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Jack Slack's Striking Guide - The Jab: Offensive


The jab is considered the most important weapon in scientific boxing and in a striker's arsenal, yet it is often misunderstood. The jab has become for many coaches the go to advice; if in doubt, jab - but this is more hazardous than simply covering up would be as poor, predictable jabbing often leads to easy counter punching from an experienced opponent. Watch this poor sap come out of his corner and attempt to "establish the jab" and receive a Cross Counter for his troubles:

First Punch Knockout (via TheMightyUnderground)

The key points that make effective jabbing so important to the fight game are that it:

1) Travels the shortest route as it is closest to the opponent

2) Travels inside of the opponent's rear hand, meaning it will beat almost every punch except for the opponent's jab

3) It can be thrown moving left, right, forward or back

4) It can stun the opponent and obscure his vision for the split second needed to land a follow up punch

5) It can be used as a direct counter when combined with a slip.

On offence the jab must be used extremely carefully in order to avoid eating a counter such as the one mentioned above. The brilliant boxing coach, Edwin Haislet wrote in his 1940 book "Boxing" that there are eight major counters for the jab and also listed several dozen minor counters in less detail.


Clearly jabbing blindly is a minefield.

Continues after the jump!


The majority of modern boxers and boxing coaches jab offensively in the fashion below, holding the non-punching hand tight to the chin as demonstrated by Joshua Clottey on the left below. This is fairly ineffective in MMA however due to the lack of 10oz gloves to protect the jaw line. For those convinced by the argument that keeping a fist next to the chin in MMA gloves will protect them, I refer you to Sylvia - Emelianenko; wherein Fedor's fist looped around Tim's correctly placed hand and struck him in the neck to start the only exchange of the fight. Another scenario that routinely occurs is MMA fighters simply punching through their opponent's hand, knocking it into their head with full force.

For the modern MMA fighter who seeks to improve his effectiveness with the jab it is worth looking back to the earlier days of boxing - or as many would call them, the Golden Years. Up until the 1950s boxers fought in a manner which is much more conducive with MMA style punching because they didn't have 10oz gloves to cushion blows. Jack Johnson, Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson all cut out legends in an era where the majority of poor young men made a run at boxing professionally, many of whom were huge punchers, and yet Robinson, Louis and Johnson remained relatively unharmed for most of their careers. Here is a gif of Louis in his second fight with Max Schmeling, showing how jabbing is done:



Louis fires a double jab and a lead left hook and Schmeling is unable to counter. What's more, this is the opening exchange of the rematch, Louis had lost the first by knockout due to the opening he routinely left by not pulling his jab back. Schmeling was actively looking to counter Louis' jab just as in the first match but couldn't - which goes to show how much Louis' jab had improved. Notice how he doesn't throw his left hand while pulling his right hand back to his chin, instead he covers Schmeling's lead hand with his right hand, preventing a counter jab, the quickest and most common counter. Louis also moves straight into an infighting position or pulls his jab right back when he uses it throughout the fight, preventing the right hand counter. Here is Louis doing the same again, half a minute later, just before finishing the German:



Obviously there are a lot of variables at work in this fight - Schmeling's power hand is his right hand, he stands more side on than straight on, like most fighters. Against a fighter who is fighting almost entirely forward facing, loading up a left hook with his left hand up by his chin, it is easier to simply throw jabs and right hand leads into clinches, but the majority of fighters' money punch is their right hand, making this a great technique even in modern times. Here is a drawing from Champ Thomas' hilarious 1970s book "How to be an Ass Whippin' Boxer", illustrating that even carnival boxers were familiar with good offensive jabbing:


A final point worth making is on reach. Reach is something that not all fighters are blessed with, but just as good posture will make you look taller to women, a certain fighting posture can increase your jabbing distance noticeably. By turning the lead foot inward (as Nick Diaz and his brother do) and turning almost side on when jabbing (being careful to keep the lead shoulder up to protect the chin) it is possible to add a couple of inches to ones leading distance. Here is another picture for Thomas' book to illustrate this point.


Jack Slack maintains a blog on MMA, Kickboxing and Boxing technique, history and events at and can be found on twitter as: @JackSlackMMA

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How To Be An Ass-whipping Boxer [Paperback]
Champ Thomas (Author)
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This is an oule.

by some schmuck in texas on Jan 19, 2012 12:19 PM EST up reply actions  

It's also online

Once you get past all the salesmanship, Thomas knows what he’s talking about. This is a guy who boxed 20 / 30 guys a day as a carnie, so he knew how to keep himself safe.

by Jack Slack on Jan 19, 2012 12:26 PM EST up reply actions  


Link for the book say, file not found.

by squaresphere on Jan 20, 2012 4:45 PM EST up reply actions  

The jab can do so much

I use it as a measuring stick, a stiff arm, a shield, a distraction and a power shot.

If I’m boxing a short man. I’ll use a long jab and leave it out there to keep him back.

Against a tall man, I paw with it until I find my range.

Against an aggressive fighter, I use my jab to neutralize his power hand.

When I fight a defensive fighter, I throw double and triple jab to open up holes.

If I step into my jab and really put my shoulder into it, snapping at the end of the punch, I can knock guys down with the jab.

In street fights, I’ve seen guys get their eyes closed with a few good jabs.

"I'm ready for fight. If I'm win, no win. I don't know. But, I'm ready for fight. This is my working[shrugs shoulders]" - Anderson Silva

"You'll get Lil Wayne in woman pants and like it!" - Krimson

by TheFilt on Jan 19, 2012 3:38 PM EST reply actions  

I think my favorite use is as a counter.

Like you said, to neutralize an aggressive fighter’s power hand. There’s nothing sweeter than avoiding a giant hook by jolting the guy’s chin just enough that his accuracy goes haywire and he’s wasted all that energy.

Share for share, share alike, you'll get struck each time I strike.

by gzl5000 on Jan 19, 2012 5:29 PM EST up reply actions   1 recs


Just like that.

With some guys, I have enough of a reach and speed advantage that I can land my jab before they even get their arm extended. When that happens, good night, Georgia. There’s not a lot they can do after that.

"I'm ready for fight. If I'm win, no win. I don't know. But, I'm ready for fight. This is my working[shrugs shoulders]" - Anderson Silva

"You'll get Lil Wayne in woman pants and like it!" - Krimson

by TheFilt on Jan 20, 2012 7:22 AM EST up reply actions  

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