John Riggs wrote:
Mike, is the bounce a form of grounding? Directing the energy to ground and then sending it back through the center?
Well, in an ideal and simple world, that's sort of true of the most common learning case. Someone pushes you and you let that push go unimpeded (as much as possible) through you to the back leg. That would be simple grounding. If you keep their push lined up with the ground while you go backward and down a couple of inches (to allow you to "store" in the leg, waist, and hopefully tanden joints) and then you return directly into their push (their push will actually add to yours if you keep them lined up with the ground).... that would be the simple case, which unfortunately morphs into something else as you begin to add more power factors. As speed and skill pick up, these bounces actually analyse out to be something a lot more complex.
The short answer is "yes", but with some big caveats because neither Ueshiba nor Sum is doing exactly that simple case, although they are generally conforming to the baseline. The baseline skill requires some manipulation of the angles of forces from the ground and middle (instead of the shoulder) and the baseline skills require some investiture in allowing the the body to "connect" from top to bottom so that it is not just the use of joints for the store and release of the potential energy.
Most of this sounds pretty simple, but there is a complex bugaboo that has to be considered. Let's say you stand in a right hanmi with your right forearm horizontally in front of you for uke to push on in order to test your rooting ability (of course in Aikido technique you'd never conflict like this; this is only about developing the "ki strength"). Essentially you allow uke's push to imaginarily be like he was pushing against your hara/tanden/dantien... i.e., you hold the push like there is a solid connection straight from the hara to the forearm, although in reality the forces go up the torso, out the shoulder, etc. If you stay fairly relaxed and keep the push at a light level, the body will automatically acquire/recruit the muscles it needs up the torso and out the shoulder and arm. If you force it, you're going to simply pit your normal use of the muscular system against the push. It's this recruitment of strength when you shift the angle of force acceptance that becomes interesting... and it's a major part of the whole "ki" thing. Someone who has trained their body to accept and deal with forces in this manner, as opposed to just using the normal muscular responses, will develop a very different "feel" and attendant skills... particularly when they learn to move with this set of altered body-force parameters. This is the baseline area we're talking about on the thread.
So to just say it's grounding and returning the push might lead some people into thinking this is something simple they're getting into. It's not. And so when you've changed the basic way the body moves and coordinates and *then* you add the secondary tricks, it's a pretty different animal. But why else would O-Sensei have made such a big deal out of it in his douka; why else would Tohei have made this the banner-skill of the Ki Society; why else would Abe and others still only give sparse information about the training methods? It's a more important skillset than most people realize at first glance.