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Seagal, Steven -- Aikido: The Path Beyond Thought
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100% of reviewers None indicated 9.6
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Keywords: steven seagal path beyond thought video


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AikiWeb System


Registered: April 2001
Posts: 1318
Review Date: Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 0 

 
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Author: Mark Chiappetta
E-Mail: Send E-mail to Mark Chiappetta

I purchased this video out of curiosity. I was hoping for it to show Seagal Sensei's aikido unadulterated (unlike what's in his movies) and I think it did that. However, here are my short opinions:

1. The old B&W footage of him was very interesting to watch. I liked it and it was good enough to justify spending the $25 on the tape. I especially liked the weapons taking sequences.

2. His attitude towards the seminar participants appeared very casual and almost as if he was uninterested. His general instruction at other times seemed melodramatic. It was very hard to make out what he would be like as a teacher and this is something that I had hoped to get a glimpse of by watching the video.

3. I understand the message that they were trying to get across during ALL of the randori footage back in his dojo (where his students were taking their shodan tests) but for me there was just too much of that footage (it seemed like filler).

I personally could not see the "quality" in most of his students randori during their shodan tests. Also, the rolling around on the ground stuff seemed kind of pointless to me. I personally feel that once a student gets taken down, GAME OVER! If it were me, I'd consider that a failed exercise.

Now, Take Sensei's randori sequences were something that I could relate to. He seemed to be a very calm and stable center amidst the chaos, always moving and never turning his back to his ukes as some of his students did.

4. I could totally relate to one of the comments that I believe Craig Dunn made during the video. He said, when discussing Seagal Sensei's normal demeanor on the mat, "I'd much rather suffer his anger than his indifference." This put into words how I have felt about my relationship with my teacher for the past few years.

5. Seagal Sensei is a very big man. Despite dwarfing most of his ukes, he seemed to have reasonable smallness about him. One thing I thought was interesting though is that his arms appeared very loose (without tension). In my style, we normally project more energy through our arms and to the fingertips which are spread wide (kind of soft on the outside but hard on the inside).

6. With regards to distribution, I ordered two copies (one for a fellow dojomate without WWW access) and they came when promised. My credit card was not charged until the videos were shipped.

In summary, this video was worth the money and will take it's place in my personal collection but probably won't get as much play as some others like Chiba Sensei's Instructor Guidelines which cover basic techniques from gokyu up through ikkyu (my favorites).

In aiki spirit,

Mark

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Registered: April 2001
Posts: 1318
Review Date: Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 0 

 
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Author: Ubaldo Alcantara
E-Mail: Send E-mail to Ubaldo Alcantara

I've just watched "Aikido: The Path Beyond Thought", the new video from Steven Seagal (Steamroller Productions, available through www.stevenseagal.com).

It's a bit difficult to judge it unemotionally. Steven Seagal is a very important figure in Aikido history and I believe many people started in this path, after watching his first movie : "Above the Law" (a good film at that!). On the other side, for many years, he has been known, not for his Aikido, but as a controversial figure: arrogant, with a very confusing and confused life story. Stories have been spread by him (and not confirmed) about involvements with the Yakuza in Japan and with the CIA. The confirmed facts are:

1. he learned Aikido with Harry Ishisaka and trained occasionally with Koichi Tohei, Isoyama Sensei and Abbe Sensei;
2. The Aikikai bestowed on him(for what it's worth) a 7th Dan;
3. He married a japanese lady and received, as a gift from the girls' father, a very big dojo in Tokyo;
4. he teached in that dojo for some years (and according to some sources, was promoted to 3rd Dan, because of that); and
5. he divorced his wife and left for the States, where he married a Hollywood actress and was responsible for some big propaganda for Aikido. At the same time, he promoted his name with even greater effort.

During his movie career, his Aikido dojo was conducted by his sempai, Haruo Matsuoka Sensei, with whom he broke apart later. Later still, he became involved in a spiritual quest and was told by a tibetan Lama that he was a Tulku, that is, a reincarnation of a saint. This Lama, recently, has made a public declaration that Seagal Sensei's condition of Tulku is just that: a possibility or a potential. To go on, he would have to study very much, a thing he didn't show much interest in. In this late period, he passed the management of his dojo to Larry Reynosa Sensei, known previously as one of Bruce Tegner's high hand men.

So I came to this video, with a lot of emotions and doubts. What did I see ?

Seagal Sensei knows his Aikido. He has strong, good techniques. Perhaps a bit unrefined, a bit heavy, but definitely good techniques. But sometimes one feels that Seagal has reduced his techniques to the ones he likes and does better (Iriminage, for instance). And we see his students trying to do those techniques his way. Impossible! They function for him, not for small men or women. They'll have to find the techniques for them.

Through all the video, we feel it like an hour-long eulogy to Seagal Sensei, with many enthusiastic testimonies from his students. That's a bit tiresome.

His randori left me astounded! It's illogical, to say the least. Three people attack the defender, trying to push him. It's up to the defender to escape them and to not let them pull him to the ground. But if he goes to the ground, the fighting continues, with him trying to get up again. I find it non-technical, non practical and open to many accidents, since this randori easily becomes uncontrollably violent. I might be wrong but that's the impression I got.

None of his students in the video shows a technique equal or similar to the one displayed by Seagal Sensei. In one moment, Seagal Sensei gives a student a verbal beating that reminded me of a drill sargent. There was a permanent feeling of "machismo", even on the part of the ladies. And also the permanent statement that "Seagal's Aikido works on the streets" with its corollary that "no one else does". Maybe...But is there a need for proclaiming that?

Some older pictures of Seagal Sensei in Japan were included. That was the best part, even if he shows the same things as today, mainly his trade mark Iriminage.

Many people have pointed out problems with this video's distribution. In my case, my son picked mine with his representative, Larry Reynosa Sensei, in a seminar in Brazil.

That's what I feel, watching this video.

Ubaldo Alcantara
Brazil.
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Review Date: Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 0 

 
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Author: John Bach
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Over the weekend, I had a chance to view "Aikido: The Path Beyond Thought", an hour-long video about Steven Seagal and his career in Aikido. Be advised, this video is an homage to Steven Seagal and his aikido, not about aikido itself, per se. I found it interesting because it does show a lot of footage of S.S. both in Japan and U.S., both demonstrating and teaching. There are many short interviews with a number of his students talking about his style and how he teaches. Take Sensei (S.S.) practices a "hard" aikido that is more combative than my experience, yet it was refreshing to see that side of aikido. There were a number of sequences that showed techniques against kicks, which I have not seen before and therefore were both informative and interesting. Also interesting were the clips showing randori in his dojo where the attacks invariably resulted in what looked like a grappling match; part of the "reality" of being attacked. Even though S.S. is marginal as an actor, he definitely is very accomplished as an aikidoka; very quick and severe. Most of the video clips are from someone's home video camera and S.S. never really addresses the camera. The production quality is good (the director is one of his long-time students) and the soundtrack is well suited to the action. Also be aware that S.S. is the executive producer. I came away with the impression that S.S. is a complex and sincere man but I'm still perplexed by the paradox of his movie career vs. his spiritual path.
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Registered: April 2001
Posts: 1318
Review Date: Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 8 

 
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Author: T. Rohr
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For as much as the critics like to blast Steven Seagal for sub-par performances in sub-par movies, there can be no doubt about the man's abilities on the mat. "Aikido: The Path Beyond Thought," however, is not an instructional tape, nor is it even the story of Steven Seagal's journey through aikido. What the video is most successful at is providing an introduction to aikido to the uninitiated, and specifically defending Seagal's aikido system against all fronts.

The video is driven by Seagal's students, who discuss what it is like to train under Take Sensei, as they call him, while video of Seagal training at various times and in various arenas plays across the screen. Stress is given to the practicality versus dance qualities of the many styles of aikido, with the obvious focus put on Seagal's aikido as the most practical - according the students.

The tape was broken down into sections such as "Steven Seagal's Aikido Philosophy", "Working with Beginners," and "Ukemi." There were even some scenes from the Shodan test of some of his students to enforce how demanding the training was that he required. The most enjoyable parts of the tape, however, were old footage of demonstrations Seagal Sensei and his students have put on, as well as the ending sequence of video featuring Seagal Sensei throwing technique after technique with no narration at all. These scenes provide great evidence of aikido in action and the subtleties of genius.

Do not watch this tape with the expectation of the delivery of knowledge or insight of technique. Even when it was clear that Seagal Sensei was speaking to a student (in footage from a class or a seminar), either you were not meant to hear what he is saying, or the sound quality is so poor that you have to listen twice. What you do hear varies from instruction to beratement to philosophy, so the primary purpose of this tape is clearly not instructional. While there are nuances that aikidoka will catch, the far more beneficial reason for watching this tape is for motivation towards zanshin and shinken shobu.

I would give this tape an 8 out of 10.


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Registered: April 2001
Posts: 1318
Review Date: Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 0 

 
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Author: Tracy Reasoner
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If you are looking for an instructional video this is not it and for that matter an overall average tape. I say this because I have acquired most all of the seminar footage via "the Aikido Black Market" so it was old stuff to me. In fact, at least I can hear his teaching on some of my copies. With that said someone who has never seen this material will surely enjoy it and would be worth purchasing.

This video is Compilation of footage taken from his days in Japan at Tenshin Dojo in Osaka, early days in America and some from recent seminar in Santa Barbara. Other then the Introduction Mr. Seagal says nothing else. The rest is from his students talking about Seagal Sensei and the physical Aikido he teaches. There is some good footage of him adminstering tests. Actually, it reminded me of my early days in the Marines. Especially whe the DI was standing over you screaming that you are dead!

The quality is very good and the interviews ok. The overall tape is a bit narcissistic. With the interviews talking about what its like to train with him how approachable he is, very few have passed their shodan the first time they have taken it etc. Many of us found Aikido through Seagal Sensei and admire the physical art that he does, very effective street style aikido. In my opinion very similar to the aikido taught by Koichi Tohei to the police officers when he visited Hawaii. (I say this only because of my experience with some of the senior Hawaiian teachers explaining techniques to me and my later observations at some classes at the old Tenshin dojo in LA. they looked and felt very similar)

One could go on and on about the good and bad qualities, however, since its maybe 40 minutes in length it may be a bit overkill. I would not give it 2 thumbs up. Overall, I would rate it 2.5 out of 5 stars. If you have the extra cash buy it you will watch probably five times and then it will begin to gather dust on your video shelf. Instead you may want to invest in some of Saotome's tapes they personally are the best aikido tapes on the market for explanation. The Aikido Journal tapes are also very good and would place far ahead of this one.

Hope this helps.

Tracy Reasoner
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Registered: April 2001
Posts: 1318
Review Date: Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 0 

 
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Author: Tom Hosmanek
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An exceptional video. While web-cruising I happened upon www.stevenseagal.com and saw an ad for this video. It said it was about aikido, but not much more. I ordered it, and read on the box that it would demonstrate Seagal Sensei's aikido and show some action footage at the end, which I assumed meant from movies of his, but was actually randori sequences.

The video is professionally produced, but has an interesting quality which interlaces short interview "sound bites" with students, among some longer filmed dojo sequences of Seagal in Japan and New Mexico dojos which have a "home movie" quality to them (and probably were taken as home movies by students originally). Also, mixed in are current segments from Seagal Sensei seminars, many of them outdoors!

The quality of the Aikido is absolutely outstanding. I own a lot of books and videos, but haven't seen anything like this. Lest this sound a bit too enthusiastic, be my guest and verify my comments for yourself.

All I'd really seen of Seagal's aikido was in his movies. This should definitely put any criticism of him from any aikido quarters to rest for good, as what is on this video far surpasses the quality of Aikido that I've seen from any other demos, including the Aiki News All-Japan tapes, etc., or any instructional videos, and I've seen many of those, too.

The technique, speed and timing are something to watch, and I often found myself rewinding to watch something over and over to see if it was really that fast, really that good, and it was.

A good range of techniques is shown including kotegaeshi, kokyunage, iriminage, tanto-dori, jo-dori, and bokken moves. But what comes through is a real earnestness among the students to be very sincere (makoto) in their practice and execution of techniques. If your jaw doesn't drop at least several times during this video, it never will.

This is some heavy-duty, real Aikido. The randori and testing sequences actually resemble group muggings - but that is the intent. This is one Aikido video that was actually well-worth the money.
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Registered: April 2001
Posts: 1318
Review Date: Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 10 

 
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Author: Daniel Pieddae
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Date: 2002-07-17

Um primor, Steven Seagal é o melhor akidoca do mundo. O documentário é digno de seu trabalho, muito perfeito.
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Registered: April 2001
Posts: 1318
Review Date: Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros:
Cons:

Author: Daniel Pieddae
E-Mail: Send E-mail to Daniel Pieddae
Date: 2002-07-17

Um primor, Steven Seagal é o melhor akidoca do mundo. O documentário é digno de seu trabalho, muito perfeito.
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Registered: April 2001
Posts: 1318
Review Date: Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 10 

 
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Author: nono peña
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Date: 2003-02-24

despues de ver el video, se puede decir claramente que seagal sensei tiene dos momentos en osaka y en EEUU en la primera etapa teniendo un estilo soberviamenta eficaz entronca con el aikido clasico para despues reducirlo muchisimo en aras de mayor efectividad como lo demuestran sus alumnos en los randori sin conseguirlo ya que al entrar en la lucha cuerpo a cuerpo solo demuestran un ejercicio de violencia exagerada aunque la tecnica que exibe seagal sensei es esquisita.
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Review Date: Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 10 

 
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Got an orig copy from Larry Reynosa, lent it to a friend, who lent to his friend they made copies, and sold it . Now its everywhere in Saudi Arabia
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