The Physics of the Crane Kick
Everyone's doing it. No, one's watching, the coast is clear, go ahead, do it. Get up on that beach stump, raise up your knee, and strike your best karate bird pose. It's human nature (or is bird nature)... if you're at the beach and you see a stump, you're going to try the crane kick. It's no use trying to deny it, it's what we do. Yet early reports say that the new Karate Kid film has gotten rid of the crane kick... how can this be? How can they get rid of the single greatest fake martial arts move in history. Every fight I have ever been in has involved a well timed crane kick at some point (also with that song "You're the Best" playing in my head). If do right, no can defend, but how does the crane kick from The Karate Kid work?
The Four Parts of a Successful Crane Kick
The first part of the Crane Kick is simple misdirection. Your foe is busy looking at you fluttering your hands in the air, then he sees the knee, and thinks, “What's this guy up to? Is he going to slap me, is he going to knee me, tickle fight? I don't know?” Which means he is completely missing the leg you're standing on, i.e. the deadly foot.
A variation also known as the modified crane kick involves jazz heads. This move goes like so: jazz hands, jazz hands, jazz hands, KICK. An almost unstable fighting style, this is why Jackie Chan got his start as a dancer, and was the original choice for the lead in Footloose (in my mind, at least. I just insert Jackie Chan into most movie roles).
The second part of the crane kick involves your opponent running at you nose first, preferably low enough to be reached with a minimum of kick effort. The best way to get him to run straight at your already extended foot is to get him fired up enough to forget all of his karate training, and most of his natural instincts. I suggest having a crony yell, “Get him a body bag!” It's also nice to have his ex-girlfriend that he's still not quite over, rooting for you, telling you to “be tough.”
The purpose of training on the stumps is balance, and more importantly finding the proper center of gravity. Miyagi said it himself, “Better learn balance. Balance is key. Balance good, karate good. Everything good. Balance bad, better pack up, go home. Understand?” The first part of your training is bird like balance (and perhaps you're thinking, I've seen birds walk, they have terrible balance, but this is about kicking not walking, silly), you can use any neighborhood stump to practice or try following pigeons around. Most cage fighting, in fact, was derived by your Grandmother's canary, Mr. Peepers. Balance can also work as good motivational speech material as in finding both balance on stumps and in your life.
It takes more than balance to kick ass, though. You need to take that potential energy and transform it into kinetic energy. Through bird like flaps you transfer the energy from your arms to your waist to your leg and to your deadly foot. Training involves mostly sake bombs and shouting, “Banzai!” Feel as the sake's energy moves from your lips to your stomach then is transformed in your stomach and emerges as a powerful, “Banzai!”
In recap, the crane kick is only used as a last resort when an opponent is blindly charging at you (even better if they were actually blind). When do you know when it's time to unleash such a devastating karate move? It's good to have a friendly Asian man in a wide collar suit nod at you to let you know that time is right. The actual maneuver consists of misdirection, balance, kinetic energy (sake), so if you practice those elements you should be an unstable fighting force. Now you're a karate man, you've mastered the crane technique, go forth and win the All Valley Tournament.
On second thought, don't use the crane kick, the crane kick is not a real martial arts move. You'll just end up getting round housed and humiliated in front of the girl you like. If you do decide to go through with the crane technique, wait for your opponent to laugh, but don't wait for them to stop laughing. While, still laughing you have two options: run or follow through with your pathetic kick. I suggest running.
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