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Types Of Martial Arts - Hard Or Soft
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Types of Martial Arts - Hard or Soft

We all love to marvel at the amazing feats and demonstrations performed by karate and kung fu masters as the smash boards and bricks to pieces with their feet and fists. However most people do not realize that these represent only one half of the broad spectrum of martial arts. In the world of martial arts there are two broad categories within which a martial art may be classified in a general sense; hard or soft.

"Hard or soft?!? Why would I want soft?" This could be a potential reaction when discussing soft martial arts, but believe me when I say they are anything but soft. The two terms are simply meant to describe the intent and mentality of the practitioner. In hard martial arts styles, the idea is to block the opponent's attacks in a such a way that it will hurt them, thus discouraging further attacks. Likewise when you attack in a martial art that focuses on the hard style, you primarily aim to break your opponent with maximum force applied to specific locations on your opponents body to incapacitate him. Does this sound familiar? Karate, Taekwando, Muay Thai, and boxing are all different forms of martial arts which take after the hard style.

'Soft' style martial arts focus less on bashing your opponent to a pulp and more on controlling your opponent with circular blocks that allow for grappling opportunities and throws. As I mentioned before, these martial arts are not less painful than their 'hard' counterparts, but rather approach the opponent in a different fashion. If you were using a 'soft' martial art you would be focused on forcing your opponent off-balance so you could perform a throw or engage him in a lock. Most punches and kicks would be delivered with the aim of distracting the opponent and setting up a throw or pinning technique targeting joints and pressure points. Some popular styles include Jiu jutsu, Judo, Aikido, and Hapkido.

So which is better? That is completely relative to your own personal style. In general hard martial arts tend to be more linear in style emphasizing direct strikes imposing your energy against your opponent's whereas soft martial arts are more circular, seeking to flow with the opponent's energy using it against him. The joint locks and throws of soft martial arts require a lot of training to perfect however, whereas learning to strike an opponent, while still taking lots of practice, can be grasped pretty basically and perfected much more quickly. Therefore in terms of self-defense, if one does not have extensive time in which to train, 'hard' martial arts may prove to be more immediately effective in terms of overall defensive capability. However 'soft' martial arts, when time is invested into, develop extremely effective leveraging techniques which allow one to face opponents much larger and effectively use their weight and inertia against them.

So in deciding what martial art to train in, it really comes down to what best suits you and fulfills your personal expectations and requirements. That said, I hope this article proved somewhat enlightening as to a few of the fundamental differences between various martial art styles and their practitioner's philosophies. Now time for me to head on out and practice. Hya!!!


Street Talk

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