Bruce Lee Vs. Steven Seagal: Who Would Win?

In this world of uncertainty, there are many questions we’ll never find answers to. In the case of the inimitable Bruce Lee, there are several such enduring queries. What could arguably the greatest martial arts movie star of all time accomplished, had he not tragically died before his time? Was the notoriously fast and agile performer really as surprisingly strong as his training program indicated? Oh, and of course, there’s the greatest question of them all: Was the Dragon any good in a real fight? After all, Lee only had one official fight, and it was a boxing match at his youth. He won, of course, but his failure to get a knockout. This, as well as the drawn-out length of his other real fight against Kung Fu purist Wong Jack Man, might be enough to cast a shadow of doubt when it comes to his performance in real combat. 

Then again, this is Bruce Lee we’re talking about. We know a lot about the man’s training methods and accomplishments, some of which actually comes from people who sparred and starred with him. So, it’s only fair that we take a moment to find out Lee’s real fighting ability, with a fantasy fight that pits him against the (physically) biggest of all action stars of recent years: Steven Seagal.

Oh lord, Seagal comin'

As anyone who’s seen footage of Steven Seagal recently can attest, the man’s not going to challenge Bruce Lee on the “clean living and healthy eating” front any time soon. Then again, Seagal’s robust physique might not necessarily be a bad thing. Unlike Lee, who moved away from clean Chinese martial arts form to create his own free-flowing Jeet Kune Do style, Seagal is a proficient black belter in his main style of Aikido, as well as Judo, Kendo and Karate. As his former associates (and anyone who has seen his movies) know, the big man preaches a form of Aikido that’s fairly ruthless and street-ready, which along with his massive size advantage should technically give him the ability of throwing a Bruce Lee-sized opponent around like a rag doll. 

Then again, people like Joe Rogan have pointed out that Seagal’s martial art of choice is virtually useless in a fight, and any opponent with an adequate skill level could shoot wrestle the man’s movie-move attempts to an early grave. Apart from this, a weakness in Seagal’s game seems to be his propensity to back from a challenge. As Sylvester Stallone recounts, Seagal was once challenged to a fight by a furious Jean-Claude Van Damme, and reacted by retreating to a night club … where Van Damme followed, only for Seagal to back down yet again. Stallone says Van Damme would most likely have won that fight — and we feel inclined to believe him. 

Bruce Lee enters the battle with some pretty great recommendations

As for Bruce Lee’s fighting prowess, we only need to ask Chuck Norris. If you only know Norris from the “Chuck Norris Facts” memes, those aren’t actually all that exaggerated. Norris is possibly the most accomplished real-life fighter out of all action stars — a genuine Karate fighter with 168 wins, two ties and ten defeats to his name. The ten defeats, incidentally, were his first ten matches, back when he was still learning the game. Norris was great friends with Bruce Lee, the two were fond of discussing their respective martial arts philosophies … and Norris tends to dodge any and all questions about which one’d win in a real bout.

That’s a real recommendation, considering Norris’ real-life fighting ability, and the fact that he knew very well what Lee was able to do. The pair got together on several occasions and sparred together — in fact, their very first meeting at the 1967 All American Karate Open Championships at Madison Square Garden ended in a no doubt epic hallway sparring session that reportedly lasted until 4 am

The jury may be out on what would have happened if Norris and Lee ever fought for real in their respective primes, but let’s be honest: Who among us would be willing to bet a single red cent on Steven Seagal coming even close to beating a prime Chuck Norris?  

The Dragon would probably feast on Seagal

Let’s face the facts, here. If Steven Seagal was wary of taking on the Muscles from Brussels, how would he react to Bruce Lee, who reportedly had a similarly flaring temper? Could Seagal outrun Lee? Of course he couldn’t. But, if forced to fight, could he beat Lee? Also, no. 

That’s not just a facetious knee-jerk comment, either. Apart from the fairly damning Seagal/Van Damme incident, Seagal’s fighting prowess is further challenged by the long-running story that the very real martial arts legend “Judo” Gene LeBell once choked the actor out so badly that he soiled his pants. Seagal also reportedly spent quite a while dodging the “dirty dozen” of accomplished martial arts masters looking to face off with him, and ultimately apologized for talking smack when he met one of them in the flesh. How on earth could he even consider defeating a focused, furious prime Bruce Lee, a man who could fell people with a simple one-inch punch? A man who was at the very least an equal to Chuck Norris, a demonstrably near-invincible karate warrior? Yeah. Sorry, Steven Seagal fans — this one goes to the Dragon with a significant margin. 

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