Viking Samurai (YouTube channel about action heroes, health, fitness, bodybuilding and martial arts):

Did Gene Lebell choke out Steven Segal on the set of a movie? In this video I’ll be getting to the bottom of this infamous martial arts story once and for all!

The supposed incident occurred on the set for Segal’s 4th film, Out For Justice. In this video investigation I’ll be combing over all of the evidence, including interviews with Steven Seagal, interviews with Gene Lebell and interviews with students of Gene Lebell, such as Rhonda Rousey.

I’ll also be going over articles and books. By the end of the video I’ll be providing my theory and what I believe is the most logical True Story of, “Did Steven Seagal get choked unconscious by Gene Lebell, or was it a fabricated story from the start?”

Ariel Helwani (Canadian Journalist):

“You’re saying that someone has created this sort of fable, this myth of an altercation that never even happened.”

Some random movie extract to match the possible scenario:

– All lies in false propaganda.

Viking Samurai:

Hey guys, in today’s video, we’ll be answering the question: Did Steven Seagal really get choked out by Judo Gene LeBell? Well if you heard the story, he got a little more than just choked out. I’ll give you a quick summary of events just to catch everyone up to speed and I’ll be showing some video clips of different people who say it happened. None of them were there by the way. There are also various interviews with Steven Seagal denying the claims.

Steven Seagal (Actor, Screenwriter, Producer, Martial Artist & Musician):

“Fox wants to tell everybody he’s Judo Gene LeBell, tells everybody he beat me up, he choked me out and the guy is a pathological liar.”

Viking Samurai:

I’ve also found articles online and there’s also a book written by stuntman Steven Lambert who talks about the story but it’s a little bit different than what you’ve heard. But anyway, I’ll be analyzing all the data and then give you my theory and what I believe is the most logical conclusion of the story.

Steven Seagal (Actor, Screenwriter, Producer, Martial Artist & Musician):

“Oh my god!”

Viking Samurai:

Don’t worry Steven, I’m going to be fair unlike so many other guys on YouTube. Make sure to stay until the end of the video. By the way, because I’ll be going over the good, the bad and the ugly, different comments I came across on the channel. You won’t want to miss that. One of them is from a pretty famous YouTuber, another one is from a guy who must think I am the most delusional person on the planet and then there’s another one related to Steven Seagal which I think is perfect for this video. You won’t want to miss all the fun I’m going to have with those comments and my commentary on them, so make sure to stay until the end. Oh! Make sure to hit that thumbs up button and like the video once you made the determination that you actually do like the video but you can always assume. I’m fine if you want to just click it now and if you’re not yet subscribed to the channel, go ahead and click subscribe so you can be part of making the 80s and 90s great again.

The story of Gene LeBell choking out Steven Seagal, which allegedly resulted in Seagal relieving himself, aka crapping his pants.

Gene LeBell (Martial Artist, Instructor, Professional Wrestler, Stunt Performer & Actor) on the phone:

“Well, if a guy soils himself, you can’t criticize him because if they just had a nice big dinner an hour before, you might have a tendency to do that.”

Viking Samurai:

Took place during production for 1991’s “Out for Justice””, this would have been Seagal’s fourth film running high off the three prior hits “Above the Law”, “Hard to Kill” and “Marked for Death”. So, he’s an established leading man at this point but has supposedly built a reputation for roughing up stuntmen.

Story has it that Steven Seagal felt the need to really make contact with the stuntman because the camera was going to be in tight and if he didn’t make contact then, the fight scenes wouldn’t have looked realistic. As far as his aikido moves go, he obviously would have really had to perform those on stunt and willing to take the flips and falls.

Unlike the art of aikido itself, Steven Seagal did actually perform a series of strikes within his movie fight scene then it’s hard to say whether or not the allegations of him not pulling his punches are true or not. Though that part would lend credence as to why Gene LeBell’s story was shared throughout the world of stuntmen and then later the general public.

For example, whether the Gene LeBell story is actually factual or not, wouldn’t it be a great story to tell if you were one of those stuntmen that may have gotten hurt from one of Seagal’s fight scenes? A stuntman ended up telling comedian Kevin Hart that story which he was all too eager to share with everyone else.

Kevin Hart (Stand-up Comedian, Actor & Producer):

Steven comes up to that guy, he’s like: “Hey put me in your best hold. I bet you, I can get out of it.”

And he’s like: “I can’t do that you know. You… you’re my boss. I can’t do that to you.”

He’s like: “Put me in your best hole.”

He chokes Steven, puts him in a chokehold. Statement struggling, he taps out. He taps out it goes good old and he’s just he belongs to the bathroom but literally…

Viking Samurai:

That statement alone should throw up a red flag. He’s talking about like he was actually there when he says literally all you heard was.. which.. he wasn’t even there. And not only that, I think Kevin Hart’s the only one who’s got the story where Steven Seagal actually tapped out and crapped his pants, most stories have him actually getting unconscious but I guess Kevin Hart has his own version of events.

So, the most popular origin of the story has Gene LeBell working as a stunt coordinator on “Out for Justice”. At some point during the production, Steven Seagal announced that due to his aikido training he was immune to chokes. When the then 58-year-old LeBell heard the claim, he gave Seagal the opportunity to test it as sort of a way to get revenge on Seagal for mistreating the stuntmen.

I believe Gene LeBell could choke out Steven Seagal or anyone for that matter of presented the opportunity where he would already have you in the chokehold and then simply just have to apply full pressure when someone said go.

Was Steven Seagal really that arrogant that he thought he could still get out of the choke at that point?

Supposedly, his special move to get out of it was to strike Gene in the balls, which apparently didn’t work, that is, if the story is even true.

Viking Samurai:

In stuntman Steven Lambert’s book “From the Streets of Brooklyn to the Halls of Hollywood”, he addresses the incident. Steven Lambert, by the way, has been doing stunts since the early 1980s all the way until 2016 and has even appeared in Van Damme’s “Timecop”.

According to Lambert, he was one of four men on the set “Out for Justice” when the so-called incident would have happened. The other three were Seagal’s two bodyguards and a stuntman by the name of Lincoln Simons. Just for the record, Steven Lambert and Lincoln Simons are not credited for stunts on “Out for Justice” but neither is Gene LeBell and no one’s saying Gene LeBell wasn’t part of the stunt crew on “Out for Justice”.

Lambert and Simons were both active stuntmen at the time having previously worked on Steven Seagal’s film “Marked for Death” so, I don’t doubt they had some sort of involvement with his next film which was “Out for Justice”.

In his book, Steven Lambert pours cold water on the cheat level choking out Steven Seagal story, saying it never happened. Although, there was an actual minor skirmish between the two. According to Lambert, here’s what happened: LeBell introduced himself to Seagal by saying: “It’s an honor to work with you.” Seagal replied that he heard about Gene LeBell’s skills as a tough guy. They talked for a while and LeBell suggested that he would like the show Seagal a chokehold. Seagal doubted the effectiveness of it and told Gene LeBell that he has kind of a sixth sense to escape from any choke.

LeBell carefully put his arm around Seagal’s neck without hurting him because it was supposed to be a demonstration. All of a sudden, Seagal sidestepped, brought his arm in the air and hit LeBell in the crotch. LeBell reacted like nothing happened but fell on the ground. Steven Lambert couldn’t believe that LeBell didn’t shout and just acted like nothing happened. LeBell still had his arm around Seagal’s neck and his legs behind him and pushed him in the air. Seagal landed like a potato sack on the ground. There was no mat to land on, nothing but hard ground.

Viking Samurai:

LeBell tried to help Seagal up. Seagal acted like nothing happened and LeBell did the same. It was absolutely crazy according to Lambert. The two bodyguards, huge guys, looked at Seagal but Seagal shook his head. That was supposed to mean for them not to attack Gene because that would mean that the two bodyguards would seriously get hurt by LeBell.

Steven Lambert couldn’t believe what just happened during the supposed demonstration, has no idea why Seagal suddenly hit LeBell in the crotch. Lambert ran to stunt coordinator Conrad Palmisano and told him to come quick, I think Seagal and LeBell are going to fight.

Some random movie extract to match the possible scenario:

– Mom it’s dead. He’s on television. He’s fighting.
– What!

Viking Samurai:

Palmisano didn’t listen. Lambert repeated that four times. Finally, Palmisano told Lambert to get Gene LeBell. That was it. There was no fight between the two. Seagal was never choked unconscious and sure as hell, didn’t relieve himself. Three weeks later, rumors got around the movie and stuntmen community that Seagal was choked out and crapped his pants.

Lambert tried to tell the other stuntmen what really happened but they didn’t believe him. They loved LeBell so much that the other stuntmen were not interested in the truth.

Some random movie extract to match the possible scenario:

– You want answers?
– I think I’m entitled.
– You want answers?
– I want the truth!
– You can’t handle the truth!

Viking Samurai:

When Steven Lambert was asked about it in a 2019 interview from the website ‘Money into Light’, which I’ll link in the description below, the exchange goes as follows:

The Gene LeBell incident between him and Steven Seagal whilst filming “Out for Justice” has become a legend. You clear it up in your book but does the urban legend of it bother you at all? We may never know who lied about the story, but is something like this part of the worst elements of the world you work and live in?

Steven Lambert answers:

Just the lies bother me. Everyone wants to be noticed, so they tell stories that are not true.

Gene LeBell told this story to various students throughout the years such as ex-MMA fighter Karo “The Heat” Parisyan.

Karo Parisyan (Mixed Martial Artist):

He puts the choke on bro and never let’s go and chokes them out cold. And, Seagal goes out cold. So, Seagal pees on himself and everything else, on the set. We’re like: Yeah, it’s true. you got choked out from a 60-something-year-old man. Anyway ladies and gentlemen, that’s actually the real story.

Viking Samurai:

Well, first of all Gene LeBell was not in his 60s, he was 58 at the time but I guess when you’re telling the so-called real story, I guess the facts don’t matter. And of course, Ronda Rousey. Ronda Rousey even got in on the fun but the karmic wins almost knocked her over in her chair.

Ronda Rousey (Professional Wrestler, Actress, Former Professional Mixed Martial Artist & Judoka):

You know what if he says anything bad about Gene to my face, I would be forced to do something. Of course, I would. I would have to make him crap his pants a second time.


Viking Samurai:

Seagal’s take on what happened is quite a bit different but he does acknowledge the encounter he had with LeBell.

Steven Seagal (Actor, Screenwriter, Producer, Martial Artist & Musician):

Yeah, we were standing there we were just talking about moves and stuff like that and we were just doing some stretching. And, you know, he was showing me, you know, how you can stretch, he wanted to stretch my back and he stretched my back and then I just kind of you know, flipped over the top of him and said thank you for that. There was never ever any confrontation with him ever. Never, in any shape or form and I swear to god on my children and they’re the most sacred thing to me in this life.

Viking Samurai:

Aside from Steven Lambert and of course Steven Seagal himself, does anyone else dispel the rumor?

I found an article posted on August 15, 2016 from, which I’ll link in the description below, is titled: LeBell Lied About Choking Out Seagal.

The article gets its info from stuntman Ron Balicki, who pretty much destroys a theory. The article claimed the info within this was taken from one of Balicki’s facebook posts, which I wanted to see for myself. So, I went straight to the source. Sure enough, it’s there, posted on February 11, 2015. In the post, Balicki says:

“No story gains traction quite so quickly, in today’s media frenzy environment, than one that tears down a well-respected celebrity. In this instance, there is a fairytale rendition of how the great Gene LeBell choked out Steven Seagal with rather unpleasant effect. The story is patently false, but this bit of martial arts mythology now seems to have really taken root. Trashing the reputation of a martial artist and movie icon may be a sad part of the entertainment process, but when the story is not correct, and the consequence is truly damaging, the situation must be set straight. I can speak to this myth personally as I am close to the people in these circles and I know the eyewitnesses to the exchange that day between Gene and Steven. Know that this is not easy for me to do. My family and I know both Gene and Steven well, so to see this malicious urban legend live on through the years divides people we care about deeply.”

Viking Samurai:

Ron Balicki, by the way, is a stuntman who is married to Diana Lee Inosanto, who happens to be Dan Inosanto’s daughter. Dan Inosanto is a martial arts royalty. He’s actually the guy that taught Bruce Lee how to use the nunchucks. He’s kind of a big deal in martial arts circles. He also played the character ‘Sticks’ on “Out for Justice”. Because of Ron Balicki’s connection with Dan Inosanto, he got to meet Steven Seagal. But going back to that facebook post, it continues:

“There were numerous people present on the day when Gene LeBell met Steven Seagal and allegedly fought. In reality, no fight occurred and there was no contact between Gene and Steven on that movie set. Gene’s role was to work as a Utility Stuntman under the stunt coordinator, Conrad Palmisano. Steven also had a bodyguard, Joe Crowley present who was an LAPD officer. As his security specialist and professional law enforcement official, he would have been in serious trouble had he let his boss get choked out, and possibly killed by a marginal stuntman. The stunt coordinator, Conrad Palmisano was there and witnessed any interactions that occurred between Gene and Steven.”

Conrad is listed in the end credits on “Out of Justice” by the way, as a stunt coordinator. Also in an interview with Ariel Helwani, Steven tells him to ask Conrad what happened.

Steven Seagal (Actor, Screenwriter, Producer, Martial Artist & Musician):

And when I first heard that, I was dumbfounded and so was Conrad Palmisano, who you’re welcome to go talk to, he was standing right there and he’s probably the most famous stunt coordinator in our business and honest upright honorable non-lying man. Yeah, you know what you should do if you don’t believe me and I’m pretty positive you do.

Ariel Helwani (Canadian Journalist):

I do. I do.

Steven Seagal (Actor, Screenwriter, Producer, Martial Artist & Musician):

Find Conrad Palmisano. I know you do. Find Conrad Palmisano and let him call Conrad a liar too. If he said those things, he should go have therapy. And you know, it makes him look like a demented child.

Viking Samurai:

Balicki’s facebook post continues:

“Conrad Palmisano was one of the most successful Stunt coordinators working in show business at the time. The legal exposure and professional consequences for Conrad would have been severe had he let his stuntman under his supervision aggressively even touch any star in a movie set. Quite simply, Conrad as a professional with great responsibility would never have allowed this situation to occur.”

Another stuntman by the name of Steven Lambert was also an eyewitness to Gene’s and Steven’s brief interaction. He also stated that Gene never choked out Steven and that no altercation ever occurred.

We’ve of course already mentioned Steven Lambert in his book as well as the interview though, in his account, there was actually a minor scuffle between the two, that both men more or less just played off as if nothing happened.

Summarizing the last paragraph in Balicki’s Facebook post, he says: In truth, the story is nothing more than WWE type hype in which Gene LeBell is known to indulge going back to his early wrestling days. This entirely fabricated story is simply a way of staying in the public eye and making a living at the expense of the reputation of another. There are radio shows like Joe Rogan and others who validate this ludicrous fiction in order to increase their ratings.

Joe Rogan (Comedian, podcast, host & Mixed Martial Arts Color Commentator):

That’s a true story. That’s an absolute true story. Gene LeBell told me that story.

Viking Samurai:

Alright look, I like Joe Rogan. He’s funny. He’s a great martial artist. He does great commentary but he kind of throws logic out the window. He says it’s a true story because Gene LeBell told him the story. But if I told Joe Rogan that I fought and killed a grizzly bear, does that mean it’s true because it’s about me and I told him the story? Of course not! Also in the same video Joe Rogan said Bruce Lee thought he could destroy anyone with the karate kick to the head and that Bruce Lee learned grappling from Gene LeBell.

Joe Rogan (Comedian, podcast, host & Mixed Martial Arts Color Commentator):

You know, Gene was like, he’s like the guy that taught Bruce Lee about grappling. You know, Bruce Lee back in the day, thought you could just karate kick everybody in the head and that would that was the sh*t, you know.

Viking Samurai:

The part about Bruce Lee wanting to advance his martial arts incorporating grappling alert from Gene LeBell, I don’t doubt whatsoever. But the part of him thinking he’d destroy anyone with a head kick is false. I’m pretty sure the prevailing wisdom is that Bruce Lee was not really one to promote the use of head kicks in real combat situations.

Chuck Norris (Martial Artist, Actor, Film Producer & Screenwriter):

And Bruce had different philosophies at that time than I did. He said: I believe in only kicking below the waist.

Viking Samurai:

But of course, he’d want to incorporate them in films because they’re not what the average guy or girl are physically capable of doing so they look spectacular and impressive to the general public. But for Joe Rogan to say that Bruce Lee thought he could destroy anyone with a head kick is way off base. So, if he says something as misleading as that, you have to take his opinion on the Gene LeBell choking out Steven Seagal story with a grain of salt as well. But it’s funny how stories get exaggerated or twisted in general.

For example, Chuck Norris first met Bruce Lee after winning the All American Karate Open Championships at Madison Square Garden in 1968. Prior to their meeting, Chuck Norris said Bruce Lee didn’t believe in kicking above the waist and that Chuck Norris taught Lee the various head kicks

Chuck Norris (Martial Artist, Actor, Film Producer & Screenwriter):

And I started showing Bruce different high kicks, spinning heel kicks and jumping spinning around kicks and stuff like this here.

Viking Samurai:

As if Bruce Lee didn’t perform head kicks prior to meeting Chuck Norris. However, Bruce Lee was already quite proficient in head kicks prior to 1968, as can be seen here in the scene of him playing Kato in 1966 in “The Green Hornet”. Perhaps Bruce Lee may have just had greater respect for the real world application of using head kicks after training with Chuck Norris.

Here’s the thing, as far as Gene LeBell choking out Steven Seagal story goes, I think people want to believe this story because it’s an embarrassing story and Steven Seagul just happens to be one of those people that others love to hate. Hollywood is not really different than high school. It’s very childish, it’s immature, it’s all about popularity, it’s catty, it’s vicious, it’s a lot of drama but the story just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. As mentioned, Seagal was already an established star during “Out for Justice”. He was the lead star. I just don’t see the likelihood of allowing the lead actor to get hurt on the set of his own movie. I’d be surprised if any stuntman or any other crew member involved in that sort of incident would ever get to work again. There are several interviews all over the internet where the interviewer will ask someone about Steven Seagal. Take this one for instance, where the guy asked Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu legend Rickson Gracie about Steven Seagal. You could tell he really hopes Gracie will say something bad about Steven.


Steven Seagal. Have you heard of Steven Seagal?

Rickson Gracie (Retired Mixed Martial Artist):

Of course!


What do you think of a guy like Steven Seagal? Is he a real martial artist?

Rickson Gracie (Retired Mixed Martial Artist):

I mean, definitely! I mean, based on his training, based on his understanding, he has a deep understanding of the concepts. He believes in technique, he believes in… and the concepts within martial arts like Bruce Lee.

Viking Samurai:

The interviewer just looks so disappointed with Rickson’s response. But even Rickson’s reference to Gene LeBell’s story and seems to think it’s true.

Rickson Gracie (Retired Mixed Martial Artist):

Gene LeBell put him to sleep in a set. That’s what I heard in a movie set.

Viking Samurai:

Probably because he’s heard it from so many people.

Rickson Gracie (Retired Mixed Martial Artist):

That’s what I heard.

Viking Samurai:

As the old proverb says: Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

Alright guys, time for our ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’. We’re gonna dig through some comments.

Some random movie extract I bet you wondering what’s in the old goodie sack for you today huh let’s have a look.

Viking Samurai:

So, the good comment. This was from the Dexa scan video I recently did, comparing myself to Greg Doucette and kinobody their results and this comment comes from Greg Doucette, his verified accounts got the check mark and all, he said: “Why do you need to lose fat when you’re already very lean.”

Boy, that’s kind of a feather in my fitness journey cap. Him to use very lean, he’s got that eagle eye vision. Now, I’m not sure how lean he thinks I am but just the fact that he actually called me very lean, I’ll take it. Oh! That’s a great compliment right? Oh, my response to that by the way, is: “You know, since I turned 40, I figured it’s gonna be a much easier pill to swallow if I’m in the best shape of my life and then also I kind of want to walk around like Rambo this summer.”

Okay, so the next comment, we’re gonna categorize as bad this was from my How Strong is Sylvester Stallone video. Gustav Johansson said: “He did not beat the world heavyweight champion in arm wrestling and over the top. Give me a break. Richard Lee Zumwalt Jr. was 5 time world heavyweight champion in arm wrestling. He died in 2002.”

Alright, so he’s referencing this part of the video: “So let’s talk about and ask the question how strong was Sylvester Stallone”

I’m going to say pretty damn strong. And in his defense, I will say I did deliver that line pretty sincerely. So, maybe I could be a good actor or you know at least a halfway decent one, who knows. Alright, so my response is: I’m well aware that “Over the Top” is not a documentary. Give me a little credit guys like, I’m not that naive. I’m not completely delusional. I may make videos and comment and give people the benefit of the doubt as far as like natty or not stuff goes but, I’m well aware “Over the Top” is not a documentary. And the video though I do provide a lot of good information and real numbers from what I could find and how strong Sylvester Stallone is but I pepper it with jokes, with references, with his movies like this referencing “Rocky” for example in boxing: “Stallone has not competed in powerlifting. He’s not competitively been in a weightlifting competition. Believe it or not, he’s not even a boxer.“

Sylvestor Stallone (Actor, Director, Producer & Screenwriter) – movie extract:

I want to talk about. I’ve had 10 title defenses.

Viking Samurai:

Yeah, I’m actually shocked somebody would think, somebody thinks “Over the Top” is actually real but speaking of which, I’m going to do an “Over the Top” video because it’s an amazing movie.

Oh and by the way, if you haven’t seen that how strong is Sylvester Stallone video, if you knew the channel. You know, make sure to catch up on some of these older videos. I created a playlist of like Jean-Claude Van Damme, Sylvester Stallone etc. So, I think there’s a lot of good older videos in there. I know in general most people have recency bias and they just want to watch something new but I don’t really think that’s something that happens on this channel since we’re trying to make the 80s and 90s great again. So, if anything we probably have the opposite of recency bias but anyway if you’re new to the channel, check out that video. It’s a pretty good one.

Alright last but not least, this was from the Steven Seagal video I did where Steven Seagal was basically called out by Charlize Theron saying that he can’t fight and she’s talking a lot of trash on them.

Now this video, I’m putting in the ugly category but I want to preface this. I absolutely love this comment. I just feel like the ugly category is kind of another category and also I feel like this kind of comment could get ugly response comments but absolutely love this comment. This guy’s kind of newer to the channel. He’s a cool guy. He’s been commenting on a lot of videos even though it’s in the ugly category, absolutely love this comment. So Herbinator_88 says:

“So I must admit I bought into all the anti-Seagal hype that has been circulating in recent years but seriously, your videos have made me reverse my position and go back to actually liking and respecting the guy. I loved his flicks in the late 80s/ early 90s and ‘Under Siege’ is definitely one of my all-time favorite martial arts films. Seagal is a legitimate martial artist no-doubt and the Aikido, although disrespected amongst some martial arts commentators, is legit. One of my buddies is a long time practitioner.”

So, my response in general, I like to you know find the good in people. So when I do like my Steven Seagal videos, everybody else is trashing them. Let me be that salmon swimming upstream against the current and let me try to find something good to say. Just really appreciated the martial artist. In general, it’s not like I’m trying to necessarily convert people but I do want to put stuff out there. If anything, maybe people can hate Steven Seagal less, you know, they don’t have to love him but if they could just hate him less, then I’m glad I’m putting these videos out.

Alright, so that’s going to do it guys. Make sure to comment below on anything either related to this video or anything else about the channel. And who knows, maybe we’ll feature you in ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ comments section.

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