Photo of Bruce Lee’s legendary one-inch punch.
Photo of Bruce Lee’s legendary one-inch punch.

Martial Arts – Fight Like a Physicist

Bruce Lee’s legendary “One-Inch Punch” frozen in time.

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About This Episode

If you think we’re kidding with the title of this episode, think again. This week, Chuck Nice and Gary O’Reilly get schooled on the martial arts by two fighting physicists: Jason Thalken, who has a Black Belt in Hopkido, and Prof. John Eric Goff, who has a Black Belt in Karate. You’ll hear each of them emphasize the importance of using the center of gravity, supports and pivots to take down an opponent. Explore the mechanics of a punch: how to do the maximum damage with a fist, and why the most powerful time to hit an opponent is not the moment of full extension, but when your elbow is bent and your fist is moving at top speed. Examine the biomechanics of shoulders, elbows and fists, and why rotation is critical for converting the maximum amount stored energy into kinetic energy. Investigate the science behind Krav Maga, an ever-evolving amalgam of different combat systems that is used by the Israeli Defense Forces and which incorporates anything that works well. Plus, find out why the real force behind Bruce Lee’s legendary “One-inch punch” starts in his feet, and get Jason and John’s different takes on whether physicists really do make better martial artists.

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Martial Arts – Fight Like a Physicist.

CORRECTION: In this episode, we mistakenly refer to Bruce Lee’s son as Jason Lee. In fact, Bruce Lee’s son was Brandon Lee.

In This Episode

  • Host

    Gary O'Reilly

    Gary O'Reilly
    Sports Analyst, Broadcaster, Professional Soccer Player
  • Host

    Chuck Nice

    Chuck Nice
    Comedian
  • Guest

    Jason Thalken

    Jason Thalken, Ph.D.
    Physicist, Martial Artist & Author of "Fight Like a Physicist: The Incredible Science Behind Martial Arts"
  • Guest

    John Eric Goff

    John Eric Goff
    Physicist, Martial Artist & Author of “Gold Medal Physics: The Science of Sports”, forthcoming book: "The Science Behind Krav Maga"

Episode Topics

  • Billy Bear

    That MindSmash plug… good job…

  • Anupa

    Love the song selection for this!! ^_^

  • Steve Bui

    Jason Lee is not Bruce Lee’s son. C’mon guys.

    • Of course. It was Brandon Lee. Thanks for pointing out our mistake, Steve.

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Music in This Episode