The Floating Punch

October 27, 20150 Comments

Learn the One- and Three-inch Punch (the “floating punch”)!

In this article, you will learn how you can develop Bruce Lee’s 1″ and the 3″ Punch (also known as the “floating punch”) using a simple training tool developed by Sijo James DeMile, a student of Bruce Lee and the founder of Wing Chun Do (this article first appeared in the February 1998 issue of IKF magazine).

Any floating punch at a range of greater than five inches is considered a long-range floating punch. Be very careful when using a long-range floating punch. There is a greater need for more exact timing and coordination. The advantage of the long-range floating punch is that you can be in a more relaxed starting position and have more overall flexibility and generate more power.

In the following applications of the floating punch, the ‘coffee can exercise’ develops the snapping action of the 1- and 3- inch punch. The four movements of the floating punch are for the long-range floating punch.



The body coordination, intensity and mental focus are for one purpose – to get the maximum amount of energy into your target. The body and the mind condense this explosive force so the wrist and fist can deliver it. Follow these instructions carefully or you may harm your wrist and thus never be able to do the floating punch again since a weak wrist will break under its own force.

Take a three-pound coffee can. Fill it with sand and take the lid on tightly. Wrap the can with firm padding so that your hand will be protected, yet little or none of the power will be lost. Find a smooth, flat surface such as a table. Raise the table so that the can is straight out from your floating rib. Place the can on the edge of the table closest to you. You will use either the 1-inch or 3-inch punch to strike the can, knocking it across the table. Since the 3-inch punch is easier, we will begin with that.

James DeMile Floating Punch Positions

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3-inch Punch

Stand with your hands hanging loosely at your sides in your basic three-inch ready stance. Keep your elbow by your side, raise your forearm and hand until they are straight out, with your extended fingers touching the can. Your hand should be open, loose and relaxed with the palm facing inward, just as in the picture.

Do this slowly at first to get the feeling of it. Without raising the hand or tensing up, move the hand toward the can, at the same time closing into a loose fist. Just as the upper knuckles of the hand touch the can, suddenly close the hand into a tight fist and thrust the lower part of the fist forward (wrist twists) striking the can and at the same time firming up the whole body.

Floating Punch AfterThe upper knuckles should hardly touch the can; in fact, they should pull away slightly as the lower knuckles strike an imaginary point inside the can. Hooking the lower knuckles upward at the moment of impact creates an arcing effect to the energy as it penetrates the opponent. This creates an internal shock effect. Do not push the can. From the original position (the extended fingers touching the can) to impact, your fist should not have to move more than four inches.

If you practice this a few minutes a day, in a short time you should be able to move the can three-to-four feet. Of course, you will have to focus and add speed and body movement to develop your full potential. If initially the can is to heavy, persist. Your distance will increase with practice.


One-inch Punch

The one-inch floating punch is more difficult because you have very little room to generate power. Stand in a 1-inch ready stance with your hands loosely by your sides. keep your elbow by your side. Close your hand into a loose fist. Place the upper knuckles lightly against your target with your lower knuckles slightly back.

The strike begins with a very slight forward motion of the upper knuckles. Without waiting for the upper knuckles to strike firmly, the lower knuckles spring forward with the body condensing down and focusing the energy transfer as quickly as possible.

James DeMile 1-inch Punch Article

This article was published in the February 1998 issue of IKF. It is written by James W. DeMile, an early student of Bruce Lee during the “Seattle-era”, and is an excerpt from his book on 1″ and 3″ power punch. Learn more about Sijo DeMile and the Floating Punch at his website at:

About the video: a demonstration of the exercise described above of the floating punch by Sijo James DeMile.

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