Crane Kung Fu Techniques


The kung fu style known as "crane" is famous for its elegance. The most recognizable technique may be the crane stance, where you stand on one leg and open your arms like a crane spreading its wings. This is a commonly used stance in kung fu and tai chi forms, but is not a practical technique for fighting in kung fu except by advanced practitioners. Crane style techniques that are more often seen in fighting are the white crane wing -- for blocking -- and the crane beak -- for striking.

White Crane Wing

The white crane wing is a very effective block, according to Yang Jwing-Ming and Jeffrey A. Bolt in “Shaolin Long Fist Kung Fu.” Hold your arm up in front of your body and bend your elbow. Turn your palm to face you with your thumb resting on top of your hand. Spread your fingers slightly so your hand resembles a wing. Use this technique to block an opponent's strike. Block an opponent's fist with your forearm just below your wrist with your hand in the crane wing position pointing toward the opponent. Circle your hand over and on top of the opponent's wrist. This gives you control of the opponent's arm to redirect the strike or pull his arm down.

White Crane Beak

The crane beak hand position is similar to the mantis claw, according to the book "Kungfu Basics" by Paul Eng. The crane beak may be used to "peck" an opponent in the eyes or pressure point with fingers. The top of your hand can also be used to strike. You can also use the crane beak similarly to the crane wing to grab an opponent's arm and redirect the strike, or just to sense her movements without committing to a full grab with your entire hand, which would tie up your hand and alert your opponent to danger. Make a crane beak with your left hand by extending your fingers straight, bringing the tips of your fingers and thumbs together to make a point, and bending your fingers slightly so they all are the same length where they meet.


Practice your crane techniques with a drill. Stand in a fighting stance facing your opponent. Have him throw a right straight punch at your chest. Use a wing block with your left arm to come from the outside and block his right arm. Pull the arm down toward your stomach and then strike his eyes with a right crane beak.