Updated: May 14
The crane is one of the 5 animal styles of the Hung Gar kung fu style, and alongside the tiger, is responsible for the style's fame and popularity. Practicing crane style teaches patience, focus, excellent balance, and precision. While mainly considered an external style of kung fu, the crane still teaches a variety of internal lessons. In Hasayfu Hung Kuen, the crane form is designed to help a practitioner to develop the tendons and ligaments while simultaneously learning to link their movements both internally and externally.
The crane style of kung fu isn't just a series of martial movements and techniques that happen to "imitate" the large bird. There's no need to pretend here. Rather, the style is designed around both a mindset and movements that were inspired by characteristics and attributes learned by watching the animal in nature. The crane was observed by martial artists who closely watched how the animal moved and reacted when at rest, while hunting, and when defending itself from other animals. This inspired a series of techniques that humans developed into a martial art.
The crane style also demonstrates a sort of philosophy that a practitioner is meant to take on while practicing crane kung fu. The idea is to think about performing the crane style techniques in practice, sparring, or in combat in the same way as a crane might react to their own natural environment.
The Hung Kuen styles of kung fu are known by many names, including Fu Hok, 5 Animal Fist, 10 Styles Fist to name just a few. The crane style is represented in each of the above names. Fu Hok translates to: Tiger (Fu) and Crane (Hok), while it is one of the 5 animals in 5 Animal Fist, and also one of the 10 styles in 10 Styles Fist. Notably, 10 Styles Fist refers to the 5 animals and 5 elements that are characteristic of the Hung Gar/Hung Kuen martial styles.