How To Do The One Inch Punch

The one-inch punch was popularized in the 1960s and 70s by martial arts legend Bruce Lee.

His expertise in the field of martial arts and his subsequent foray into big-time Hollywood movies made him a household name in every corner of the world. 

How to Do the One Inch Punch

Arguably what Bruce Lee is most famous for is, in fact, his one-inch punch.

Delivered at very close range, Lee was able to send opponents flying with this expert Kung Fu technique.

Today we offer up a step-by-step guide on how to administer a one-inch punch.

It goes without saying that this move should only be practiced on soft pads and never on an actual person.

That being said, let the one-inch punches commence. 

What Is the One-Inch Punch?

The one-inch punch is a recognized attacking technique of Chinese martial arts (otherwise known as Kung Fu).

That’s right, although Bruce Lee made the one-inch punch famous, he didn’t invent it.

It is particularly prevalent in Southern Chinese martial arts, for which Bruce Lee was a lifelong student. 

The one-inch punch is administered at a maximum range of six inches.

Kung Fu masters like Lee can perform the one-inch punch at a range of fewer than three centimeters (one inch) with tremendous force and success.

It is designed to improve practitioners punching power and punching technique as they can’t rely on excessive movement for their strength. 

Southern Chinese martial arts is a style of martial art where opponents traditionally fight nose-to-nose.

This is why the one-inch punch came from Southern China, not by chance, but by necessity.

Fighting in such close proximity meant that fighters had to come up with close-combat techniques and the one-inch punch is one of those. 

How Do You Do the One-Inch Punch?

With the history lesson behind us, let’s get to the real reason why you are here.

But, before we go any further, we need to instill the message once again that this punching technique is not to be practiced on people.

That goes for any pets and other life forms that feel pain for that matter.

We would also suggest acquiring something soft to practice it on as punching the garden fence will start to hurt very quickly. 

1. Assume Your Stance

Stand Close

The one-inch punch didn’t get its name for anything. Standing close to your target is an essential first step.

Gauge the distance between you and your target by stretching out your punching arm toward it.

If you can straighten your arm without touching your target, you are too far away from it.

Place Punching Foot Forward

Your punching foot is whichever foot is on the same side as your punching hand.

If that is your right foot then it needs to be pointed square between your target’s feet (for intensive purposes).

You will also need to bend your knee on your punching foot side, standing with your torso centered is also important. 

How to Do the One Inch Punch (1)

Drop Non-Punching Foot Behind You

Whichever foot is not your punching foot needs to be behind you for maximum effectiveness.

It doesn’t have to be far behind, but it does need to be behind your center of gravity.

This stance will help to give you the explosive effort that is needed to spring forward and throw a one-inch punch. 

2. Punch With Power

Hold Your Hand Close To The Target

A key element of the one-inch punch is to ensure that your hand is held close to your target.

Although the maximum guidance is for a 6-inch distance from your target, in reality, you only want to be 1-2 inches from your target. The one-inch punch is more powerful when administered from your chest line, anything above or below will reduce its effectiveness. 

Make A Fist

Most people with siblings will instinctually know how to make a fist that is ready to deliver a punch.

For everyone else, all you have to do is fold your fingers over your palm and point them toward your wrist.

Gripping your thumb across your forefinger will help to secure your punching fist.

The trick is to make your first firm without being too stiff. If you righten your fist excessively, it won’t have the flexibility required to deliver a one-inch punch. 

Pop Forward To Punch

Popping forward to punch is where the art form lies in a one-inch punch.

True Kung Fu masters will do this action with such grace and poise that you hardly notice it until their opponent is sent to the ground. A tip is to synchronize your body and arm movements.

This will help you to increase the power of your punch. 

Even with the force of your punch being exerted an inch or two away from your target, you should always resist the urge to push them.

Make sure it is a punch. Also, allowing your punching hand to spring back instead of traveling forward will alleviate the desire to push your opponent. 

Flick Wrist Up As You Punch

Flicking your wrist upward as you punch your target is an essential part of the one-inch punch.

Think of it as a one-two punching movement. It is comparable to how you would flick your fishing line up when you feel a fish has taken the bait.

This is another aspect of the one-inch punch that helps to separate it from other punching techniques. 

Practice On A Soft Pad

The best way to practice the one-inch punch is on a soft pad of some sort.

Obviously, a punching bag is the optimal practice target. If you don’t have access to one of those, then get creative.

An up-ended mattress could do the trick just like a propped-up couch cushion could.

Whatever it is, make sure you have a clear target that is in line with your chest. This will give you the upper one-inch punch edge. 


As you can see learning the skill and technique that is required to deliver a powerful one-inch punch isn’t mastered overnight.

In reality, it will take many years to perfect this punch to the point where it would be effective in a martial arts fight.

Yes, you can practice this punch at home. However, if you’re committed to learning martial arts, it is recommended to join a class.

Why? Because becoming part of the martial arts community is as rewarding as it sounds. 

Christopher Anderson
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