Steven Seagal is a well-known actor, producer, screenwriter, musician… Ukraine Bans Steven Seagal Over ‘National Security’, Steven Seagal asked to teach Aikido to Serbia’s special police forces, Steven Seagal granted Russian citizenship by Vladimir Putin, Is Steven Seagal actually a police officer? Is Steven Seagal actually a martial artist? There are a lot of interesting and not much-known facts about his life and especially from the Aikido perspective.
Steven was born on the 10th of April 1952. At the age of 13, Seagal lied about his age and got a job as a dishwasher at a restaurant where one of the cooks was a Karate Shotokan expert. This is when Karate basics were learned by Steven. He then, being a teenager, started his Aikido training under Harry Kiyoshi Ishisaka who was a Koichi Tohei’s student and a founder of the Orange County Aikido School. Steven was fully there on the mat and was influenced a lot by his first teacher.
Being around 20-year-old Steven moved to Japan with his father who decided to stay there. In Japan, he got a Shodan and continued his training under Koichi Tohei, Seiseki Abe, Hiroshi Isoyama, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Kisaburo Osawa. Toheis proposal to join Ki Society Aikido was rejected by Steven so he remained under Aikikai.
In 1974 Steve went back to California where he met Miyako Fujitani, an Aikido instructor from Los Angeles and in a year they got married in Japan. Her father was also an Aikido instructor in Japan and after his retirement, Steven became a head and a chief instructor at Tenshin Aikido in Juso city, Osaka. At the same time, he became the first non-japanese to operate an Aikido Dojo in Japan. Miyako was left to care about the Dojo when Steven left.
Steven Seagal holds a 7th Dan and is a Shihan in aikido Aikikai, has black belts in Karate, Judo, Kendo. He opened several Dojos around the world during his aikido career, gave seminars all over the world and is still demonstrating his skill occasionally. His aikido style looks very powerfull even for a big man he is and what he does like are the wrist locks and counter-directional moves which make his aikido look so angry.
They say that Steven accidentally broke Sean Connery‘s wrist during the “Never Say Never Again” movie production. That is a nice way to promote yourself as a martial artist in a Hollywood but not a worst way to use Aikido of course.
Aikido was not that popular back in those days and most of people used their chance to see the “magical martial art” through Seagal’s movies. Take a look at the moves in the fight scenes and you will see a lot of basic Aikido techniques mixed with punches, kicks, cuts. Some of those can be understood as advanced Atemi. All this was done by Steven in his own unique style, realistic and attractive.
Stevens Aikido demonstration in 2015 in Russia. Ukes are: Dmitry Sapozhnikov and Ivan Egorov.