George S. Ledyard wrote:
Without in any way questioning Seagal sensei's Aikido, which I happen to think is pretty top notch, I would point out that there is a pattern to his renditions of his background.
He likes to characterize his background in hazy terms and portrays himself as the guy who learned "off the beaten track" so to speak. He implied early on that he had seen O-Sensei and then trained with the old guys who had trained O-Sensei. Well, O-sensei was dead before he could train with him and O-sensei's teachers wer dead along time before that.
He did the same thing with his "special ops" background which was easier to do as the CIA makes it a policy never to confirm or deny whether someone had any association with him.
Now, if you read his current self description about how he learned to be a "bluesman" it was at the knees of the old black Blues Men in Detroit. Now I am not saying that this is impossible, but we can account for his teen whereabouts in CA. So when exactly did he learn the Blues at the feet of the old Detroit legends? It was my impression that the urban blues scene is largely centered on certain clubs in which the players congregate and play til the wee hours, often jamming with each other after the clubs officially close. The guys who do this tend to be night owls... you don't see them much during the day. So how did some young white kid manage to hang with that crowd? If it was before his Aikido days, he would have been too young to even set foot in those places, much less hang around till the wee hours. Anyway, it's just a pattern that he likes to characterize hismelf as having had some special connection with the "guys who know" that other folks haven't had.
I don't question either his bluesmanship or his Aikido but his ability to self promote is unassailable I think.
And don't forgett the controversy around the tulku designation.
I don't think anyone questions the quality of his aikido. I don't know about his musical talents-never heard him. The little bit he did in the Fire Down Below did not stoke me to go out and buy an album. He is very good at vague or non-verifiable information about his background and misleading information-perhaps that is why there is mystique with him. I guess the blues thing is why he now taking on a street language persona-tries to talk like a blues person.