A misunderstanding persists among some people in and out of the practice of martial arts on the meaning of what is meant by references to ”soft” and “hard” in talk about martial arts techniques.  In the way that we define it in Leung Ting WingTsun®, soft does not mean weak.  Something soft can be very strong. 

Rubber is soft and pliable but is very strong.  It is hard to tear and cannot be broken or shattered.  Conversely a diamond is very, very hard, sometimes said to be the hardest substance having been compressed for millennia deep within the earth.  As hard as a diamond is, a weak point can be found and it can be cut using the right tool.

A soft object can yield but a hard object does not yield unless the whole object moves.  This is why a WingTsun practitioner trains how to yield to stronger forces, not to give up the fight but to evade, deflect or dissolve an attacker’s force, then use it against them.

I always emphasize to students that soft does not mean weak and therefore a trainee must physically train to make the muscles flexible and alive.  Without this ‘live’ characteristic, one cannot borrow force or maintain the elastic quality needed for skillful borrowing and delivery of power.  We all know that lack of use can turn your body into mush.  Training for fitness keeps your body alive and is a type of self-defense all by itself.  Forces stronger than you can break your bones but skillful yielding can allow you to train and fight another day.

©Copyright 2012 Keith Sonnenberg.  All rights reserved.