The following two quotes may seem like contradictions. Let’s take a look…
“Fight from a center and always be in position to shoot any punch. Don’t overshoot your target….” (page 208)
“A blow is never hit at a mark. It is driven through a mark. Follow-through is just as important in fighting as it is in any other sport and it can only be obtained by punching through and beyond the point of attack.” (Page 210)
Both of these quotes were taken from “Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do, Volume Three,” Edited by John Little (Tuttle, 1997)
Does it seem like Bruce Lee was contradicting himself?
In the first quote, he tells you not to overshoot your target, but in the second, he tells you to punch through your target.
Isn’t punching through, in a sense, overshooting?
I have to admit, when I read the two passages above, I had just finished reading about stances in the previous section. So, my mind was filled with thoughts of maintaining my balance throughout my techniques.
For me, overshooting has the connotation of losing your balance. You went past where you wanted your fist to be. You overshot your target.
You are out of position. Your arm is stretched forward, elbow straight — no control. Your have committed your weight — with your loss of control, you stumble a little.
On the other hand, punching through the target sounds like a controlled action. You maintain a tighter stance. Your attacker falls backwards from the force of the blow (or crumples forward, depending on your target). Your attacker loses balance; you don’t.
Let’s look at this a little more….
Where Does Your Punch Pause?
You know not to start punching early. It’s a waste of motion to punch, when there isn’t any chance of making contact.
So, you wait until you are in range for your punch to hit.
Your punch is controlled, so that if your opponent does manage to turn off or get out of the way, you won’t overshoot and throw yourself out of balance.
You punch. You envision a point beyond your opponent’s face. You will punch through the face, sending the head flying backwards.
Think about your positioning?
Where is your elbow?
Does it remain in front of your opponent, even thought the fist penetrates the face (or whizzes by, in a practice session)?
If you find your elbow past your opponent, do you immediately use the elbow to strike ‘back’ into the back of the head or neck (careful– dangerous)?
What about your body? Are you reaching, and thus forcing your torso into a bad position? Or do you maintain a good center, not too top heavy, so you can follow-up with another controlled technique?
While training, pause after your first punch, every once-in-awhile. Check your positions on the punch pause.
Good positioning is good positioning no matter what stage of the fight.
Do a spot-check.
Is your fist in a good position for your next technique? And your next?
If you aren’t punching through, as in past your opponent, then you need stop power that doesn’t require a continued movement through. Use any stop-motion punch that keeps your hands to the front of your attacker.
If you continue to knock your opponent backwards, then you center as you move. You stay positioned as you punch through.
At a point that your punches aren’t in a forward momentum, you punch with energy that drops, but doesn’t knock the bad guy back. In this case, you stay centered in pretty much the same position… until you start punching through again.
Bruce Lee was right. It is possible to punch through and still keep good positions.