Martial Arts Techniques: Blocking vs Passing, Hard vs Soft
What is a Hard and Soft Technique?
A hard technique meets force with force; either with a head-on-force blocking technique, or by diagonally cutting the strike with (one’s) force. It is an example of the defender using the attacker’s force and momentum against him or her. Although hard techniques require greater strength for successful execution, it is the mechanics of the technique that accomplish the defence. Examples are:
A kickboxing low kick aimed to break the attacker’s leg.
A Karate block aimed to break or halt the attacker’s arm.
Notable Traditional Karate Hard Styles:
Kenpo, Shotokan, Kyokushin, Muay Thai etc..
The goal of the soft technique is turning the attacker’s force to his or her disadvantage, with the defender exerting minimal force. With a soft technique, the defender uses the attacker’s force and momentum against him or her, by leading the attack(er) in a direction to where the defender will be advantageously positioned (tai sabaki) and the attacker off balance; a seamless movement then effects the appropriate soft technique. In some styles of martial art like Wing Chun, a series of progressively difficult, two-student training drills, such as pushing hands or sticky hands, teach the exercise the soft-technique(s); hence:
(1) The defender leads the attack by redirecting the attacker’s forces against him or her, or away from the defender — instead of meeting the attack with a block. The mechanics of soft technique defences usually are circular: Yielding is meeting the force with no resistance, like a projectile glancing off a surface without damaging it. Another example could be: an Aikido check/ block to an attacker’s arm, which re- directs the incoming energy of the blow.
(2) The soft technique usually is applied when the attacker is off-balance, thus the defender achieves the “maximum efficiency” ideal posited by Kano Jigoro (1860–1938), the founder of judo. The Taijiquan (Tai chi chuan) histories report “a force of four taels being able to move a thousand catties”, referring to the principle of Taiji — a moving mass can seem weightless. Soft techniques — throws, armlocks, etc. — might resemble hard martial art techniques, yet are distinct because their application requires minimal force. (see kuzushi)
In Fencing, with a parry, the defender guides or checks the attacker’s sword away from himself, rather than endure the force of a direct block; it likely is followed by riposte and counter-riposte.
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.
Notable Traditional Soft styles:
Wing Chun, Kali/Arnis, (BJJ) Brazilian Jui Jitsu
1. Both hard and soft principles are important to understand
2. Knowing when to apply which technique is the difference between being good and great!
3. There must be a happy medium between hard and soft. Styles such as Wushu and Capoeira are beautiful to watch, but ineffective in combat due to the overly exaggerated movements. Those movements consume a lot of energy.
4. Most MMA specific gyms lack philosophy and principles handed down from generation to generation. If you are one of those gyms please pass on the philosophy. If you don’t know it, please seek it out and hand it down. Without discipline and philosophy, what do you have left? Training the mind is also an important principle.
5. Knowledge of both principles of hard and soft along with mental training (philosophy) will create the total warrior!
6. Knowledge of martial science and body mechanics is key, checking techniques in both styles will secure the victoy.
Here is an Example of checking, using a Filipino Martial Art Drill called Hubud and Joseph Simonet shows some locks that can be found while using the drill. the drill enhances sensitivity between opponents and increases hand speed dramatically. This drill is using soft techniques notice how you redirect the energy. check it out!
Above all, have fun in all that you do!
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