The origin of Uechi-Ryu is named Pong-Gai Noon which translated from Chinese means half hard and half soft. A true understanding of this style commits the practitioner to learn and understand its’ movement in a hard path and with little to no effort use this same movement in a soft path. Both paths should produce the same results.
Soft does not mean weak. Those who believe that do not understand soft. Most instances soft is stronger then hard. Remember “force” is velocity times mass. If your fist is your mass, how fast can you thrust your fist if you are rock hard? On the other hand, if you relax your arm a little while keeping your fist hard, how fast can you thrust it now? Try tightening your arms as hard as you can when you punch. How fast is that?
While your body is as hard as a rock you won’t be able to move. How many rocks have you seen change its form without being smashed and broken apart? You would have to loosen up in order to even throw a punch. I suppose it is the degree you want to loosen up. Question is how fast do you want to be able to punch?
While we are young and at our physical peak, we employ our strength and smash flesh to flesh, bone to bone. As we mature, we develop more skills, timing and finesse. By understanding how our bodies work with each movement, we are now true matured, martial artists and not mindless brutes.
If hard is our only path, we learn only half a system called “half hard, half soft”. Are we truly masters if we only understand half a system? As we mature, are we advancing when we become much less effective because we can not withstand the forces of youth. Training in finesse, we can overcome the simplicity of hard strength. We no longer have to abuse our thinning bone density, brushing that last for months and fear of not having the strength to block an attack from a younger, stronger opponent. We should enjoy our maturity in a beautiful, flowing and effective art which will last us a life time. How many of us no longer train because we can no longer withstand the pains of a hard, pounding workout? At the infancy of my training, I trained diligently to be able to take a hard smash. Now that I’ve trained for over 53 years, I’ve gain enough skills to avoid getting punched.