Fundamentals: How to Throw a Jab

Importance of Fundamentals

If you want to hit like a champion, you must train like champion. Whether you’re a beginner, amateur, or a pro, technique is the key to safety, efficiency, endurance and power. Proper technique and mastering the fundamentals will allow you to land your punches at the right time, from the right distance, and from the right angle, so you don’t get hit in the process. It can take years to master, but if you focus exclusively on fundamentals for just a few months, you will pick up advanced movements quickly and easily. This is the core of the sweet science and it starts with the fundamentals.

The Jab

“Show me a fighter with a good jab, and I will show you a fighter that is hard to beat!”-Charlie Shipes (Trainer and #1 Welterweight Contender, 1967)

The jab is the most important punch in the sport. It is the closest and most direct punch to your opponent and should be the punch you throw at least 70% of the time. Use the Jab to:

  • Manage the distance between you and your opponent
  • Defend yourself while scoring points
  • Keep your opponent off balance
  • Distract your opponent from their strategy
  • Set your opponent up for power punches and combos

He who controls the distance controls the fight. Mastering the jab is key to controlling the battlefield.

Types of Jabs

  • Fundamental (see below)
  • Power Jab
  • Double Jab
  • Flicking Jab
  • Jab to the Body
  • Slip Jab
  • Pointed Jab
  • Counter Jab
  • Reverse Jab

In this article we will breakdown the fundamentals of a Basic Fundamental Jab.

Jab Execution

Contrary to first glance, the majority of muscles involved in the jab are not in the arm- it starts in the legs. Think of the arm as a delivery tool, like a bat, that delivers the power generated from the rest of your body. It is a full body punch that starts with a transfer of energy from the rear foot, through the legs, back, core, shoulders, and eventually your knuckles. Watch the video carefully to witness the transfer of energy from the ground, through the core, out of the fist and into the target.

  1. Start with your fist directly in front of your lead shoulder and your elbow tucked into your ribs.
  2. As you extend your hand, imagine yourself reaching out to shake someone’s hand, and upon impact, you twist at the elbow while turning your palm down so that it is facing the ground.
  3. To add power to the jab, pop your front knee forward just a little and push off the ball of your rear foot to advance forward.
  4. As soon as the punch lands, recoil the fist and bring your rear foot back under your rear shoulder.
  5. Always try to maintain perfect 50/50 balance in both feet while doing this.

In the animation of George throwing a jab below, you will see the arrows showing the force being applied into the ground. Notice the jab is landed a split second before the front foot hits the ground.

How to throw a jab MGH demonstration

Jab Strategy

The jab can be useful in a number of different ways; here are the 3 main ones:

  1. Because it is the closest punch to your opponent, the jab is the best way to set up other punches and maintain proper distance between you and your opponent.
  2. You can use it as a counter move when your opponent is being aggressive in order to make them stop and restart.
  3. It is best to maintain a distance that keeps you about 1 inch from your opponent’s fully extend jab at all times so they must take a step forward in order to hit you.

Fighters to Study

In order to become the best, you need to learn from the best. Check out the 5 boxers we recommend modeling your jab after.

  1. Joe Louis
  2. George Foreman Sr.
  3. Larry Holmes
  4. Muhammad Ali
  5. Oscar De La Hoya

Other Punches: Straight Right Hand, Left Hook, Right Uppercut

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