Picking out the BEST martial art
Martial Art/Martial Way/Martial Sport
|"-do" Way of|
The second type is a martial way. They are usually derived from martial arts, but their main concern isn't the martial aspect, but the personal development aspect of martial arts. They can be useful in self defense, depending on the training method, but that isn't the main goal of the art. Aikido is a great example of this.
|"-Jutsu" Art or science|
These categories are artificial creations, and many arts don't nicely in these categories. But they establish the goal of the martial art, and they are all viable, depending on what it is that you are looking for.
Hard or Soft
A soft art is one where the goal is to not overtly resist force with force, but to redirect any energy or force coming towards you. Dealing with that same punch, a soft art will redirect the punch without stopping the energy of the punch, and then usually perform an attack, joint lock, or a throw. Aikido, Bagua, or Taiji are all good examples of soft arts.
Now, those categories being established, there no arts that are 100% hard, or 100% soft. And soft gets a bad rap in the West. It is our ideas that martial arts is about strength and/or skill overcoming the bad guys' strength and/or skill. 14th Century German wrestling and swordplay measured their skills with the same idea, they just called them strong and weak techniques.
The end result is whatever art you pick, it only matters that you enjoy it. Because the best art is the world is the one you do, and enjoy the most.