Re: Poll: Is "soft" aikido martially effective?
I agree with what Dirk said, and have this to add.
To beginners and even many intermediate students "hard" aikido seems most effective, because that is what tends to work for them in the dojo. "Soft" aikido must be learned later, but I believe ends up being more effective in actual martial situations.
A simple study of the many web forums and articles lends some evidence. Most people who criticize the martial effectiveness of aikido in general are beginner level students, perhaps a limited few intermediate students. These students have probably only learned "hard" aikido. The stories you read of aikido being most effective tend to come from advanced students. I've read stories of aikido being used to effectively defend against common thugs as well as seasoned fighters, trained by the military or in other martial arts.
Others have already posted in this forum that true aikido is a blend of "hard" and "soft." I think what this poll really addresses are the differences between "softer" aikido versus "harder" aikido, which may even involve striking an opponent. While some people may find that "harder" aikido works best for them, I think the ultimate goal should be to achieve "softer" aikido, where "hardness" or "power" or "kuzushi" is only applied at the moment it is necessary.