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Bruce Lee’s Accupunch

August 5 2015 at 8:09 AM
LJF  (Login LJF)

There was a post on “Accupunch” posted in this forum some years ago. However, it only covers a portion of it. Many fans only know Bruce’s famous one-inch punch and have seldom heard about his “Accupunch” until Bruce’s martial arts associate and personal friend, Grandmaster Jhoon Ree revealed it in his book, “Bruce Lee And I” which he mentioned about learning this special arts from Bruce and later he taught Muhammad Ali.

Jhoon Ree Taught Ali
According to Rhee, he first met Muhammad Ali in 1975, before his “Thrilla in Manila” championship fight with Joe Frazier. Rhee knew that Ali and Bruce Lee never had the chance to meet, so he took the opportunity to show Ali a punch that Rhee had learned from Bruce Lee, and for which Rhee had coined a name: the “Accupunch.” An extraordinarily fast punch that is almost impossible to block, the Accupunch is based on human reaction time — the idea is to finish the execution of the punch before the opponent can complete the brain-to-wrist communication. When Rhee demonstrated the punch to Ali, Ali was unable to block it.

So, at Ali’s request, Rhee taught him the punch, which he used in his fight against Frazier. Later, Ali also used the Accupunch in a bout with the British champion Richard Dunn — for a knockout blow. During an interview on national TV, a reporter showed Ali a slow-motion replay of the punch and asked about its origin. “That is Mr. Jhoon Rhee’s Accupunch,” Ali explained. He later elaborated, “I learned the Accupunch from Mr. Jhoon Rhee. It acts at the exact moment you decide to hit, and there is no lag time at all. It is instantaneous. It moves at tremendous speed with no warning and accelerates like a bullet in flight. You can hardly see it.”

Rhee also worked as Ali’s head coach for a rare Boxing v.s. Wrestling match in Japan, against the famous Wrestling Champion Inoki. Rhee taught Ali how to prevent his feet from being swept and caught by the wrestler. Ali picked up many advices from Rhee and continued to attain his successive victories. If Bruce was Rhee’s master in Accupunch and Ali, in turn learnt it from Master Rhee. Then, in that sense, Bruce Lee could be considered as the “Grandmaster” of Ali.

Accupunch In Action
Rhee said, “Accupunch is a punch with your body and mind as one. This combination creates a tremendous acceleration and increases the punching power. When you decide to punch, you’ve already punched. I’ve demonstrated my punching power, breaking three boards dangling. If you don’t have really explosive punching speed, you will push (dangling boards) and they will not break. But, I always break them.”

Bruce Lee had demonstrated his punching cum kicking power in HK-TVB and HK-RTV on 9th and 10th April 1970 respectively. The one which he broke few pieces of boards held tight by 2 Karate men was the famous “one-inch punch.” The ones which he broke by snapping 1-2 pieces of boards without support and kicking 5-6 pieces of boards dangling were the Accupunch and Accukick respectively. Bruce’s explosive punching/kicking (“Chi” – internal energy) broke the unsupported dangling boards easily. These performances made both the audience and the host in awe.
Bruce’s Accupunch may be considered the advanced version of the One-Inch Punch. It is more dangerous and unpredictable as compared to One-Inch Punch which is limit to a close range of striking. Accupunch is non-telegraphic. It can be punched from any angles, directions and at a further and wider range during the launching of the unprecedented attacks on the opponents. However, it requires the combination of mind, will, power and body at work which would then deliver the desired result.

Yuen Wah’s on Bruce’s Accukick
According to Yuen Wah’s 2011 interview in “Macau Daily,” He and other stuntmen had a taste of Bruce’s real Kung Fu many times during their training sessions. Once, Bruce got 1 stuntman to hold a protective shield and 4-5 men held him from behind. When Bruce moved forward and kicked the front guy with the shield, all of them were thrown backwards and fell to the floor in various directions, just like a bowling strike. The 4-5 guys standing behind actually got a greater hit from the impact generated from the kick than the front guy holding the shield. The force penetrated from the first person then went all the way to the rest behind liked a drill. The tighter or harder the guys behind held or resisted, the greater the injury they would incur. This concept is similar to Bruce’s explanation to his demo on host Ivan Ho during Bruce’s interview on 5th July 1973.

According to Master Xu Hao-Feng (a well-known Internal Style Master from Mainland China), although Bruce’s martial arts foundation was Southern school’s Kung Fu (Wing Chun, Hung-Gar, Choy Li Fut etc.) but he saw the substance of Yi-Chuen (Northern school Kung Fu) and other forms of internal style appearing in his skills. Master Xu said we should never judge Bruce’s side kick and straight punch superficially. There is in fact, more substance to it, something which are far more solid and powerful in Bruce’s martial arts skills, i.e. internal strength.

Origin of The Accupunch/ kick
Below is the excerpt of the article published in the 395th Issue of New Martial Hero in 2013, edited by Master Liang’s student - Bernard Kwan on 29th Nov. 2013

Master Liang Zi-Peng aka Leung Tsz-Pang (1900-1974), an internal style master and the Kung Fu teacher of Lee Hoi-Cheun, father of Bruce Lee, to whom he was said to have instructed “Taji Chuen,” “Liu-He-Ba-Fa Chuen” (aka Water Boxing) and “Yi-Chuen”. Bruce first learnt Taiji from his father at age 7 and later enrolled under Yip Man’s school to learn Wing Chun. Subsequently, his father suggested that Bruce should meet his teacher, Master Liang.
Bruce first saw Master Liang teaching his students in King’s park and stood aside to watch. He then saw Mater Liang threw 3-4 students (at a standing stance) back several feet with just a “mild” force. This enlightened method which was able to knock people down and throw people back several feet greatly shocked Bruce and widened his perspective. Bruce appreciated the power of “Yi-Chuen” and “Liu-He-Ba-Fa” Chuen (aka “Water Boxing” or “Six Harmonies Eight Ways Boxing”). He became very interested in what Master Liang was teaching and wanted to learn from him.

However, being skeptical about Bruce’s learning Kung Fu to fight on the street, Master Liang who was also an expert in Eagle Claw Kung Fu, was only willing to teach Bruce the concepts and principles of the internal style. Bruce was a Kung Fu enthusiast and he would often go to Master Liang's house, which was at number 18, Austin Road in Jordan Way, to listen to his lectures. Bruce was a talented martial arts student, he shortly grasped the true meanings behind the concepts of “Yi-Chuen” and “Liu-He-Ba-Fa Chuen” besides the Taiji’s theory he learnt from his father.
Bruce had an in-depth understanding of these theories especially Liu-He-Ba-Fa Chuen and Lao-Tsu’s Taodejing (Taoism teachings) which share similar theory on water. Thus, Lee was able to absorbed, combined and applied his “water theory” very well. Later, he gave his famous quote - “Be Water” in the TV series – “Longstreet” and in the Pierre Berton’s interview (1971).

Master Liang used the principles of Yi Chuen to correct his students’ mistakes while explaining the applications at the same time and demonstrated how to absorb and use the opponent’s movements to throw the opponent backwards (a technique aka "Si-liang-bo-qian-jin"). He was much different from many teachers at the time who only taught the forms but never stressed how to apply the movements. Master Liang also corrected Bruce’s Taji movements as well as helped Bruce to sort out, induct and rectify those unsystematic and disorganised Kung Fu techniques which he had learnt previously. This “disorganised mess” which was once regarded as “waste” then transformed into “treasures." Bruce appreciated it very much and when he was teaching his Jun Fan Kung Fu in U.S., he often mentioned about Master Liang.

Master Liang had many martial arts books in his possession. He loved to read martial arts manuals, and would underline the important points with a red pen. He gave two books, “Ortohodox Zimen Style” and “Chang Nai-Zhou's Boxing Manual” to Bruce, reminding him to study them diligently. Bruce was an avid reader. He studied these 2 books thoroughly and analysed the traditional inner style concepts in these books extensively. It is because of comprehening the internal style’s principle and theories, and through self-learning and practising the internal style, Bruce was able to accumulate enormous strength from his body and execute his JKD’s punch and kick with devastating power which was totally different from the Karate and Tae Kwon Do practitioners.

In real fighting, Bruce’s waist and hips were always in a relaxed mode. His kick usually would not go beyond his waist unless on exceptional case. In case of high kicking, Bruce would spring-jumped using supports from his legs. The kicking force relies on his butt shear, both legs scissored-folded reciprocal as the roots, the kick resulted an enormous amount of vibrating force liked sabrecut which would lead to injury of the tissues and broken bones of his opponent. This is an extremely high level skill in martial arts.

Tony Lau/Liu once said in his interview that Bruce practiced “Ngang Gung” or “Hard Chi Gung” (both referred to internal style or internal power Kung Fu) which was the reason why Bruce was able to generate such an enormous power for his one-inch punch and accupunch at such a short time given his small body frame.

Excerpts on The Yi-Chuen absorbed by Bruce Lee
Although the time Bruce spent learning Yi-Chuen was short, the philosophy of Yi-Chuen and Liu-He-Ba-Fa Chuen deeply influenced the framework and principles of his Jeet Kuen Do.

1. Experience the flow of “Chi” (internal power)
One must constantly reflect, stand and experience the flow of “Chi” (energy) in the body, and understand the smallest changes in the muscles of the body, the impact of the external weather and environment on one's thoughts and emotions, seek movement in stillness and calmly react to change.

2. Softness can overcome hardness (similar to Taiji’s Yin-Yang Theory)
Only when the muscles are relaxed, can one's movements be fast and react with explosive energy.

3. Throw the opponent several feet away
When Bruce studied martial arts in the past, it was to beat people. Yi-Chuen uses the whole frame of the body to throw the opponent flying. This led Bruce to later tried developing his One-Inch Punch and Accupunch with the similar concept and motive.

4. Utilise the whole body strength
In the past, Bruce would use his attack to cause pain to the opponent, but he began to understand the importance of full body power through Yi-Chuen. Using the whole body framework, even if the opponent resists, the whole body power will rise up to break the opponent, leaving him no way to block or deflect.

5. Practical and Effective
Every time you attack, it needs to be accurate, brutal and effective. It has to be a practical, real attack and not a fake flowery movement. Every movement has its usefulness, and one has to maintain the balance and frame, using the full power.

Continuous Self-Development
However, to Bruce, it does not matter whether it is Accupunch or One-Inch Punch, Accukick or Snap Kick, they are just “Names” only. Important thing is how martial arts practitioners could utilise their tools to the maximum. Although the concept is the same, the execution and power of Ali’s Accupunch might be different from Jhoon Rhee and Rhee’s might be different from Bruce because of their diverse martial arts backgrounds. More importantly is the final result of its effectiveness.
If One-Inch Punch was derived and improved from Wing Chun’s “Jat-zi Power Punch,” then both the Accupunch and Accukick were Bruce’s own developed personal weapons that would takes time to master. They were meant more for advanced martial arts learners because of the complex theory and skills involved in mastering these techniques. From the “Iron Palm” Kung Fu he learnt from James Y. Lee to the “One-Inch Iron Finger” Kung Fu he was practicing in the early 70s etc, Bruce was no doubt constantly absorbing nutrition from various kinds of martial arts and improvising his JKD. Like he always said, “Running water never grows stale, you’ve to keep on flowing….”

Ali, Rhee and Lee photos:

From One-Inch Punch to Accupunch photos:

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  • Re: Bruce Lee’s Accupunch - Nick Clarke on Aug 5, 2015, 2:17 PM
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