Mike Sigman wrote:
Given that Seagal has said many things publicly and has deliberately made himself the object of public attention, I personally can't see why people should be discouraged from asking questions by stipulating it "better have something to do with improving yourself or your aikido." Looking at the website Ron posted, I noticed something about the CIA and did a quick cross-check via some search engines. Here's just one of a number that show up on Google:
Apparently there are some very valid questions about some of Seagal's claims; that's a fact that is apart from any attempt to either gratuitously denigrate or to gratuitously enhance Seagal's reputation. Hopefully, anyone who has the best interests of Aikido and Aikidoka at heart will encourage people to keep looking and asking questions. I was certainly interested in Seagal's reputation for credibility at one time, simply because I like to have an indicator that will tell me how heavily I can weight someone's pronouncements about the martial arts. Personality isn't the issue... weighting and judging sources of information is the issue.
Segal Sensei is a major figure in contemporary American Aikido. Therefore it is perfectly reasonable to want to research the details of his life and training.
It is important to distinguish between his movie persona and his real person. I think these get mixed up sometimes, perhaps even in his own mind. All that CIA, Special Ops stuff is a bunch of hype used to promote his early movies. Much of the stupider material you see quoted from Segal Sensei was in entertainment industry interviews.
If you just stick to Aikido, it's clear that he has been a dedicated practitioner and teacher. It's somehwhat difficult to deteremine what he is doing currently since almost all of his students who are well known have broken with him.
As to the murky association with O-Sensei... I personally do not think he ever saw O-Sensei while he was alive. I think that's another part of the murky history that made him seem mysterious and somehow different than the regular teachers we are all familiar with.
On the other hand I have little doubt that he took advantage of his time in Japan to investigate the resources available for spiritual training. It fits his nature...