In Yoshokai, we are often told to lead "clearly". Terms like "powerful" are often used, in reference to making full-body movements rather than isolated movements. However, the emphasis is certainly not violent. The idea is to make it clear to uke where to go, and be a good leader, just as uke is studying to be a good follower.
From my limited (~1.5 years) experience, some examples of hardness/softness I've seen:
Soemthing that could go either way, being both a large body movement with a lot of power in it and at the same time being very much a matter of timing and 'flow': opening pivots. Sometimes these are just quick 45-degree pivots (95-degree openers seem to be limited mainly to older techniques), but quite often a technique will begin with a full 180 degree pivot. We twirl like crazy, compared to the practice I see at the Iwama-ryu dojo I train at. For instance, if uke runs in to grab, nage/shite/tori will often allow the grab and simultaneously make a large pivot to pull uke along. Although this seems 'soft', it is actually quite 'effective' if timed correctly; it is surprising how easy it is to whirl someone around if they approach with force.
Something else that seems to be 'soft': strike lead-arounds. For instance, from a strong shomen-uchi, we sometimes 'catch' (lightly) and let them continue to fall forward, pivoting at the same time. It seems very 'soft' in feel. That's not to say it's ineffective, just that it relies more on uke's energy than on nage adding energy.
Last edited by Paul Sanderson-Cimino : 03-24-2004 at 11:21 AM.