Saturday, October 18, 2014

Bruce Lee's 1 Inch Punch

Bruce Lee did important work on punching while living in Seattle teaching and studying Gung Fu.  Over the last forty plus years it was fairly easy to practice or work with his first students, James Demile, Skip Ellsworth, Taki Kimura, Jesse Glover (who wrote a book on those years).  James Demile in particular took Lee's punch style in a fascinating direction you can still learn from Demile.

From left to right are Jesse Glover -- Bruce Lee -- Skip Ellsworth -- Tak Miyabe -- 
Jim DeMile -- LeRoy Garcia -- and Taky Kimura.
(Of the seven people in that picture, I've met four: Glover, Ellsworth, DeMile and Kimura.  DeMile I have trained with, and I studied log cabin building with Ellsworth.  Kimura ran a grocery store he lived above, and Glover is still teaching in Chinatown.)

While sparring Lee would not form his fist until the instant before he would strike.  Sparring with golden gloves champ Ellsworth who took the classic form with closed fists in the ready, Lee left his hands relaxed and open.  How odd. Then the match began, with each bobbing and weaving and throwing punches. The open relaxed hand gave Lee the optimum speed that can be achieved when relaxed (in aikido "relax completely")  It is a concrete expression, albeit in a fighting art, of the "relax completely" imperative.  He tagged the naturally gifted boxing champ Ellsworth before Ellsworth could react. And then of course, with undoubtedly the gift of ADD, he reversed the lesson and developed the one inch punch, wherein he just collapsed all process of a solid punch into the last one second of time and space.
Drawing upon both physical and neuro power, Lee’s devastating one-inch punch involved substantially more than arm strength. It was achieved through the fluid teamwork of every body part. It was his feet. It was hips and arms. It was even his brain. In several milliseconds, a spark of kinetic energy ignited in Lee’s feet and surged through his core to his limbs before its eventual release.
Acting as uke in demonstration for aikido hombu chief instructor ju-dan Tohei Sensei, you would find this kind of power responding to your attack.  Aikido can be lethal if the uke does not know how to fall, and part of practice is the nage controls the uke's fall to keep uke from being injured.

But it takes practice, relentless practice, over and over, fall down, get up.

And also spending time with excellent instructors.

L-R Wally Jay, James Demile, Bernie Lau Schooling Yours Truly, circa 1980.
Wally Jay taught Bruce Lee judo/jiu jitsu, James Demile is a Bruce Lee original student still teaching, Bernie Lau received his first two degrees directly from the aikido founder, and subsequent degrees from his son.  (Note Lau Sensei has trapped my foot.)

Few people know this, Bernie Lau is full blood French native, and speaks French well enough in a pinch.

Feel Free To Email This To Three Friends.

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