When middleweight champion Anderson Silva thanked Steven Seagal for teaching him the devastating front kick that led to his victory over Vitor Belfort this past February, the UFC faithful laughed. It had to be a joke, right? Why would MMA's most dominant fighter be taking pointers from the bloated guy from "The Glimmer Man?"
Three months later, when Lyoto Machida thanked Steven Seagal for teaching him the unbelievable crane kick that led to his victory over Randy Couture, the crowd took notice. Was this some sort of elaborate prank or were these top fighters actually going to the actor for training techniques?
As it turns out, it was no joke at all.
According to an interview Seagal did with Bruce Buffer on the UFC announcer's radio show, the actor recently began training with Anderson Silva after the fighter sent him a postcard asking him to pass on some of his lethal maneuvers.
Why would this world-class fighter go to the guy from “Half Past Dead” for guidance? Well, don't let some of the star’s more regrettable flicks fool you. Long before Seagal starred in "Fire Down Below," he was one of the most brilliant practitioners of the martial art known as Aikido. The Michigan-native was so adept at the Japanese discipline, he actually moved to Japan as a teenager where he became the first foreigner to open an Aikido dojo. Over the years, he rose to the rank of seventh degree black belt and even earned the nickname of "The Master of Aikido."
Seagal would later break into movies in the late '80s after becoming a popular instructor in the Hollywood area. The quality of his films declined after the early success of action flicks like "Hard to Kill," but that doesn't mean Seagal lost any of his legitimate skills.
That became clear when Silva won a fight with this kick:
After the bout, The Spider shocked the MMA world when he admitted that Seagal taught him the strike. It was later revealed that the martial artist didn't just teach Silva the kick — he invented it.
In subsequent interviews, Seagal has revealed that he has been training with Silva and the Black House fighting team in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This would explain why Lyoto Machida paid respects to Seagal after knocking Randy Couture out with an equally amazing kick at UFC 129. This strike was straight out of “The Karate Kid.”
Since then, the Aikido master has made it clear that he has an encyclopedic knowledge of devastating strikes that he's only sharing with the Brazilian fighters of Black House — and he’s not overly interested in passing on his understanding to anyone but those fighters.
It’s an amazing story that could lead to a career resurgence for the 59-year-old actor. If anything, it should allow him to knock Chuck Norris off his pedestal. After all, when's the last time an MMA fighter thanked "Walker, Texas Ranger" after winning a fight?