Crown Technique:
What It Is?

Discussion on subject of Crown Technique in the combat sport world will never be settled. The reason is simple: no one really understands what “crown technique” is and how to develop it.

In the old days of, now extinct, Soviet Union been World top sport wrestling power, those heated discussions at times spilled on the pages of specialized sport wrestling publications.

Two positions crystallized and, for best of my recollection, were best presented by two prominent Freestyle Wrestling coaches: Sergey Preobrashensky and Ivan Alichanov.

First position (Preobrashensky): Crown Techniques are miracle tricks unique to their Masters and can’t be replicated; They are not anymore those basic wrestling/Judo techniques, they started from, but something entirely new like butterfly leaving the cocoon is not a caterpillar anymore, and they retain the “old” formal classification name just for the luck of anything better.

Second position (Alichanov): Any wrestling/Judo technique is a physical motion executed by human; If one human can do it, then it can be replicated by other; We just need to understand how it’s done and what special physical qualities need to be developed to support execution of those techniques and how we need teach them.

Well, who am I to get in-between Preobrashensky and Alichanov? (I admire both man and keep their writings; Alichanov’s “Technique of Freestyle Wrestling” of 1977 is, by all means, unsurpassed classic; this book was published in Russian and, unfortunately, I’m not aware of any English translation)

Well, I’ll not try to. I see facts supporting ether position.

However, I’ll address practical means: how to recognize individual crown techniques and how to develop them, and more specifically, how to develop individual technical arsenal and what your arsenal should be in relation to the formal arsenal of your martial art style and, more specifically, Judo as competitive sport and art of self-defense.

Suplex of Yakov Punkin

Ukrainian Olympic champion of 1952 Helsinki Summer Games in Greek-Roman wrestling, Yakov Punkin , suffer from (how we’ll call it now) post-traumatic stress disorder after four years as Red Army front line GI and Soviet Jewish POW in Nazi concentration camps in WWII.

When he was found by Red Army troops after his escapee (second and successful) from Osnabruck concentration camp in Germany, at age of 24 his weight was just 70 pounds. He recovered, finished the last year of the War in the front-line recon unit, got lucky to avoid Stalin’s prison (for been POW), and… well, became Wrestling Legend.

In 1952 Helsinki Summer Games Greek-Roman wrestling tournament all his matches Punkin won by fall – ALL, including finals! All those wins (and all others in his seven-year long after-War active sport career) he got by one technique – suplex.

Sure, everyone knew what Punkin doing. The recordings and pictures were studied over and over again by both, friends and challengers. Even research study was committed to understand Punkin’s suplex – all for no avail. As Yakov Punkin hanged-up his wrestling shoes and started coaching, he tried to teach his suplex to his own students, but no one was able to replicate it anyway.

As Yakov Punkin described in one of interviews, the core of his suplex technique was fairly standard, but at the end, when almost touching the mat, he felt sound of a land mine explosion (The Land Mine, that wounded him and cause him to become Nazis’ prisoner), and that made him sharply change direction of fall away from explosion sound. Surely, no one can withstand this abrupt direction change. Surely, no one could replicate it.

Let’s try to fit notion of crown technique into a simple description: “crown technique is a movement executed without immediate prior mental rehearsal based on sub-conches trigger and muscle memory”.

Every one of us has a set of “crown techniques”: we walking, getting up, washing hands, and doing a lot of other things without thinking how to do it. In case of a martial artist, execution of some fighting technique(s) just expends this list.

Is every one walking the same exact way? No way!!! In most cases it is easy to recognize person by his walking style alone like by his fingerprints. Even in a band of marching soldiers to get uniformity is a tall order – ask any drill sergeant. Even specialized sport discipline developed around task of achieving movement uniformity – synchronized swimming. The uniformity is highly prized in figure skating, dancing, cheerleading, marching bands because it so difficult to achieve.

Yes, something done by one human can be replicated by other – we all are image of God. However, we are not spiting image of each-other!

Even as deterministic Alichanov as he is, he accepting and stressing that individual / “crown” techniques depends on individual physical skills that need to be understood and replicated in order to make those particular techniques to work (in “Technique of Freestyle Wrestling”).

My point is – when it is a worthy task to study crown techniques of the Great Masters, you should not expect to be able to replicate them to the tithe. Every judoka should build his very own set of crown techniques, and task of every coach is to help his pupils to build it.

Now let take a look how individual / crown techniques related to the Judo Cannon

Crown technique and Judo Cannon

and how to build individual set of crown techniques

How many crown techniques needed?