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Old 06-25-2003, 10:06 PM   #1
C. Emerson
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Seagal? Like or Dislike

I'm a Hapkido Dude! So what does the Aikido community think about Seagal. Because from my vantage point he is one of the spokes people for your art. At least for the rest of the world. Most people don't know the prominent people in your art.

Chad
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Old 06-25-2003, 10:25 PM   #2
Nacho
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There are two sides on this. Some people dislikes Seagal, and their arguments are his poor films, or rumours about his personal life, etc.

As many other people, I dislike this sayings. We are talking about Aikido, about the martial art, and Steven Seagal is a 7th dan from Aikikai. His technique is awesome. And that's all.

Then, if he wants to make an awful movie, or if he wants to be a buddhist priest, or if he wants to get laid with chicks in his limo, that's his personal life and he is very lucky to have those options.
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Old 06-25-2003, 10:30 PM   #3
Scott Sweetland
 
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All I'm going to say is it bothers me that people consider him a spokesperson for Aikido. What he does and says bear no more than a superficial resemblance to Aikido (and that's putting it nicely).

I understand from where people get the mistaken impression, but IMO Steven Segal is not a spokesperson for Aikido.

Unfortunately, Aikido will most likely never have a high-profile representative, since a protagonist who takes responsibility for the well-being of his opponents would not sell many movie tickets..
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Old 06-26-2003, 12:04 AM   #4
Adrian Smith
 
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Seagal may have started out training in aikido, and in fact in his first movie ("Above the Law" I think it was) there's some footage at the beginning of him in hakama doing waza. He's younger and I believe it's genuine.

That being said, I think he departed from what I would consider true aikido when he got dream of glamor in his head. More power to him and I wish him every success, but I wouldn't consider him an emissary of aikido.

Of course, that's from my limited knowledge of both aikido and Seagal, although someone in my dojo knows him (I'm in Japan and some of our members have trained at Aikikai Hombu Dojo). Their statements regarding him aren't particularly flattering...

-drin
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Old 06-26-2003, 12:05 AM   #5
C. Emerson
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Are there some people that feel that the techniques on film maybe closer to traditional Jujutsu that Aikido?

Chad
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Old 06-26-2003, 03:15 AM   #6
Aikilove
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Ok... this is a free forum and everyone can write what they like (unless it's slander or just bad language), but I would be careful in making statements (good or bad ones) about a fellow aikidoka (he is still practicing you know..) and persons skill (of e.g. aikido) and general character, without having ever met him or trained under/with him.

What goes around comes around...

Jakob Blomquist
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Old 06-26-2003, 05:19 AM   #7
JJF
 
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Quote:
Nacho W (Nacho) wrote:
... and Steven Seagal is a 7th dan from Aikikai. His technique is awesome. And that's all.

Then, if he wants to make an awful movie, or if he wants to be a buddhist priest, or if he wants to get laid with chicks in his limo, that's his personal life and he is very lucky to have those options.
Hi Nacho!

I have to dissagree with you here. In my opinion technique is not the only thing that constitutes a high-ranking aikido-ka. I'm not going to commen't on the rumors regarding Mr. Seagal, but your statement as a general rule disturbs me. When one progresses through the ranks one should also strive towards living the principles of aikido in real life. How exactly this is carried out is a completely different story - so is the discussion whether Mr. Seagal does so or not. The issue here is, that in my opinion technique is with time increasingly a less important part of the whole which identifies an aikido-ka. Not that one should let ones technique deterioate, but other matters should be allowed to enter the picture.

For reference please read the following:

http://www.aikidofaq.com/practice/yudansha_ranking.html

- Jřrgen Jakob Friis

Inspiration - Aspiration - Perspiration
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Old 06-26-2003, 07:03 AM   #8
Kevin Wilbanks
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I don't know anything about his personal life except heresay. What I have seen is several of his movies. I think it's fair to draw at least some conclusions based on his work.

A common element in all these films is that his character is always a supreme, nearly invincible badass who single-handedly makes all things right, and judges and punishes the guilty. The overall impression of personal egotism is somewhere in the range of the oft-ridiculed Kevin Costner, and even more tiresome in my view, as the movies are less imaginative and varied. It is only acting, but there are thousands of working actors out there that manage to give a less dim-witted, egomaniacal impression of themselves by the projects they choose to engage/star in.

The other issue I have with the movies seems to be in even greater conflict with Aiki principles: the approach to violence. The movies are virtually identical to Charles Bronson or Dirty Harry movies in that they are revenge fantasies. The stories are thinly contrived excuses to make the viewer feel justified in getting off on extreme violence. Some 'bad guys' do some preposterously bad things, making them sub-human, and the next thing you know we get to enjoy identifying with our hero as he maims, cripples, and kills them free of guilt or moral concern. To say that someone can get rich and famous from propagating this kind of material in society, but this has nothing to do with them as a person or Aikidoka seems a little obtuse to me.

Personally, I don't have any more problem with Seagal than with other apparently egomaniacal bad actors or action tough-guys, but I do think there are serious questions about how his entertainment products fit with his status as an Aikido sensei.

Last edited by Kevin Wilbanks : 06-26-2003 at 07:07 AM.
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Old 06-26-2003, 09:20 AM   #9
Charles Hill
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As far as Mr. Seagal being a spokesperson, I understand that he keeps pretty quiet now about his training in and teaching of Aikido. I had even gotten the feeling that he doesn't actively teach anymore, I have since found out that this is wrong.

I recently attended a seminar taught by one of Mr. Seagal's top students, Elliot Freeman. Mr. Freeman was very nice, very giving, and extremely competent. In martial arts, they often say that the student reflects the teacher. If that is true, then Steven Seagal must be something special.

Charles
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Old 06-26-2003, 10:19 AM   #10
Mark Barlow
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I visited his dojo in L.A. in the late 80s and observed a class taught by his senior student. Seagal came in during the class, introduced himself to me and we talked for several minutes. He was polite and answered questions willingly.

Obviously, the short amount of time I spent with him does not make me a Seagal expert but I was left with a positive impression. His student was talented and the class was run well. Seagal didn't attempt to intimidate or impress. I've had much worse experiences with aikido sensei who had better reputations.
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Old 06-26-2003, 10:34 AM   #11
Bronson
 
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Do you think he does (at least a little) for aikido what Bruce Lee did for kung fu? I know kung fu instructors who have a kind of love/hate relationship with what Bruce Lee did in his movies. On one hand he got people interested in kung fu but on the other hand what was in his movies wasn't really representative of what the new student was going to learn in class. There were always some students who left dissapointed, but a few stayed. I've had some of these same experiences because of Seagal's movies.

Just my thoughts,

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 06-26-2003, 12:04 PM   #12
kensparrow
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Quote:
Bronson Diffin (Bronson) wrote:
Do you think he does (at least a little) for aikido what Bruce Lee did for kung fu? I know kung fu instructors who have a kind of love/hate relationship with what Bruce Lee did in his movies. On one hand he got people interested in kung fu but on the other hand what was in his movies wasn't really representative of what the new student was going to learn in class.
I've never told anyone at the dojo this, but I was one of those people who got into martial arts because of "Above The Law". In my own defense I have to say that I've never had a pony tail! I remember walking out of the movie theater and thinking that I had never seen a martial art like that before and that I had to know more about it. I couldn't find an aikido dojo at that time and had to be content with karate but even years later I jumped at the opportunity to study aikido when it presented itself.

I hate to think that most people will only know aikido from those movies but if the movies get even a few people onto the Path then they can't be all bad (except for the plots ).
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Old 06-26-2003, 12:09 PM   #13
Goye
 
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I prefer to think about him as a movie star,... and I have start sleeping while seeing some of his movies,...(always are the same)

César Martínez
Satori Dojo
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Old 06-26-2003, 12:10 PM   #14
ChristianBoddum
 
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Hi !

I think most people judging actors on their movies forget that it is a buisness,

to get a film funded usually means that scripts get changed to get the OK from

worried funders - this is the reality.

In the music undustry the same goes on,

Eric Clapton has got severly critizised for

some of his albums,but he also had to please

Warner Br's need for comerciallity.

George Benson once replied after critizism

that he had a family to feed ,no matter what

the jazzfanatics had to say.

Maybe this is getting a little off the topic,

but I think it's relevant.

Yours - Chr.B.
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Old 06-26-2003, 12:29 PM   #15
Eric Joyce
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I wouldn't say that Steven Segal is the spokesperson for aikido. He definitely has sparked interest in the art. Granted, he doesn't do aikido in his movies. He incorporates a few things here and there, but not the nice flowing techniques of aikido that we all know and love (I guess that doesn't sell in Hollyweird). As an aikidoist, from the research and what I have seen, he is top notch. As an actor...well...the jury is still out on that one.

Eric Joyce
Otake Han Doshin Ryu Jujutsu
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Old 06-26-2003, 01:08 PM   #16
Jesse Lee
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I have seen a few Seagal movies, and I don't even *recognize* aikido in them, with the sole exception of "Above the Law." You could point to the convenience-store scene as an example of some hard-hitting aikido. Beyond that, I dunno.

Then again, in my inexperience, I probably don't recognize 95% of what any 7th dan is doing.

, can't find m s
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Old 06-26-2003, 02:08 PM   #17
Paula Lydon
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~~Never met the man or trained with him; Pillsburry Doughboy is a spokesperson also

~~Paula~~
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Old 06-26-2003, 02:22 PM   #18
Kevin Wilbanks
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Quote:
Christian Boddum (ChristianBoddum) wrote:
I think most people judging actors on their movies forget that it is a buisness, to get a film funded usually means that scripts get changed to get the OK from worried funders - this is the reality.
I understand that it is a business. However, I don't think that calling something 'business' or citing market realities absolves anyone from being held to account for what the do/produce/are associated with. In America, business is held as some kind of sacred value with transcends and nullifies all other concerns, and I don't ascribe to that. Corporations and people who run them often use the same excuse when they make vast profits by cheating, stealing, poisoning or mistreating people. If you are on the short end of one of these deals, 'just business' isn't comforting. I don't feel harmed or outraged by Mr. Seagal's entertainment products, but they seem like distasteful garbage to me overall, minus a few seconds here or there of 'cool' MA stunts. Business schmizness... the guy makes money off of selling a product that is somewhere between drivel and pernicious drivel.

Incidentally, I have a similar impression of Bruce Lee's movies. While his drive and achievements as a martial artist/stunt coordinator are impressive, his movies are so heavy on "I'm a badass" egotism and violence fetishism that I can barely watch them without involuntarily rolling my eyes. Thank god for the fast-forward button.
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Old 06-26-2003, 03:18 PM   #19
John Bach
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I agree with the postings above that suggests Steven Seagal is a "paradox, wrapped in an enigma, covered in secret sauce". I, too, was first introduced to Seagal movies via "Above the Law" and was quite taken with his aikido in that movie. That being said, I feel that many of his later movies unnecessarily promote gratuitous violence, which, to my mind, does not follow the moral/philosophical precepts as set forth by Osensei (and drew many of us to Aikido in the first place) As far as the reincarnated monk thing goes, I'll leave that for the formal Buddhist hierarchy... Regarding Mr. Seagal's aikido, I have had the opportunity to view his video, "The Path Beyond Thought", which included a number of testimonials by his students and they, of course, were all laudatory... he seems to be a sincere sensei, albeit practicing a very "tough" form of aikido. As for his acting, I reference Glenn Close's comment in the movie, "Coming Out", when she is announcing the candidates for "Best Actor" category for the Academy Awards, where she says, "...and Steven Seagal for his role in "Snowball in Hell"".
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Old 06-26-2003, 06:52 PM   #20
C. Emerson
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Paula, How dare you!!!!! LOL
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Old 06-27-2003, 12:19 PM   #21
bob_stra
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Personally...

I enjoy his aikido. Having watched Path Beyond Thought, all I was thinking was "wow, his guy is some much better at aikido than I thought".

I liked a few of his films too. Under Siege was a great Die Hard redux.

The rest...insufficient information to form accurate opinion. (of course, the rumours make you wary of him).
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Old 06-27-2003, 03:56 PM   #22
kironin
 
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Cool

Quote:
Bob Strahinjevich (bob_stra) wrote:
Personally...

I liked a few of his films too. Under Siege was a great Die Hard redux.
Oh WAIT a minute!

Die Hard was a much better movie not least of which, Bruce Willis gets beaten up into a bloody pulp trying to be the hero. Under Seige was as somebody said just another save the world revenge fantasy where he walks away spotless with the Playboy centerfold.

Seagal's movies since "Above the Law" have progressively become more and more stage combat. If anything, Under Seige puts Filipino knife fighting on display in the climatic mano el mano fight scene. Die Hard ends with Bruce just using his brains to try to get himself and his wife out alive. It's still a fanatsy for sure, but at least you see in some sense how ugly and painful a violent situation like that would be. There is more about aikido in Die Hard with a everyman policeman stuck in baddest civilian crime situation than in Under Seige with the Ubermensch soldier saving the USA from doomsday.



Whatever Seagal does in the movies or private life, IMO what he has said in interviews and done in public is what makes him not a good spokesman for aikido. People will not get an accurate impression from what he has said about aikido nor will they understand his relatively minor role in the history of aikido from what he says.

His most recent movies have been pretty much straight to video so his impact on aikido is pretty much nil now anyway. If he is teaching still and being more quiet about it. More power to him.

Craig
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Old 06-27-2003, 06:13 PM   #23
Charles Hill
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Craig,

What has Steven Seagal said about Aikido in public?

Charles
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Old 06-30-2003, 11:38 AM   #24
kensparrow
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Quote:
Jesse Lee wrote:
I have seen a few Seagal movies, and I don't even *recognize* aikido in them, with the sole exception of "Above the Law." You could point to the convenience-store scene as an example of some hard-hitting aikido. Beyond that, I dunno.

Then again, in my inexperience, I probably don't recognize 95% of what any 7th dan is doing.
I was flipping the channel the other night and happened to catch his second movie ("Marked for Death?") right at the only good aikido scene (which saved me from having to sit through more than 5 minutes of it!). I did see gokyo, shihonage, koshinage, sankyo and nikkyo though. It also made me very glad I'm not a drug dealing Rastafarian with a machete.
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Old 06-30-2003, 03:39 PM   #25
C. Emerson
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Every time he is on a late night show, they go through his resume. And everytime he gives an interview Aikido comes up. As far as the general public goes, they don't know what Aikido is. The few that do, would be in the martial arts or be a fan of Seagal.
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