The true story of the 12 martial artists who publicly punked out Steven Seagal

Did you know that Steven Seagal invented the front kick? Somewhere Bas Rutten just went nuts.

if you have been living under a rock, Steven Seagal was a big name in martial arts movies in the early 90s. The movie that put him on the map is probably “Hard to Kill” because he was a fresh face, his costar Kelly Lebrock was red hot, and martial arts movie scripts hadn’t yet become the cliché they are today. Doing the promotional circuits, Steven appeared on talk shows where he would regularly insult other martial artists including Jean-Claude Van Damme who he famously dissed on Arsenio Hall.

Keep in mind when you watch this clip that you are seeing the beginning of the path that would eventually lead to him taking credit for Anderson Silva’s 2011 front kick knock out of Vitor Belfort. Somewhere, Bas Rutten just went crazy again.

His main style by his own admission is aikido. While mostly proven to not be very practical in real combat situations it is very pretty and looks great on the big screen. Mix that with Seagal’s lanky 6’4” Frame and you get a beautiful ballet of violence. He would go on to have a few more successful films after Hard to Kill before interest died down in his career. A lot of what he was peddling as the truth about his lineage and past was allegedly beginning to unravel. That’s an entire book in itself and who knows maybe I will get around to that one day. Plenty of other people have discredited him and he has contradicted himself over the years numerous times.

Here is one of my favorite videos if you want to get a good frame of reference before you read on. It is well researched and well done.

In addition to being one of the, if not the consensus worst host of Saturday night live in its history he also has the distinction of being called out simultaneously by 12 of the most famous martial artists of all time.

They became known as The Dirty Dozen.

These martial artists were tired of being disrespected by Steven from the safety of a television screen or a printed magazine article. No one was safe from the actor’s bravado and dismissal of their importance, or skills. Seagal went as far as to claim he would fight anyone to the death who thought they could defeat him. He would repeatedly disrespect Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee to the dismay of many. Finally, the martial arts world had enough.

A group of well-known martial arts fighters, real combatants spoke up. A group that included the likes of “Superfoot” Bill Wallace, Dennis Alexio, Benny “The Jet” Urquidez, Richard Norton, and Gene LeBell just to name a few. Gene would put Steven in his place later in life but that’s another story.

This remarkable group of individuals was contacted by film star Bob Wall. Bob can be seen alongside Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon, Return of the Dragon, and Game of Death. He would also later star in films with Chuck Norris like Code of Silence, Invasion USA, and Firewalker. If you were in the martial arts world you recognized Bob’s name and if not you at least recognized his face. Wall is well liked in the world of martial arts and at that time his word carried a lot of weight. Maybe that is why when he gave them a call they responded so eagerly.

The group decided they were done with the disrespect and they made an open challenge to Steven. Any one of them was willing to fight Seagal and the group reportedly even had a promoter on tap named Karyn Turner. They issued their challenge and waited. And waited. And waited.

During this period, and you have to remember this is when traditional martial arts ruled the world, criticism reared its head. There were claims that the group was inciting violence, and that they were out for blood. Nowadays, this would be no big deal and get settled in the cage or in an exhibition match of some kind but back in the day this just didn’t happen.

Most instructors would never risk their reputation or career in a public fight with another instructor. Once they lost that was it. You may be able to recover eventually but the mystique of traditional martial arts still held sway over the community. The higher your black belt degree, the tougher people thought you were. If you had a high enough degree people thought you were an invincible master who could take out multiple people with ease. Most of the movie stars had that mystique about them and just like the instructors if they lost it would mean losing big money. It was much easier to make challenges you never planned to back up then it was to make the type of challenge this group did. They were willing to risk their reputations to shut Steven Seagal up.

Eventually a few people including Gene LeBell would leave the group because they were essentially being harassed by traditionalists and were getting tired of it. The group would gradually break up and to no one’s surprise Steven Seagal never backed up his claims. He was quiet for a while but his trash talk started up again. To this day he hasn’t ever accepted a challenge for a real fight of note that anyone knows of.

One of the members summed the whole thing up beautifully by saying:

By not accepting the challenge… Seagal tells us where he’s at.

Believe it or not, after all of the exposure and inconsistencies of his claims Steven still has his defenders. His numbers haven’t dropped to almost zero like famous alleged fraud Frank Dux but they aren’t what they used to be. Maybe it’s because of stories like the one below. A story that has been verified by many people over the years but only told a few times in a way that does it justice.

Listen to Joe Rogan. You will have to sign in because it is age restricted.

Maybe Michael Jai white should stop hilariously calling out UFC fighters before 12 of them call back.