted or you could come across as arrogant and conceited. I thought he handled the questions deftly.

Hellis
02-27-2013, 04:55 PM
Henry, I understand what you mean but I think Seagal was just being mindful of keeping his answers concise and clear so that people don't misconstrue what he means. Personally I think Seagal came across as very modest, clearly he has much experience of the Aikido world and developed a deep passion for Aikido, but when you begin to talk about the mysticism of some schools of Aikido it can be easily twisted or you could come across as arrogant and conceited. I thought he handled the questions deftly.

Hi
I have to agree with what you say, there are too many people waiting to pick SS apart at any opportunity.

Henry Ellis
Co-author of `Positive Aikido`
Aikido Controversy - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMuDqKOjnls

Michael Varin
02-27-2013, 09:15 PM
I watched this interview when it first aired, back in October 2012, if I remember correctly. In fact I still have it on my DVR.

It was a good interview. I watched it with my wife and a friend of ours. Well, I sort of forced them to watch it, as both ladies don't like Seagal. But they both said that the interview changed their opinion of him somewhat and that they liked the way he came across in the interview much more than in his movies.

I remember Seagal appearing very uncomfortable at the beginning of the interview. But that doesn't last. The interview is probably about 45 minutes long, so if it is broken into four parts on YouTube, Seagal probably only looks uncomfortable in the first part.

I am a big fan of Seagal. I always have been. He has made some bad movies, but he possesses a lot of skill and that cannot be denied.

One thing that raised my eyebrow in the interview was Seagal's statement that he met Morihei and heard him lecture shortly before Morihei died. Seagal said he never trained with him in anyway. Somehow I felt Seagal was being dishonest. I could very well be wrong, but I was under the impression that Seagal didn't arrive in Japan until after Morihei's death.

In any case, I do believe that Seagal made more of an effort to understand aikido on a deep level than probably any other modern practitioner.

aiki-jujutsuka
02-28-2013, 01:32 AM
I will try and watch the other parts later, I'm a big fan of Seagal's earlier movies where you can clearly see the Aikido influences and I enjoyed his Lawman series. I think there are many strings to Seagal's bow and isn't always given the credit he deserves.

ryback
02-28-2013, 05:25 AM
I have always considered (and still do) Steven Seagal sensei as one of my main influences in Aikido. His undeniably clear and effective technique always stands out, it's what i'm trying to achieve in terms of waza.It's true he has made many wrong choices along the way but i prefer to view those choices as an example to be avoided, it keeps me aware and after all he is human.
I hate it how people are always ready to speak badly about him and about his weight when it's true that most of them are fatter than him and they never had his skills in aikido.Things have been said about him that, one would be unthinkable to dare say, for another 7th dan aikidoka, and that is very direspectful.
I have already seen the interview before this thread was made and I agree with almost all of the above posts.
Having done a great research about Steven Seagal sensei through many years (i have even written an article about him fo a martial arts magazine once) i've known all of the things he is talking about for many years and I think is great to have a recent interview where all of his Aikido background is summed up.
For most of the things he is talking about(like how tough his grading is, or how hard is his randori) are actually videos to prove it.
Most people always say that he is arrogant, but everytime I hear him speak always seem like a humble, modest Aikidoka to me, listen when he says "i'm still the guy in the corner trying to get his one foot in front of the other" or something like that.
And from personal contact with one of his earliest Uke i know that he is a great teacher and a person that can inspire you very much to follow through all the long road of Aikido training.

dreamborn
02-28-2013, 12:43 PM
One thing that raised my eyebrow in the interview was Seagal's statement that he met Morihei and heard him lecture shortly before Morihei died. Seagal said he never trained with him in anyway. Somehow I felt Seagal was being dishonest. I could very well be wrong, but I was under the impression that Seagal didn't arrive in Japan until after Morihei's death.
.

If I remember correctly, I remember seeing Seagal sensie in a photograph circa 1968-1969 with O-sensei and a bunch of other students. Seagal has huge sideburns. If my memory and this photo is acurate then he did see/meet O-Sensri. Anyone else remember this photo?

Garth Jones
02-28-2013, 03:25 PM
Seagal was born in 1952 so he would have only been 16 in 1968. It is my understanding that he did not go to Japan until the early 1970s, after O'Sensei died.

OwlMatt
02-28-2013, 03:47 PM
Hi
I have to agree with what you say, there are too many people waiting to pick SS apart at any opportunity.

Henry Ellis
Co-author of `Positive Aikido`
Aikido Controversy - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMuDqKOjnls

Seagal clearly knows his aikido. I don't think anyone questions his aikido chops. What I think many aikidoists resent is the way Seagal acts. He is, for better or for worse, the most famous aikidoist in the Western world, and so his behavior reflects on us all. Perhaps it's unfair of us to expect Seagal to be an ambassador for our art, but his celebrity has put him in that position.

Hellis
03-01-2013, 02:43 AM
Seagal clearly knows his aikido. I don't think anyone questions his aikido chops. What I think many aikidoists resent is the way Seagal acts. He is, for better or for worse, the most famous aikidoist in the Western world, and so his behavior reflects on us all. Perhaps it's unfair of us to expect Seagal to be an ambassador for our art, but his celebrity has put him in that position.

Matthew

You make a rather valid point, I think you are correct, people do tend to believe that Seagal is the western ambassador of Aikido, I doubt that this is Seagal's intention ?
As I have said before, I like his technique which is mostly tight and direct as opposed to uke floating on the end of a distant finger.
A friend of mine who is a writer for a popular martial arts magazine, interviewed Seagal, he said it was the most unpleasant interview he had ever been involved in, he described Seagal as the most arrogant person he had ever interviewed.

Henry Ellis
Co-author of `Positive Aikido`
Aikido Controversy - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMuDqKOjnls

aiki-jujutsuka
03-01-2013, 02:55 AM
Steven's film career has waned over the last decade or so, his tv series True Justice seems to have been successful but he's nowhere near the Hollywood star he was back in the late 80s/early 90s. I think two things went against him, one his films have been very formulaic and two the rise of MMA has brought scrutiny and criticism over the realism of Aikido as a legitimate form of self-defence. It really annoys me the way in which MMA belittles traditional martial arts and implies they only work "in the movies".

I've never met Seagal before so I can't speak about his personality off camera but one of the things that inspires me is just how much time he dedicated to mastering Aikido. Seagal earnt his fame in Hollywood, he didn't just have the right look, he genuinely had the skills and knowledge to make a credible action movie star. It seems that celebrity doesn't mean as much today when you have "reality" stars; Seagal is an intelligent and talented person who put in the effort and paid his dues.

St Matt
03-01-2013, 02:44 PM
Seagal was born in 1952 so he would have only been 16 in 1968. It is my understanding that he did not go to Japan until the early 1970s, after O'Sensei died.

He says in that interview that his father was in Japan doing military stuff and he allowed him to visit him. This was before he moved over there.

tenshinaikidoka
03-01-2013, 04:50 PM
Good interview.....

Peter Wong
03-02-2013, 06:12 AM
I enjoyed the interview. I'm a Steven Seagal fan but this was the first time I heard that he met Bruce Lee. Bruce Lee died July 1973. Also SS father was a math teacher in 1968-69 according to all the bios. I've read.

Anjisan
03-03-2013, 03:01 PM
I believe that I remember reading an interview with Seagal sensei's mother where she stated that Seagal had received an in insurance settlement resulting from a knee injury while training in karate. Consequently, this allowed him to make several trips over to Japan with the late chief instructor of the Orange County Aikikai prior to later moving to Osaka. Therefore, it would seem at least plausible that Seagal sensei could have met Osensei.

camt
03-11-2013, 08:30 PM
Interesting interview and I must admit I'm a fan. However, his arrogance shines bright when he's asked if he is as fast as he was 10 years ago and he responds "maybe faster" with that serious look hahah. Priceless Seagal response. Check it out in part 3 at 9:20.

aiki-jujutsuka
03-12-2013, 02:21 AM
yeah I saw that bit too! he may or may not (probably not) be faster than he was 10 years ago but his endurance and cardio certainly won't be as good!

ryback
03-12-2013, 07:33 AM
Interesting interview and I must admit I'm a fan. However, his arrogance shines bright when he's asked if he is as fast as he was 10 years ago and he responds "maybe faster" with that serious look hahah. Priceless Seagal response. Check it out in part 3 at 9:20.

Well he may appear to be confident (who wouldn't at his aikido level) but not necessarily arrogant. He doesn't sound arrogant when he says that in aikido he is still that guy in the corner trying to put "one foot in front of the other".
I have met aikido teachers with not even one third of Seagal sensei's skills and they were reeeeaaaaally arrogant!:)

ryback
03-12-2013, 07:44 AM
yeah I saw that bit too! he may or may not (probably not) be faster than he was 10 years ago but his endurance and cardio certainly won't be as good!

Unfortunatelly, i must agree with the second part of your post.
If i had to say anything negative about him is only that he is not in shape anymore. That surely affects his endurance and physical condition and even worse it sets a bad example.
Whether we like it or not, a martial arts teacher should be an example for his students and not only technicaly. Steven Seagal sensei has the technical skills, not doubt about it, but when it comes to nutrition and physical condition he does not reflect the discipline that a master should.
On the other hand, in order to be fair, his extra weight could be some kind of health problem (although that's no excuse) and let's keep in mind that other teachers fatter and less skillful as he is are rarely the target of such critisism as he has suffered.
He has been one of my greatest aikido inspirations and i'm glad that he is well and active!

aiki-jujutsuka
03-12-2013, 10:15 AM
Unfortunatelly, i must agree with the second part of your post.
If i had to say anything negative about him is only that he is not in shape anymore. That surely affects his endurance and physical condition and even worse it sets a bad example.
Whether we like it or not, a martial arts teacher should be an example for his students and not only technicaly. Steven Seagal sensei has the technical skills, not doubt about it, but when it comes to nutrition and physical condition he does not reflect the discipline that a master should.
On the other hand, in order to be fair, his extra weight could be some kind of health problem (although that's no excuse) and let's keep in mind that other teachers fatter and less skillful as he is are rarely the target of such critisism as he has suffered.
He has been one of my greatest aikido inspirations and i'm glad that he is well and active!

I concur, Seagal is an inspiration to me too. It's a shame he's not in the condition he was (or similar to) during his early film career in the late 80s - early 90s. However, I do wonder does Seagal still practise Aikido on a regular basis? The impression I got from his Lawman series as well as his involvement with MMA is that he still teaches martial arts, but splits his time between many different things and I'm not sure how much Aikido plays a part in that anymore.

ryback
03-12-2013, 12:07 PM
I concur, Seagal is an inspiration to me too. It's a shame he's not in the condition he was (or similar to) during his early film career in the late 80s - early 90s. However, I do wonder does Seagal still practise Aikido on a regular basis? The impression I got from his Lawman series as well as his involvement with MMA is that he still teaches martial arts, but splits his time between many different things and I'm not sure how much Aikido plays a part in that anymore.

I agree completely. Although i have seen recent videos of him practicing kumi tachi and showing aikido techniques to his fellow cops with the assistant of a japanese uke, he doesn't seem to be as devoted as he used to be.
It's clear that he still practices with his senior students though, but maybe not very often...

aiki-jujutsuka
03-12-2013, 12:27 PM
I can imagine if Seagal is already a 7th Dan and he's a part-time police officer, amatuer musician, film & tv star then his motivation or time to dedicate to Aikido nowadays must be less. Aikido played such a big part of his life that I don't blame him if he wants to pursue other arts. However, as Aikido still plays a big part in his fight scenes and choreography then I would assume he still practises.

ryback
03-12-2013, 12:58 PM
I can imagine if Seagal is already a 7th Dan and he's a part-time police officer, amatuer musician, film & tv star then his motivation or time to dedicate to Aikido nowadays must be less. Aikido played such a big part of his life that I don't blame him if he wants to pursue other arts. However, as Aikido still plays a big part in his fight scenes and choreography then I would assume he still practises.

Exactly what i mean. His speed and skill in the true justice series indicates he is still doing it.

Dave Gallagher
03-27-2013, 11:55 AM
I remember watching Saturday Night Live sometime after Seagal had been the host. I don't remember who was hosting that night but the Host was acting like a total jackass (as part of the skit) then turned to the producer Loren Michaels and said "you must think I am the biggest jackass to ever host this show" to which Michaels replied "No, that would be Steven Seagal".
Perhaps that sums it up pretty good.

David Yap
03-29-2013, 10:59 AM
Interview part 2 - about meeting Bruce Lee (06.58): "...he knew that I have a son about the same age with Brandon..."

Bruce Lee died on 20 July 1973 and Seagal's son, Kentaro, was born in October 1975. And, Brandon Lee was born in 1965. ?????

Michael Varin
03-29-2013, 10:02 PM
Interesting interview and I must admit I'm a fan. However, his arrogance shines bright when he's asked if he is as fast as he was 10 years ago and he responds "maybe faster" with that serious look hahah. Priceless Seagal response. Check it out in part 3 at 9:20.

Hmm? I can't really say, but...

There's a video of Seagal working with Lyoto Machida that you can probably find on YouTube.

He is showing Machida "the kick" and Seagal is disturbingly fast. I would say much faster than I ever saw him move in the 80's.

Speed is an interesting thing. So is arrogance!

JP3
04-06-2013, 09:04 PM
I've always enjoyed, in a sort of weird, uncomfortable way, listening to SS speak. There's no question that his, I'll just broaden them out over and out of only aikido into martial arts, skills are top-tier.

It's his manner of speaking, and the way it leads to questionable credibility that makes me cringe. I'm not going to go back and try to tack the dates together, you'll have already noted that his method of speaking always has wiggle-words (i.e. "about the same age...), so that ends up being a waste of time. The problem is, he's always been that way, sort of secretive, but sort of out there at the same time. Conundrum.

One thing that made me grin, when he was talking about visiting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at his home, and mentioned Putin's having a life-size statue of the founder of judo, he said without any hesitation at all "Kano Jigaro," with perfect inflection, instead of (mine included) westernized Jigoro Kano. A little thing, and probably most likely due to his Japanese fluency, but still.

aiki-jujutsuka
04-09-2013, 05:40 AM
http://store.aikidojournal.com/action-star-steven-seagal-shares-aikido-expertise-with-russians/

This answers the question does Seagal still teach Aikido. I actually agree with him about not teaching children Aikido. We have a policy in our dojo not to teach children below 13 because the joint locks and chokes are dangerous and can easily be abused by children play fighting. I think some techniques are good for children to learn for self-defence but I would be very careful how much I would teach to young children.

Richard Stevens
04-15-2013, 09:47 AM
Seagal has legitimate martial art talent, but it has been eclipsed by his proclivity for uttering nonsense and bulls$%^@.

Stephen Nichol
04-15-2013, 10:58 PM
I've always enjoyed, in a sort of weird, uncomfortable way, listening to SS speak. There's no question that his, I'll just broaden them out over and out of only aikido into martial arts, skills are top-tier.

It's his manner of speaking, and the way it leads to questionable credibility that makes me cringe.

This is how I feel as well.

There was a time.. when he was newly famous and I knew nothing of him other than 'Aikido' and he makes it look very effective and that was what got me interested in starting down this path. I will always be thankful for that beginning being inspired by him. I have never met him and I wish I had to an extent, if only to thank him for the initial inspiration and more so to experience what his Aikido and general martial knowledge feels like in person.

However much I may enjoy watching his technique and martial skill in demonstrations or on the TV/movie screen... I find it difficult to watch an interview and I even feel a little *sigh* and a pang of sadness about it... I can understand and even sympathize to an extent about the allusions to his experiences and the name dropping meeting once upon a time stuff.

Simply put (without having met him at all just based on all one can watch and read on the internet and in books/magazines etc): I see a man who went to Japan with a sincere passion for martial arts and to be effective with it. Like many westerners who want to believe there is more mystical stuff than there actually is... he kept looking and possibly either got lost on that journey for the mystical stuff and is stuck searching, creating it for himself as some sort of comfort.

- I find all claims of his attitude/ego issues and counter claims to those claims to be equivocal and somewhat pointless. We all have bad days and better days. We try our best, put on our game face and try to keep those people happy who have expectations of us, family, friends, co-workers and our bosses... let alone students at the dojo. Every once in awhile we may slip or be misunderstood in our 'tone' or context or it could simply be that 'today was the wrong day to come to work/training/party at friends place and I should have just gone home and watched TV/movies or climbed a mountain..'

In regards to creating the myth: to me it 'seems like' an extension of the entire 'way' some (cliche) westerners approach eastern martial arts which is based on Hollywood movies/TV or even Hong Kong movies etc.. that portray all martial arts with a mystical aspect. 'the good guy triumphs over the bad guy because his edge lays in the mystical side of his training and the bad guy does not have that'.

And so they train while searching\ feeling\believing there must be something mystical to it.. and even if they realize one day while training that there really isn't... they still convince themselves that there is.. or must be... and they will tell others that there is a 'certain something' and perpetuate that mystique.

It has been mentioned in another thread on here elsewhere about how we essentially wrap ourselves in the trapping of the art: your training gi... why wear it over a t-shirt and sweat pants? Ranks, Hakama, coloured belts and so on... I am not saying any of that is wrong, in fact I have found it can help 'set the mood' for that learning environment of training a martial art. But last time I checked a Hakama does not give someone +3 to Aiki\Kendo\etc +5 to inner peace and so on... it just looks cool to some of us. But I digress... I simply meant we can all get 'caught up' in it in one way or another and to lesser or more degrees. My feeling is: with martial arts, you know what you do, your skill is what it is.. not your rank, belt colour, tired worn out thrashed Gi top and belt. Be happy and enjoy each moment of your life and your interaction with others. Be honest about all of it with yourself and do not fall into this trap we seem to be discussing here with Seagal. (By being honest I mean, if you think training to get your Hakama or your next dan rank is the coolest thing or what motivates you, then that is 'ok', just own that feeling and thought and do not disguise it as something else.)

With Seagal, I think he started sincerely down his path... along the way got caught up in the success of his training and then felt he needed to shroud it in a mystique to perpetuate his celebrity and perhaps to an extent, his particular 'way' of applying Aikido so others who have come to learn about it because of his movies would perhaps feel the only 'true' way to learn would be to go see him.

That all being said, I will still put myself on the mat with him to feel his technique and learn what I could if an opportunity ever presented itself. A large part of who is was and still is - is his Aikido and the rest of what he has made himself out to be would not keep away... if only because I am aware of that aspect of him.

Sorry if that is a bit of a ramble. I used to really look up to him, part of me still does. But I am not blind and I am have to be honest with myself and so that allows me to be a little sad when he says the things he does that simply cannot be true.