LOOKING back over the years of boxing champions there is one thing that is obvious – they all frequently used the jab in a variety of forms. The jab is the first punch a boxer will learn and although it is the most basic of strikes, it is one of the most important punches in any fighters’ repertoire. A technically solid and speedy jab can be used in a number of different situations.
- Setting up and maintaining the distance
It is a range-finder as most combinations start with a jab as a way of closing the distance and finding the proper range.
It can be used to score points from either long or medium distance, and over time this continual point scoring will gradually wear down your opponent.
- Breaking up your opponent’s attack
An integral part of a fighter’s defence. By using the jab it stops your opponent getting too confident and can keep them at a comfortable distance.
- Opening up an attack
By altering the type of jab it can open up your opponent to other more attacking punches.
The most common faults that boxers make when throwing a jab are:
- The boxer falls in towards their opponent and over-commits due to not having their feet in the correct place.
- Bringing the jab hand back low from the punch; this opens up a potential counter-punch for your opponent.
- The punch is ‘telegraphed’ – this gives the opponent an obvious clue as to when you will throw the punch.
- The boxer allows the punch to become an upper-body movement and neglects to use the lower body to initiate the shot.
- There is an urge to try and hit too hard. The desire to throw the punch hard often results in too much of the boxer’s weight transferring to the front leg (see the first common fault).
Jab to the head
- From the orthodox stance, the first action is to slide the left foot forwards towards your opponent – this moves you within punching range. Simultaneously push in off your back foot in order to maintain a balanced, solid base (but don’t let the foot come off the ground).
- Push through the floor with your lead foot, rotate through your left hip and complete a quarter turn at your lead shoulder. This will help to add power and stability to your shot.
- Throw the jab straight out from the shoulder as if you’re punching down a pipe.
- The jab should be aimed for the chin and at the end of the punch rotate your fist so that your palm is facing down as your hand strikes the target.
- As soon as your arm reaches full extension, quickly pull the hand back along the same path as the delivery, back to its starting position in order to guard your chin. Even if you are throwing multiple jabs, retract your hand between each one.
- The guarding hand is held high to pick off any counter-punches. Regardless of where you keep your jabbing hand, never bring your other hand down, even when you’re punching.
- Keep your chin tucked in behind your shoulder.
- Use your judgment when jabbing and make sure that your front foot is in range first before you punch.
- If using a single jab wait until the shot lands then push away off the front foot and slide the rear foot backwards, making sure that you maintain your boxing stance and therefore solid base.
Jab to the body
Another way to use the jab is to the body. For this punch the key differences are seen in the lower-body movement; the upper-body movements are the same as the above. The lower-body differences are:
- From the boxing stance, the first action is to slide the left foot forwards towards your opponent – this moves you within punching range. Simultaneously squat down to 90-degree angle at the knee – still maintaining a solid base.
- In this punch the boxer should actually raise the height of their defensive guard in order to increase protection in the half-squat position.
- Stay low when pushing out – because aiming for the body increases a fighter’s vulnerability to a counter-punch.
This article is an extract from a larger piece in the Total Fight Training, the ultimate guide for combat sports participants, currently available on the Boxing News app on iTunes, Google Play and from www.pocketmags.com