The one inch punch is a stage effect which illustrates that even from a short distance, strong force can be generated. To try it, have your partner hold a pad or phone book tightly against his chest. Get into the Wing Chun square stance. Put one hand at your side and press the top knuckle of the punching hand into the opponent to force his center of gravity down (to almost off balance him). Now using a sharp wrist action (the wrist goes from a bent down to a straight position), and a body knee action, punch to off balance the opponent. From the side, your body action looks like a wave in motion. The zero inch punch is a trick based on moving the center of gravity of the opponent but the punch does contain many elements of the real thing. The body action and wrist action are the same. For a real punch, use the sinking stance, the wrist power, the elbow power, the shoulder power and the rotational force of the body. If the punch is performed with a body charge, it is even stronger.
We have observed many books and tapes where this punch is performed incorrecty. Often the punch shown is a pushing punch, where the distance travelled by the fist is more than one inch or three inches. The punch should definitely feel like a shock and not a push. Although pushes look very dramatic because the opponent seems to fly backwards by several feet, they are easier to perform than a short range shocking punch.