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#1
01-21-2009, 04:17 AM
 HumanMonkeyGod Guest Join Date: Aug 2007
Mechanics of the one inch punch (+ a bonus question!)

I've long wondered how the one inch punch works, and last night I saw a TV show where a "no inch" punch was performed. The recipient placed his hands over each other on his chest, and the puncher placed his hand over the recipient's. He gathered his chi (or whatever) for a moment, and then "punched" and the recipient took several steps backwards to keep from falling (much like the result of a one inch punch). I don't understand where the kinetic energy came from. The puncher makes no recoil or backswing motion at all. What's the dope on this?

Bonus question: Some martial artists like to smash piles of cinder blocks. They're (the cinder blocks that is) usually piled with something placed between each block to provide a small gap between each other. My question is - what are the mechanics involved here? i.e. if there's a pile of 5 blocks, where does the energy that breaks the last one come from? Ok obviously from above, but where? Is it the broken halves transferring their energy into just the right place to break the next one in half?
Is the whole act really just a matter of careful placement?
#2
01-21-2009, 04:31 AM
 Cuckoorex Guest Join Date: Sep 2001
The one inch punch (and three inch punch) is performed by a combination of the angle of the fist and a shift of the hips. For example, if I perform a one-inch punch, I have my index finger's first knuckle protruding, and I have my wrist bent so that the index finger side is very much directed toward the target. My arm is almost fully extended, but there is a little bit of slack. My feet are in a typical "horse stance" with feet perpendicular to the target or possibly in a stance where my forward foot is aimed toward the target and the back foot is perpendicular. My hips are perpendicular prior to the punch. As I execute the punch, my first movement is to turn my back foot toward the target and rotate my hips toward the target. Almost at the same time, I extend my arm as much as possible and as explosively as possible I bring the pinky finger side of my fist forward. I may not have accurately described the whole process, but it's pretty close.
#3
01-21-2009, 04:34 AM
 Cuckoorex Guest Join Date: Sep 2001
I would have to see a video of the "no inch punch" to know for certain, but I suspect that it's pretty much the "one inch punch" except since the fist if placed directly on the body, it's placed on the body at an angle that pretty much duplicates the angle used for the one incher.
#4
01-21-2009, 07:14 AM
 Princhester Charter Member Join Date: Jan 2001 Location: Brisbane, Australia Posts: 10,858
Quote:
 Originally Posted by HumanMonkeyGod The recipient placed his hands over each other on his chest, and the puncher placed his hand over the recipient's. He gathered his chi (or whatever) for a moment, and then "punched" and the recipient took several steps backwards to keep from falling (much like the result of a one inch punch). I don't understand where the kinetic energy came from. The puncher makes no recoil or backswing motion at all. What's the dope on this?
Sounds like he gave the other guy a shove. Is there anything magical in this?
#5
01-21-2009, 07:54 AM
 brewha Guest Join Date: Apr 2001
To put it simply, the spacers make the bricks easier to break. If they were stacked directly on top of each other, each brick would be supported by the brick below it. For a somewhat analogous example, take a toothpick, and set it on a table. Push down on the center of it and see if it will break. No luck, right? Now, support the toothpick at each end and push down on the center. Now it's easy to break. I'm in no way belittling the feats of these guys, but breaking 10 bricks separated by spacers is much easier than breaking 10 bricks which aren't separated.
#6
01-21-2009, 08:11 AM
 brewha Guest Join Date: Apr 2001
As far as the one inch punch, Cuckoorex did a pretty good job of explaining it. I just want to add my own personal anecdote. When I was in the USAF, we did a massive up grade in equipment and the software that ran it. I had to install this new stuff, so I was sent to a class to learn about it. The instructor, whose belts had several levels of blackness in more than one discipline, made us a deal at the beginning of the first class. Basically, if he could make the biggest guy in the class take a step back after receiving a punch, we had to promise to do our best to pass the course. If the guy did not take a step back, well all get A's Not good enough? The punch would be in the chest, the guy could hold a 3" thick phone book against his chest, and he would start with his hand only one inch away from the book.

The class agreed that this would be a great idea. And at 6'5" and 225lbs, guess who got the honors? This guy. I was really not worried. The instructor was not a big guy. I put him at 5'8", 160lbs. He did pretty much exactly as Cuckoorex described. He held his fist just off the book. And it was the last thing to move. But, before the punch, his hips rotated, followed by his torso, and all the energy went to his right shoulder and exploded into the phone book. I seriously almost landed on my ass. I had to take 4 quick steps back to regain my balance. The class just went nuts with laughter. A buddy of mine, started giving me crap for getting knocked back so easily. I told him to get up there and try it himself, but he wouldn't nor would anyone else.

Last edited by brewha; 01-21-2009 at 08:12 AM.
#7
01-21-2009, 08:21 AM
 Wallenstein Guest Join Date: Oct 2001
Ideomotor effect?

That must have a big part to place in most "chi"-related pwnage, incl. one-inch punches.

I can't link to youtube from work, but there's a great video of a venerable "chi" master sparring with his students... he waves his hands around and his students go flying, bowled over by the mystic power of his chi.

Then they decide to put this dude in the ring with a kick-boxer - sure enough the guy waves his hands and summons his chi, at which point the kick-boxer smacks seven kinds of crap out of him totally unopposed.

Not saying there isn't some clever weight-transfer for one-inch punching, but it must depend a lot on the recipient being off-balance to start with and in the frame of mind to expect to recoil from a blow.

Last edited by Wallenstein; 01-21-2009 at 08:23 AM.
#8
01-21-2009, 02:20 PM
 pravnik Charter Member Join Date: Apr 2002 Location: Texas Posts: 13,015
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Princhester Sounds like he gave the other guy a shove. Is there anything magical in this?
When you get down to it, any punch is basically a very hard, quickly accelerating, very concentrated shove.

There's no mystical explanation necessary in the one inch punch, not any more than to explain a boxer's punch. It's a matter of explosive punching power, penetration, and body mechanics, which Cuckoorex described pretty well (and which brewha described the effects of pretty well). Many of the "chi" explanations can be viewed as simple ways of explaining complex but entirely non-mystical body mechanics.

A boxer throwing a straight lead doesn't draw back or make any backswing, either; that's telegraphing the punch, bad punching form. Instead he (or she) throws the punch explosively from right where the fist already is. The punch isn't thrown with the only the strength of the arm. That's "arm punching," again, bad form, a punch with no power. The boxer engages his hips, twists his heel, and explosively puts the force of the entire body behind the punch. The punch doesn't just make contact with the surface of your body and draw back, it penetrates through past the point of intitial contact. The one inch punch is a dramatic demonstration of the exact same principles, with very, very good explosive punching power.
#9
01-21-2009, 02:57 PM
 Chronos Charter Member Join Date: Jan 2000 Location: The Land of Cleves Posts: 50,758
Quoth brewha:
Quote:
 Basically, if he could make the biggest guy in the class take a step back after receiving a punch, we had to promise to do our best to pass the course. If the guy did not take a step back, well all get A's ... I seriously almost landed on my ass. I had to take 4 quick steps back to regain my balance.
What would have happened if you had just allowed yourself to land on your ass, instead of trying to regain balance? Strictly speaking, that's not taking a step back, and I'm pretty sure from my own martial arts training that I could have taken that fall safely and easily (though falling well is nearly the only thing I still retain from those classes).
#10
01-21-2009, 03:01 PM
 Cervaise Guest Join Date: Mar 1999
Mythbusters tested this one using a variety of methods. Check your TiVo schedule for a repeat.
#11
01-21-2009, 03:10 PM
 brewha Guest Join Date: Apr 2001
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Chronos Quoth brewha:What would have happened if you had just allowed yourself to land on your ass, instead of trying to regain balance? Strictly speaking, that's not taking a step back, and I'm pretty sure from my own martial arts training that I could have taken that fall safely and easily (though falling well is nearly the only thing I still retain from those classes).
Well, I don't know. I'm pretty sure he was relying on my intense desire to not get floored by someone 60-70lbs lighter than me and assumed I would try to regain my balance.

Knowing what I know now, I don't know if I'd take that fall. He hit me with a surprising amount of power. Had I not stepped back, I would have hit the floor hard.

I got an A anyway - the class wasn't that hard. And if you haven't already assumed as much, this instructor had a way of keeping the class's attention.
#12
01-21-2009, 03:23 PM
 Cuckoorex Guest Join Date: Sep 2001
Quote:
 Originally Posted by brewha Well, I don't know. I'm pretty sure he was relying on my intense desire to not get floored by someone 60-70lbs lighter than me and assumed I would try to regain my balance. Knowing what I know now, I don't know if I'd take that fall. He hit me with a surprising amount of power. Had I not stepped back, I would have hit the floor hard. I got an A anyway - the class wasn't that hard. And if you haven't already assumed as much, this instructor had a way of keeping the class's attention.
Yeah, the one-inch punch can catch someone really off-guard. The last time I ever used it on a person was back in college; I was telling a friend of mine about it and demonstrated it on his bedroom door. He insisted that I try it on him; he really wanted to know how it felt. (Yes, alcohol was involved in this decision) I actually performed the technique right on his sternum and knocked him back four steps and down into his recliner. He was really out of breath and nearly threw up. This whole incident ranks high on the list of Bad Ideas. Don't EVER use this technique on someone's chest, no matter how much they insist that they can take it. BAD IDEA.
#13
01-21-2009, 04:16 PM
 Dinsdale Guest Join Date: May 2000
As usual, pravnik provides the goods in yet another martial arts thread. Forget any discussion of "chi." And I believe it can be accomplished without the contortions described upthread.

Punching power is a function of speed and weight transfer. That's all.

It is pretty impressive the first time you've had a phone book drilled into your chest, tho!
#14
01-21-2009, 04:21 PM
 pravnik Charter Member Join Date: Apr 2002 Location: Texas Posts: 13,015
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Dinsdale As usual, pravnik provides the goods in yet another martial arts thread.
Aw, shucks.
#15
01-21-2009, 06:16 PM
 GargoyleWB Guest Join Date: Mar 2001
Having attended a workshop from one of Bruce Lee's students on this very subject a few years ago...

If you try to punch purely linearly, using only your isolated arm muscles to drive your fist, then you will only achieve a shove. You just don't have enough room to accelerate the mass of your arm effectively.

There are a couple of techniques that are used to improve the acceleration and impact of the fist with the one inch punch.

First, the punch motion starts at the feet with a shifting of body weight (dipping and twisting at the knee and ankle). This motion is continued up through the hips, back, and then to the shoulder to extend the arm forward. It is only at this point that the arm muscles join in to extend the punch, but with the existing coiling motion already developed by the previous body motion, your arm accelerates *very* fast. That's the speed portion.

Second, the power component. At the moment of impact, the fist (vertical "wing chun" style fist) hits only with the top knuckle, with the fist bent down at the wrist. As the fist moves forward into the body of the target, the fist is bent inward and upward (in a firm snapping motion) to drive the other knuckles up into the body as the fist travels forward. All told, during the "one inch" punch, the punch really travels over 6 inches, but the "one inch" is just the travel outside of the body before impact. The remaining travel is your fist inside their softer body, and the recoil of their body from the strike.

There is a subtle rhythm to it, but done right you can knock a person several steps backward even with protective padding (we used the yellow pages held at various places on the body as padding).
#16
01-21-2009, 10:10 PM
 Shamozzle Guest Join Date: Apr 2007
I black belt friend of mine is a fan of the one inch punch, which I asked him to demonstrate on my shoulder. It was a pretty hard hit, but the short distance within which he was able to conjure up such explosive power was what was really impressive. He explained, as noted above, that it involved the whole body and that ideally the striker is aiming to have a straight line through his body, from heel to fist, along which the power was delivered. With the heel firmly rooted, the power had nowhere to go but along that line through the torso, arm, and then fist.

He then made some analogies about how changing an object's shape can be a strength multiplier, like rolling up a magazine and supporting weight along its length, or noting the strength of a metal measuring tape as provided by its slight curve, etc....
#17
01-22-2009, 03:03 AM
 bluezooky Guest Join Date: Feb 2005
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Wallenstein Ideomotor effect? That must have a big part to place in most "chi"-related pwnage, incl. one-inch punches. I can't link to youtube from work, but there's a great video of a venerable "chi" master sparring with his students... he waves his hands around and his students go flying, bowled over by the mystic power of his chi. Then they decide to put this dude in the ring with a kick-boxer - sure enough the guy waves his hands and summons his chi, at which point the kick-boxer smacks seven kinds of crap out of him totally unopposed. Not saying there isn't some clever weight-transfer for one-inch punching, but it must depend a lot on the recipient being off-balance to start with and in the frame of mind to expect to recoil from a blow.
You'll notice in a lot of these demo's the force is applied with an upwards component so the guy flys back added by some stepping, looks really impressive however there are some tricks where the force can be applied with some downward component, then person does not fly back but crumple and in this situation the one inch might do some damage.

Last edited by bluezooky; 01-22-2009 at 03:04 AM.
#18
01-22-2009, 09:39 AM
 Shodan Charter Member Join Date: Jul 2000 Location: Milky Way Galaxy Posts: 23,600
Quote:
 Originally Posted by brewha As far as the one inch punch, Cuckoorex did a pretty good job of explaining it. I just want to add my own personal anecdote. When I was in the USAF, we did a massive up grade in equipment and the software that ran it. I had to install this new stuff, so I was sent to a class to learn about it. The instructor, whose belts had several levels of blackness in more than one discipline, made us a deal at the beginning of the first class. Basically, if he could make the biggest guy in the class take a step back after receiving a punch, we had to promise to do our best to pass the course. If the guy did not take a step back, well all get A's Not good enough? The punch would be in the chest, the guy could hold a 3" thick phone book against his chest, and he would start with his hand only one inch away from the book. The class agreed that this would be a great idea. And at 6'5" and 225lbs, guess who got the honors? This guy. I was really not worried. The instructor was not a big guy. I put him at 5'8", 160lbs. He did pretty much exactly as Cuckoorex described. He held his fist just off the book. And it was the last thing to move. But, before the punch, his hips rotated, followed by his torso, and all the energy went to his right shoulder and exploded into the phone book. I seriously almost landed on my ass. I had to take 4 quick steps back to regain my balance. The class just went nuts with laughter. A buddy of mine, started giving me crap for getting knocked back so easily. I told him to get up there and try it himself, but he wouldn't nor would anyone else.
Just out of curiosity, were your feet parallel, or one foot back? Were your knees bent?

I have done, and been on the receiving end of, the one-inch punch. Some of my brown belts figured out that we could spoil the demo by moving forward slightly and crouching. Obviously some people are better at it than others, but a naive uke usually helps.

Regards,
Shodan
#19
01-22-2009, 09:46 AM
 Santo Rugger Guest Join Date: Nov 2006
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Chronos Quoth brewha:What would have happened if you had just allowed yourself to land on your ass, instead of trying to regain balance? Strictly speaking, that's not taking a step back...
While he technically would have not taken a step back, he would have looked like even more of a "wuss" than by simply taking a steps back, further proving the instructors point. If somebody bets you they can make a step back, and you fall on your ass, you lose.
#20
01-22-2009, 09:56 AM
 Gorsnak Charter Member Join Date: Jan 2003 Location: Saskaboom Posts: 7,830
Just to one-up all this talk of one inch punches, I have a 15/16" punch, and it's guaranteed to produce a knockout every time. The mechanics are pretty simple actually.
#21
01-22-2009, 10:57 AM
 GargoyleWB Guest Join Date: Mar 2001
I've always felt that metric system punches were superior myself

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