Re: Hard before Soft???
I'll have first dibs at this then...
I believe I see where Joe is coming from and tend to agree with him.
While it is lovely to aspire to turn the other cheek, for a martial artist I see this more as a choice that comes with ability and knowledge.
One can only choose not to use force or power...if you have it in the first place.
Choosing not to fight back is only really a choice if you actually posess the power to fight back.
If you don't...then for me its not really a choice.
I've always bracketted this line of thinking along with the phrase 'nuclear deterrent'...possession of power so devastating that the application of such force really needs extremely careful consideration.
In line with this I've heard my betters in Aikido say that you cannot just choose harmony...first you must learn to fight.
Kind of like if you want peace...have a strong army!
Perhaps train hard, fight easy is also an appropriate line of though....
In relation to Aikido..if ones practice lacks the potential to destroy uke and is undertaken purely for the joy of the movement then for me personally it lacks something important.
When it posesses that dangerous potential no matter how hidden it is behind layers of care and consideration for partner and practice objectives then it is a beast with teeth.