Fa Jing and Bruce Lee’s "One Inch Punch"
by Rien Bul (NEW 2004 version)
The One Inch Punch, which was made world famous by Bruce Lee, is in truth an ancient technique in Weng Shun Kuen. Bruce Lee, who was never tutored in this technique, learned it by spying on senior students. Because he never got to learning the second form, "Chum Kiu", that trains the footwork that is needed to perform the One Inch Punch correctly, he never got that part right. In fact, the One Inch Punch can easily be learned, if one understands the principle behind it.
The principle of the "Fa Jing" punch
Fa Jing litterally means "Explosive Power". It is considered an "internal" kind of power, as opposed to muscular strength. It has got a lot to do with the concept of "Qi". But that part of the story is not relevant here. It mostly has to do with staying relaxed and creating a fluid, whiplike motion that doesn’t "telegraph". It doesn’t rely on musclepower, but a kind of sudden, "explosive" force that the opponent can’t brace himself for. He has been thrown off-balance before he realized something happened. It leaves him quite shocked.
Now what is it? We all know what it feels like when we have to sneeze uncontrollably. Or when we are startled so bad that our hair in our necks stand on end and you feel this "electrical" tingling in our spine. Now THAT is natural Fa Jing! It has got something to do with that same uncontrollable force that’s unleashed while you’re sneezing. You can’t keep your eyes open, no matter how hard you try. That is how close I can can come to describing the essence of Fa Jing for you.
The "Internal Secret"
It is one of the major secrets of the "internal" styles (like BaguaZhang, Hsing Yi, Yi Quan, Tai Ji Quan and Wudang Weng Shun Kuen andsoforth). This is because it is their substitute for muscular strength. You can fill a library with the books that are published on the subject in Chinese alone. When one would study with a traditional "internal"-style teacher, one would learn all about the style for eleven years or so. If, after this period, one was considered trustworthy, it was only thén that one was first learning about putting the power in your technique by applying Fa Jing!
There are many ways to generate Fa Jing. In Tai Ji Quan it is generated by shaking the waist violently. In Wudang Weng Shun Kuen it is derived from the ground. A smaller amount of Fa Jing can be generated from the wrist. But in Weng Shun Kuen the body is locked together in order to move like a single unit. The key here is relaxation. Without relaxation one can never generate Fa Jing. Try the following:
Hold your hand horizontally, palm down, the fingers hanging down. Then make a SUDDEN punching-movement. The hand should snap into a fist by itself from the sudden speed. The arm and hand should stay relaxed at all times. Also when the hand is already clenched into a fist. Do NEVER tighten up! Relaxation and the suddenness of the movements are major ingredients in the effectiveness of Fa Jing. The opponent can’t prepare himself for it, can’t "brace himself", so to speak. That is why it is called "explosive power" and also "release power". It can be applied to free yourself from holds, to pull an opponent off balance, for pushing, palm strikes and punches of Bruce Lee’s famous "one inch punch" variety.
The Weng Shun Kuen "Fatshaan Kuen" punching method is performed with the elbow down. Hence, we strike with a vertical fist. By tilting the fist slightly upward at the moment of impact, we "launch" the knuckles of the little and ring fingers, with a short "jolting" movement, into the target. Do not do this prior to actually having contacted the target. At the moment of impact, the arm should not be fully stretched. First stretch your arm after actual contact with the target is made and at the same time you "launch" your knuckles in an upward arc into it. At the same time, use your Weng Shun Kuen footwork to swivel. This gives you a few inches extra arm length. Practice until you can hit without stopping at the surface, going through it! The conventional way of hitting disperses the force over the surface of the target, while hitting INTO the target creates a shockwave that damages the inside. It is of the utmost importance that you stay relaxed at all times. This doesn’t just enhance the speed of the punch, but it also prohibits "telegraphing". Most importantly it makes your arm into a whip-like structure through which the Fa Jing (internal explosive power) can travel freely. "Explode" into a sudden movement that goes from zero to ... within a fraction of a second.
The "One Inch Punch" exercise
Face the wallbag squarely in "Yee Gee Kim Yeung Ma", the Weng Shun Kuen basic stance. Measure the correct distance by placing your fist against the wallbag. If you can already stretch your arm to the full, your distance is too great. Your arm should be slightly bent. Hit the bag in a relaxed fashion, without reverting to musclepower. Switch in. At the same time stretch your arm and hit with the lower knuckles going upward and generate a short, shocking force coming from the ground. Try to hit into the target without pushing.
In practical application, only use this technique when you are sure to hit the target. Once you are able to generate Fa Jing yourself by practising excercises as described above you will begin to understand it more and you will find different ways to apply it. You can use the principle in palm strikes (and even Lop-Sau) too, but be forewarned; this technique can be fatal. It can cause instant heart-failure and even rupture a person’s aorta.
Once you have learned the Fa Jing Punch, it is fun to demonstrate it like Bruce Lee did. Have someone holding a telephone book at the height of his solar plexus (breast bone). Now apply the Fa Jing Punch through the phone book, but never at full capacity!
The "One Inch Punch" SHOULD in fact be a "NO INCH PUNCH" ("One Inch is already too far away"). That is how what it was originally intented. Don’t forget it is so much older than Bruce Lee. The technique is typical for the Neija (Internal) styles of Gung Fu like TaiJi Quan and Weng Shun Kuen. There is a long version that throws someone off their feet or can be felt through a line of approximately eight people or so. There is also a higher level version, the "short- Fa Jing". The long version throws a person over an amazing distance, the short version drops him where he stands.