David Sim wrote:
I can't help feeling that people (especially non-aikidoka) get confused by the fact that 'soft' can imply slow, unfocused training, with unrealistic attacks and ukes who fall over if you look at them, or it can imply aikido which is martially effective and has been trained very intensely and committedly but which is itself relaxed and yielding and not 'strengthy.' A lot of people seem to want hard aikido when what they really want is soft aikido with hard training.
I too have the feeling of different interpretations. The reason for being Soft is this is the most efficient way for a fighter. I looked a little at the top BJJ fighters and read their teaching - they have the message we call Soft. I talk with Karateka and they say at high levels, Karate is soft. Same with many other M.A. high level practitioners reach this level of being Soft.
My Sensei loves telling this story about starting a sword fight:
If you can sense your enemy strongly - Kill him swiftly and go on, he is not of your level. If you feel him lightly - be ready for a difficult fight, if you can not feel him - run away, he is much better.
The style I learn, Korindo Aikido, is not based on Ueshiba teachings,and our founder only knew Ueshiba during the 40s. Most distinction would include us among the Early Aikido. Yet we prize softness as very important, and aspire for it.
Being Soft is a way for effectiveness, utilizing all your body strength on the one hand, and being sensitive & receptive to the other with your body. Responding to his actions as they emerge.
Thus, being Soft is very difficult, and requires a lot of hard and rigorous training. to be really soft you should be in good shape, you should have strengh and agility.
I agree some people train in aikido that is not effective. I could try and look for dozens of reasons for it. But in fact, who am I to tell them what is right for them???