Short, concise lessons and concepts helpful to students
The Wisdom of the Crane
By Terry Bryan
"The crane's beak is long and pointed, a stabbing weapon useful
for self-defense. She is calm and poised, balanced and disciplined. When
attacked, she knows she cannot meet force with force. She therefore controls
the fight by yielding, until an opening appears, then counters immediately." Fred
Absher - Kojosho Kempo
Calm, balanced and disciplined, what better attributes could you want
in a fighter? The crane is a master of angles. She has learned to wait
until the last second and then by making a slight movement or shifting
of the body, the stronger and more aggressive attacker simply throws
himself off-balance. A tremendous amount of mental practice is necessary
to remain calm as a serious attack is approaching, and not physically
reacting too soon is the key to success. There is a saying that an attack
of 1000 pounds can be redirected by an ounce of energy, if you use proper
angles and timing.
Learning to redirect a superior force with minimum energy, as well as
optimizing effectiveness of its strikes based upon proper angles and
points of attack, is the key strategy of the crane stylists. She knows
that the best defense is "don't be there," and has developed
that strategy into a fine science. The crane also has the ability to
stand on one leg for hours at a time while she stays motionless and totally
aware of her surroundings.
The key to the crane's ability is mental balance, and the ability to
be calm and relaxed so as to move quickly and respond. It is the same
with us. Watch a seasoned fighter freefighting. Even if he or she is
older and not able to move as fast or kick as high, the fighter is relaxed
and knows how to respond and use angles and timing to set up an opening
or position of advantage. His or her mental balance is always strong.
Each of us must learn to create balance in all areas of our lives and
not focus too much on any one area - work, rest, family and business,
as well as mental, spiritual and physical training.
We also need to know where the center is. Physically, the center of
balance is located two inches below the belly button. Most classical
martial arts spend a great amount of time working on kuzushi, or breaking
your opponent’s balance. And in any endeavor, freefighting, work
or relationships, if our mental balance, or spirit, is broken we lose
control of the situation.
Mentally, the center is based on one’s true values backed by spirit.
Once a person has identified what he/she feels is most important in life,
then it becomes imperative to make sure that these values are up held
in every part of life. Understanding the major purpose in life and working
towards that goal while staying true to one’s values is what balance
is all about. Only then will balance be achieved and the true essence
of the crane understood.
About the Author:
Terry Bryan is the former General Secretary for the USA-NKF (National
Karate Federation), the official governing body for the sport of karate
with the US Olympic Committee. He currently is the Executive Director
for the American Black Belt Academy, a 501c3 non-profit organization located
in Colorado Springs.