In Asian art, cranes are often shown standing alone. Their long proud necks held high. Their surroundings are serine and trainquil. Their movements graceful and well balanced, often only resting on one leg.
But do not let this gentle side of the creature fool you, for cranes can be fierce if challenged. Their long sharp beaks strike with uncanny speed and accuracy.
In Martial Arts, the crane represents balance and gracefulness. An artist who practices crane techniques will often be seen demonstrating great balance. In some forms of Martial Arts, this balance is shown by standing on tops of poles raised high above the ground and literally jumping from one pole to the next. The strikes are soft, but deadly with pinpoint accuracy.
A "crane's beak", which is a fairly common hand structure, is used to strike as specific spots on the body. Study of dim mak, using pressure points to both heal and hurt, fall under the crane styles.
Another common feature of crane movements are the "wings", extensions of the arms, normally in a balanced fashion, to block or protect.
Learn more about other animals & elements in Martial Arts as part of our Chinese New Years articles.