We hear these terms so often, to describe so many different kinds of martial arts, that they begin to lose all meaning.
After many years of studying martial arts, I’ve formed specific definitions of my own. In the spirit of making terms precise enough for everyday use, I offer them to you.
I’ll start with hard style and soft style:
The terms hard and soft, when relating to the martial arts, imply a way of dealing with your opponent’s force. In essence, hard styles meet their opponent’s force with force, using solid blocks, strong postures, and powerful attacks fueled by strength, mass, and speed. Soft styles on the other hand attempt to blend with their opponent’s force, using fluid movements and timing to avoid, deflect, and redirect their opponent’s attacks.