View Full Version : o.k. Hard or Soft

28th April 2003, 16:24
Her we go. I had 12 years experience in Shotokan before switching 5 years ago to Okinawa Shorin ryu. I have heard people suggest that Okinawa Karate is "soft" style (re. tournament application). My opinion that in the modern tournament context that it is not soft, but hard. Anyone run into this before at tournamnets or otherwise, and, how was it decided?


28th April 2003, 16:53
What do you think "soft" is? Just curious, plus a personal stab at a definition maybe helpful in discussing what you are looking for when you say soft.

You have 5 years of Shorin and 12 years of Shotokan you are probably very external. Shorin seems to be a very external system to me. There are some Shorin people out that claim to be a mixure of internal and external but a lot of them have seemed to have gone outside the box to get there (IMO). Karate is very external period (again just my opinion base on my exposure to Yang and Chen style Taijiquan).

I think a personel level the hard/soft aspects of your karate may depend on what you bring with you. The first time I met Yamakura Sensei he knew nothing about my background. It was a large class setting in Toledo Ohio. I came out and did some Goju kata. After I was done he told me 'You were Shotokan'. This kind of blew me away at the time. I told yes how did you know. He told me it was obvious. A couple of decades later I am still do very external karate. We had a lady blackbelt who's karate was very internal but then again she is a long time Yoga teacher. Yoga must have caused her to bring something with her that made here practice more internal. Sensei used to say "Ed you need more Mary, Mary you need more Ed."

Could be a good topic!

28th April 2003, 18:35
I agree to an extent, although we learn some internal from the Naihanchi series. These are arguably the original framework of Okinawa Shorin ryu. Although there is the question of Uechi ryu, their style is as close to internal, if you will, that Okinawa has to offer.

my teacher, Kikukawa Sensei also notices Shotokan quite readily. He says "I think that you still dont forget the shotokan."

28th April 2003, 19:52

you are welcome to this place.

please read and follow the rules as posted at the bottom of each page, especially the "provide your fulll name" rule, :)

Always good to see another Victoria name here, there's a few of us!

Would you give us a little ofyour training history?

28th April 2003, 20:19
Hello Mr. Truscott.
I don't think we have ever formally been introduced. I began training in 1985 under Mike Puckett in Shotokan. After that I was in Banff Alberta and studied a little Goju-ryu. After my return to Victoria I joined Vancouver Island Karate school under Ernie Eckdahl (former student of Lindon Bateson), however, with respect to his memory, I found him and his methods questionable, and after learning of his background, I left him. I went to Shodan under him. After that I ended up at the Victoria Butokukai Dojo under Doug Mortley. I was there for awhile, but took some time off training because I was driving taxi and found it hard to find time to train. When I returned to Martial arts I took some Kempo with Ralph Chinnick at Professional self Defence. That style did'nt suit me so I went on to train with Bob Mueller at Canada's best for a time. Again I took time off and was in Vancouver. I bounced around in Vancouver doing some drop ins at a few places to keep up my training. Soon after I returned to Victoria I heard that Stan Peterc had opened a school. Having a large amount of respect for his skills I joined his Dojo. I was there for a few years, then my first son, James was born. I took some time off to help my wife out. During my off time I met Kyoshi (8th dan)Masanobu Kikukawa. In doubt about wanted to continue training in Kickboxing I started to train in traditional Shorin ryu under him. After years of intense personal training under him, I have my Sandan. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to work with him. We train in Shorin ryu and Rykyu Kobudo. We are also involved in full contact bare knuckle karate, but I keep those classes separate from our regular curriculum at the Dojo. We have begun to compete in some of the tournaments that Kyokushin Vancouver puts on. My wife is going into the Canadian Kyokushin Championships on May 10th.

-Robert Washington
Who else is here? If you don't mind me asking...


29th April 2003, 03:14
Yes, now I know who you are, tho I don't remember you from Sensei Mortley's classes.

Boy, you hit just about everybody, didn't you!! :) I was with Sensei Bateson while Sensei Puckett was there and of course I knew Stan.

I stayed with Sensei Doug to be close to O'Sensei Kim since 1986 but I cross trained modern arnis with Michael Chin (aikido) and Ray Van Raamsdonck (wing chun), and bagua zhang with Andrea Falk. I got some extra eclectic knife work from various sources.

I got both my sandans from Sensei Kim (Shorin-ji and kobudo.


We got Darren Laur here, and Tony Manifold, Cody & Victorian Lace (I forget their last names off hand, maybe VL is on another forum I browse) and one more at least.

29th April 2003, 17:16
Mr. Truscott
Sensei Mortley put me at first kyu. I attended at his classes was sporadic at best, as I was beginning night work. Tom was a brown belt as well then. I got to know him as I saw him there almost every time I trained. Last I spoke to him he was with training with Richard.
I did go alot of places I guess I was looking for that certain something. I found that in the system I practice now. I had actually thought of returning to the Butokukai before I met Kikukawa, but I found that Doug had moved and soon after my problem was solved.

-Rob Washington

Gene Williams
29th April 2003, 18:22
Hi, I believe that too much is made of the hard/soft, internal/external differences among the Okinawan ryu, anyway. I also don't think anyone has clearly defined "internal" or "external", or "ki." Presumably, some of the Chinese styles are considered more "internal" because there is more circular motion and a lot of emphasis on breathing, etc. However, the Okinawan ryu are very heavily influenced by the Chinese arts and bear their stamp. I would suggest that, at senior level, the Okinawan arts become quite "internal", and that I have trained with Cho Lay Fut and Shaolin stylists that hit, block, and kick just as hard as any Goju or Shito-ryu stylist. To me, "internal" means an emphasis upon breath control, mental state, and something vaguely known as "ki" development. The only thing I can equate with "external" is TKD or mudansha level karate. Someone godan or higher doing Jion or Kosokun Dai is certaily exhibiting a number of "internal" dynamics and is certainly not concerned with block, kick, punch and rigid stances, and some of the Goju kata are about as internal as it gets. Now, if you want to shift the focus to the slightly different "hard/soft" differences, that would make more sense to me. Gene

29th April 2003, 18:34
Originally posted by Gene Williams
....To me, "internal" means an emphasis upon breath control, mental state, and something vaguely known as "ki" development. ... Gene

So you consider ibuki breathing internal?

Gene Williams
29th April 2003, 18:47
:p Well, Ed, there are many different methods of breath control besides ibuki. When I do Seisan or Tensho, even though there is deep breathing in those kata, I do not consider myself doing an "external" art. I have seen people of senior level do those kata with very soft breathing, but I prefer the more common way of doing them. I just don't think the distinctions between "internal" and "external" are exact, and I think that if a senior Okinawan karateka has been doing what he should have been doing all those years his art will have just as much internal as external. Gene

29th April 2003, 19:43
Just curious. I think ibuki is about the most external aspect of Okinawian karate. Everybody breathes internalist and externalist. No breath means death and breath is a key in power generation and breath is something you never want to get knock out of you. Mike Tyson trains in breathing methods. There are three martial arts that I know of that are classified as internal arts. Internal arts like all arts are a mixture between hard and soft.. Unfortunately the internal arts are daoist based and the nomenclature used in these arts is considered gobbledygook so they can not be really discussed here. Goju and Taiji strive for a lot of the same things. I think the end product of what we work toward in Kakie isnít that much different than what the taiji stylist tries to develop through push hands. The muchimi is a feeling we refer to a lot in Goju. There is soft as well as hard kakie most have only seen the hard. I think karate people often develop a very internal sense but only above the waist. How opposing parts of the body transitions between ( I need to say Yin and Yang here but that is gobbledygook so I must improvise ) insubstantial and substantial is what seems to be the corner stone of internal technique. Look at the legs of a karate guy. The leg work is pretty static in karate, nothing like in the internal arts.

For example lets compare a Taiji posture called Part the Wild Horseís Mane with a similar technique in Shisochin. In shisochin you basically step off at 45 degrees from a musubi dachi posture to a forward type stance ( posture before the hip shift, arm break). To certain degree you sort of fall into that stance at no time in the movement is there a shift between substaniatal and insubstantial leg. Weight is always favor on the front leg. The front knee always has bend to it. In taiji when you step out The substanial leg is the rear leg. Front leg sets down heel first then there is a shift in substance across the whole body as the front leg become substantial and the rear leg become insubstantial. When a taiji guy punches you he hits you with whole body. When a karate guy says hit with whole body he usually just means he wants you to twist your hips.

sepai 85
29th April 2003, 20:07
Goju ryu principle

-soft win 50 % of the time
-hard win 50 % of the time

common sense- combine the 2

similer to yin and yang you need both to function

29th April 2003, 20:16
Originally posted by sepai 85
Goju ryu principle

-soft win 50 % of the time
-hard win 50 % of the time

common sense- combine the 2

similer to yin and yang you need both to function

Thank you very much for that nice insight. Do you have a practical example that explains the point you are trying to make. Thanks for your input.

Gene Williams
29th April 2003, 20:19
I don't disagree... have watched the Chinese footwork with interest. There are a couple of our kata in which you walk forward heel-toe for a step or two...the ending of Gojushiho, for one. When we teach a student to "hit with your whole body", it is considerably more than just twisting your hips. We try to convey this by telling the student to "move with your belt knot first", or thrust your obi knot into your opponent's center. I try to get the student to imagine that when he is punching and stepping he is penetrating the opponent's hara with his foot, visualizing the hara as a cone extending from the abdomen to the floor between the feet. For the geometrically challenged, I say put your foot under what you are hitting. Anyway, kung fu guys have not fared that well in full contact matches with JKA, Kyokushin, and Okinawan guys. Maybe they aren't internal enough yet.:D Gene

29th April 2003, 20:29
Worst thing to ever happen to taiji was all the liberal, new age, lubby dubby ex-hippies latched on to the art and ruined it.

Gene Williams
29th April 2003, 21:24
Hi Ed, Man, I agree. I was at a clinic that Kuniba was doing about 15 years ago, and all the students were talking about aikido and all that touchy feely stuff. Kuniba's understanding of aikido was very different from their's. It was worth the price of the clinic just to hear him say, "In America, you have too many granola people." Hell, hearing him pronounce "granola" was worth the price of the clinic:D Gene

"The Ed that can be spoken of is not the Ed." Yoda (or somebody)

29th April 2003, 21:48
:look: I am enjoying the good points that my thread has started, although my question remains, if you were putting some kids in a tournament, would you register them in "Karate -Hard style", or in thew blanket "soft style"category? I am thinking hard, but this town is dominated by Shotokan, so...

-Rob Washington

Gene Williams
29th April 2003, 21:52
Well, it kind of depends on what style they are taking, now doesn't it? Doesn't make much sense to enter a JKA student in the soft style category. You put them where their style is. Gene

30th April 2003, 06:01
I kind of figured that. We practice Shorin ryu Kobayashi.

30th April 2003, 14:36
Originally posted by Gene Williams
[B]Hi Ed, Man, I agree. I was at a clinic that Kuniba was doing about 15 years ago, and all the students were talking about aikido and all that touchy feely stuff. Kuniba's understanding of aikido was very different from their's. It was worth the price of the clinic just to hear him say, "In America, you have too many granola people." Hell, hearing him pronounce "granola" was worth the price of the clinic:D


Yeah I can relate to that. Got to love the Aiki Bunnies though they are very nice people. A long time ago a friend told me a story about how he went to a Ki society dojo and worked out with them. They worked a counter against tsuki with a wooden knife and he used a Sankajo technique to redirect the knife and gut the attacker. They were pretty appaulled at his propensity for violence. I played with our local aikikai affiliated group here in town for a little bit about 15 years ago and I got the opportunity to do the same thing. The student body thought it was cool but the sensei informed me that "We do not kill people in Aikido". I think she pittied the poor karate barbarian, sort of like an old catholic missionary ministering to a savage.

Gene Williams
30th April 2003, 15:45
Yeah, it is really kind of humorous. I have friends in Daito-ryu who say if you want to do aikijujutsu, just do everything your aikido teacher tells you not to do:D Most of the aikido projections would cause serious injury if done in the street against an untrained person, anyway. Hell, just feed them some granola and they will recover. Gene

sepai 85
30th April 2003, 17:30
As requested I shall provide an example of hard and soft

soft- opponent punches tai sabaki sideways take control of attacker throw them with koto gaishi

hard-on your opponents landing from koto gaishi you doing a fumi komi keri (stomping kick) to the ribs

30th April 2003, 18:18
Thanks Joe :)

Gene Williams
30th April 2003, 21:44
Ben, That is still just focusing on technique. The hard/soft, internal/external is more about an entire approach to strategy, philosophy, and application. I can make kote gaeshi as hard as hell, and I had a Hsing-I guy step on my instep once with his heel and just hold me there while he punched me. It is more than this or that technique, although your example is rght as far as it goes. Gene

Hank Irwin
3rd May 2003, 02:01
Seems we are a little confused. The external arts in China are anything that came from Shaolin. These arts came from precepts that were developed in India. Hsing-I, Pakua, & Tai Chi Chaun are the only internal arts in China , they were developed and originated there, that's why they are internal arts. Has nothing to do with hard/soft principles of engagement. Okinawan Go Ten Te is an internal art also. It is the only internal art in Okinawa. Shorin-ryu is a blend and external, Ueichi-ryu is also, were not originated in Okinawa.:D

Sensei Williams, I am posting this on 5/2/03 @ 9:44pm. Your e-mail box is full, I just got home a little while ago. I am free next Wed. & Thur. to come by. Am slammed till tomorrow. my home e-mail is as follows: shorinji-ko@mindspring.com drop me a line Sensei, when you have the time.

Hank Irwin
3rd May 2003, 02:15
I also think hard/soft conseption is a mistake. Hard/soft relates to engagement of opponent attacking with hard/strong, counter with soft/languid. Opponent attacks subtle/soft, counter hard/strong, yin/yang priciples, internal thinking maybe. I guess in that aspect, hard/soft principles are from the internal arts, since yin/yang theory originated in China. Just a thought.;)

Su me no sai!

4th May 2003, 09:23
Ed Boyd____________
Worst thing to ever happen to taiji was all the liberal, new age, lubby dubby ex-hippies latched on to the art and ruined it.

That is cute Ed, I really like it!

This is a great thread that talks about Linear Shotokan then morphed into a Chinese art, hard Soft, Internal art....

A lot of very good examples of hard and soft here, but I beg to address that the point has not yet really been made clear. I have been been trying to understand for a lifetime this whole thing of hard and soft having trained in Goju and Shorin for many years, and in my experince, unless you have trained in some internal art that cultivates Chi (ki) it is very diffcult to truly understand what is Yin-Yang, hard-soft coming from a karate style.

Soft isn't just being soft in the body, that is too much of a simplistic explanation, if that was all there was to it we'd all be experts at birth. Nor is it the idea of tai sabaki to the side to let the attack pass you by, and do some stomps, these are just still simple physical movements.

Hard and Soft is a concept that requires training that is not really a part of most karate schools.

In internal arts there are small circles, and large circles, and from these linear motion can be introduced at any point when energy is emited (fajing or kime) and afterward it immediately goes back into a circle.

This is one of the biggest differences that separates Karate (an external art) from arts like Taiji- it is the concept of continuity which is not really built into most karate kata as they are done today (especialy when tweaked for competition which completely defangs it, and turns it into a showpiece).

An advanced practitioner will be soft on the outside but inside he is hard as steel and soft as silk simultaneously, so I ask you to think about this and search your current karate knowledgebase and honestly tell yourself where in your student manual is the chapter to show you how to achieve this?

Goju kata by definition of course is much more circular than shorin based styles but they are done both usually done in a very external way, too stiff, no real continuity. Take Sanchin for example it does nothing to build internal power, it does a wonderful job to build a strong outer body.

I truly believe, and I am saying this from actual experience not from reading books and looking at videos (which I have done quite a bit also) that until one learns to relax all outer muscle tissue and be able to perform movements through relaxed state, it is extermely unlikely that one will ever understand the meaning of Yin-Yang. And, unfortunately like I said before most karate styles' training routines and philosophies do not include the training methods to achieve this.

These are just my thoughts, I am not the worlds best or anything like that, I am someone walking the same path we all are. I am not trying rag on anyone or anystyle. This is a generalization of course, and there may be someone or some style out there who has achieved everything I mentioned above.

BTW- you want to see a good visual on someone who embodies true hard and soft as I am refering to here? The guy at the end of this clip is Chen Xiaowang, one of the 4 living Tigers of the Chen village (19 generation Chen style) This guy is incredible and is soft as silk and as hard as steel, I have seen it and felt in person.

Check out this old 8mm film of the Chen Village in China and then an explosive performance of segments from Chen Style's routine part 1 and 2. It is a 9mb file, worhtwhile waiting for if you have a slow connection.

Then click on- Chen Village Documentary:


4th May 2003, 14:44
After what I saw last Thursday evening I have to concur with 100%. I had done some of the silk reeling exercises and have been shown some elementary Chen movements. I finally got to see the first third of a Chen form. The way the silk reeling is incorporated inside the form is ..., I don't know, its above my head. They are doing things with dantian I have never seen. Circles all kinds of circles big ones little ones all different directions. This stuff is light years above the Yang introductory form I practice. I'm going to keep going back. I don't if I'll ever be able to catch on or not. My martial background maybe a disadvantage in this regard. Thanks for the link I enjoyed it.

4th May 2003, 18:31
Ed, I so glad you understand where I am coming from. I am not trying to bash karate here, I am trying to point out that there are huge differences in the principles and traiing methods of external and internal arts.

Chen Taichi is an extremely complicated, and you could say it is light years beyond the basic form and practice of most karate. It contains teachings and techniques that may seem overwhelming in complexity when you are first exposed to them but like all things when the dust settles and you decide to take it on and empty your cup you begin to understand it's complexity and it begins to make sense.

IT is not something you learn fast, it cannot be swalloed whole. it must be slowwwwly absorbed but I guarantee you that if you stick to it, it will change you entire perspective on martial arts and how to work the internal.

I was totally blown away and overwhelmed when I was first exposed to it like you, but I decided to take it on and it has chenged me for the better and opened doors of understandign and skills that would have never been opened if I just continued to do the karate.

karate and external arts take you to a great height but there eventually plateau and you do not make progress in teh way you did as when you started karate. taiji and internal arts go a heck of a long way past where external arts stop.

But you do not have to quick your karate just cause you take up an internal art, on teh contrary you can incorporate teh internal changes you achieve from IMA and transform you external karate into a higher much more sophisticated and much more effective art.

Keep at it! Where did you see this Chen form, who is the teacher? Is it old style or new style?

4th May 2003, 19:55
With almost 30 yrs of karate and 10 yrs of bagua training, I've learned that few internal / soft art guys know what kind of awesome power they will face in a karate-ka and few karate-ka know how vulnerable their power is to a quality soft style interception.


4th May 2003, 20:36
Sochin, excellent point! Karate does produced awesome physical power and technique there is no question there. And I do not think anyone would argue that a well trained karateka can be an opponent that merits respect.

You have also studied an internal at and i would imagine that it changed your perspective on martial phyilosophy and practice (especially such an awesome art as bagua).

Those that have had the time, patience and sacrificed to put in the work do gain a certain perspective and develop skillsets that often are not present in karate-only trained people.

I would encourage everyone that at some point to take a leap and try out an internal art which can possitively influence and supplement a well developed karate person. I not talking about someone who has been practicing karate for 2 or 3 years, they are still in a learning and development stage, I am talking the old farts who feel the challenge is gone, and have not had any major leaps of enlightenment nor revelation of growth in their practice.

It is a wonderful eye opener, and there could nothing wrong with bing someone who has the power of a karateka plus the tricky internal side of an internal artist.

You can have your cake and you can also eat it but there is a price, the price is to open your mind and empty your cup, and come around to full circle and become the student again.

It is worth it.

6th May 2003, 17:20
In reply to Robert W's query on whether to register children under a hard or soft style in tournament...I would venture to say that it does not really matter.

The vast majority of the tournaments out there focus on sport martial arts. That being the case it will not matter what you register them under - a hard or soft classification, karate or kung fu - it all amounts to the same thing in these events: point sparring.

-Jorge de la Parra

15th May 2003, 21:29
Originally posted by nincho
I beg to address that the point has not yet really been made clear. I have been been trying to understand for a lifetime this whole thing of hard and soft having trained in Goju and Shorin for many years, and in my experince, unless you have trained in some internal art that cultivates Chi (ki) it is very diffcult to truly understand what is Yin-Yang, hard-soft coming from a karate style.....

The Karate man's guide for undestanding Tai Chi (http://www.fudebakudo.com/en/gallery_longform.html)

Gene Williams
15th May 2003, 22:04
Jesus, Ed.

Goju Man
16th May 2003, 00:55

Gene Williams
16th May 2003, 01:14
Ed has an unusual sense of humor. Must be you Goju guys and all that deep breathing you do.:D

16th May 2003, 01:52
Yeah Ed were trying to say something?

Gene Williams
16th May 2003, 02:56
Guys, My suspicion has always been that given two martial artists of equal seniority and equal ability, one a "soft" stylist and the other a "hard stylist", the hard stylist would probably defeat the soft stylist most of the time. Note I said "most" of the time, not all. Gene

16th May 2003, 03:18
The stylist who knows "Boot To The Head" will always be victorious (http://beagleweb.com/personal/Frantics-Tae-Kwon-Leep-64k.mp3)

16th May 2003, 05:29
Wow you just reminded me of "Boot to the Head" that was a funny skit.

1) Does anoyone know who orginally recorded that?

2) Does anyone have it on tape? and if so can you digitize into an MP3 and post it here to share with everyone?

I used to have it on an audio tape and cannot find it. I would love to listen to it again!


16th May 2003, 05:31
Nevermind, I just realized Ed already linked it in the previous thread.

16th May 2003, 12:30
Recorded by the Frantics. Info (http://beagleweb.com/personal/boottothehead.html)