When we are first introduced to the Crane it is by a master of the art, Mr. Miyagi.
When Daniel asks him if the move works Mr. Miyagi replies, "If do right, no can defense." Daniel then asks Mr. Miyagi if he will teach it to him but Mr. Miyagi rebukes him by saying, "First learn stand, then learn fly. Nature's rules Daniel-san, not mine." Daniel later goes off and tries to teach himself the Crane but with little luck, understandable considering it is a move meant for only the most advanced martial art practitioner.
We've all seen the above photo, it is as classic a Hollywood image as there could ever be. The problem however is that the move is as implausible as it is spectacular. Daniel holds his Crane stance way too long, giving away to his opponent the only logical and possible attack, a front kick. If the fight wasn't fixed how could Johnny, someone that had been through many karate tournaments and had won at least two that we know of, not see what was coming?
I believe Johnny did see what was coming because he and Daniel had practiced the move many times during their training sessions.
But perhaps the most damning evidence against Daniel's version of the Crane comes not from the All Valley but from Karate Kid 2. The sequel provides answers just as it did with other aspects of the theory. In Karate Kid 2 Daniel finds himself fighting another foe, Chozen. But this time as Mr. Miyagi said, "This not tournament, this for real." Daniel is now faced with a fight to the death.
The result speaks for itself.
In Karate Kid 3 we also have a mention of the Crane by original Cobra Kai member Terry Silver, it is not complementary however.
"What, do you think you can rely on that crane crap?", joked Terry Silver.
And finally, to put all doubts to bed, here is what a proper crane kick is supposed to look like. Courtesy of Lyoto Machida in UFC 129 in April of 2011.
Daniel and Johnny's version of the Crane has been seen by millions worldwide I would have to guess and for that the two of them will forever be heroes. I cannot fault them their glory, I only wish I could look beyond it.