Jose Aldo’s Crushing Crane Kick

Lyoto Machida vs. Rashad Evans

After Karate expert Lyoto Machida’s recent win in UFC 98, fans immediately started talking about a comeback for traditional martial arts. Prior to Machida’s victory, the couch potato consensus had written off traditional training methods as superstitious and ineffective. How quickly perceptions change.

The Karate Kid

Two short weeks later, Brazilian featherweight Jose Aldo won a truly stunning victory against Cub Swanson in WEC 41. Total match time: 5 seconds. Winning technique: crane kick.

Yes, the same technique that “Karate Kid” Daniel LaRusso used to win the fictional All-Valley Karate Tournament. (Jose Aldo connected with his knee rather than his foot, but a careful watching reveals that he did extend his leg to perform the kick.)

Jose Aldo vs. Cub Swanson

Maybe Mister Miyagi was right: against a well-timed crane kick, no can defense? Personally though, I’d rather put my money on Robbie Lawler’s wing chun boxing.

Jose Aldo vs. Cub Swanson, WEC 41


  1. I never noticed the relation to the “crane kick” of Karate Kid. Jose Aldo will make a serious run at Mike Brown’s title.

    I saw the comment re:Tony Jaa you left, I never seen Ong-Bak… I keep planning to look for it, I hear it’s awesome.

    Great site you have here.

  2. In the slow motion play back looks like more like a flying knee then a crane kick. He didn’t exactly stand on 1 foot and put his hands in the air. I’d say it was a jumping front kick that turned into a flying knee. But that’s just my opnion.

  3. If youcheck out “Remy Bonjasky” on Youtube, you’ll see him doing loads of flying knees, sometimes similar to what Jose Aldo did.

    The real funny part is this: Last year, somebody asked me what I thought would happen with MMA in the near future. I replied that it’s going to become a martial art in and of itself. And to do that, it will go back to the traditional arts.
    It’s been going on for a while now. I find it funny to see that those who basjed the traditional arts 15 years ago are now coming back to them to improve their MMA game. 🙂


  4. A good kick cannot be blocked or grabbed and is not telegraphed.

    Most people never train hard or long enough to learn to shoot kicks out proper though.

  5. I dunno if that can be considered a crane kick. The foot extends at the end, but it looks much more like a sloppy flying knee.

    As for traditional martial arts, I think it’s more of a misconception. Wouldn’t you consider Muay Thai a traditional martial art? And it’s been a cornerstone of MMA for some time now. If you’re talking about East Asian traditional martial arts, I still believe that it’s always more about the fighter than the style. Lyoto’s championship doesn’t redeem all karate training (especially since Lyoto has also used modern training methods). Similarly, Mercer’s quick KO of Tim Sylvia doesn’t mean that boxing will suddenly be able to stand on its own in the MMA arena.

  6. @Thomas:
    As for traditional martial arts, I think it’s more of a misconception. Wouldn’t you consider Muay Thai a traditional martial art? And it’s been a cornerstone of MMA for some time now.

    Muay Thai as practiced today is not a traditional art IMHO. Muay Boran, yes but not muay Thai. It's become a sport and left it's traditional background behind. Nothing wrong with that, I love to practice it. But that traditional way has a different mindset and different goals.

    Also, muay Thai may be the inspiration for many of the MMA striking techniques but they have been changed, tweaked and adapted way beyond what any nak muay would recognize as his art: When was the last time you saw a high Thai clinch followed by a bunch of knees to the body in MMA?

    Juts my opinion, worth less than 2 cents. 🙂


  7. Muay Thai has been butchered to make it MMA compatible, arguably what is being done along these lines in non-traditional.

    The Wai Kru is missing from most of the Muay Thai now days, this is a very taiji like traditional martial dance.

    Using some Muay Thai moves does not mean that someone is participating in the MA tradition. There is a huge difference between trad Muay Thai, and modern ring Muay Thai.

  8. The Wai Kru, like many other martial arts traditions, is still very much present in its home country and practices. Sumo is practiced outside of Japan as well, but it’s traditions are well-preserved. Such is the case of Muay Thai’s traditions as well.

    To discuss Muay Thai’s development more specifically, there is a large misconception that Muay Thai just jumped from Muay Boran overnight and that the two are completely difference styles. The Southeast Asian style of combat we refer to as kickboxing has existed for at least a thousand years if not longer, continuing to develop like all sports do. Muay Boran is a blanket term for the old ways of fighting where hands and feet were bound with hemp rope, and the fights took place in open areas instead of rings. Muay Boran’s translation is simply “ancient boxing.”

    If you really want to get technical, anything that’s deviated from its original purpose is no longer a traditional martial art (in Muay Thai’s case, battlefield unarmed combat). However, Muay Thai also has a long history of being a ring sport and past-time from even before the reforms that added the ring and gloves. Where can we draw the line between what is traditional and modern?

    As for use in MMA, both of Anderson Silva’s dominating wins over Rich Franklin demonstrated a very traditional use of the clinch and knees. Jose Aldo’s use of the flying knee is also another traditional Muay Thai technique, and Georges St. Pierre makes extensive use of the cobra punch (also known as the Superman Punch), which is another traditional Muay Thai technique.

  9. @Thomas:

    I’m well aware of both the history, evolution and etymology of the Thai styles, that’s not really the point we were talking about IMHO. You said:
    As for traditional martial arts, I think it’s more of a misconception. Wouldn’t you consider Muay Thai a traditional martial art? And it’s been a cornerstone of MMA for some time now.

    I'll posit again that the sport of muay Thai has less and less in common with traditional Thai fighting styles. Nothing wrong with that and it's a perfectly natural evolution. But they're still different. The same goes for muay Thai in MMA.
    I firmly believe that the differences between both are just as important as the similarities. If you disagree with that, I think we're at an impasse.



  10. No way is that a Crane kick, 100% flying knee strike.

    The trad/modern debate is endless and unsolvable, if an ‘art’ is to remain wholly traditional then it cannot progress at all. That’s ridiculous, Martial Arts have to progress to survive.

    MMA can certainly take stuff from trad arts, for sure, but it will not be a true representation of that art, in a wholly traditional sense. There has to be some modification, in the same way that arts modified when they left the battlefield.

  11. Wim, I suppose my biggest question I have is what do you consider to be “traditional” Thai fighting? And how does it differ from stand-up combat in MMA, or even from contemporary ring Muay Thai?

  12. @Thomas:
    That question would take way too long to answer it here. So just a quick and dirty response:
    Traditional, IMHO, is where the art of muay Thai is complete as a SD-Warfare system, even though the sports-like sparring/fighting might be part of it. Modern versions have evolved away from the former and towards the latter.

    Look up some fights at Lumpini or Rajadamnern on Youtube from 25-30 years ago and compare with what’s done around the world in the ring today. You’ll notice the differences.

    As for MMA, there’s just too much to mention: different rules, different fighting stance, different goals for the techniques, different strategy and tactics, etc.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m NOT saying one is better than the other. Nor am I saying that the evolution is bad or good; it just is. What I am saying is that it’s different and that these differences matter:
    You hit a ball over the net in tennis, you hit a ball over the net in table tennis. Are they the same sport? Do you train the same way? Do you use the same techniques. Nope, not by a long shot. And it’s the differences that determine all this, not the similarities between both.
    IMO and IME, the same is true in martial arts.

    I rest my case. 😉


  13. Wow! The author of that article must be DESPERATE to validate karate as an art that could be effective in an mma bout.
    I’m not saying it isn’t, but that was so obviously a flying knee that it’s embarrassing.
    Also Machita is much more than a karate fighter. He’s trained boxing, grappling, and sport kickboxing.

  14. My friend, Jose Aldo won not by crane kick, but by a Thai style flying knee. Never mind the fact that the Crane kick doesn’t exist in Karate, and was just made up for the movie “Karate Kid”.

    And comparing Lyoto Machida’s Shotokan to your average Mini Hanshi Karate Mart is like saying that playing WW2 video games is equal to actually contributing to the Allies’ victory.

    Yours sincerely,

  15. The crane kick strikes again, as Lyoto Machida prevails in UFC 129:

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