The Top Seven Awesome Things You Didn't Know About Steven Seagal

March 13, 2009

Steven Seagal has been a cultural icon representing everything squinty and badass about action films for the past 20 years. A lot of people think they know everything there is to know about this mysterious man of part-time law enforcement and energy drinks, but the truth of the matter goes deeper. Much deeper.

Source: A&E TV

By Nathan Bloch

7. Steven Seagal speaks fluent Japanese

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Source: Nathan Shanahan/Getty Images

It’s pretty impressive that the man spent ten years in Japan and became a 7th dan black belt aikido master, and then came to America to teach overprivileged Hollywood insiders like Michael Ovitz the craft of kickin’ butt.

On top of all that, the man speaks fluent Japanese. Some have suggested that Seagal isn’t the real deal, that he’s just a fat, bloated, cowardly sack of crap who runs like a girl and is incapable of doing any of his own stunts or even telling the truth on a regular basis. To those apostates I would reply: Sayonara, pussies. Seagal has your number – and yes, he can count that high.

In Japanese, too.

6. Jean-Claude Van Damme challenged Steven Seagal to a duel

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Source: Evan Agostini/Getty Images

Okay, so he didn’t challenge Seagal to a duel, exactly…no knives or rapiers or guns would be involved. But he most definitely did challenge him to a fight. I believe his exact words were: “I'm not a fighter, I'm a lover. If somebody's going to speak bad about me, I will walk away. But if a guy like Steven Seagal slaps me once, I will slap him twice as hard. Life is full of violence.” Wow, thems ain’t lovin’ words, thems be fightin’ words.

Would this be the all-time best showdown ever in the history of multicellular life on planet earth? Perhaps. Few real or fictional fights can compare. A few that would be in the running: Batman vs. Superman, Alien vs. Predator, Abraham Lincoln vs. Barack Obama, or Mike Tyson vs. a younger, even crazier Mike Tyson. Otherwise JCVD vs. Steven Seagal takes the cake, hands down.

An interesting side note to this fact is that after Tyson had his butt handed to him on a balsa wood platter by Lennox Lewis, Seagal manned up and did what had to be done: he challenged Lewis to a boxing match, even promising to follow boxing’s rules and leave his lethal weapons (his right and left legs) out of the fight. Lewis is still contemplating the challenge. It’s this blogger’s opinion that Lewis is waiting for Seagal to turn 70 before taking him up on his offer.

5. A mystical dog saved Steven Seagal’s dojo in Japan

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Source: TAO CHUAN YEH/Getty Images

How much this is truth and how much this has now become Steven Seagal lore is hard to say, but it’s important as part of the creation myth of Seagal’s greatness. Among the great origin stories – the Popol Vuh, the Koran, the Bible – Seagal’s has some of the best stories, full of the richest metaphors.

Legend has it that while living in Japan and training in aikido, Seagal adopted a stray white dog. A few days later the dog began barking at him and brought his attention to the fact that his dojo was on fire. Seagal got help and successfully extinguished the fire, but the dog was nowhere to be found. He never saw this mystical white dog again.

The lesson of this story is that magical things involving mystical animals are no big thang to Steven Seagal, and if that dog hadn’t warned him about the fire then another, way more mystical, even whiter dog (or wolf or bear or tiger) would have warned him.

Basically, it’s really hard to burn down Steven Seagal’s dojo, so don’t even try.

4. Steven Seagal was a 17th century monk in a past life

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Source: John Heller/Getty Images

This, too, is a very difficult fact to verify. Seagal has explained his beliefs regarding his past life: “My old Buddhist teachers have identified the person I was in a past life. I was a 17th-century monk called Chungdrag Dorje. I believe this is true, but I don't dwell on it.”

And that’s the kind of modesty you come to expect from Steven Seagal. Here’s a guy who’s been told, point blank: You were a big friggin’ deal 400 years ago, a really holy son of a bitch. Anybody else would blow it out of proportion and write a memoir. Not Steven Seagal. Guy just takes it in stride and tells reporters every now and then – and never dwells on it. I found out I used to whistle when I was a baby and I still haven’t shut up about that.

Some of you cynics out there have probably already written some snarky comments about Seagal’s past life, but before you hit the post button you should read on. Turns out Seagal’s spiritual mentor, or instructor, or whatever – Penor Rinpoche – is the person responsible for discovering the secrets of Seagal’s personal history. He said, “When I first met [Steven Seagal], I felt he had the special qualities of a tulku within him,” but Seagal “has not undergone the lengthy process of study and practice necessary to fully realize what I view as his potential for helping others.”

The take home message here is that Steven Seagal was a big friggin’ deal 400 years ago. And he’s not exactly chopped liver now, either, even if he’s not the most helpful person on the face of the planet according to Pinot whoever. What were you in your past life? A squirrel?

3. Steven Seagal was poisoned in 1994 by a mysterious opponent

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Source: Warner Bros./Getty Images

Seagal has never determined just who exactly it was that poisoned him back in ’94, but it’s pretty clear at this point that whoever this nemesis is, he’s smart enough to stay hidden.

We all know by now that this unnamed foe conquered neither Steven Seagal’s health, spirit, or acting ability, as all are to this day thriving and well. But things could’ve turned out much different had Seagal not wisely sought the medical advice of a Brazilian witch doctor. This doctor promptly expelled all demonic spirits from Seagal’s liver and kidneys and left him stronger in the places he’d been broken – though his ponytail never regained the thickness and shine it had before the poisoning. It was a small price to pay to keep Seagal in this world.

The moral of this story is: Do not secretly try to kill Steven Seagal, because it won’t work. But if you do try, don’t use poison, because Steven Seagal will have a spell cast on his kidneys. To be a secret nemesis of Seagal is to be a man engaged in a futile pursuit.

2. Steven Seagal broke Sean Connery’s wrist

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Source: AFP/Getty Images

Seagal was employed to do the fight choreography for 1983’s Never Say Never Again, and was put in charge of personally training Sean Connery. While working with him he managed to break the star’s wrist, unbeknownst to Connery until years later. Which is a lesson right there: Steven Seagal can break you without you even knowing it. You might walk away thinking everything’s fine and dandy, but your bones know better.

The fact of the matter is that Seagal has had troubled relations with many of the actors he’s worked with. Julianna Margulies, while working with him on Out for Justice, described him as “the biggest jackass.” And at 6 feet 4 inches, she’s not joking, either – whatever Seagal is, he’s definitely the biggest. The rapper DMX and Exit Wounds co-star said of Seagal, “Steven Seagal is a f***ing s***head. With f***ing spray-on hair.”

Another story about Seagal, stunts, and a co-worker involves the legendary stuntman Gene LeBell. Seagal was on set and made the claim that nobody could ever choke him out. LeBell took him up on his offer and the two had a little wrestling match. LeBell had him in a choke hold and Seagal couldn’t get out of it, going so far as hitting him in the crotch to escape. Eventually Seagal lost consciousness, urinated himself, and later blacklisted LeBell from getting hired again, resulting in a protracted lawsuit.

Who was the real winner in this scenario?  Clearly, it was Seagal, not only for allowing himself to be beaten and humiliated, but also for pretending that he hadn't allowed himself to be beat and humiliated on purpose. Genius.

Clearly Seagal tends to inspire envy in those he works with, which is something we can’t really hold against him. But more important than what those say about him is what the man says about himself. Striking a philosophical tone, Seagal said of himself, “I am hoping that I can be known as a great writer and actor some day, rather than a sex symbol.”

I haven’t read any books or poems by Seagal, but I think we can all safely say: Mission accomplished, sir. Mission accomplished.

1. Steven Seagal had a tuxedo tailor-made to conceal two firearms

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Source: Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

I think this fact alone really says everything about the man, the myth, and the legend that is Steven Seagal. Most people, when they leave work, clock out, go home, and relax. Not Steven Seagal. Seagal is on call all the time, which is why he needs to make sure when he’s out partying at black tie social events he’s showing up fully loaded. What’s the point of being a one-man murder machine if you aren’t packing at least two handguns?

The fact of the matter is, if we actually know that Seagal packs heat in hidden compartments in a tailor-made tuxedo, what other weapons is he holding that we don’t even know about? Throwing stars in his cuffs? Knives in his sleeves? A collapsible rocket launcher in his pants?

The man is a walking weapon, but he’s not going to just show up at some charity function like it’s all s**** and giggles. Anyone who’s been the go-to guy for the CIA his entire adult life knows that when the poop goes down you gotta be ready to shoot everything in sight. The guns, knives, and bombs he conceals on his person are like an extension of the aphorism his life represents: Healthy living is remorseless killing.

The message here is pretty simple. When you invite Steven Seagal over for dinner, don’t ask him to take his shoes off, because he might decapitate you with a battle axe in his sock. The fact that Seagal is by all appearances a slow, overweight, narcissistic fraud incapable of hurting anything other than his own reputation simply means he’s expertly manipulated you into putting down your guard.

Always respect Steven Seagal. The guy is a big friggin’ deal.

 

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