Bruce Lee Punching Speed Exercises

Young Woman in Karate Pose
Young woman practicing martial arts. (Image: Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Bruce Lee trained in many different fighting disciplines to develop his own signature martial arts style called Jeet Kune Do. He's well-known for his speed, punching power and accuracy. You can hone your own punching speed by borrowing some of Bruce Lee's striking and conditioning exercises. You might not gain a 1-inch punch that can send your opponents across the room, but you can certainly make significant improvements in your own punching prowess.

Snapping Punches

The snapping punch is a fast, whip-like strike that makes quick contact with your target and snaps right back into the guard position. It is the hallmark of Bruce Lee's punching style. In Jeet Kune Do, the snapping punch is a full-body strike, not just a simple hand motion. Bruce Lee would leap forward, stomping the ground with his lead leg at the same time that his snapping punch would make contact. To develop the snapping punch, practice throwing it against a paper bag hanging from a string. Don't try to put too much power into the strike; just try to make clean contact. If you strike the bag correctly, it will make a "snap" sound instead of a "thud." Eventually, you'll be able to snap a hole in the bag with your explosive power.

The Padded Board

The makiwara is a padded board which can either be mounted on a stick or positioned against a stationary wall. Bruce Lee often used a padded board to work on his punching speed and accuracy. Having fast hands is not practical if you can't properly direct those strikes toward your target. To use the makiwara to improve speed, run through your basic punches, trying to strike specifically at a single point on the board. You can use a marker to make a target or simply visualize a bull's-eye in your mind. Practice your jab, hook and cross using the padded board. Throw your punches repetitively and train 25 to 50 punches for each arm.

Punching With Wrist Weights

Bruce Lee was a master at delivering fast strikes without sacrificing punching power. He often practiced his punches with the aid of wrist weights or hand-held dumbbells. Using light weights, throw 100 crosses with each arm. This exercise builds up the latissumus dorsi muscles of the lower back. Your punching power and explosiveness comes from twisting at the hips, transferring energy up the body and flexing the lats in your back. When you remove the weights from your hands and practice throwing crosses, you'll find that your punches are lightning fast and strong enough to stun or knock out your opponent.

Simultaneous Catch and Punch

Jeet Kune Do teaches explosive simultaneous strikes. To work on Bruce Lee style catch-and-punch drills, you will need to enlist the aid of a sparring partner. Start with catching your opponent's jab first. Watch his shoulders to sense the initial movement. As your partner strikes with a left jab, rotate your right arm up to catch his fist directly in front of your face. Just practice catching the jab, until your speed increases. Now, when your opponent throws his left jab, catch the jab with your right hand and, at the same time, throw a quick jab of your own with the opposite hand. Start slowly and gradually increase speed.

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