Talk:Hard and soft (martial arts)

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NPOV concerns with labeling particular arts as "hard" or "soft"[edit]

Different schools have different usages for the terms hard and soft. We can't report the understandings, especially unsourced opinions, of any one school as fact. In traditional T'ai Chi Ch'uan, we describe ourselves as "soft" and most other styles, with very few exceptions, as "hard". And for the traditional schools at least, the soft/external hard/external identification is absolute; we would never describe Judo as soft, for instance, as their quality of motion, in the opinion of T'ai Chi practitioners, is completely different. Not better or worse, but certainly different. Other people have different opinions. The opinion I'm reporting is based on writings and teachings of the Yang, Wu and Sun families which are of course in themselves opinions, if historically influential ones. So, for Wikipedia to make an article making an absolute statement as to what is hard and soft violates WP:NPOV and will have to be qualified or eventually deleted. As well, the present article makes conclusions about how soft and hard relate to western disciplines which is theorising in violation of WP:OR. --Fire Star 火星 20:43, 23 October 2006 (UTC)

I replaced Judo with Aikido, which is less debatably soft. The remainder of the issues with the article are not nearly as simple, however. What do you want here? Are you advocating for the deletion of the article? As I understand your statement, you are saying that any statement on this topic would be POV. I believe that this is a perfectable article, and a neccesary one... -Toptomcat 23:08, 23 October 2006 (UTC)
Do we want the article to be an analysis of different published statements or debate between styles or a simple list of schools that claim to be "soft"? Any categorisation by us would be POV, since there is debate. Any potentially controversial statements that we put in an article like this should be sourced. We have to say that so-and-so says that this or that is hard or soft, and provide a reliable citation. Doug Wile, in his book Lost T'ai-chi Classics from the late Ch'ing Dynasty has a long discussion on possible origins of and differences between hard and soft that is an example of what I mean, that is the sort of thing we could use. As well, quotes from well known teachers like Sun Lutang and Wu Jianquan qualified as their opinions would be usable. I think the article could be turned into a keeper, but it will take some careful work to make sure it remains unmolested. --Fire Star 火星 16:40, 24 October 2006 (UTC)
I tagged it with the Martial Arts Stub template to attract some attention. Would you mind removing the neutrality-dispute and original-reaserch tags, just for the time being? I think it may scare off development. You can put it back on in a week if it still applies. -Toptomcat 20:07, 24 October 2006 (UTC)
Thank you. -Toptomcat 22:09, 24 October 2006 (UTC)

I am pleased that this article is being developed. I started this page, because there were pages about 'soft' styles which linked to neijia. This is entirely wrong. This would equate soft with internal, and by implication hard with external. I'm happy for Aikido to be listed as an example of a soft art. I don't think we want a long list of arts divided in to hard and soft on the page though...

I see the redirects for 'soft style' have been returned to neijia. I find this sad. I hope we can get this article sorted out so the redirects can come here instead.

Ju is the japanese character for gentle (with connoitatios of softness, flexibility pilability, etc.). Jujitu is thus the gentle art and juo the gentle way. Judo is recognised as a soft art, [1] The kodokan emblem emphasizes the judo principle that the soft controls the hard, or gentleness can control force, that one can win by using the opponent's force against himself. See [2] .Jigoro Kano said something like, in Judo "you pull, I push. If you push, I pull". I've not been able to find the exact quote. Wing Chun, and many Chinese martial arts have been described as soft, but these are not necessarily internal arts. The principle of Ju is different from the principle of Aiki though.Just as Judo is different from Aikido, Wing Chun is different from T'ai Chi and all four have different philosophies. Please help to develop this page into something that will benefit Wikipedia by illustrating the principles of hard and soft, without confusing these with internal/external.

Outside wikipedia there is the martial arts FAQ [3] In part 1 there is an entry for hard vs soft and internal vs external.

According to the Virtual library of sport [4] "Within Japan, jujutsu is the largest traditional soft style martial art today." (From the 'General info on martial arts at [5] )

From the American Judo and Jujitsu Federation website, Professor Geoffry Lane says, "Jujitsu is a fairly generic term that generally describes a style of Martial Art that has Japanese origins. There are many different systems of Jujitsu and are generally classified as "soft" style Martial Arts." [6]

I can find a number of references to Aikido as a soft art. Describing Yoshinkan Aikido[7] their web page says, "Martial arts styles tend to be grouped loosely into hard styles and soft styles. The former emphasizes punching and kicking and are oriented toward offensive use. The latter tend to focus more on evasion, restraints and controls and tend to be predominantly defensive. Aikido in general is classified as a soft style martial art." Womble bee 14:17, 26 October 2006 (UTC)

Greetings all. What I propose then is that this article be expanded to present as many differing opinions on the subject as possible. A Chinese section (and subsections for differing uses in that category), a Japanese section, etc. It would be nice if we could find the earliest known use of the terms in English. I will round up some quotes from the Chinese side, and people who are also familiar with that and/or Japanese and Korean styles can contribute what they have. --Fire Star 火星 15:23, 26 October 2006 (UTC)
Thanks Fire Star for propsing a way forward. However, I'm not sure that there is a great deal to be gained by subdividing the hard and soft article by national origin of the art. I'm pretty sure Hapkido from Korea is basically a soft style martial art. Thre are lots of Chinese styles which are 'soft', i.e. not opposing force with force is emphasised. Western boxing could be argued to be soft - when did you last see a boxer 'blocking' a punch? 'Slipping' and 'counter-punching' are more evident. I'd much prefer to see a definition of 'softness' which was generic to martial arts. Incidentally to add to the controversy, I'm pretty sure that as many 'hard' stylists attain proficiency in their arts, they incorporate more soft techniques. (Anecdotal evidence from talking to Karate friends... )
Anyway, in the spirit of what you are suggesting, here is a bit more from the Japanese arts...
I suppose from the perspective of Japanese arts, Aiki, as in Aikido and Aikijujitsu is an extreme form of softness. I would explain Aiki (harmonising energy) as a situation in which the receiver of the attack first blends with the attack before executing a technique using Ki. This entails using minimal force to avoid a clash while simultaneously using their own bodies intrinsic energy (Ki) to effect a technique. We can argue for years about the nature of Ki, but in this case, I would argue that it is using the bodies musclature in the most relaxed manner possible to maintain a skeletal alignment that will use the incoming force to their advantage. in Ki Aikido, training includes a number of Ki tests which enable a practicioner to feel the grounding of forces through their body.
My contention is that a technique can be effected in a soft way without aiki. Indeed students of Aikido must do this until thei have 'got it' and understand how to use aiki. Judo and Jujitsu practicioners are not necessarily using aiki or even striving to do so, but they are still practicing 'soft' techniques.
I suppose I will have to find sources to cite before any of this can go in the article...Womble bee 15:09, 27 October 2006 (UTC)
I was thinking along the lines of what teachers from the different styles themselves say about softness, etc. Kano's quote about Judo is a good example. The sections (I'd propose them in alphabetical order) would then be quotes or citations about Chinese, Japanese, etc. styles and would be authoritative (hopefully being from teachers notable enough to have their own Wikipedia bio articles), illustrative of differing opinions so that they will be informative without being argumentative and thereby would address most concerns over POV ahead of time. I've got a few "in the can" already, hopefully I can get to the actual article for some editing tomorrow if you guys think this will work. --Fire Star 火星 19:55, 27 October 2006 (UTC)

One definition (my own) that seems often to be congruent with different views of hard/soft is that a soft action relies on the proper application of the technique in order to work - whilst a hard action relies BOTH on the application of the technique and on the strength and physical conditioning of the artist. This allows you to distinguish between a "hard" and a "soft" punch, whilst they are similar the underlying principles differ. I like the idea of expanding it out with different views of hard/soft from different sources. Did Sun Lu Tang write something about this or was that more the internal/external division? --Medains 11:25, 30 October 2006 (UTC)

Quotes from [8]

In Randori we teach the pupil to act on the fundamental principles of Judo, no matter how physically inferior his opponent may seem to him, and even if by sheer strength he can easily overcome him; because if he acts contrary to principle his opponent will never be convinced of defeat, no matter what brute strength he may have used. Jigoro Kano
"Mastery of ju or "giving way" is not so simple as it sounds. It is the result of sincere effort. The device of giving way until the proper time involves the use of perfect balance, rhythm and harmony, and perception--the kinesthetic or "sixth-sense" feel--of the opponent's off-balance movements. It is this that enables the judoist to gain eventual victory. When his opponent attacks, he must harmonize his own movements with the opponent's brute force in order to gain victory. Thus his preliminary retreat is performed with the goal of ultimate victory in mind." Watanabe and Avakian
I may venture to say, loosely, that in Judo there is a sort of counter for every twist, wrench, pull, push or bend. Only the Judo expert does not oppose such movements at all. No, he yields to them. But he does much more than yield to them. He aids them with a wicked sleight that causes the assailant to put out his own shoulder, to fracture his own arm, or in a desparate case, even to break his own neck or back. Lafcadio Hearn
True spirit of Judo is nothing but the gentle and diligent free spirit. Judo rests on flexible action of mind and body. The word flexible however never means weakness but something more like adaptability and openmindedness. Gentleness always overcomes strength. Kyuzo Mifune
Do not think of attack and defense as two separate things. An attack will be a defense, and a defense must be an attack. Kazuzo Kudo

And from [9]

Another tenet of randori is to apply just the right amount of force--never too much, never too little. Jigoro Kano

I still can't find the quote that I paraphrased originally and attributed to Kano. Can anyone help?... Womble bee 13:03, 30 October 2006 (UTC)

Merely defensive perspective[edit]

The article as currently written focuses almost exclusively on modes of defense, i.e. blocking vs. redirecting. That seems too limited to me; while I am not an expert, nor have I practised any soft style, soft styles' offensive techniques look considerably different from hard styles' offensive techniques, leading me to believe that there may be a difference in principle there as well. If that is so, this article really needs expansion to cover the offensive as well as defensive differences. -Toptomcat 14:50, 10 November 2006 (UTC)

I hope the article now addresses this by splitting in to two stages. Womble bee 12:41, 16 November 2006 (UTC)

It looks a bit over-formatted now. It needs a bit more material to make it look right. -Toptomcat 03:39, 20 November 2006 (UTC)

What sort of material were you thinking of? Maybe some more examples illustrating hard and soft techniques would help. An intro paragraph under 'techniques' would be good too. Womble bee 09:02, 20 November 2006 (UTC)

That's just the thing- I don't know. As I said earlier, the only thing I have to go on is that soft offensive techniques look a lot different, leading me to believe that there may be a difference in offensive as well as defensive principles. -Toptomcat 12:57, 20 November 2006 (UTC)

Find a picture or something and I think we can promote this to a B-class article.Peter Rehse 09:08, 22 November 2006 (UTC)


I've added some quotes from a couple of Taijiquan classics and some more detail on the approach used from that side. --Fire Star 火星 15:22, 22 November 2006 (UTC)

Also, I've separated out direct comparisons, at least between Chinese and Japanese systems. They may or may not use the same or similar terms to say the same things, but we shouldn't say so. As I mentioned above, we should concentrate on things the well known teachers of these styles have said, Kano, Ueshiba, the Taiji families, etc. --Fire Star 火星 16:44, 22 November 2006 (UTC)

Section proposal[edit]

Does anyone think a new section like Hard and soft martial arts in fiction or pop culture or film or something like that would be worthwhile? There are a lot of instances that I can think of. --Fire Star 火星 16:47, 22 November 2006 (UTC)

Give some examples. (Probably only examples in which 'hard' and 'soft' martial arts are explicitly contrasted would be a good idea to add.) -Toptomcat 18:21, 23 November 2006 (UTC)

Merge sugggestion[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

I'm suggesting that The Principle of Ju be merged here and then deleted. In addition to all of the basic problems with the article itself (title violates WP:Use English, as well as MOS rules regarding capitalization of titles, incorrectly romanizes "", and defies the logic that the the "principle of " should either be written in all English, or all Japanese and then defined parenthetically, e.g., "jūhō (martial arts principle)", or "The principle of softness", or better yet, simply "Soft method (martial arts)") there is no reason at this point why everything currently written at The Principle of Ju cannot be included here (arguably, it is already covered here). Any objections? Bradford44 13:26, 2 July 2007 (UTC)

There were no objections, so I completed the merge. Bradford44 18:16, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

Tori/uke, unreferenced, confusing[edit]

"In Judo when the attacker (Tori) pushes towards the defender (Uke), the tori drops under the uke, whilst lifting the uke over himself, effecting the Tomoe Nage throw with one of his legs. The technique is categorized as a “front sacrifice technique” in judo and jujutsu styles. The push from the uke can be direct, or it can be a response to a push from the tori."

I'm all mixed up. In the first sentence, the tori is pushing. In the last, the uke is implied to be the one who pushed. Which one is it? A reference would help clarify things. Matt Fitzpatrick (talk) 06:21, 16 May 2012 (UTC)

Kickboxing low kick classified as leg-breaking?[edit]

From my (admittedly amateur) knowledge of kickboxing and other martial arts, a low kick is very unlikely to break someone's leg. Put them in pain, weaken the joint? Absolutely, but breaking the leg is a rather rare occurrence, and having the time to throw enough leg kicks that a broken leg is realistic seems [i]very[/i] unlikely in a street-fighting situation, to say nothing of intentionally breaking bones in a controlled match. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:38, 24 January 2014 (UTC)

A low kick isn't just one type of kick, but a group of different kicks. While it may not be common, it is very possible to break a leg with a well-placed low kick. There are some low kicks that may more of an ability to cause a leg break than other low kicks. But still, it depends on the kick, where the kick lands and how much power is behind the kick. And what could also important, is the defender's leg; what the defender was doing with their leg, if they were performing an offensive or defensive technique with their leg.

Use way as no way; Use limitation as no limitation (talk) 11:32, 4 May 2015 (UTC)