Techniques and styles

In a soft technique the receiver uses the aggressor's force and momentum against them, by leading the attack in a direction where the receiver will be positioned in advantage, then effects an appropriate technique. This 'leading' of the incoming attack redirects forces from the aggressor either back at the aggressor or away from the defender instead of meeting the force with a block. Fencing displays such moves in the form of the parry, riposte and the counter-riposte.

Soft styles or soft martial arts, such as Aikido and the Chinese internal martial arts, employ predominantly or exclusively soft techniques.

A hard technique by contrast blocks or strikes the incoming attack, which also serves as an example of the receiver using the aggressor's force and momentum against them.

Hard styles or Hard martial arts, such as Traditional Japanese Shotokan karate, employs predominantly or exclusively hard techniques.

Some martial arts combine 'hard' and 'soft' techniques, such as Goju Ryu karate, which come from 'gō' ( Hard) and 'jū' ( Soft) in Japanese.

"Hard/Soft" vs. "External/Internal"

There is some confusion in the martial arts world between the two concepts of "Hard/Soft" and "External/Internal". Although some interchange the terms freely, others consider the two concepts distinct. In the latter case you will hear that "internal arts" tend to be "soft" but "soft" arts are not necessarily "internal".  Differences in opinion may be influenced by the national origins of a particular martial art and the use of the terms by those nationalities - but in any case the debate can be quite fierce. Some examples of a soft style  martial art not generally acknowledged to be internal is Judo, Kung Fu, Goju-ryu karate & Kenpo. Although one of its base arts, Kito-ryu Jujutsu, is.

Traditional Japanese Shotokan Karate originates from the Shuri Castle in Okinawa and comes from the older style of what is called Shuri-te Karate practiced and taught by Sokon Bushi Matsumura  & Yasutsune (Anko) Itosu Shuri-te is also known as linear, hard style karate and Shorin karate. It is said to be best for people who are light and quick on their feet because it uses body momentum to generate a more powerful impact. It has many long range weapons such as Oi Zuki (front lunge punch). This hard hitting karate first appeared in the 1820's when Matsumura was young, and developed steadily through to Itosu's death in 1915. We continue to research and refine Shuri-te principles to the present day.  

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Updated: Friday, 10 September 2010