Since Fist of Thunder said it is a "series of extremely fast punches", I wanted to see how much faster it was than other attacks. I equipped a 1.1 attacks per second daibo and held shift to attack for a minute and counted the attacks. I did this twice to make sure I did not count wrong. (it is much easier to count every 3rd attack if you want to verify this)
Normal Attack - Count 68/68, should be 66, so that is close, probably just the way the first attack was at 0 seconds. Also the daibo has attack animations for it that are pretty nice and depend on how the monk is facing to the direction of attack... too bad we will never see them in game because the weapons are not used on spirit generators.
Fist of Thunder - Count 102/101 - much faster, 1.7 attacks per second. About 55% faster
Deadly Reach - Count 90/89 - also faster, 1.5 attacks per second. About 36% faster. I found this odd because the description did not mention that it was faster than the normal attack.
Crippling Wave - Count 77/77 - faster but not that much, 1.28 attacks per second, About 16% faster. I suppose it is slower than the others because the AOE damage at 110% of weapon damage.
Exploding Palm - Count 96/96 -back to being fast again, 1.6 attacks per second, About 45% faster. No reason in description that it is faster or why it is faster than deadly reach.
I also looked into mixing the two, with 2 fist of thunder followed by a 3rd hit crippling wave. I think it should be 2/3(101 hits) + 1/3(77 hits) = 93 hits. But when I counted, it came out a little slower than that at around 87 hits in a minute. I think this is because you cannot just shift hold to attack on a mixed attack and that my "click, click, right click" is not 100% efficient compared to just holding down attack.
To follow up, I just did this with the Apprentice Spikes, 1.4 attacks per second, both hands so I get the 15% bonus. The character sheet said 1.61 attacks per second. The results are the same. Numbers below if you are interested.
Normal Attack - Count 100/98, should be 96.6, same reason as above.
Fist of Thunder - Count 147/147 - 2.45 attacks per second. About 52% faster
Deadly Reach - Count 129/130 - 2.15 attacks per second. About 33% faster.
Crippling Wave - Count 111/111 - 1.85 attacks per second, About 15% faster.
Exploding Palm - Count 141/141 -2.35 attacks per second, About 46% faster.
Why is this information not shown somewhere in game? The character page would be a good place to have a list of equipped skills, the damage they do and the attack speed. I guess that you probably do not want too much info on the tool tip to keep it from being to cluttered but I think this should be able to be found without all the counting.