Although seemingly the weakest of our five animals, the crane is very complex and, to me, next to the dragon, embodies the underlying tenets of the Kung Fu that we teach at WKFA better than the other animals. If I had to describe our school in terms of the five animals, I think we would identify more closely with the personality of the crane than any other animal.
The crane is passive by nature, always choosing to avoid conflict but will defend itself with passion if necessary. The intent of the crane during a conflict is to use the energy of its opponent against it. Avoidance is one of the main tactics of the crane. I know of at least one school that has a grading requirement where the student must navigate their way through a maze of other students that are sparring while avoiding all techniques along the way, without showing any signs of aggression.
The characteristics that distinguish the crane are:
- Speed – The crane uses superior speed to outmaneuver its opponent. Whether hand, foot, attacking or avoidance techniques, the crane moves fast.
- Agility – Agility is the ability to move with speed, balance and power while changing direction or position. All of which are hallmarks of the crane.
- Accuracy – Because of the controlled use of power accuracy is extremely important in the execution of crane techniques.
- Deception – Convince your adversary that you are going to do one thing when you actually execute something different.
- Confusion – The crane attempts to confuse its opponent with a combination of speed, deception, and accuracy. A confused opponent might choose to avoid further conflict.
- Patience – Patience is paramount in all crane styles. The crane will always seek to avoid conflict and will only strike if force is necessary and an appropriate target presents itself.
- Footwork – Crane styles emphasize strong flowing footwork, allowing the crane to move quickly and accurately to avoid, or to attack.
- Balance – Because crane techniques and footwork are not linear superior balance is another hallmark of the style. Techniques are often performed by means of untraditional stances including twisting, one-legged stances, and leaps.
All of these elements combine to form the personality and techniques of the crane.