Aïkido – Hidden Truth or Martial Effectiveness

In the physical inability to practice since a few weeks I can not bring myself to remain in my sofa waiting for the improvement which will allow me, to be back on my dear Aikido mats.

I continue to go several times a week to the Dojo, I take pictures, I note the courses and then retranscribe them at home, I accompany the children in training, and I attend adult courses from the « bench ». All this would seem very frustrating for someone who, as I do, love above all, to practice and experience all the wealth of our martial art. to say the truth, it is!

However, as the saying goes, « you have to know how to do against bad luck with your heart, » and make the most of each situation. Therefore, it was mitori-geiko for my participation in the seminar that Bernard Palmier Shihan headed on February 25th in Châteaudun.

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7th Dan since 2007 and Shihan (which represents the highest teaching distinction awarded by the Aikikai of Tokyo) since 2014, Bernard Palmier is no longer present today as he is known and recognized by his peers and followed by many practitioners around the world.




For my part I follow him several times a year since a few years and I can only welcome this choice as each encounter with him is a true source of enrichment, sharing and progression. Of course, I am speaking here of the technical point of view but also and more broadly of a reflexive point of view. For reasons that belong to them, many practitioners look at Aikido only in terms of what has to be physically applied in the realization of a technic. The idea that it would only be a pretext for the application of broader principles, which is more effective does not go alone. Thus one often finds oneself with « passages in force » on one or another technique, in opposition, or with misunderstandings of what does not work, or worse to develop and inscribe in the body real bad habits of practice.


Working under Bernard Palmier gaze means to renounce ease and habits, to step in the spheres of depth and density of Aikido. Constantly in question about what is acting in the practice and how to transmit it, Bernard Palmier proposed a work of a rare thickness around the necessity and interest of decompartmentalization in aikido.

As is known, for the sake of accessibility, Kisshomaru Ueshiba has done an important job of « verbalizing » and classifying technics in order to promote the propagation of this martial art, as his father wished. As an introduction to his internship, Bernard Palmier immediately warned us about our reading, our understanding, our interpretation of this nomenclature: « The nomenclature is there to help us and not to lock us in and hinder transversality. It’s a matter of being vigilant that we don’t make a box with drawers of which we would be prisoners. Aikido is not impervious. There is not one side suwari waza and on another one tachi waza, nor even omote and ura, tori and uke or nage and katame « (B. Palmier).

To give us to live and to understand his thought concretely, Bernard chose to articulate the course around Ushiro waza.


As soon as the very beginning, the partitions have fallen! As Bernard reminded us, ushiro is an ideal position. Every practitioner experienced it, finding oneself in the back of partner is a more than favorable situation to achieve a technic. But in this case it’s tori who decides, by the displacement and a double sollicitation (the first contact in face to face and a second one which brings uke to finally grasp the second hand of tori) to bring uke up to his back. We all realized that by giving meaning to the seizure, we could re-examine who is tori and who is uke? An early porosity was pregnant! Are the roles so frozen ? Obviously not. Moreover, when uke attacks, he does’nt only do it to propose a working situation to tori; He attacks with the idea of going to the end of something. This amounts to saying that, like tori, uke constructs his attack (in this case a seizure) as a technic. The question of the authenticity of our actions quickly became omnipresent as well as that of the De aï, the centering, or even the implementation of the principle of placement. My kohaï on the mat and I, with my little notebook, had gone beyond the simple question of the technic to come to ask ourselves about what we gave to work with our partner and our quality of presence at the meeting moment.


To my surprise, after a little more than an hour spent on this form, Bernard proposed to leave Ushiro Waza for a moment, and to « return » to the frontal work. I can only admit my admiration when he highlighted the ushiro placement on shomen uchi irimi nage, nevertheless mae waza. Here again the permeability of the practice could only appear to us evident. Whether from the point of view of tori or of uke, the fundamental point is the same. It is the placement principle that will lead to the completion of a technique. A few minutes from the little break deserved by all, we reworked our authenticity, our acuity, opened our horizons as to the segmentations of our practice, and Bernard to conclude on the principle of Shoshin as one of the guarantors of our progress. I refer you for this element to a text written a few years ago by Bernard Palmier himself, and which says much better than I would, the deep meaning of « Shoshin« .

Decompartmentalization, permeability, and riaï were obviously also at the center of the second part of this course, but this time Bernard chose to alternate buki waza and bare hands work and to make the link with the principle of relaxation. It was another hour and a half of study and sweat for practitioners. To see tori with his ken entering and coming behind uke was a logical sequel and yet a proposal that I had never seen before and which highlighted the necessary harmony between the partners. It was about the simplicity of the evidence and the complexity of the realization.


If I refer to what I heard from practitioners at the end of the course, I know that the heart of the matter was perceived. With their eyes wide open and their bodies awakened, each one had lived three hours of intense work.


To finish this writing on the course of Chateaudun, I would quote Bernard in his article about the Riaï: « The Riaï is the condition of the martial efficiency. A technic is effective not because it’s carried out in one way or another but because it respects the principles « .

I sincerely and profoundly thank Bernard Palmier Shihan whose generosity and sharing skills are constants. To Have the luck to be under this look and living these moments of work, even from the « bench of touch », is an enrichment and a promise of longevity in practice.

Thank you so much.

More information about Bernard Palmier’s courses here.

Beaugency intership ; Autrans intership.

Looking forward to meet you there 😉


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