“Can the one-inch punch really damage an opponent?” This was one question I came across while reading messages in the Best Self Defense Weapons Mailbag.
Background of the One-Inch Punch
Based on the Wikipedia entry for the one-inch punch, the move originates from the Wing Chun system of kung fu. It is actually a punching exercise undertaken by practitioners of the art to improve punching power, concentration and technique at the same time.
In reality, it is performed at a range of up to six inches. But as the skill of a person increases, the range gets closer. The wiki entry claims that the minimum distance in inches can even reach zero.
The art has been popularized by Bruce Lee in 1964 when he demonstrated it at the Long Beach International Karate Championship. It should be noted that the principles involved in the one-inch punch were also integrated in the martial arts that he founded which is called Jeet Kune Do.
Here is a clip of the demonstration from YouTube:
A Look at the Potential Damage that the One-Inch Punch Can Cause
Aside from Bruce Lee, some Wing Chun, Jeet Kune Do and other martial arts experts who have trained in executing the one-inch punch have shown the capability to knock down an opponent or break wooden boards using the move. The popular TV show Mythbusters also aired an episode featuring the one-inch punch.
From the episode of Mythbusters which focused on the one-inch punch, the effective execution of the move enables a person to dish out half the damaging power of a conventional hand strike. According to rumors, the person who received the punch from Bruce Lee experienced chest pains for quite some time after the demo.
Is One-Inch Punch Effective in Self Defense
This question may be subject for debate and further research, but personally, I do not think that the one-inch punch will serve as a good self defense move.
First of all, it requires a very close proximity to your opponent. Then, the move requires a serious amount of concentration from the person delivering it in order to channel the power to the tip of the fist. These alone puts someone who is planning to deliver a one-inch punch at a major disadvantage.
Also, in order for the move to really hurt, the receiver must be unguarded and he or she must be at an idle position. Lastly, the technique does not carry the kind of power that conventional punches have.
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