After taking credit for a few of the signature techniques of UFC stars like Lyoto Machida and Anderson Silva, Hollywood action star Steven Seagal has become a bit of a punchline inside the MMA community. Yet according to UFC commentator Joe Rogan, there is a “legit” martial arts background behind all the silliness.
“The thing is, Seagal was a legit Aikido specialist,” Rogan told a grinning UFC bantamweight contender Aljamain Sterling on the latest episode of the Joe Rogan Experience MMA Show. “Just because a guy seems kind of silly, you forget he had a real, legit history with Aikido. He as the first American to ever teach at a dojo in Japan. He speaks fluent Japanese, and he is a legitimate Aikido master — 100%, absolutely legitimate Aikido master.
“I’m not bullsh**ting man,” he added, perhaps sensing Sterling’s skepticism. “His Aikido is 100% legitimate.”
Joe Rogan continued, reminding that the version of Steven Seagal we know is “an older man who is overweight,” and that he was much easier to take seriously in his youth.
“There’s black and white footage of him teaching at a dojo in Japan,” he assured Sterling. He is 100% legit.”
The problem, according to Joe Rogan, is that Aikido is not a particularly useful martial art when compared those that dominate mainstream MMA competition.
“The thing is Aikido is just not something that translates perfectly to MMA,” he said.
“Aikido is just not the best martial art for self-defense,” he added later. “But it has its applications. In its applications, he’s a master at it. Much like jiu jitsu has its applications, but it’s not great for kickboxing. Taekwondo has its applications but it doesn’t work if you kick the legs and punch the face. But if you learn how to do it, those techniques can apply [in MMA] if you know all the other stuff. Well, if you know all the other stuff, this motherf**ker [Seagal], has some real s**t. You would have to be so good at all the other stuff [in MMA] that you could utilize this.”
Applicable in MMA or not, Joe Rogan did not waver on the skill of Steven Seagal:
“He’s outstanding,” he told Sterling. “His Aikido is outstanding.”
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 7/17/2019.