Dean Suter (Amassus) wrote:
It just reinforces what I think about Steven Seagal I'm afraid.
A friend of mine told me what he thought of aikido before I took it up and explained its philosophy to him. When he heard it was known as a gentle art, he scoffed at it. His only association with the art had been what he had saw of Seagal and of another fellow that left my club many years ago because he was refused his black belt due to poor attitude. As far as my friend knew, it was all about the harsh techniques and taunting your opponents into fighting.
Now he knows what I train for (and for me, technique and self defense are secondary...attitude is first), and is aware that aikido is a whole approach to life, not just techniques. He has a different appreciation for the art now.
It troubles me that his first impression was very different, due to one action star.
Your friend has some interesting associative tendencies. As a former student of Seagal Sensei's, I can repeat a few of the things we heard often
1. "...I do not make aikido movies. As a matter of fact, I don't even make martial arts movies. Yes, I am a martial artist and the characters use martial arts in the movie, but the movie, itself, is not about martial arts. Martial arts is simply a vehicle that moves the plot along."
He said many times that viewers misunderstood the motivation he had in making movies. He did not want to make "Martial Arts movies, per se. He compared this aspect of his movies to the Manchurian Candidate, when two of the characters have a very serious fight where they used martial arts. Interesting enough, one of those actors appears in Seagal's Above the Law scene, as the main antagonist. I think he was silently paying tribute, but that is my own opinion.
2. Seagal Sensei was very different with his students from what you may have read or seen in any movie. He was very quiet and humble off the mat, answering as many questions that we could muster up. He was also bigger than life on the mat. Just what the doctor ordered, if I may, again, offer my own opinion.
3. It is interesting that you mention a student's poor attitude when not receiving his shodan. Seagal Sensei failed just about everyone that I ever saw take the test, usually more than once, some even four and five times over several years. The most deserving seemed to never get it at all. Somehow he just new that is what would make each of them stronger. Almost everyone made it, and only those too week to stick it out left before reaching shodan, many years later.
Again, just what the doctor ordered. for what you read in the paper... I like to remember the saying, "Believe none of what you read and only half of what you see."