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The Jab: The Top Punch for Boxing, MMA and Kickboxing

Updated on September 11, 2016

Mastering the Jab Sets the Stage for Mastering Stand Up Fighting

Let us reverse things a bit here and offer the answer before the question.

Here is the answer: the basic jab.

Here is the question: Which punch is the most important to learn?

The reason the answer comes before the question is because there is no debate over the answer. No matter what type of striking art you are learning, you must master the jab. Without a jab, you are not going to have much of a stand up fighting art.

The Jab is Vital

Whether you are interested in traditional boxing and kickboxing or you have an interest in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), you are going be to be required to have a great jab. Actually, there are more than one jab and quite a number of ways to deliver one. The basic mechanics of this lead hand tool won’t change though.

Generally, most instructors will point out that the jab is vital to learn because it sets up all the power shots. (When the strong side is in the rear) This is 100% true and it is a major reason why you need to learn the jab. However, there are quite a few other reasons why the jab has to be the punch you invest most of your time trying to master.

Why The Jab Is So Important

The jab is the punch you will throw the most often. The reason for this is the jab serves a significant number of different purposes. The other four punches are (mostly) used for power shots and knockouts. The jab has scores of other reasons for its use which is why it will be used more than the other ones. Since you are using the jab more than the other punches, this punch has to be the one you spend the most time developing.

The jab is a defensive tool. You can use the jab to stop an opponent’s attack or to throw something in his face to help you disengage easily. You can use it to cut over an unmatched lead’s jab and you can even direct it towards the chest to knock an opponent backwards or off balance. Generally, you can use the jab in numerous defensive ways.

The jab can be used when moving. Unlike a straight cross or an uppercut, you do not have to have to plant your weight to throw a jab. Since you can use it while moving, you are never without the ability to use it effectively as part of your arsenal.

Common Ways of Learning the Jab

There are quite a number of ways you can train the jab. The most basic way would be to work round after round on the heavy bag isolating the jab. Use single, double, and triple jabs and hit high and low. You might end up being surprised at all the various different combinations you can execute with a jab.

Training with a partner is a must. Focus mitt training can combine the jab with footwork, head movement, and other aspects of the game while also having a direct target to hit. Focus mitts are not very good for developing power. If you want to gain the benefits of working with a focus mitt and build up the power jab, use a Muay Thai pad.

Glove drills are worth working. Basically, you and your partner wear boxing gloves. You are going to take turn jabbing at each other in a prearranged set drill. For example, you can jab, your partner slips and returns a jab, you catch the jab and then fire a low jab at your partner's stomach, and your partner covers the jab with his elbow. There are scores of different gloves drills you can work. No matter what type of logical drill you learn or can come up with will work.

Jab sparring is a must. Jab sparring is sparring where only the jab is used. There can be variations of this type of sparring such as jab vs. cross or jab vs. takedown attempts and so on.

Invest the Time Learning AND Mastering the Jab

No one can master a jab overnight. A lot of time and effort is required to become skilled with its performance and delivery. Shadow boxing, bag work, focus mitt training, drilling, isolation sparring and full sparring are all required to make the jab a powerful tool.

No matter what combat sport you are involved with you need to learn the jab. Your ability to fight and fight well really is going to hinge on it.


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