Basic Punching Techniques: The Jab
The jab is the simplest and most useful punching technique that’s in common use in boxing, martial arts, MMA, and bare knuckle fighting.
Although it’s not a power punching technique, it is an essential punch because, without it, you’ll rarely land any of the stronger punches. And furthermore, without the jab you won’t be able to get into range to throw the close-range punches like uppercuts or hooks (unless you’re facing an absolute beginner).
How to learn the jabAssuming you are right-handed, stand in a comfortable fighting stance with your left side forward.
The jab is a fast, accurate punch, but it lacks true power. Your goal as a beginner should be to work on your conditioning and speed. Don’t try to punch like a sledgehammer.
When you start learning how to punch, your shoulders will get sore. This is natural. If you feel soreness in your elbows, you are injured and you must stop punching until you heal. When you are ready to begin training again, make sure you learn proper punching technique so you don’t re-injure yourself. You should never feel elbow pain from boxing.
- Start with your left fist near or touching your chin.
- Practice rotating your shoulder so your elbow points out towards your target. No need to move your fist at this point.
- The shoulder rotation is where the power in the jab comes from, so get accustomed to it.
- You should almost feel like your shoulder is coming up and hitting your ear as your upper arm extends forward.
- Next, add the punch. As your shoulder rotates, allow your fist to travel out towards the target.
- You want to feel the power and speed coming from your shoulder, not your elbow.
- Either pronate your fist as you punch, or punch with a vertical fist. It’s your choice, but most modern fighters rotate their fist until it’s fully pronated. If you use a vertical fist, punch with the three knuckles on the little-finger side of your hand. If you pronate your fist, you have a choice between those three smaller knuckles, or the two large knuckles.
- Keep your thumb under your fingers. Never put your thumb inside your fist or allow it to flap around loosely. You can break your thumb very easily if you don’t use good punching technique.
- As you finish the punch, don’t allow your elbow to hyperextend. Either finish the punch at 95% extension, or hit a punching bag. Protect your elbow joint and avoid tendonitis and/or ligament damage.
- At full extension, your chin should be hidden behind your shoulder. Remember to always keep your head down and your chin tucked in.
- As soon as you complete the punch, snap it back to your jaw. This is essential for defense and to avoid being counter punched.
- Later, as you get better at the jab, you can start the punch from almost anywhere. But it’s important to always finish it at your jawline to avoid getting countered.
So there you have it. The jab is the most basic punching technique and you should master it before moving on to serious study of some other punch.