Anyone who has seen the original Karate Kid starring Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita most likely remembers and recognizes the iconic crane kick. Although the movie portrays the technique as being shrouded in mystery, it is no secret that the crane technique has been around for hundreds of years but not too many people know about the origins and history.
The Famous "Crane Kick" From The Karate Kid Movie
The one Master credited for spreading the technique of the white crane is named Wu Xiangui but in Karate circles, he is simply known as Go Kenki. Go Kenki was a Chinese tea merchant born in 1886 and was the primary influence to such masters as Kenwa Mabuni (founder of Shito-Ryu), Chojun Miyagi (founder of Goju-Ryu) and Shinko Matayoshi (Kingai-Ryu). Although there are many theories as to who and where Go Kenki learned his art, what remains certain is that he learned White Crane boxing (Baihequan) and Tiger Boxing (Hu Quan) and spread the art upon arriving in Okinawa.
Wu Xiangui aka Go Kenki
There were several katas in Go Kenki’s White Crane curriculum, many of which are incorporated in many classical styles of Karate. These include: Happoren (Paipuren), Nepai (Nipaipo), Hakutsuru, Hakuho, and Hakkaku.
Go Kenki died of stomach cancer in 1940 at age 53 and unfortunately, he never fulfilled his dream of returning back to his home country of China. However, his contribution to the current art of Karate-do still lives on.
Below is a video of WKF Kata competitor Minh Dack performing the most popular of the White Crane katas – Nipaipo
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