Celebrity Aikidoka

Martial arts training has been an ongoing trend amongst celebrities dating back to the early 70’s.  Elvis Presley, Madonna, Jennifer Aniston, Patrick Swayze, Steve McQueen, Mel Gibson, Robert Downey Jr and Christian Bale, to name only a few, have all prolifically trained in one or more martial arts over the years.

While the striking arts tend to dominate celebrity choices for martial practice, a number of high profile actors and singers have reportedly trained in Aikido.  They include:

  • Steven Seagal  (7th Dan)

Without doubt, Steven Seagal is the most widely known actor/singer Aikidoka on the planet.  In an interview in 2001, Seagal Sensei made the following observations about Aikido and its self-defence applications.

Steven-Seagal-Aikido-002[1]It’s theoretically based on harmony rather than blocking, kicking and punching. We allow the other person to attack and use his own attack against him by becoming one with his movement and utilizing anatomical weak points, joint blocks and throws, etc.

In a life and death situation the harder the technique becomes. Often times, the attacker creates the life and death situation, because the harder they come the harder they fall. These techniques will work on anybody but you really have to learn them. Aikido is not a quick art to learn.”

  • Sean Connery (Nidan)

In 1996 during an interview with Jay Leno on the Tonight Show, the James Bond star reportedly not only stated that he was a Nidan in Aikido but also that he broke his wrist while practising with Steven Seagal.

  • Jerry Seinfeld

Aikido…I studied that for a while, the martial art. I love that. That’s a wonderful subject. Very good in marriage. I would suggest Aikido training for anyone thinking of getting married” (Quote from interview with Parade Magazine).

  • John Denver

Country music legend and environmentalist, John Denver, was reportedly a dedicated Aikidoka who trained under Tom Crum Sensei.

  • Joan Baez (Shodan).

Folk music legend, Joan Baez, is a black belt in Aikido.  Photographs of her training can readily be found on the Internet. Ms Baez made the following comment in an interview for the Washington Post when responding to public criticism she had received for her protest activities:

I don’t care an eyedrop about the criticism…Aikido is carrying over into my life. A few years ago I would have been waking up at night. Not now.”

Ian Grant

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