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What is Softness?

One of the major differences in our style from others such as Karate or Taekwondo is that ours is a “soft” style. I have been asked several times to explain why this is and how it is beneficial. This can be a long explanation, which I will be covering different aspects in the coming weeks, so check back often.

The first question usually is “What do you mean by ‘soft’?”

A quick explanation is simply that when we fight and play most forms, we have no tension in our muscles. Now obviously we must have at least some to remain standing and moving. But that is all we should have, just enough. It can be difficult for beginners and intermediate level students to judge how much is just enough. The best advice I could give would be to err on the side of softness.

Why soft? Not having tension and rigidity in your body will allow you to act and react quicker and more efficiently. A common example that I give is to try and tighten your whole arm and have someone push on it. Your whole body will move. In order to block or strike with that arm, you must first relax the muscles before you can move it. If you do the same thing, but only keep enough tension to hold the arm in place, then when someone pushes on it it will move and your center is not compromised. If you need to block or strike with the arm, it is ready to move immediately, therefore saving you the precious few moments needed to relax it, and possibly saving yourself from being hit.

Remember to check back often as I will post more on this very important subject soon.

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One Response to “What is Softness?”

  1. Ja Gow Adam Canion Says:

    Great post Zack!

    This is one of the most difficult and yet most rewarding things you can learn in Kung Fu. It is often the single most difficult aspect for new Kung Fu students, but once learned is an amazing skill. This is what allows a 95 pound girl to completely dominate a 250 pound attacker. As you mentioned it has taken years to really even begin training my body to react and perform in this way, but its one of the real core aspects of what we do.

    I look forward to reading more of your posts!