Re: Steven Seagal Interview
Haven't read the article. However, looking at Seagal's birthdate and when he was awarded shodan (1974 summer by Tohei-I don't know if that means he was tested by him) the chronology would seem to be unlikely he ever saw O'Sensei. O'Sensei died in 1969, Seagal was only 18 at that time and I'm not even sure if he was practicing Aikido. He received his black belt 5 years later so if he was practicing, usually 4 years to shodan, it is likely early in his training. More probably, he was with Fumio Demura around that time doing karate. I don't know what rank he was with Demura if any. I did see Demura demonstrate at the Japanese Deer Park in the early 70s and don't recall any non-Japanese. I don't remember when that was however. I believe I was in the military or slightly out (after 1972) so he was probably already been involved in aikido. I do recall it was before I started aikido which was around 1973-4 (I was working on my bachelors at that time). I know the Ki Society had split from the aikikai since I trained with Ki Society initially. My instructor was under Tohei and a godan (Masao Shoji) -I was training at the Torrance YMCA and Clarence Chinn I think had the Gardena group. We did do some training with the Gardena group but I don't recall any with the Orange County group. There was not a lot of Aikido around at the time.
My impression would be given the chronology, Seagal likely saw O'Sensei on tape. Unless, he went to Japan with Demura and happened to see O'Sensei demonstrate then. Seagal's birthday is in April so in 1969 he would have been just out of high school or in it at 18. In 1974 he would have been 23. So him owning his own dojo at 22 as I have seen in one post is likely inaccurate.