The Legendary Martial Artist Who Humiliated Steven Seagal

You listen to somebody long enough, somebody who claims to be spectacularly accomplished, or connected, or just generally really really really really impressed with themselves, and eventually, you're just going to have to ask how much of it's true and how much of it's exaggerated for dramatic effect and how much is just slicked-up lies. And not very good lies, at that. Remembering, of course, that it's not healthy to try to reinvent yourself just so people will like you, or be less than true to yourself, or — it's also just not nice to try to convince people you are what you aren't. Especially the professionals.

Let's cut to the chase: movie action hero and self-proclaimed martial artist Steven Seagal has been known to blow his own horn. Maybe he thinks that if he doesn't, nobody else will. People have been hurt on his movie sets when Seagal decides to make a point with physicality; John Leguizamo, actor and comedian, tells the story of the set of the film Executive Decision. Seagal was a supporting character, but apparently walked in and announced, "I'm in command. Everything that I say is law. Anybody doesn't agree?"

Gene LeBell is nearly 20 years older than Seagal

Leguizamo laughed — loudly — and Seagal "Taekwondo'ed my ass against a brick wall and hit me with his elbow. He's six-foot-five, and he caught me off guard. He knocked all of the air out of me, and I was like, 'Why?!'" relates Film Ink. (In contrast, Leguizamo is about 5'8". And has since gone on the record saying that Seagal "runs like a girl.")

Another Seagal story tells of the time he was on the set of the 1991 movie Out for Justice and declaring to anyone he could force to listen that he had some sort of special move that would enable him to escape any chokehold. Among those listening was the film's stunt coordinator, Gene LeBell, an expert in judo, wrestling, and an old friend and training partner of Bruce Lee from their days working together on The Green Hornet TV series. Game on, sir. As Mixed Martial Arts (and others) tell the tale, LeBell, age 58, obliged and put Seagal, 39, into a chokehold. Lo and behold — perhaps to no one's surprise, including yours, gentle reader — Seagal couldn't escape after all. And passed out. And, adding to the self-inflicted indignity, soiled himself. In a remarkable show of generosity, LeBell later said, "Well, if a guy soils himself, you can't criticize him, because if they just had a nice big dinner an hour before, you might have a tendency to do that."