One inch punch in Wing Chun

The one inch punch was first introduced and made famous by Bruce Lee during the 1960s. Since then, it has appeared in several mainstream hollywood films, most notably, Kill Bill.  You may recall when Uma Thurman's character tries to break out of her coffin when buried alive with nothing but her fist alone, after recollecting her religious training by her master, Pai Mai (played by Kung Fu master Gordon Liu) of punching a wall over and over again.  She was able to generate enough force from inside the coffin to break it open and set herself free.

While it is often portrayed as a party trick, it is in reality a serious weapon that exemplifies what the human body can accomplish when structure and mechanics are used efficiently together.  Below, Sifu Leo Au Yeung demonstrates the move:

The one inch punch has roots in Wing Chun and many other Chinese southern style martial arts. It's relevant to any martial art that relies mostly on hand techniques from very close quarters. In Wing Chun where attacks are generally from a short distance and traps and parries are used to find an opening in limited space, being able to punch from a limited range becomes especially potent.

The one inch punch is a skill which uses fa jin (translated as explosive power) to generate tremendous amounts of impact force at extremely close distances. It is the optimal combination of body mechanics, leverage, and strength. The entire body is used together to produce a huge amount of force over a short distance. If you look at the demonstration by my teacher Sifu Au Yeung, you can see first hand the explosive power. You see how the power is generated from the hips in combination from movement of the lower body. Although the final strike comes from his arm, the real power is generated from his entire lower body (the reality is that this is the entire body working as one).

Prior to working on the one inch punch or any punches, hands need to be conditioned.  The previous blog entry here discusses some techniques. In the Wing Chun syllabus, there is no actual reference to the one inch punch.  However, training of the syllabus improves your explosiveness to punch from short range, thus giving you a soling 'one inch punch'.

Below are the elements of Wing Chun to provide the tools to generate the type of power needed for the 'one inch punch'.
  1. Siu Nin Tao.  The form teaches the core punch.   Power comes from keeping the elbows tight to the body, learning to relax and tense at the right moment.  Delivering a punch by using subtle on/off energy.  Making sure the wrist and elbow moves correctly to generate more power.
  2. Chum Kiu.  The form teaches movement.  Learning to turn to each side.  Adding this to the first firm punch to generate additional power.  The power is generated from movement of the legs through to the hips.   
  3. Biu Jee.  Known as thrusting fingers.  The form when taught correctly also includes sinking sections, this is the process of lowering the body to generate more power in any strike.  The process of sinking the whole body when combined with turning and the punch from the Siu Nin Tao form, provides the tools to have an explosive 'one inch punch'.
Latter forms taught in Wing Chun (the dummy, pole and knives) all provide additional training to increase power.  The dummy provides a hard object to strike against.  The pole provides internal power training to make your body thrust as one and knives have sections of combination strikes, which can be seen in the demonstration below.

Happy training!

Some people asked for a shorted buildup on the one inch punch example.  Please look at this link: