What is a Jab?
A jab is a quick punch, used to stun an opponent, to find range and to counter an opponent who is using a slower technique.
It is the most common punch seen in boxing, used to keep an opponent back and to gauge movement before committing with a different, more powerful punch.
It is used by taller fighters to keep his/her opponent at range/distance.
As it is thrown with the lead hand and finishes with the arm fully extended, it is the longest punch possible (without moving the feet).
How to Jab Harder
There are a number of ways to add more power to a jab.
First, make sure your punching technique and ‘kinetic chain’ is optimal.
A few things you can try to add power to your jab:
- Step/stamp your lead foot down just before you jab
Obviously this will slow the movement down a lot and be a big giveaway if you do it each time the you throw a jab. So throw some dummies/feints and mix this up with quicker jabs, thrown just from the shoulder.
- Step your lead foot forwards and land with the toes turned inwards a little
By stepping inwards a little and rotating your foot, you will force your hips to rotate, adding rotational force the the jab.
- Try throwing the punch from your waist
Throwing from the waist like Floyd Mayweather does, will add rotational force to the punch.
- For extra power, try rotating your rear foot – use the technique below:
- If jabbing with the left hand, keep the right heel off the floor – ‘spring-load’ your rear foot
- Begin the jab by rotating the right heel clockwise/towards the right
- Twist the body so your chest faces to the right, but keep looking forwards
- Finally extend the arm and twist the first so the thumb points down at the end of the punch
– Throwing a jab with your elbow turned up so it nearly touches your ear, will add more power, but slow it down.
How to Jab Quicker
You can jab quicker using the following techniques
- Keep your lead arm straighter when your hands are up
If you hands are right next to your chin, then your arm has a longer distance to travel to reach the opponent. However, if your lead arm is almost straight, the distance is a lot less. Experiment with difference guards, to see which one suits you.
- Punch from the waist
More and more boxers are utilising a fighting stance with a low front hand. The arm is nearly fully extended, and the force is generated by whipping the arm upwards using the shoulder. This is often quicker than an orthodox ‘linear’ jab and requires less effort.
- As with the cross, throwing a jab with a ‘low elbow’ will be quicker, but have less power. This is normally used within ‘trapping’ distance when you are especially close to your opponent
What are the Different Types of Jab?
- It can be thrown from the waist to add rotational force
- It can be thrown in a linear/straight manner as in conventional boxing, with your hands high.
- You can also throw a ‘feeler’ jab against a counter puncher, to get a fighter to ‘open up’ and throw back, so you can then get in range and throw a heavier strike.
- Double jabs are often used to bridge distance.
- Jab with your head off ‘centre line’ / off to the side if you are fighting a taller guy so that you don’t walk into a jab of his own.
- – Most boxing coaches teach you to turn the thumb of the punching hand towards the floor near the end of the punch.
- The Jab should be loose and fluid, try not to tense until the end of the punch.
- Throw from the waist and feet first, and drive with the arm last to give a whipping motion (this varies somewhat with the type of jab, some jabs can be thrown just as ‘arm punches’).
- You can also use a jab to ‘bait’ an opponent.
Throw a jab, to get your opponent to respond with his/her own punch and counter it.
Rhonda Rousey used to use this a lot – throw a punch (Not necessarily a jab) – wait for her opponent to counter, then as they stand their ground and throw punches – slip in for a clinch
How to Double Jab
Double jab is used to bridge distance and get into range.
“Spring load” the back foot, with heel off the floor
Drive from the back foot each time you throw the jab
After the first jab, bring the hand back about 20% before jabbing again
Against a taller opponent you can move your head off centre line – to the side, to stop him countering with his own, longer jab.
The double jab is also a really good way to set up takedown like a double leg.
To set up a double leg, step forward and jab, feint the second jab and step into your takedown
Once you have mastered the double jab, you can try a jab – hook.
To cover more distance you can jab then jab again but this time step forwards with your rear leg.
Note that this will put you in the opposite stance that you started in
Boxing Jab Combinations
Left jab into a left hook
Double jab, cross
Jab, cross, left hook, right cross
Left Jab to the body, overhand right
Jab Defence & Counter
The common defence in boxing is to parry.
Parry with a small movement – otherwise he may dummy/feint/pretend to throw a jab and wait until your hand lowers and throw the punch then.
You can counter a jab by parrying and throwing back a jab of your own
- By parrying and throwing a right cross (which you can step forward into)
- By ducking, to waist level and throwing an overhand right/left.
I personally like to parry the left jab, then step forward with a right jab of my own, then a left cross.
Lots of boxing coaches will discourage this however, as it’s pretty unorthodox to change leads and step forwards with a right jab from an orthodox stance.
Fade Away Jab
A very risky technique, requiring perfect control of range
Remain just outside of range and lean forward slightly to invite a punch
Lean back and throw a jab as your opponent steps forward
Anderson Silva in the above Gif, also takes a step back as he punches.
A slightly safer version, is to step to the left (if you’re in orthodox stance) as a fighter advances pivot to face your opponent side on as you throw a jab.
Common Jab Mistakes
1. Leaning the head forwards when jabbing
This is generally a bad idea as you will be more off balance and likely to get countered with an uppercut
2. Leaning back (too much) when jabbing
People do this a lot when they want to jab but also want to keep their head out of range. Try moving your head to one side slightly instead of leaning back. Look out for fade-away hook and head kick counters (in mma) however
3. Not protecting the chin
Keep your rear hand up, in front of your face and your frot shoulder up to protect your chin – hide your chin behind your shoulder
4. Loading up too much
If you are looking for a powerful jab, you should double up feints and feeler jabs before committing and twisting and stepping into a bigger punch
The Superman Jab
One more for MMA and Muay Thai. The superman jab was brought to the mainstream by GSP
If your left hand is your lead arm i.e. orthodox stance
Lift your left knee to feint/fake a left kick
Hope forwards on your right foot by swinging your left leg back
Throw the jab!
Be careful not to jump into a jab or cross counter.
One thing to note about jabs – people will tend to circle to their left after throwing a left jab, and to the right if they throw a right jab.
If your opponent reads and times this, with an overhand right or a left hook, it can end quite badly. So keep your chin protected, throw feints and feeler jabs and consider backing up and changing leads and the direction that your circle
Btw, I really like Michael Bisping, heres an infographic thay I made about him
Advanced Jab Techniques
Watch Vasyl Lomachenko’s jab techniques below. In particular the footwork and hand trapping.