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This Is How Strong Bruce Lee Really Was

Martial arts movie stars are a very special breed; they often have the acting chops to carry a film, but they also have the strength and training to pull off their own stunts. One of the most influential names in the field is and shall always be Bruce Lee. This master of the fighting arts (and looking good while doing it) starred in many films and kicked all sorts of butt, and he has been elevated to tantamount godhood in the eyes of some actors. On set, Lee wasn't just a fighter but a force of nature, which raises the question of how strong he actually was. After all, everyone and everything has their limits.

When you get a good look at Lee's body, you probably see a lithe, sculpted fighting machine that could pack a punch. But since Lee stood all of 5-foot-8 and weighed 128 pounds, you could be forgiven for thinking Lee couldn't compete in the same weight class as the world's strongest man. However, looks can be deceiving, and Lee is Exhibits A through Z.

Bruce Lee's strength is all in the twitch

Newton's second law states that force equals mass times acceleration, so even if you don't weigh too much, if you can whip your fists forward at blinding speed, you could potentially lay an opponent out flat like Bruce Lee did in his movies. Just ask anyone who met him.

According to Martial Tribes, much of Lee's power came from his nerve and muscle control. The man could deliver explosive punches because of "twitch muscle power" that let him accelerate a great deal in a short distance. Moreover, Lee's mastery over his own body let him achieve preternatural feats such as holding a 75-pound barbell horizontal in one arm, performing 50 one-arm chin-ups, and completing two-finger push-ups (via CNN).

However, the peak of Lee's strength was his signature one-inch punch, which could impact targets at around 190 km/h, the equivalent of being punched by a train (via South China Morning Post). Popular Mechanics postulates the move's strength comes from Lee controlling his entire body with pinpoint precision. Instead of relying on just a punch, Lee started with explosive knee extension, which twisted his hips, which thrust his shoulder and arm forwards. He flicked his wrist just before impact and pulled back immediately afterwards, which culminated in an entire body's worth of force compressed into a sudden burst of unstoppable power — or at least enough power to send a six-foot-three, 245-pound fighter flying backwards (via Bloody Elbow).