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Hard Can Defeat Soft

highlighted lines are quotes from the original manuscripts

Within old Mantis Boxing is the term 8 hard 12 soft. Though this term is often referred to, but rarely has the preface to that list of eight been seen in English. Here, for the benefit of the non-Chinese practitioners of mantis and Shaolin boxing is the preface to the list of eight hard.

“Hard can defeat Soft”
Like a sword of steel that cuts the flesh opening up the tendons and bones.
Like a stone pestle that smashes powder destroying the grounds.
To advance without defense.
Only onward without retreat.

But someone asked,
“What if I am hard and he is also hard, who will be victorious?”
He doesn’t know that my only fear is lacking hardness for hardness will always be victorious.
It is like the hardness of fine jade; though there is Bei Gong’s Shuang Feng Saber one will fear that it is useless.
Even if it is Jing Ke’s dagger one will worry that it is difficult to use.

This is what we call extremely hard.
However, if this jade meets the fine saber of Kun Wu then Kun Wu Saber can cut and polish the jade as it pleases.
So we can say that this jade is not hard enough.
Indeed, when one has the hardness of Kun Wu then there is no jade under heaven that cannot be broken, not to mention something softer than jade.

Therefore such hand methods as Mount Tai presses the top and straight punch to the face and other such types of hand methods can all be applied.

1. Mount Tai presses the top
2. Straight punch to the face
3. Following step double palms
4. Folded elbow hard support
5. Paste to the door and lean on the wall
6. Hard collapsing to the bottom
7. Left and right double clubbing
8. Dividing with grabbing and throwing”

The first mention of 8 hard 12 soft appears in a military treatise called New Book on Effective Training Methods that appeared in the latter quarter of the Ming dynasty. A popular book, there were more than several instances of the book being republished under different titles and even being attributed to different authors!

Furthermore, several sections of the book made their way into other martial art manuscripts including manuscripts of Mantis Boxing. More on the influence of General Qi's writings in Mantis Boxing to come[ 

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