Boxing like any other fighting art has a series of techniques that help to define and distinguish it from other arts. Some forms have completely different techniques and or tools, some tend to borrow from each other but may have put a slightly different spin on things. Today I want to talk about the first punch taught in many schools of Boxing, it is called “The Jab”. You are likely to find a few different approaches to this punch and maybe a few different explanations as to why it is such an important tool in the ‘tool chest’ of boxing techniques. Before I get into my own thoughts here, I want to first say that anything written about Boxing by me, is information simply being passed on. Information that I have learned along the way but by no means do I claim to be an authority on. People have been doing this since way before I was born, and I’m positive will be doing it for many years to come. History has proven that. Many of my favorite fighters of all time are known for the effective use of their jabs. Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali, and Sugar Ray Leonard, are only a few but they all have so much in common an entire book could be written about these three. Three different generations of world champion boxers and all three of them were known for their incredible use of the jab, and how they followed up that jab with lighting fast combinations and slick defensive moves. They all had knockout power in both hands. Undeniably three of the greatest fighters and world champions of all time.
The leader of the pack!!
I would like to refer to the jab as the leader of the pack. In most cases the jab is the punch that sets up other punches, it leads the way per se. On an anatomical and positioning level, the Jab is the lead punch because it comes from the lead side of the body. The lead side of the body is the side of the body that is closest to your target, the side of the body that is placed in front of your target / opponent. The Jab is often called the range finder because it will let you know if you are close enough to follow it up with the second punch which in most cases will be a rear cross or a lead hook or even a second jab. Many combinations of punches can thrown behind the jab. Once you have the fundamental understanding of how to use it, you can bring your own style to the jab. As an old boxing adage goes "Styles make fights".
The jab can be used offensively to set up combinations as well it can be used defensively to keep an opponent away from you by creating distance. You can use the jab to create different attacking angles, to hit different parts of the body, you can use it to deceive your opponent as to what may be coming next, the list goes on. You can double jab, even triple jab. You can use it while on the move, or in a stationary position. In short the jab has a multitude of uses. I could go into the techniques I use of executing it, but when it comes to that I can show you better than I can tell you and there's still so much I have to learn.
To simplify matters just know that in most cases a coach/trainer who teaches boxing will show a new practitioner the jab before any other punch. I myself tend to emphasize the jab a lot with my members. One of the things that make it difficult in the beginning is that for people who are right handed the jab will be thrown with the left hand. This can create a series of challenges more so on a neuromuscular level than anything thing else, but it can also create a series of challenges on a muscular endurance level as well. Traditionally the boxing stance for a right handed fighter will be to place the left side in front, for a left handed fighter the right side will be placed in front. This scenario will have that persons ‘power side’ be it right or left placed behind them. There are many reasons for this, but what I want to talk a bit about are a few of the benefits of learning how to use your non dominant side. A new practitioner will often say " How do I get more power from my jab? I'm right handed and using my right hand first feels more comfortable to me. Can I put my right side in front instead of my left, this feels weird." The answer to that will vary depending on who you talk to, but I often say " Let's learn it this way first, and once we get that down then we can play with switching up your lead side." Many great fighters have done so quite effectively so this is not out entirely out of the question. Yet again different coaches will do things differently.
On a functional level learning how to use your non-dominant side can help to create balance, and stability as well as learning how to transmit force equally in your body. As I stated in a previous blog, the legs and the stance have a very important role in establishing stability and force production. The core muscles of the abdominal unit actually have the most important role in creating stability and force production from the hips through the extremities. There is always more going inside the body than the naked eye can see when it comes to performing even the simplest of physical tasks. The same holds true for a good boxing match or sparring session. So although a jab might seem like a simple punch it has myriad of benefits for not only the fighter but as well for the exercise enthusiast who may choose to use boxing as a way of getting in better shape. Over time and dedicated practice that jab will start to feel more natural, it will get faster and stronger. The more you practice it the better it will get, and the more you will understand why it is so important to the "sweet science" that is known as Boxing.
Learn to use your jab, and learn it well.
Coach Djinji Brown.