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Old 11-18-2006, 04:38 PM   #1
kkg
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Seagal's technique...is it his size?

I have been going to YouTube and other online sources and checking out various Aikido video clips. I have been watching the old footage of Seagal on the mat and I see that his technique is so much more intense than any other footage I have seen of Aikido training. I have read that his style is influenced by Hiroshi Isoyama Shihan and so it is more forceful, but is it also his height advantage that I am seeing? I'm not into his movies or anything, but I can't help but be impressed by his style and technique on the mat. I am new to all of this and am trying to figure some things out. Thanks.
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Old 11-18-2006, 09:05 PM   #2
Michael Varin
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Re: Seagal's technique...is it his size?

There's no doubt about it. In his pre-movie star days Seagal was very good. I never trained with him or saw him in person, but I have trained with two of his former students Haruo Matsuoka and Larry Reynosa. Neither of them is over 5'8" but apart from their lack of imposing size they move and perform techniques much like Seagal. They are sharp but totally fluid. I never felt that I was being muscled. Their footwork is also very smart. I think one of the reasons for this is that they seem to emphasize dynamic, as opposed to stepwise, execution of the techniques from the beginning. You can do this regardless of the style you practice, even if no one else in your dojo does. I imagine Seagal's height was an advantage for him, but if you watch closely you'll see that he overcame many of the obstacles that tall people face. He was able to get low quickly while maintaining strong posture and mobility. And that comes from being dedicated and not accepting excuses or shortcuts.

Also, Matsuoka was most likely his uke in the footage you saw. Matsuoka might have the best ukemi ever, and the way your partner takes ukemi has a big impact on how "good" things look.

Michael
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Old 11-19-2006, 02:14 AM   #3
Double M
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Re: Seagal's technique...is it his size?

Great info, Michael. I met Larry Reynosa at a seminar once in St. Louis I think it was. A real class act right there.

More on Seagal, if you do watch his earlier movies you'll catch some of his students in the fight scenes and I think Matsuoka was one of them. Bin Dang is another of his students that portrays fight stunts. In his later movies you'll find Seagal's fight scenes being sped up in the film due to his gaining weight and his lack of student support in his movies. Fight scenes were dubbed and/or slowed down then sped up on film to make it appear more realistic.

Kent, you might also want to find a Seagal documentary called "The Path Beyond Thought" as it has rare footage of Seagal in his younger days.

"Diplomacy is the art of saying 'nice doggy' until you find a big stick." - Anon.
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Old 11-19-2006, 11:05 PM   #4
xuzen
 
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Re: Seagal's technique...is it his size?

That man (SS) has got to lose some weight... He was after all once aikido's poster boy.

Boon.

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Old 11-20-2006, 06:29 AM   #5
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Re: Seagal's technique...is it his size?

IMHO, hafta agree with what has been said; his technique was (and may still be) excellent, and his students are class acts (trained with both mentioned).

Being tall myself (6'4") makes some techniques easier (from above), others harder (from below).

The man must be important to us, because we waste a lot of time talking about him instead of training.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
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Old 11-20-2006, 07:26 AM   #6
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Seagal's technique...is it his size?

Matsuoka Sensei is a gem. Got to train with him once, and he really is the real deal. Just a note though...he has really moved toward Abe Sensei and his take on things to take the next step in his aikido life. Just to make you aware that the man is always looking and changing according to what he sees.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 11-20-2006, 09:09 AM   #7
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: Seagal's technique...is it his size?

My honest opinion is his uke's are very good. I just wonder how well he would fare against a good Shodokan player?
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Old 11-20-2006, 11:07 AM   #8
DonMagee
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Re: Seagal's technique...is it his size?

Quote:
Attilio Anthony John Wagstaffe wrote:
My honest opinion is his uke's are very good. I just wonder how well he would fare against a good Shodokan player?
Or for that matter Gene LeBell



Sorry I couldn't resist

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 11-20-2006, 12:56 PM   #9
Michael Varin
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Re: Seagal's technique...is it his size?

Good one, Don!
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Old 11-20-2006, 03:54 PM   #10
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Re: Seagal's technique...is it his size?

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote:
I
The man must be important to us, because we waste a lot of time talking about him instead of training.
I like to think it's "as well as training", rather than "instead of training".

It makes no difference, really, but it sounds nicer.

But he does get discussed a lot.

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Old 11-22-2006, 08:20 AM   #11
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Re: Seagal's technique...is it his size?

I love the tall guy small guy thing........I am the biggest guy in both dojo I train at.....I am only 185 cm tall and 90kg...but here that is big. Sensei always has an answer.......so my point here is that size has no advantage. (I personally think a wee bit of power compliments a technique well, but that is not the objective). Always Sensei will take seiza with me as uke to demonstrate the different dynamic for the tall man waza, often a a different approach for a big man but equally effective. Also I learn how to handle the different sized uke.......I kinda wish for a big uke sometimes...but being on the recieving end of one of these type waza ,I can really appreciate the works of it all.

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Old 11-22-2006, 09:39 AM   #12
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Seagal's technique...is it his size?

Quote:
so my point here is that size has no advantage.
I have come to believe that only a MA without competition could have people that make this general statement without caveats...

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 11-22-2006, 10:06 AM   #13
Double M
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Re: Seagal's technique...is it his size?

Ok, I'll bite....

There is a guy I work with that I was helping understand what Aikido is. This guy is 6 feet tall and weighs a whopping 320 lbs, and is a semi-pro american football player in his free time. I am 5'8" and weigh a staggering 155lbs. After helping this fellow along and teaching him roughly ten basic and more common Aikido techniques I can say that his size makes it harder for me to control him and toss him when we "freestyle". I have to use techniques and tactics he has not been introduced to in order to get him down or locked up. And heaven forbid I attempt a technique he is skilled in because he is able to overpower me regardless because he is bigger, heavier, and stronger than I am. At times I will challenge him by resisting and applying my strength to him in order to "ward off" a technique and see how he responds and he is able to feel my flow and use it against me, very rarely does he have to apply his strength to me directly. A light tap from him is much harder on me than my light tap to him, simple physics of size come into play.

Also, it is harder for me to apply certain techniques on him as there is such a vast size difference so he knows automatically that I will be inneffective in 1/3 of my aikido vocabulary off the bat. So when we do go freestyle I am able to intermix my aikido with my other skills so essentially I am doing what would appear to be more like Shinto-Ryu or Wado-Ryu after applying techniques of traditional Jujitsu , Shotokan, or even a more modernized "art" like Krav Maga or the use of a pressure point. On the strictly Aikido standpoint of training, we both make a great uke and he likes to take ukemi from me even when he says "oh hell" prior to being thrown 10 feet.

My point is that size does indeed make a difference, especially when there is resistance and there is no cooperative uke. Try to freestyle with a larger partner once or twice to see what I mean. Before my friend became a 5th Kyu he was easier to handle in freestyle, now he is hard to handle, but I love it and I love the challenge because I learn so much from it.

"Diplomacy is the art of saying 'nice doggy' until you find a big stick." - Anon.
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Old 11-22-2006, 10:16 AM   #14
Basia Halliop
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Re: Seagal's technique...is it his size?

Quote:
so my point here is that size has no advantage
Try practicing hard (eg with uke being even a little bit more aggressive than usual) with a few different people _at a similar level of experience as you_ and smaller, then with a few people with a similar level of experience and bigger/heavier, and then consider if you still think that. I am one of the smaller people in my dojo and I don't agree at all.

Of course skill matters as well and in the case of your Sensei maybe he is so much more skilled that the net result is comfortably in his favour, but I really don't agree that size has no advantage. It does have occasional disadvantages too, like higher centre of gravity, but still -- if someone is 150% of my weight, even if he has just walked in with no experience at all, I'd have to be pretty darn skilled to get out of a really 'freestyle' randori!

Luckily my training partners aren't actually trying to kill or injure me, and we are trying to learn, so instead I just get to learn a lot about doing a technique on someone bigger/heavier/taller than you (which I guess is a training advantage of being smaller -- more practice with bigger people ).

Last edited by Basia Halliop : 11-22-2006 at 10:21 AM.
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Old 11-22-2006, 10:22 AM   #15
Ethan Weisgard
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Re: Seagal's technique...is it his size?

Jut for the record: Seagal Sensei's contact with Isoyama Sensei came not so many years ago, much after the films of him that are referred to in this thread. His main influences have been mentioned elsewhere, I believe they were Tohei Sensei, and later on Abe Sensei.

In Aiki,

Ethan Weisgard
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Old 11-23-2006, 09:00 AM   #16
Mato-san
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Re: Seagal's technique...is it his size?

A good waza for me (aikido waza) is one that reflects that size has no contributing factor to the effectiveness of the particular waza.

We are talking about Aikido are we not?

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Old 11-23-2006, 09:59 AM   #17
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Re: Seagal's technique...is it his size?

Quote:
Ethan Weisgard wrote:
Jut for the record: Seagal Sensei's contact with Isoyama Sensei came not so many years ago, much after the films of him that are referred to in this thread. His main influences have been mentioned elsewhere, I believe they were Tohei Sensei, and later on Abe Sensei.

In Aiki,

Ethan Weisgard

Actually, not to start a debate here, but he actually DID train with Isoyama Shihan in Japan when he had the TenShin dojo there with his then wife. He was not introduced to him after his movies. This has been documented by both Seagal and Isoyama, in writing and TV documentaries.
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Old 11-23-2006, 10:03 AM   #18
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Re: Seagal's technique...is it his size?

Quote:
Mathew McDowell wrote:
A good waza for me (aikido waza) is one that reflects that size has no contributing factor to the effectiveness of the particular waza. We are talking about Aikido are we not?
While on the one hand, I would agree that Aikido is about blending and taking balance and that size is not a determining factors per say.

On the other hand, IMHO certain techniques certainly lend themselves easier to the size of the person executing them and is then a contributing factor.

Lynn Seiser PhD
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We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 11-24-2006, 10:53 AM   #19
Double M
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Re: Seagal's technique...is it his size?

I'm wondering if maybe the blending and evasion of Aikido as it relates to the common Aikidoka might be getting confused with the blending and evasion level of O'Sensei. O'Sensei was small in stature yet strong beyond his size, also his ability to master several martial arts before creating Aikido as it is known have lead me to think that his ability is obviously greater than ours and his sensitivity level to feel force is much greater than ours. Hmmm...

Lynn, you'd know more on the subject than the rest of us as you've got more years than we do in the art of peace. And I agree with what you've said. Especially in a dojo atmosphere where uke is supposed to cooperate to a certain point. But size is still a factor in a controlled environment like a dojo. A smaller person, such as myself, has a harder time applying a technique like Katatetori shiho-nage ura to a larger opponent or uke while applying ryotetori tenchi nage is almost impossible. For a perspective, I am 5 feet 8 inches tall. By larger persons I will consider anyone over 6 feet tall.

So by my personal reasoning I can easily flip the coin and see how certain techniques, such as ryotetori tenchi nage would be much easier to apply on someone my size or smaller. So yes, size does play a role and size does have it's advantages in certain techniques.

Good post.

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Old 11-25-2006, 08:42 AM   #20
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Re: Seagal's technique...is it his size?

My two cents:

Size matters. Both directions.

Size is irrelevant. Both directions.

Both of these statements are one hundred percent true. But neither is complete.

Size doesn't matter if the technique is executed correctly. There are certain techniques which are (or at least should be) more about making uke want to go where you are leading than about dragging them along. If you succeed in leading it doesn't matter how big they are. You can lead them right to the place where kuzushi is possible and there you go.

But, if the technique is not correct, it becomes a strength contest. Then size matters. A lot.

But size also matters for some techniques because of things like being able to get down low. Try this: do shiho nage on a five year old. I do it all the time. It's way easier on adults.

(In one of Aikido's little ironies, learning to manage shiho nage on a five year old made it easier for me to throw a guy who's well over six feet tall and strong as an ox with it, though I'd be hard-pressed to explain how.)

Size also matters on a psychological level. I had one student who could execute techniques at a very high level with everyone except one really big guy in the dojo. Everytime he was faced with this guy he'd start pushing and pulling and yanking and - sure enough - none of his techniques worked. Okay, so the "big guy" in this case is kind of an extreme case, still, I can throw him without much effort and I'm almost a foot shorter than my student who couldn't.

Size psychs people out.

But I've also seen big guys who couldn't manage anything resembling Aikido. They were so used to being able to out-muscle people that they just did so without thinking about it. Of course, it's always interesting when they come up against another big guy.

Over the years I've found that certain techniques are a lot easier to execute on someone bigger than me, others work better against someone smaller and most work regardless as long as I'm doing the technique correctly. The definition of "correctly", though, needs to take my partners size (and my own!) into account.

Size doesn't make a difference as to whether you can throw someone, but it does make a difference how in how you must go about it.

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Old 11-30-2006, 09:04 AM   #21
Ethan Weisgard
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Re: Seagal's technique...is it his size?

Quote:
Brandon Needham wrote:
Actually, not to start a debate here, but he actually DID train with Isoyama Shihan in Japan when he had the TenShin dojo there with his then wife. He was not introduced to him after his movies. This has been documented by both Seagal and Isoyama, in writing and TV documentaries.
I stand corrected.

In Aiki,

Ethan
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Old 12-23-2006, 04:58 PM   #22
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Re: Seagal's technique...is it his size?

Quote:
Kent Glasser wrote:
I have been going to YouTube and other online sources and checking out various Aikido video clips. I have been watching the old footage of Seagal on the mat and I see that his technique is so much more intense than any other footage I have seen of Aikido training. I have read that his style is influenced by Hiroshi Isoyama Shihan and so it is more forceful, but is it also his height advantage that I am seeing? I'm not into his movies or anything, but I can't help but be impressed by his style and technique on the mat. I am new to all of this and am trying to figure some things out. Thanks.
From what I've heard his techniques are really top notch.

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Old 12-25-2006, 06:22 AM   #23
Jarvis Cherron Kolen
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Re: Seagal's technique...is it his size?

Kent Glasser: I worked out with Seagal Sensei many years ago back home in California. I was young, STRONG, athletic(wrestled and played American football on the collegiate level)and brash beyond belief about my Jujitsu skills. He handled me with total finesse and grace.

I will say this, he had some of the most smooth technique I had encountered at that time. Also, he was extremely pleasant to me and even gave me so personal pointers after the camp.
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Old 12-26-2006, 09:39 AM   #24
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Re: Seagal's technique...is it his size?

Yes...lynn I am the biggest and strongest guy in the dojo....because I am in Japan most guys are smaller...so my objective is to feel out these techniques...and obviously Sensei is growing from this experience...so to am I. Lucky he respects and explores and therefore we can all grow.That is what is all about isn`t it? I could easly learn to manipulate the syllubus with my strength but I prefer to let it grow and prove itself....not to mention Sensei was a uchideshi of Tohei for 5 years and hombu instructor for 16....so his waza is pretty strong.

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Old 12-26-2006, 09:50 AM   #25
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Re: Seagal's technique...is it his size?

Would you agree some experience comes into play also....with a good shihonage.....if i go hard with a shomenuchi at an experienced player.(small)..they can put me down fast and hard....small or large they do it hard and smooth......I can do it hard but not as smooth!....but then again some waza I guess my size and strenght play a nice roll....so I am on the fence...but nice topic....really I am trying to get away from using strength......maybe I should leave Japan.

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