I literally stumbled upon a blog post concerning the one inch punch, specifically Bruce Lee performing the punch on a judoka.
Personally, I always thought it was a bit of a myth but did come across people who could indeed manage a one inch punch. People talk about ki expression when they try to explain the phenomenon. An old friend of mine showed me the one inch punch; he did tai chi and was able to propel someone across the room.
Later when training with Steve Rowe in Chatham I saw the one inch punch, or something similar, again. Unfortunately, for me anyway, the explanation of how to ‘one inch punch’ involved lots of Chinese terminology, such as fa jin, which confuses the hell out of me.
It wasn’t until I trained with Steve Morris that I understood the one inch punch. In fact, you could say that Steve Morris taught me the one inch punch, but…. without ever teaching me the one inch punch! Sounds a bit crazy but there you go. Incidentally, I always say Steve Morris taught me more about sanchin kata than anyone else and again that was without ever teaching me sanchin kata!
The first time I went on Steve Morris’s site I read about punches like dum dum bullets, punches that explode on contact. He calls this the finish and by learning the finish I unintentionally learned the one inch punch! Steve Morris wasn’t trying to get us to practice the one inch punch but he did want us to develop a finish to our punches.
This kind of thing is easier to show than describe but I’ll try. Morris will get you to imagine and perform the startle or withdrawal reflex. We all have been startled and we’ve all put our hand on something hot. What happens? You jump or pull your hand off, explosively. That’s key.
All you need to do then is transfer this to your one inch punch, practice this a lot. Actually, you don’t have to transfer it to the one inch punch, I didn’t. I did, however, practice transferring the reflex action to my punches (and kicks).
It’s essential that you pull rather than push your punch. Karate punches tend to rely on a pushing action, if that’s you, stop it and concentrate on the pulling action of the non-punching side. Develop this and drop the push. You will also have to drop the urge to retract before firing the punch.
You need to have a good base to explode from, so ground reaction force can be transferred into the target. Play with this reflex pulling action on the heavy bag, ensure the punching side doesn’t ‘give’ and you will transfer the force generated.
It takes practice, but it is achievable. When you get it you will be surprised at how much power you can generate from one inch, or no inch even! Then you have to work out how you are going to use it, because it is of little use in itself, except as a party trick or if you are trick or treating (see startle link above)!