When most people think about ways to destroy an opponent, they think of killer hooks, powerful uppercuts, and a solid cross. But as you wind up to put power in these punches, they can be easy to see coming, and you need something to distract and set up the haymaker.
Enter The Jab.
If you want to knockout your opponents, work on your jab. This may seem strange considering the jab isn’t a powerful punch. However, it allows you to consistently work your opponent and expose openings in their guard that lead to that fight-ending-punch.
But the jab is much more than a setter-upper. Its versatility and effectiveness make it the most important punch to learn in boxing.
Learn how to use the jab effectively, and watch your wins pile up.
Why It’s Important
There are several reasons a good jab makes a big difference.
1) Surprise Opponents
Any decent boxer can defend a single punch. Try throwing one punch at a time, and your opponent will defend each punch like he saw it coming from a mile away.
You need to mix things up with something that leaves him guessing. A jab is a perfect way to do this.
A strong jab can stun, or even knockout an opponent. Although KO jabs aren’t very common, you do see jabs that daze boxers.
Once a boxer is dazed, his defenses are usually down and you can catch him with a few quick punches to end the fight early.
3) Set-Up a Knockout
When you throw a jab the right way, your body should twist to the right slightly (if you’re in orthodox stance). If the second punch in your combination comes from your right hand, it will be loaded with power.
That extra momentum you have can give you enough power to knockout an opponent, even if he has an iron jaw. This is why the simple jab-cross is such an effective combination.
4) Get in Range
The jab also allows you to get in range of your opponent, so you can follow up with other punches.
This is especially useful when you’re feeling out an opponent in the early minutes of a fight. You can stay at a distance, and then use the jab to propel yourself closer to him.
Types of Jabs and How to Use Them
There are a few different ways to throw the jab.
1) Tapping Jab
You can throw it as a quick tap, without much power. This is very effective if you’re trying to keep your opponent guessing.
If you throw a few quick tapping jabs to the face causing your opponent to cover-up, you might be able to follow up with a big body shot and do some serious damage.
The tapping jab can also be used to make space. When an opponent wants to dirty box or go for the clinch more than you like, use a tapping jab and keep your arm slightly extended to leave more space between yourselves.
2) Powerful Jab
A power jab is a great option to stun your opponent. Throwing a power jab followed by your favorite combination may result in a quick victory for you.
To throw a power jab, you need to use your body more when you punch. Rotate your hips and shoulders as you throw the punch, and feel the power unleash.
Another great way to get power into the jab is to take a small step with your lead foot as you punch.
3) Body Jab
You don’t see a lot of body jabs, but they’re a useful tool. Your opponent may be expecting your head jab, so if you change it up and throw one to the body, he won’t be expecting it.
You can also use the body jab to keep him alert. It will make your opponent aware that he needs to protect his body as well as his head, which may produce an opening for you to plant one on his chin.
4) Counter Jab
When your opponent is overly aggressive, a counter jab can stop him in his tracks. The trick to this jab is timing.
As your opponent starts to throw his jab, use your right hand to parry it to the side. It doesn’t need to be a big motion – you want to move his jab just enough to the side that it won’t hit you. Immediately after deflecting his punch, throw a jab of your own. He’ll be exposed, and you should get a clean shot at his face.
Final Words on the Jab
Often beginners get the wrong impression about the jab. They reason that they’re only being taught the jab because they lack the skill to perform the trickier punches. Nothing could be further from the truth, and as you now know, this simple punch is an essential part of boxing.
Professionals and novices alike should use the jab like a Swiss Army Knife by taking advantage of its multiple uses. The jab can do everything from saving you when you’re in danger, to helping you win a fight.
Knowing when and how to use your jab is one of the most important things any boxer can learn.