IMO karate blocks start hard, they are there for when you didn't moved, arn't particualry skilled, just didn't react so well, lost your footing a little, are full of fear etc etc lots of reasons,

A really good point Jim, I think that blocking techniques often work on the assumption that attribute wise you will not neccessarily be on a equal playing field with your attacker, and in fact likely will be at a disadvantage, which makes the whole twitch response + don't get hit thing very important in the initial stages of an altercation.

I don't see hard methods as less advanced than soft methods at all, i've had the opportunity to train with people for a while now who have some of the 'internal' type skills for lack of a better word, and I wouldn't describe what I feel as soft at all lol.

To me hard doesn't equal brute force, nor does soft always imply yielding.