Re: Hard and Soft
I don't think of soft and hard as a dichotomy. I think most opposites are also potentially complements. Soft and hard may be opposite poles of a continuum, but as such, they are also vectors along that continuum.
Also, they are relative, rather than absolute. Liquid water seems soft until you jump into it from a high cliff. The water we bath in is softer than the water we swim in, and the water we swim in is softer than the water we fall into from on high. And of course, the water we fall into is softer still than if we fell onto rock.
I try to make my aikido as tori as soft as possible, but sometimes this becomes dangerous to uke, so I may have to become more substantial for their safety (it's better in many ways to catch uke as they fall, rather than throw them, or even allow them to throw themselves).
I want my aikido as uke to be hard as practicable. But I prefer the hardness of a firehose than that of a piledriver. And at the moment of the turn, I may need to melt completely or turn to smoke to keep myself safe.
So yes, I would say that aikido is the way of nature, and nature is hard and soft. The deliberate and continual flowing (notice that word) between hard and soft is, I think, characteristic of good adaptability, good aiki, and right living.