The jab is one of the most important weapons in a fighter’s arsenal. A jab is often considered the first and most important step in combat sports for its usefulness in finding your range, setting up combinations, and for keeping your opponent at a distance. The principles of good form remain the same in throwing the jab regardless of your martial arts discipline, but you have to adjust it’s execution depending on your sport. When looking to set up and find your range, here’s how to throw a jab in boxing, kickboxing and MMA.
Your lead hand (left for orthodox, right for southpaw) throws the jab. The traditional stance has your lead hand up and protecting your head before the punch, but some boxers prefer to keep it low by their waist so that the jab comes up when the punch cracks. Your stance is turned slightly sideways toward your opponent. When you’re ready to throw, shift your weight off your back foot and into your lead foot as you transfer the momentum into your core and out into your arm as you extend forward. Rotate your fist horizontally as it snaps out toward your opponent. This will bring your shoulder up to protect from counter punches from the outside and provide the most power in your punch. Your stance can be turned in boxing and you can transfer your weight into your lead foot, but this stance is not as effective when it comes to kickboxing.
If you turn slightly sideways to your opponent and lean on your lead leg, it leaves it very open to low kicks in kickboxing. To adjust for kickboxing, face your opponent more squarely and stand up a little taller with your fists up by both sides of your face. When you step in for a jab, throw with power, but step back quickly to prepare yourself to check kicks. Step in and back quickly to dish out your punishment, and be ready for the retaliating low kick. This higher posture is good when trying to stay light on your feet in kickboxing, but is a position that can leave you very vulnerable in MMA.
MMA fighters stand at a greater distance when standing up with on another, meaning you have to cover more distance to hit your opponent with a jab. The higher posture of a kickboxing stance will not be as effective in MMA because it will leave you vulnerable for takedowns. When you step forward with your lead leg in MMA, remember that you’re giving your opponent an opportunity for a single leg takedown if you’re there for too long. Be ready to adjust to your opponents levels to protect against takedowns while you throw a jab.
Always keep your back hand by your chin to protect from countering hooks from your opponent, don’t drop it down when you go in for the jab. Be sure to keep your elbows in tight to your body on your back hand and your lead hand to protect your torso. While the power of the punch comes from your body and into the core, do not launch yourself too far forward behind your punch. This will leave you vulnerable to counters within all three martial arts disciplines.