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AccuPunch: Bruce Lee’s Unblockable Attack Explained

An incredibly fast, unblockable attack known as the AccuPunch was used by Muhammad Ali in the ring, but it was actually invented by Bruce Lee.

Described as an unblockable technique, the AccuPunch was a move invented by Bruce Lee and used in the ring by boxing legend Muhammad Ali. Though not nearly as famous as his one-inch punch, it’s considered to be a highly effective attack. Commonly regarded as the greatest boxer in the history of the sport, Muhammad Ali is an icon and someone whose fighting ability was greatly admired by Bruce Lee.

Though one focused on American boxing while the other had a background in kung fu, Lee understood the importance of being open to new ideas when it came to martial arts. For that reason, Lee was constantly adjusting his fighting style based on what he learned from sparring or observing others, including Ali. The two never had a chance to meet, but thanks to watching Ali’s fights on TV, Lee was able to make improvements to his footwork.

Apparently, Ali learned a move from Lee too, albeit indirectly. According to South Korean martial arts master Jhoon Rhee, Lee developed an impressive punching technique that was remarkable for its speed. Lee, who was good friends with Rhee, taught him the move. Rhee then incorporated it into his own style and named it “The AccuPunch”. Two years after Lee’s death, Rhee showed it to Muhammad Ali, who then used it against Joe Frazier and again as the knockout blow against Richard Dunn, who had challenged him for the world heavyweight title in 1976. Ali delivered the punch at amazing speed and explained in an interview about the fight that the technique he used on Dunn was the AccuPunch.

Comments from Rhee and Muhammad Ali shed light on what the AccuPunch really is and how it works. Apparently, when Rhee first demonstrated it to Ali, the boxer found himself unable to block it. The idea behind the move is to lash out so fast that the opponent doesn’t have a chance to react. Rhee says that for the Bruce Lee created move to work, one must punch “with your mind and body as one” [via Mixed Martial Arts]. According to Ali the hit is instantaneous with no warning and, “it acts at the exact moment you decide to hit, and there is no lag time at all.” [via]

The principles behind the AccuPunch – as it’s now known – illustrate how important both speed and timing were to Bruce Lee and his approach to martial arts. Part of what makes him so exciting to watch is the incredible speed of his movements, which sometimes had to be slowed down so that viewers could follow them. Being able to move so fast (and at just the right time) were what made it possible for him to execute blows like the one-inch punch with such explosive force.

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