Crane stance

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Tsuru-dachi, the crane stance, has three minor variations -- walking, fighting, and sleeping. Each of these will be discussed in the subsections below.

Regardless of which one you perform, never step forward directly from crane stance into some other stance. Using crane stance as a giant step will make you lean, transferring a portion of your weight onto a leg that isn’t touching the ground. A clever or skilled opponent can swat your foot aside with a well-timed leg sweep, toppling you instantly.

Be sure not to raise your center when transitioning to crane stance. Practice in front of a mirror, with a piece of tape at head-level to check if you are bobbing or lifting as you transition.

Walking crane stance

Walking crane stance is the setup position for kicks. Stand on one foot, keeping its toes pointed forward to help maintain your balance. The bodyweight is spread over the heel, the ball, and the blade of the supporting foot. Avoid bearing down on the arch of the foot -- this causes the arches to cave in over time, robbing your feet of their natural shock absorption.

Keep your back straight. Shift the hips slightly to the side, so that spine is in-line with the supporting hip, knee, and ankle. Bend the knee of the supporting leg; the lower one is, the more stable one will be. Pretend that your spine, hip, knee, and ankle are all part of a telephone pole anchored deep within the earth.

Raise the other knee as high as possible. Ideally, the knee touches your chest, and bending the supporting leg makes this easier by lowering your chest. (While this seems like cheating, we assure you, it isn’t.)

At minimum, your knee must be raised higher than your hips. The line formed by your knee and hip must form a positive angle with respect to the floor -- it must not pointed at the floor, nor parallel to it -- it must be “past parallel.” Higher knees result in more powerful kicks will be, because the legs work just like compressed springs or scissor jacks.

Recall that in Goshin-Jutsu, stance direction is determined by weight distribution, instead of foot geometry. To enter a right crane stance, one raises the left leg, so that 100% of the bodyweight bears down on the right leg, and vice-versa. This is critical to understanding the directions for our kata and waza.

[photos of fighting crane from the front, and side]

Fighting crane stance

Fighting crane stance is much like walking crane stance, except that raised shin is tilted 45° with respect to the floor, so that the raised foot covers the knee of the supporting leg.

[photos of fighting crane from the front, and side]

Fighting crane can be a passive defense, using the thigh to shield the groin. Transitioning into a fighting crane stance is the ultimate defense against foot sweeps, foot stomps, and attacks to the side of the knee -- moving the leg moves the target, leaving nothing to hit.

Sleeping crane stance

Sleeping crane stance is a sneaky position that is typically used as a transitional movement to help enter another stance in another direction.

Sleeping crane is performed just like the other crane stances, but the knee is only raised to hip-level, with the raised instep neatly tucked inside of the hollow of the supporting knee.

[photos of sleeping crane from the front, and side]

Sleeping crane stances are also sneaky because, by keeping your center low, they are incredibly stable. Standing on one foot does not have to be precarious. In addition to being stable, sleeping crane is far from being a defenseless position. Though kicks can only be thrown from walking or fighting crane stances, transitioning into either of these from a sleeping crane is simplicity itself, since you are almost there.