The One- Inch Punch
The one-inch punch is a power exerting technique first introduced by none other than Bruce Lee. The one inch punch was an unconventional technique in comparison to the other martial arts of the Sixties era. Traditional martial arts, such as boxing and Karate, relied on pulling back method in order to generate the power needed to deliver a punch. Bruce Lee's version of a straight punch generated twice as much power of a regular Karate strike while limiting the movement of his upper body where the power is normally generated. Explosive power from the one inch punch is released almost immediately in an straight singular motion, without any muscle resistance or contraction. Years after his uncalled demise, Bruce's signature move that he had displayed as an relatively unknown guest at the 1967 International Karate Championships in California has been turned into a cult classic, especially bearing a huge influence on video games. Every known Bruce Lee clone in every mainstream fighting game, with the exception of Maxi from Soul Calibur since he sucks at punching, uses the exact or modified version of Bruce Lee's one-inch punch. Bruce Lee, himself, was known for his extremely refined martial arts skills as well as his physique. But one may ask this question, if it does not offend anyone at the slightest: How does one small Chinese guy generate so much force at such a intimate distance? Well the answer to that question lies within the analysis of Bruce's technique as well as it's hidden roots.
Fun Representations of the One Inch punch:
Comparison between a Karate punch and One inch punch:
Karate Straight Punch
(Choku-zuki (直突き), straight punch)
The One- Inch Punch( Influenced from the Wing Chun Straight- Line Punch)
The one-inch punch is executed by positioning the hand directly one inch away from the opponent's center line, chest level. The formation of the fist itself should be straight and vertical. The practioner extends his or her dominant arm and clenches all the fingers in the corresponding hand into a fist except for the index finger which stays outwards and bent to form a knuckle. The arm is bent with the elbow pointing out at an 45 degree angle. The wrist is also bent as if you were pointing at someone with the index finger sticking out and partially bent. Once you are in position, simply punch into your opponent as if you were trying to punch through him or her. The bent wrist and elbow should simultaneously be straightened out once you punch. Do not pull your arm back to generate the power like a boxer or a Karateka because the goal is to utilize as well as your center of mass Putting your weight and inner strength into the punch is the key to exerting power. There are many variations of the power delivering the punch, which ranges from the basic one inch punch to a six inch punch. The major distinction that separates each variation is the formation of the fingers in the hand. The three inch punch is delivered by placing all four fingers out. However, I have never been taught this technique so my knowledge is scarcely limited.
Instructional video on how to execute the one inch punch done by Richard Bustillo, a pupil that was certified by Bruce himself in teaching Bruce Lee's martial art of Jeet Fan Gung Fu.
Tutorial 2 -
The method of generating the explosive power when using the one-inch punch uses the concept of Fa Jin( explosive power) or Qi( internal energy). Bruce supposedly meditated for long periods of time through out each day to harness this type of energy in order to the deliver bone crushing punches. However, a more scientific view of the application of this technique pays it's creation to the ancient roots of Wing Chun Gung Fu.
This article provides a great explanation of Fa Jin:
* The fist should be clenched when it makes contact with the body as shown in the picture below.
* Picture that demonstrate the steps on how to deliver an one-inch punch.
Wing Chun Straight Punches:
The Wing Chun Punch is practically the ancestor of the one inch punch in which the one inch punch is a direct descendant. Wing Chun is a part of a branch of southern style Gung Fu which emphasizes on close quarters combat. There are two types of Gung Fu: Northern Style and Southern Style. Northern Style focuses on kicks which heavily influences other martial arts such as Tae Kwon Do, due to the usage of kicks. Southern style Gung Fu relies on primarily hand techniques, thus influencing the art of Karate. The Wing Chun punch is also the most common hand technique used in Wing Chun. The Wing Chun punch is thrown vertically, which is quite bizarre in comparison with other martial arts. However, there is an logical explanation for the formation of the fist. In the art of Wing Chun, the practioner delivers repetitive punches to the opponents center line within means of a primary attack. A vertical fist allows the practioner to deliver multiple punches, from 10 to even 20 repetitions at a time, without even stopping. Karatekas and boxers retract their arm in order to strike which delivers punishing amounts of impact force but decreases the rate of the amount of punches given. In Wing Chun, the practioner counters with a block and immediately transfers into an offensive mode where numerous punches are delivered. There are many benefits to delivering a Wing Chun punch. The deceptiveness of the punch due simple geometry where the shortest distance between two distances is two points as well as the close proximity of the attack make the Wing Chun punch an extremely effective technique. The center line is the primary location where Wing Chun practitioners would attack. In definition, the center line is the central vertical axis that runs through the center of a standing human being. Wing Chun practitioners would particularly use the basic Wing Chun punch on the center line since it functions as the core of a human being. The core contains the chest as well as other vital organs that are vulnerable to attack if left undefended.
* The picture above presents how a Wing Chun straight blast is thrown. Notice that the arm is competently straight and not curved. This formation of the joints is due to the application of the Wing Chun punch. A Wing Chun punch is thrown from the extension of a bent elbow. Boxers however throw their punches from the shoulder to generate power. The reason behind the different ways of throwing a punch is because boxers tend to rely on physical strength by putting all of their mass as well as weight into just one punch. Wing Chun, on the other hand, was invented by a woman in which she depended on technique as well as knowledge of the human anatomy to dominate over brute strength. The wrist is never bent, as it is held straight so that the bones on the back of the hand are aligned with those of the wrist and forearm allowing for the strongest shock impact supported by the rest of the arm, body, and root. The elbow, wrist, and arm work in unison when the punch is delivered.
The information from the article below describes with immense detail on the application of the Wing Chunc straight blast: http://www.wingchunpedia.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php?n=WCP.UnderstandingTheWingChunPunch
"In contrast, a bent wrist engenders two major problems for a combat fighter: the risk of self-injury, and the unintended dissipation of shock energy. The bent wrist is prone to impact-induced injury associated with the wrist bending back violently. Unintended dissipation of shock energy occurs when the bones are not fully aligned; upon impact, the energy from the punch travels two different directions (one forward and one sideward). To further comprehend proper body structure and unity for supporting the punch, the practitioner must fully understand the Five-Line Concept of Wing Chun. It is crucial to the execution of the punch." - WingChunPedia.com
Tutorial on how to apply the Wing Chun straight punch or blast: http://wingchungeeks.com/wing-tsun-punch/
Another benefit of the one inch punch is it's translation into another technique in the Wing Chun curriculum that was used in both Bruce Lee and Wing Chun movies alike: the repetitive chain punches. The chain punch is basically a set number of straight punches that are delivered one after the another. This is another effective technique of a Wing Chun practioner, because he or she could overwhelm the opponent by repeatedly punching the opponent's chest. Like a sledge hammer on a brick wall, the human body can only sustain so many punches until it eventually collapses. The practitioner can also defend himself while attacking by covering a punch which means you block one of your opponents attacks with a specific block and counter with the repetitive punches. It limits the chances for the opponent to counter- attack, establishes balances, and allows the incorporation of blocks.
Chain Punching Steps Presented in picture below:
Tutorial on Chain Punching:
Example- Yip Man( Bruce Lee's master) versus 10 Karate black Belts:
The deliverance of power of the One Inch Punch:
Stan Lee's Super Humans tested the power delivered from the one inch punch. A Shoalin monk, Shi Yan Ming, demonstrated the technique on a crash test dummy. The results collected states that the one inch punch was 1.7 times more injurious than a 30mph car crash and it matches the power of an elite boxer, which is around 1,300 pounds of force. Karate punches deliver about 325 to 412 pounds of force for reverse punches and an average of 178 pounds of force for short punches. This power differentiation varies on how the arm is used when throwing the punch.
Bruce Lee's Usage of the technique:
The only recorded footage of Bruce Lee applying the one inch punch is when he did several demonstrations at the 1967 Long Beach Karate Championships. I don't believe he has used this technique in any of his movies. However, the Wing Chun straight blast is one of his signature moves. In the beginning scene of Enter the Dragon, Bruce uses two Straight Blasts after he executed a backwards hand spring to avoid a spinning hook kick that his sparring partner threw when they sparred in a Sanda-oriented match. Another Bruce Lee movie that featured the Wing Chun punches was the confrontation between Lee's character and Petrov , a Russian gang boss who was trained in Karate, in the movie Fists of Fury. Bruce used extensive trapping at one point the quarrel and delivered a chain of Wing Chun straight blasts and then delivered a shove to finish the combo whcih sent Petrov back a few feet.
Here are the specific segments of both movies if you care to watch:
Enter the Dragon- The Opening Scene
- Fists of Fury: Chen Zhen versus Petrov: