I have to admit that MA movies are what sparked my interest when I was younger. Yes, I had seen every Seagal movie there was, but I didn't know that Aikido was what he emplored in his movies until later. It definately ENDED UP becoming a major influence in my search for Aikido. Aikido schools in Tampa are hard to find. There are only three. None are close to me, except the USF dojo. I looked around for a MA for a while. I joined Chung Moo Do(please don't laugh, I didn't know any better at the time), the organization that boasts "8 MA's combined into one MA and 18 weapons" about 5 years ago and trained for about 6 months until the Sensei approached me with his $6500 dollar "2 year black belt program". Needless to say, I was put off by that and felt uncomfortable with that "belt factory" attitude. I never went back and the school closed several months later. I wonder why.
The ONE good thing that came out of that was that "Aikido" was one of those MA's that were included in the eight. No, I did NOT learn any Aikido there, but I did learn OF Aikido there. This is where I first heard the word Aikido, and also where I was "shown some techniques". Of course, it was Aikido done badly, but it made a big enough impression on me to seek out what Aikido really was. I read a lot about it, then I found a dojo. I now train at the University of South Florida under the direction of John Messores Sensei, 6th Dan, head instructor at the St. Petersburg Aikikai(ASU). My two main instructors at USF are Joe Ogelsby and Evelyn Williams.
I do have to admit that Seagal Sensei was a big influence once I found out the connection. I knew it "looked" cool, I just didn't know what it was until I went to Chung Moo Do, which, is a school I do NOT recommend to anyone looking to train in ANY single MA.
Has anyone seen Seagal's video, A Path Beyond Thought?? I highly recommend it. Get it at http://www.stevenseagal.com