Video: Steven Seagal at 1995 All-Japan Aikido Demonstration

“This demonstration was given at the Nippon Budokan in
Tokyo on the occasion of Steven Seagals’s 7th dan award”

Steven Seagal is a well-known action movie star who has showcased aikido in many of his films. Steven lived in Japan for a number of years where he operated an aikido dojo in Osaka. After first following Koichi Tohei Sensei upon arriving in Japan, he later became part of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo system. Steven was close to the late Seiseki Abe Sensei and hosted seminars in Osaka in which people like Noriaki Inoue, Morihiro Saito, Hiroshi Isoyama, and other famous teachers participated.

Early in Steven’s movie career, there was somewhat of an “aikido boom” due to the popularity of his movies. He was instrumental in familiarizing millions of people with his dynamic aikido technique, which was often portrayed in a brutal manner in his films.

This video clip is from the 1995 All-Japan Aikido Demonstration and Steven performs in the center mat in deference to his celebrity status to an appreciative audience. On this visit to Japan, he was also awarded 7th dan ranking by Second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba.

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  1. Great video, thanks Stanley!

  2. I enjoyed the video…
    Thank you

  3. Keith McInnis says:

    At the risk of being disrespectful–in this footage he lacks elegance and grace. He is a physically imposing man and appears to rely on that advantage rather than on precise techniques. His attackers seems insincere. Saito Sensei was also a large man, as is his son, yet they demonstrate effective, quick techniques elegantly without appearing to be in competition with their attackers.I have enjoyed Mr. Segal’s movies over the years. Movie success is not the same as advanced, well-developed Aikido grace and skill under pressure. I would like to see him demonstrate those characteristics publicly as he is a great asset to Aikido internationally and by showing its effectiveness when applied elegantly he will advance himself and Aikido. The music for the performance was fun.

  4. Mike Swederska says:

    Thank you for posting Take Sensei.

  5. Dolorès MOUT HAM says:

    HI, I am thankful for aikido ! and it is certainly with great pleasure, that I watch high rank aikidoka practice and give us a show ! thank you 🙂

  6. Paul Hughes says:

    Thank you for this video. I agree that Steven Seagal was the reason many people came to train in aikido as up until he arrived on the scene (for me at least ) There had not been much publicity regarding the art. I am glad that someone was instrumental in getting me started though his particular ‘Hard’ style of aikido was not my scene. I have found my niche and am thankful I can still train and learn from my Sensei.

  7. Gabor Szabo says:

    Agree with Keith totally

  8. I don’t agree with Keith whatsoever. If you watch the other videos of him demostrating his skills, you will see he does have grace and is technically proficient. You don’t get awarded 7th dan by not being so. LoL!

    I very much hope i have the grace and pleasure of working with him on his movies while pursuing my career.


  9. Bruce Hall says:

    I agree with Keith. Higher Dan levels are often awarded for what you’ve done for the art, not for higher levels of proficiency. Tohei Sensei awarded my Sensei his 5th Dan for teaching Aikido to the blind and his 4th Dan for using Aikido in his work with inner city youth. Steven’s ranks are appreciation for what his movies have done to promote Aikido.

  10. Luke Skywalker says:

    I assume many of my friends who commented under this video has already seen the documentary about Seagal Sensei called ‘The Path Beyond thought’. Any of you who has any doubts regarding the grace, effectiveness or efficiency of his technique, please go watch that movie. Steven Seagal Sensei’s SPEED -compared to any man his size (height AND weight) is unbelievable.. Claiming that he received his dans due to the popularity of his movies is similar to saying that Christian Tissier Sensei received his dans because of his demonstrations on Bercy Martial Arts Festivals which were broadcasted on Eurosport every single year. After all, Eurosport is watched by way more people who bought Steven Seagal dvds.. In fact, I honestly cannot think of many Sensei today, whose technical level as well as as advanced as Steven Seagal. However, it makes me very sad to see he has abandoned aikido, is in extremely physical poor state, and his recent movies are more fiction and fantasy in terms of martial arts…

  11. Sensei Seagal got me started in Aikido, His movies inspired me. I’m watching how he will influence Anderson Silva in the UFC.

  12. Ewen Ebsworth says:

    Steven Seagal is a personal inspiration to me as a martial artist. He is dedicated to and passionate about the martial arts, and aikido in particular. His respect for Asian culture, philosophy and religion as well as his dan ranking in aikido prove how serious he is about pursuing the martial arts as a path, and applying it to everything he does in life. It’s a shame so many people like to criticise him for his weight gain over the years and for his more recent films. The fact that he is still actively doing what he loves to do at his age is admirable.

  13. It is hard to be graceful when 4 people are chsaing you tryng thier best to hold you down. Take sensei’s style does not compromise. What’s the problem with that?
    Thanks for the clip guys!

  14. dianti says:

    I agree with Keith.
    Steven Seagal came once in Paris followed by body guards!?
    His “demonstration”, was so poor, that Christian Tissier who had to appear the same evening, and was watching the show said that he would never have been caught in such a ridiculous situation.
    I don’t know who give him this rank, and why he’s got a seventh dan.
    This is not serious. In that case, a lot of us deserve the same…..

  15. Force is still present in Mr. Seagal’s movements. I agree with Keith on this. It is evident. But is there anyone on earth who is pure love and non-violence so there is no resistance at all within? We are all working on this. So how can our movements not express the contradiction of self-love and pride and fear that still remains in the fabric of our souls?

  16. LaurenceNicholson says:

    As always, people’s opinion differ. There are many indications of grace and fluidity required from a Dan Grade in the video ‘The Path Beyond thought’ as well as the hard style, practical applications he shows in this video. The point is that the essence of Aikido is to blend and neutralize, which means different things under each set of circumstances. All of us know that in a real life practical situation, as much as you apply grace and technique, some element of hard (read immediate) neutralisation is required which Seagal Sensei so proficiently exhibits.

    I cannot answer for why he makes appearances with bodyguards, but many public figures including Ali, Tyson, Chan, Lee and other use(d) them primarily because there is always some idiot wanting to make a name by attacking them in public. I have protected many whose talents are far greater than my own for that very reason.

    It is sad to see Seagal Sensei’s physical appearance these days, but I for one do not know all the facts so won’t comment as there may be a very valid reason (or they may not) but as we all mostly live in glass houses I am not going to cast a stone.

    We all have our own take and application of the Aikido our Senseis have taught us over the years and long may this continue. No matter what age and how proficient we get, we can always learn something however small from others.

    Keep your spirit open to learning and we can only improve.

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