Snake vs Crane?

Discussion in 'Chinese Martial Arts - General' started by TMA17, Mar 2, 2018.

  1. TMA17

    TMA17 Black Belt

    Sep 26, 2017
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    What is the meaning and origin behind the Snake vs Crane emblem you see within Kung Fu?

    This is what I found:

    “Legend tells us that the founding father of Tai Chi lived around the late 13th century and early 14th century. He left his position as a government official to live the life of a wanderer and a hermit in the mountains. Travelling from place to place he learnt techniques of meditation and martial arts under various Taoists.

    Until this time, most martial arts systems used great force, effort and muscular strength. Chang San-feng was dissatisfied with how these systems related to the principles and philosophies of his Taoist practices.

    One day, he was witness to a snake and a crane in combat with each other. He watched as the crane swooped down from a tree with its wings fully spread, the snake hissed a challenge which the crane took up by using its sharp pointed beak to initiate an attack. The snake used its deceptive coiling movements to evade the danger and responded by lashing at the crane with its tail. The crane lifted its leg to avoid the strike and then used its claws to attack. Again the snake evaded this by twisting and turning, whilst instinctively countering with its mouth. The crane curled its neck to escape the venom and beat its huge wings to force the snake away.

    Eventually, after tiring themselves out, the two combatants called a draw, the snake slithered away and the crane returned to its tree perch.

    Mesmerised and exhilarated by this contest – Chang realised that he had been witnessing a perfect exhibition of the I Ching principles of adapting to change and the ability to blend soft and hard, strength and yielding. The continuity and flow of the circular movements seemed in accord with his Taoist observations of nature.

    He studied the crane and the snake as well as other wild animals, the movement of water, winds and clouds, the nature of bamboo and trees. These natural movements and feelings were gradually embraced and incorporated into his new system.

    Chang San-feng lived in the Wu Tang Mountains and it was here that he taught several disciples. Today we see remnants of this story in the Tai Chi movements of ‘White Crane Spreading its Wings’and in ‘Snake Creeps Down’.

    The crane and the snake are two creatures that are rich in symbolism. Before considering their dual significance within the context of this story, we should look at each of them individually.”
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2018
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