As many great champions have said on numerous occasions “The right hand will take you around the block, but a good jab can take you around the world”.
Whether you like it or not, the jab is the most important punch in boxing.
Not only does it score you points if landed, but it also helps to set up other punches, break an opponents rhythm and it can also be used as a defensive weapon too!
Unfortunately, when a lot of people first start boxing, the jab is often neglected.
Despite its importance and effectiveness, a lot of people will try and focus more-so on the power punches, such as the straight right hand (AKA the “cross”) or uppercuts and hooks.
Getting It Right
Whilst knowing all of the punches used in boxing is an absolute must, my own personal belief is that first and foremost a solid base should be built.
(This being well balanced footwork and body positioning)
After building the basic foundations of footwork and positioning, the jab should then be extensively drilled and established.
This needs to be done before all of the other punches are even introduced!
I say this because, as mentioned above, the jab is the main weapon used when boxing – both offensively and defensively.
The most important thing for me, when teaching/learning boxing, is to get the basic techniques down to a T!
* Get the basics right *
Once this has been done, repetition with good form will see huge improvements over a short space of time.
Tip #1 – Turn Your Fist Over
When throwing the jab a lot of people will extend their lead arm fully, but will land the shot with their fist in a position somewhere between vertical and horizontal.
Whilst their punch may be long, it’s not as long as it potentially could be and neither is it packing as much snap or sting at the very end…
Despite several martial arts (even JKD – Bruce Lee’s “style”) telling a person to punch with their fist in a vertical position, I believe you can get a lot more out of landing the punch with your first horizontal (palm facing the floor).
If you throw the jab and then at the last second clench your first and turn it right over (so that your first two knuckles land – the bigger two) you will not only hit more solidly, but you will feel more of a snap to the punch.
By turning your fist over, you also cover more surface area with the punch and so the punch almost sprays outwards, similarly to the way a shotgun works when fired.
Tip #2 – Look Down Your Arm When You Throw the Jab
A lot of the time you’ll see a boxer throw a jab and they’re throwing their jab almost away from their centre line and with their chin somewhere in the air.
Whilst this may be a natural way for someone to defend themselves, especially if tall and “rangey”, it leaves some gaps that are just waiting to be exposed.
Not only does throwing a jab this way leave the boxer open to certain shots, but it also reduces the overall effectiveness of their jab.
When throwing a jab, you must be sure to look down your arm.
For example: I sit my lead hand on my cheek bone. From there, I look to the top of my hand and watch it all the way out until my arm is fully extended. Then I retract the shot.
In throwing your jab this way, you’re keeping a strong position, whilst getting full length and range from this important punch.
By looking down your arm, you are also re-affirming a good position as the shoulder will naturally lift and cover your chin.
Providing you’ve got the fundamentals of throwing a jab correct!
Tip #3 – Tuck the Chin
As simple as it is, many people can fall victim to what I call “The Wandering Chin”…
It sounds pretty funny and it gets pretty funny when you tell someone they’re doing it whilst they’re hitting the pads and they don’t even realise…
However, what’s not funny is when you’re sparring or competing and that chin begins to raise up a little and you get hit on it!
It takes only a slight amount of pressure, on the right part of your chin, to put you to sleep.
That’s the reality of boxing and that’s why it’s a sport to be taken seriously.
“You don’t play boxing. You really don’t. You play golf, you play tennis, but you don’t play boxing.”
Sugar Ray Leonard – 5 Weight Division World Champion
So, with all that said, make sure that you tuck your chin in when you’re boxing.
That is an absolute must and also, a very basic fundamental.
However, it must be drilled into a boxer that you keep your chin tucked in, even more-so when throwing punches.
I think this point is particularly relevant when a boxer is throwing a jab, as despite its effectiveness and the number of uses it has, a jab is fairly easy to counter.
By tucking your chin in whilst throwing the jab, you not only put yourself in a better position, but you also reduce the chances of your opponent countering you cleanly.
This is because there’s less surface area for your opponent to hit!
How Does Tucking Your Chin in Improve Your Jab?
Whilst telling you to tuck your chin in may not seem like an actual tip on making your jab a better punch, it definitely is and here’s why…
A way to improve a punch is not just by doing something to help it offensively.
It is also explaining how to help improve a punch in a defensive sense too! (Which I mentioned in the point above.)
However, tucking in the chin can also improve your jab offensively as you remain in a more compact position.
My theory is that the more compact a fighter is, the more force they can generate and put behind a shot…
So there you go – 2 for the price of 1 there!
Perfecting the Jab
There you have it, 3 basic tips to help you improve your jab.
Simple, but effective!
Never neglect the jab, nor underestimate the importance of it. Although it may not be the most eye-catching shot in the sport, it is certainly the most effective.
Fights can be nicked through having a superior jab and every great fighter has made use of an effective and well-schooled jab!
Try implementing these points into your own training and see how you get on.
If you’d be interested in any video tutorials and online boxing lessons, then please let me know in the comments section or e-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org to share your thoughts!
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