Bruce Lee is a legend. Most of us grew up watching his movies, like Fist of Fury and The Way of the Dragon, but even those who have never seen his films know him as a multi-faceted and uniquely talented martial artist, actor, director, and philosopher.
Lee’s training practices were innovative and his martial arts achievements tested and expanded what was possible to perform with the human body. One of his most famous feats is the 1-inch punch. The punch was first captured during filming of the 1964 Long Beach International Karate Championships. Footage shows Lee upright, with a loose fist hovering an inch in front of the chest of a volunteer martial artist. With a quick snap, Lee drives his fist into the man’s chest and sends him hurtling into a chair. As the camera rolls, Lee remains perfectly steady.
The 1-inch punch isn’t just an incredible party trick for exceptional martial artists. It’s a lesson in the way your entire body can contribute to a single strike or movement.
Most of us think of a punch as being an arm movement, but it is the shoulder that drives the arm, the hips that drive the shoulder, and the legs that drive the hips. Imagine a baseball player trying to hit a home run without moving his hips. It would be impossible. The same is true of the 1-inch punch. It’s not about any one movement. It’s about synchronizing all your movements together to make a big impact. Do it right and the 1-inch punch is more like a full-body whip that starts with your legs. Here’s how to do it.