Pennine Tai Chi, there is an article about the Snake and Crane from which I've posted an excerpt below. The whole article may be read here.
Please pay a visit.
Before we get to the article, here is the Snake vs Crane Set from Choy Lay Fut.
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.
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.