If I were to ask you, which punch is thrown most frequently in boxing, your answer would definitely be the jab. The jab is widely regarded as the most important punch in boxing, but why is that?
Well, a solid jab is the fundamental pillar of a strong offense and defense. Offensively, it helps you set up other punches, frustrate your opponent, and find shots, whereas defensively, it helps you create, maintain, or close distance and control the rhythm of the fight and your opponent.
Many legendary fighters have shown the importance of the jab in a well-rounded game. Muhammad Ali is known to have had one of the best jabs in boxing. He established his entire skillset around his quick jab, which allowed him to keep floating like a butterfly, while his jab stung like a bee.
However, when learning how to box, I can tell you that most people tend to focus on improving other, more powerful punches, whereas the jab seems to take a back seat. Remember, that your game is incomplete, until you learn how to use the jab, and incorporate it into our fights. So, today we are going to take a deep dive into how you can throw the perfect jab.
The first combination that you learn in a boxing gym is the jab-straight. The jab is a quick punch with your lead hand, whereas, the straight is thrown by the rear hand, and is supposed to have more power.
Now, in my opinion both punches are an essential part of any boxers game and can be used in a variety of different ways. You should use the jab to set up punches and to gauge the distance between you and your opponent and only when you have an opening do you throw the straight with intention (Bad intention!) lol.
The jab is also used to obstruct your opponent’s vision while you pivot out to set up better angles for the straight.
The jab is quick and easier to land, but it lacks the power required to really rock an opponent, on the other hand, the straight has the power, but if it is thrown at the wrong time, you can put yourself out of position and leave yourself vulnerable to a counter. Therefore, it is important to pair the jab and straight together, and throw both at the right time.
The basic jab:
As the name suggests, this is the simple, Vanilla jab that every boxer throws. It is a quick punch from your lead hand, whether from the still position or with a forward step. A basic jab is thrown from a traditional boxing stance, with a high and strong guard, protecting your chin.
The basic jab serves as a setup punch to get more punishing shots in, and a solid simple jab can distract and frustrate your opponent.
This light and super quick jab is thrown in succession on the opponent’s guard to fluster them and obstruct their vision while you either move to the side to take the outside step, or it can help you set up other stronger shots.
These quick jabs force your opponent to raise their guard, leaving the body open for strong punches, which further set up shots to the head.
The backstep jab:
The backstep jab is a defensive maneuver, which allows you to stop a charging opponent in their tracks. Though this jab doesn’t carry much power, since it is thrown while moving backward, it can give you the essential seconds that you need to pivot out and get out of your opponent’s range.
Moreover, though this jab doesn’t have a lot of power, it can sting your opponent, because when they are charging at you, their guard isn’t as strong, and their forward momentum adds to the sting of the backstep jab.
The power jab:
The power jab or the stiff jab isn’t just a probing or distance gauging strike, it is thrown with intent and power. Granted it cant be as snappy as a simple jab, but it can really surprise your opponent and snap their head back.
The power is generated by taking a forward step with the jab, hence throwing your body weight into it. However, if you intend to use the power jab, it is important to practice it, because after pivoting your body into the strike, you can put yourself out of position, without any good ways to follow up, especially if the jab misses.
The power jab can disrupt your opponent’s rhythm and even put them down if it is thrown perfectly.
The body jab:
Most new boxers end up headhunting, however, it is important to remember that shots to the body are as important as strikes to the head. Though vicious body hooks and uppercuts are really exciting, very few boxers consistently employ the body jab.
Not only does the body jab set your opponent up for better shots to the head, but it can also shred away at your opponent’s gas tank.
The Up jab:
The up jab is thrown from a position when your lead hand is dropped low. Now, conventional boxing wisdom says that you should keep your guard high at all times, but looking at greats like Ali, or the shoulder guard of Mayweather, we can see that if done right, you can have a very sound defense, while keeping your lead hand low.
The benefit of the up jab is that it is difficult to see. It comes up from below, and by the time your opponent notices it, it is already too late.
Another variation of the up jab is the screw shot, this jab also comes up, but you step into the shot, and turn your hand at the end of the punch so that your palm faces upwards. It is somewhere between a traditional jab and a corkscrew uppercut and can carry quite a bit of power.
This is a very important question, which can determine your entire boxing style. Now, according to conventional boxing wisdom, you should keep your power hand at the back and lead with your weaker hand. This makes perfect sense since it allows you to generate more power, to compensate for the cushion effect of boxing gloves.
However, if you look at boxers like Vasyl Lomachenko, who is right-hand dominant but stands as a southpaw, we can see that keeping your stronger hand in the lead can also have its benefits. This makes your jab more accurate, and strong, whereas you can generate more power in your weaker hand as well since it is winded up.
So, the answer to the question is that the hand you choose to jab with truly depends upon your style. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, however, in almost every boxing gym, you will be promoted to use the conventional boxing stance, with your weaker hand forward and lead hand at the rear.
To make your jab powerful, you need to understand what powerful means in this context. It isn’t only reliant on generating more force with your jab but making it more effective. A powerful jab is accurate, fast, and not telegraphed.
So, here are some tips that will help you develop a stronger jab.
Do shadow boxing with weights:
Shadow Boxing is one of the most common exercises in boxing, and it can be really helpful in building your form and speed. If you want to increase your punching speed and power, you should start shadow boxing with weights.
This makes your hands feel light and allows you to build the specific back and shoulder muscles that are involved in a jab.
Don’t telegraph your jabs:
Most beginners make the mistake of telegraphing their punches, in an effort to make their jabs stronger and faster, they load it, which in reality has the opposite impact. Moreover, when your jab is loaded, it is easier for your opponent to see, and they can miss it, parry it, or even counter it.
So, to make your jab more powerful, you need to avoid telegraphing it. Throw your jab from your guard without cocking it, and start using feints to hide your jab. Remember that it isn’t the most powerful punch that knocks your opponent out, it is the push that they don’t see coming.
Add different types of jabs to your arsenal:
The jab is the most versatile tool in your arsenal, and you should incorporate different variations into your game to make your jab more effective and powerful. The jab can manipulate your opponent’s guard and create incredible openings for your power hand, therefore by using different kinds of jabs at the right time, you can add a lot of diversity to your attack, and become more unpredictable.
You should try to throw jabs from different angles, use multiple jabs in succession to fluster your opponent, and block their view while you move to a better position. Use stiff power jabs to disrupt your opponent’s rhythm, and discourage their forward momentum.
Adding a variety of jabs to your boxing arsenal allows you to become a more defensively and offensively complete fighter.
Improve your accuracy:
It doesn’t matter how powerful or fast your job is if you aren’t hitting the target, therefore, it is important to improve your accuracy and precision. As the common saying goes, “ precision beats power, timing beats speed”
So, you should find a small target on the heavy bag, it could be a scratch in the leather, a part of the logo, or anything else. Then you should try to hit this target consistently from different distances, and different angles. This can significantly improve the accuracy of your jab.
Speed bag drills can also be very effective in improving your accuracy.
So, to sum it all up, the jab is the cornerstone of your boxing game, however, since it isn’t the most exciting punch, most beginners don’t give it the importance that it deserves. The jab can be used in multiple ways, both offensively and defensively.
A good jab can frustrate your opponent, and disrupt their rhythm, moreover, it is the punch that almost every combination starts with, so having a good jab can make every other punch in your arsenal more effective.
Depending on your style, the jab can be thrown in different ways. You can keep both your strong or weak hand in front for the jab, and both styles have their advantages, and flaws. However, conventionally, most boxers keep their weaker hand in front.
So there are many factors that go into a powerful jab, and we hope that reading this article helps you improve yours.