Hard Style and Soft Style

So, do you study hard style martial arts or soft style martial arts? And if you study a hard style, like Karate or Tae Kwon Do, then do you mix softer pursuits for balance?

In other words, is your life a blend of Yin Yang, so to speak?

And if you focus on the efficient street fighting, then are you missing the softer side of life for your balance?

Martial Arts As A Way of Life

My opinion may differ from the majority.

A real self-defense situation is different from your day-to-day training:

I have a martial goal — to be able to defend myself and my loved ones as efficiently as possible. If someone were to attack, I want to end it swiftly. My responses will be as direct as possible with hard-hitting, possibly damaging impact.

Note: just because I train to “crush,” doesn’t mean that I am likely to get pushing into fighting easily. I am mellow, until there is no other option.

Of course, I may have to incorporate a soft, passing technique or two, in order to get to the hard-hitting stuff. So, here, you can find both hard and soft within the one altercation.

But …

Life-Blend Martial Arts

you are talking about the blending of the two, in life. Incorporating both the hard and the soft in the way you live, I think is what you are posing.

It’s funny, but when I was in TKD in the 70s, the school where I trained thought that incorporating the soft meant taking dance lessons, to learn to move better. Later, I read some of the Eugen Herigel writings, as well as a Van Lustbader novel, and thought that soft meant learning music and the tea ceremony.

Now, at the tender age of 51, I don’t worry about the blend of the two, so much. It has to do with a personal theory … that I developed from watching a lot of senior citizens.

If, when you are young, you are primarily an athlete, and focus on the “hard” of pushing your physical endeavors to the limits with highly developed skills, then you have a sad progression into old age. These people long for the days of when they “were in their prime.” They mourn the loss of youth more than most. Why? Because “it” is all over. Down hill from here on out. Ugh.

On the other hand …

Seeking Balance

There are those who have had a well-balanced development — added the “soft” to their lives — lots of reading, several hobbies, and some other intellectual pursuits. These folks see less of a downhill journey. They continue to improve.

Coincidentally, they are also the ones who seem to find more efficient ways of succeeding in their physical as they get older. Translation: I know some damn good martial artists who are older than I am.

So, I fill my life with lots of interests, some physical, some intellectual. I know that I have a good blend of what you are talking about with my love of … prestidigitation (sleight of hand), love of music, writing fiction, authoring how-tos, combative martial arts, long walks, juggling, watching movies, reading and learning, reading and learning, reading and learning.

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Comments (1)


  1. Neko says:

    I can see how you weighted the words “reading and learning”… In that manner, I can see myself a bit like sitting in the same boat. I’m 20, I started learning martial arts at 11 and from there my interest has gradually grown into a rock-solid determination to improve and learn. Also, starting from last year (2009), I’ve been a huge fan of soft and internal styles of martial arts. From there, my balance has been shifting a lot towards a lifestyle from self defense… How many times have you gotten yourself into a fight? And then compare it to how many times have you tripped over and hurt yourself that or some other accidental way…. I really do feel that the balance and the soft techniques of falling and avoiding hostile contact are more important as a self defense system…

    However, I can’t deny the martial and self defence side completely while I myself am constantly searching ways to maim the opponent more slyly and powerfully… =P

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