“The Myth of ‘Pressure Testing’,” by Phil Elmore

“Practitioners of Reality Based Self-Defense — martialists and others who take seriously the need to train in-context and with realistic, asymmetrical goals — grow very weary of this argument, especially when it comes from those who assume (wrongly) the levels of contact used by RBSD practitioners in their training (which, unlike MMA training, also includes extensive weapons training and scenario drills, coupled with elements of survivalism (preparation before the fact, including the stockpiling of supplies and the carrying of personal weaponry) and ‘street’ evasion tactics.”

Click here to read entire article.


  1. bruce baker says:

    I don’t pretend to like Phil Elmore, we have had our disputes over the years in verbal sparring, but the level of violence,or response, must rise to level needed for each situation. Even for our “gentle practice” of Aikido we must acknowledge that fact, we go beyond the safe practice when faced with actual violent situations.

    We try to stress AWARENESS of all things when we train, but awareness often goes beyond the physical training as we try to extend it to NOT putting ourselves into situations that give us no choice but to respond violently. And … when we are in those situations .. use a response that is the least lethal if at all possible.

    The sad part of NOT carrying arms, or weapons, is that we must come to grips with death, injury, or coming to harm because we choose to advocate a peaceful society. Don’t get me wrong, because when there is no choice, and society goes to hell in hand-basket as everyone is carrying weapons either legally or illegally … I certainly would carrying a variety of weapons in that society too hoping and praying that someday .. I would be able to give up my weapons and walk safely without them.

    The idea is not to look dangerous, or let any attacker or opponent know that you have practiced any martial art, or in any way appear dangerous to them. Let them drive off the cliff with their ego and self-centeredness that they are deadly, or a stone cold fighter or a killer. Fine… they will pass you by as you are AWARE of them and thereby you can cause events be put into motion, such as making the authorities and neighborhood majority aware there is a problem THE MAJORITY needs to address. From that slight jostle of society … events will then be set into motion to deal with violent behavior, or violent events. That is what we train to do, not just to fight off one attacker but to be aware of how we can set events into motion and thereby change the world.

    It is never just a knife, a gun, an attacker, or a gang of thugs with an attitude, but the events of the world around us that correct behaviors and society in the big picture.

    And that is what I try to impress on my idiot verbal sparring partner, Phil Elmore … to look beyond the fear and weapons, and see how to deal with not just the short term violence but the long term behaviors and events of society itself. Such is one aspect of you Training in Aikido as you learn to integrate your lessons into your everyday life .. or so I think and advocate in my own person opinion.

    (And I don’t fault Phil for peddling his trade, just be aware of the good and the bad in what he writes is all I am saying.)

  2. Well articulated Phil. No need to gild the lilly any further.

  3. …a good read. now a few reactions – of COURSE all training is hypothetical. the question is whether the hypotheses are fairly realistic. resistance? coming from Iwama style aikido i have no issues about resistance. unexpected points of resistance are just a novel challenge. pressure? sure. weapons taking ups the ante. whatever works to up your personal ante should be sought out as long as it is reasonably safe. after a while (shodan? nidan?) try to think up solutions to new “what if” questions. i.e. the attack is mune tsuki with a knife. the technique is kotegaeshi. what if at the end of the stab, uke tries to follow your tenkan move with a slash…?

    btw – in American Rifleman there is a monthly column, “The Armed Citizen”, which details from news accounts actual violent crimes successfully thwarted with armed self defense. i have no problem with, or special interest in, armed self defense. i have a reasonable proficiency in most weapons and try to stay in practice. but am intensely interested in how the scenes open, the attacks. in many, but far from all, cases greater awareness would have helped avoid the whole thing.

  4. Hey Bruce
    Martial arts is the practice of self defense. If you want to solve societies many problems that lead to violence go study sociology at the university. Practicing wrist locks and breakfalls is not going to change the world. Wake up and get over yourself, your living in an Aiki fantasy world.

  5. R. Paulson says:

    God I’m tired of this macho strutting “real” martial arts one-upsmanship BS.
    Sometimes I wonder why I still read Aikido Journal.

  6. From the above link…

    But the soldier was still an athlete at heart. During his second tour in Iraq, the former amateur mixed-martial-arts student rekindled his interest in the sport. “I really started to see where doing combat sports and the anxiety you feel before a scheduled fight makes you a lot calmer and a lot more prepared for violent situations and combat,” Stann explained. “There’s nothing that you can really do to prepare yourself for war, but that was the best thing that I found.”

  7. Kit Leblanc says:

    “There’s nothing that you can really do to prepare yourself for war, but that was the best thing that I found.”

    Consider that this is coming from a man with a Silver Star and proven heroism in battle.

    Then consider that Phil Elmore doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.

    You can lead a horse to water….

  8. So Aikido == martial arts == self defense? But why stop there, Nick? We’re halfway to Kevin Bacon, and from there, Aikido equals whatever we want.

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