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Shaolin Animal Fist: Crane Style Concept and Techniques

Shaolin Crane Style is one of Chinese Kung Fu. It is the art of allowing the unbeatable to defeat themselves!

Whereby the Tiger is Power of the Physical and the Panther is the Power of the Mind, Crane Stylist have the power of Elegance, Patience and Evasion. Whereby the Tiger and Panther are offensive based styles, the Shaolin Crane (and Snake) are defence and counter specialists. The Shaolin Carne does not overcome it’s opponents; it allows the opponent to overcome themselves. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, there is a good story of the origins of the Shaolin Crane Style that might interest you.

The concept is well suited, as in the story of the Shaolin student, at person who are not aggressive and prefer not to, or can not, deliver strong and direct strikes on an opponent, even if they are being attacked. The 5 Crane Levels all work on the precept that you can not win with what you have and thus create a situation whereby the attackers strength becomes their weakness. This i believe is one of the cleverest ways of defending but also one of the most difficult, requiring the greatest amount of nerve, skill and agility.
The Cranes Defence

The Crane prefers evasion, redirection and distraction. Strong techniques will be evaded, weak techniques redirected and sudden techniques will be distracted whilst being redirected or evaded. There is no force in the Cranes defence techniques (for the most). It is a style for gentle people who do not wish or can not use force. Thus all attacks against the Crane are used to help the Crane evade and avoid. The Stronger the technique, the better for the Crane Stylist to use the force. A good example of this is the one-legged Crane Stance, whereby the Crane Stylist stand with one leg on the ground and the other with the knee in front of the solar plexus, hands extended. When the attacker rushes in, the Crane ‘steps’ onto the oncoming attacker with the lifted leg and kicks it self away. if the opportunity is given, it will deliver some type of technique to a vital area, if safe, if possible and if it dose not distract from the evasion.

The Cranes Attack

The Crane Never attacks. The Tiger and Panther are attack specialists the Crane is the Defence, Evade, Avoid, Distract and run away specialist. It may ‘sneak in’ a technique whilst doing this but it would not attack.

The Cranes Strategy

Don’t get hit! Simple and easy. The Shaolin Crane teaches us to specialize in Evasive avoidance having your safety as a number one priority. The Tiger is a ‘win-at-any-cost’ style; Panther is a ‘win-at-the-least-cost’, the Crane is a ‘don’t-loose-or-get-hurt’ style. Outmaneuver, outdistance, outlast, are the overriding maxims and almost as an afterthought, striking, if safe, if . . . .etc.

The Cranes Training

The best Shaolin Crane stylists are also good dancers! They move like professional ballerinas not like gymnasts, they evade like water away from a splash, not like a startled mouse, they move like a gliding skater, not a charging bull. The Cranes training is much like learning to dance. Beautiful, economic movements, tight body control, hands out in rest, hands close to the body in movement. For a true Crane stylist, 50% of the training should be in Ballet dancing (not point), 25% in other dance styles and the remaining 25% in sparring and incidental striking.

The Crane Stylist

The ideal Shaolin Crane stylist is a gentle person who for the most could not hurt a fly. They have a strong sense of beauty and elegance, my tend to be a bit peacockish (flamboyant) and very people centered. They can fit into most any group of people seamlessly without effecting the group dynamic, they are peace loving, like people and usually are very kind. The Cranes principle defects are lack of own opinion, tendency to agree (even if they don’t) and passive aggressive in nature and style. They are best for group work, teaching, protection of the very vulnerable and weak.

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