Are Steven Seagal's Martial Arts Skills Even Good?

Like Jackie Chan and Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal's acting legacy is defined by a slew of bombastic martial arts flicks like Under Siege and Hard to Kill. And like his fellow martial artists-turned-actors, Seagal uses his real-world fighting skills in the fictional stories that define his lengthy career. 

Outside of his on-screen work, Seagal has become somewhat infamous for his ties to the UFC, including one instance where he attempted to take credit for the famous kick Anderson Silva used to take down Vitor Belfort (discussed on YouTube). Given his lofty claims and seventh dan ranking in the Japanese martial art aikido, many wonder whether Seagal is truly considered to be an expert in martial arts.

In terms of his skill in aikido, Seagal is most definitely an expert. As noted by TVOvermind, he was the first American to launch his own aikido dojo in Japan. Elsewhere, a quick glance at his flicks reveals his skill at the art, which centers around channeling opponents' energy to defeat them. 

The effectiveness of aikido as a martial art is debated

While Seagal is demonstrably talented at aikido, the effectiveness of his fighting style of choice is up for debate. According to TVOvermind, aikido is considered to be one of the least effective forms of martial arts. Mixed martial arts commentator Joe Rogan echoed these sentiments on his podcast (posted on YouTube) and suggested that the fighting style is "questionable." 

In particular, Rogan said that the style of combat was created primarily to disarm opponents who used swords and argued that it does not translate well against other material arts designed for realistic situations. "This does not work. It works if someone doesn't know what they're doing," he said.

Even within Japanese culture, Rogan claimed that aikido was never considered to be as effective as other alternatives, such as judo. Yet despite Rogan's views on the martial art's effectiveness, he asserted that Seagal is a "legitimate aikido blackbelt."