I've long admired Steven Seagal for his martial arts prowess and for the way he displayed it in his earlier films. He was the first I'm aware of to showcase the relatively obscure but transcendently beautiful marital art of aikido in action films, and I always wished that he would take it to a higher level with an exquisitely spiritual and intelligent film about the martial arts in which his aikido would be the focus. However, no such work appears to be in the cards judging by the deluge of low budget and largely incoherent direct-to-DVD action films that Seagal has made over the past decade or more.
But this is not to say that Seagal doesn't still have some surprises up his gi. Some may be surprised to learn that he's a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who has played with the likes of B.B. King, appeared in the venerable Guitar Player magazine, and released a couple of albums.
But what REALLY surprised me a month or so ago was learning that Seagal has been a reserve deputy sheriff in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana for the past twenty odd years and that he had a new A&E reality series coming out that shows him going on patrol with "full police powers" and also instructing fellow deputies in self-defense and shooting skills. That's right, Seagal reveals himself to be a master marksman. He always looked like he really knew what he was doing with a gun in his hand in his films, and it turns out that he did.
Well, that new show premiered last night, and I have to say that I was quite impressed by it and by Seagal. I admit to a fondness for cop and medical reality shows, and I think Steven Seagal Lawman is going to be my favorite of the bunch as he chases gun-toting criminals and brings them literally to their knees for real, and instructs fellow deputies in "Zen-shooting" techniques and ably demonstrates them by shooting the heads off matchsticks, and teaches how to safely disarm and neutralize criminals who put up a fight. I love this new show and hope it thrives.
I also wish the best for Seagal in his future film and music making, martial arts instruction, and personal life.
Below are videos of him (from top to bottom) demonstrating aikido on the Merv Griffin show years before he became a star with his first film Above the Law, teaching aikido in Japan and the U.S., teaching and patrolling on Steven Seagal Lawman, and, finally, performing as a musician and delightfully dirty old man in a gorgeous music video shot in Thailand.