Charles David Henderson
The title to this thread, to me, also suggests a different topic than "Do you need to know how to be martially effective before you can exercise benevolence against an attacker."
"Hard before soft" suggests the view that in training it is better to train in a "hard" manner first, before trying to develop "softness" in technique. Which, I believe, some people would maintain is part of becoming "martially effective" when executing technique "softly."
But executing "softly" doesn't necessarily mean "benevolently." Think of a softly executed kote gaeshi...off a balcony.
Is the title also intended to define the discussion?
I agree that exactly which point is up for discussion?
The title? O.k. I'll go with that.
I would thus say approach soft, execution soft, result soft. No hard. Great discipline.