Many great boxing coaches and trainers consider the jab the most important punch in boxing.
The jab is a non-commital punch used as range finder, a defensive tool, a probe for finding openings and a way to set up your strongest shots.
It’s a fast and non-telegraphic, but the problem is that the conventional jab is not very powerful. Sure, it’ll still chip teeth, bloody noses, put your opponent back on his heels, but rarely knock him out.
So how can you make your jab more powerful?
Here are 3 ways expert kickboxing coach Ritchie Yip advocates using when you want to put a little more ‘OOMPHF’ behind your jab…
- Make sure your jab is delivered with proper structure,
- Land your jab slightly before your foot if stepping foward
- Occasionally use a false lead
Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail…
1, The Structure of a Powerful Jab
Many people deliver the jab in a flicking backhand motion, sometimes even throwing it up from the level of the waist. While this can be a fast punch it’s telegraphic and not very powerful.
But if your joints are properly lined up when you throw the jab then that punch will be much stiffer. When you land it and your arm doesn’t buckle then your opponent will feel like he’s run into the end of a 2×4.
Proper alignment in this case means that your hand, elbow, and shoulder are all in the same vertical plane. This allows your body to create, and absorb, much more force.
Proper structure is the difference between pushing a fridge with your arms in a powerful position in front of you vs. pushing it with the back of your hand while you’re twisting your body and facing the wrong way. One way will effectively push the fridge, and the other way won’t move the fridge and risk injuring you.
Incidentally proper structure also makes the punch much harder to see, less telegraphic, and harder to react to.
It’s harder to see the jab when your structure is correct because he now can’t see the lateral movement of your forearm. His only clue that there’s a punch inbound for his face is that your fist is growing in size, which is much harder to see than the other clues a poorly executed jab gives.
2, Landing the Hand Before the Foot to Amplify the Jab
In his book Championship Fighting world heavyweight boxing champion Jack Dempsey talked about the power of the “falling step”.
The falling step is a lurch of your body forward, as if you were falling, which puts power behind your punch. This was contrary to a school of thinking at the time that you should never move your feet when you were punching.
Decades later, in the Tao of Jeet Kune Do, Bruce Lee, drawing heavily from Jack Dempsey, emphasised basically the same thing when he wrote…
“When advancing to attack the lead foot should not land before the fist makes contact or the body weight will end up on the floor instead of behind the punch. – Bruce Lee”
So take a small step forward when you’re punching to make your jab more powerful.
But don’t take a step forward… plant your foot… and then punch.
Instead take a step forward… land your punch… and then, only a fraction of a second later, plant your foot.
This tiny separation of your fist’s impact and your foot’s impact will make sure that you’re hitting your opponent with the momentum of your entire body, and not just the momentum of your arm.
3, Using the False Lead to Power the Jab with Body Rotation
Body rotation, as you probably know, is the key to throwing truly heavy punches.
And the conventional jab is weak, in part, because it’s delivered with the hand that’s already forward, which makes it hard to get much body rotation behind the punch.
But you can temporarily create the ability to throw the jab with significant body rotation by using what Ritchie calls a false lead.
A false lead is when you bring your rear shoulder forward, almost as if you had just finished throwing a right cross.
(You can set up the false lead by bobbing and weaving into it, or by throwing a punch with your rear hand and not immediately retracting your body back into its normal fighting position.)
This false lead position now allows you to really twist your body hard as you unwind back to your regular stance and throw that left jab with a TON more power than a jab normally has.
It’s an unconventional tactic and you can’t use it too often or your opponent will take advantage of it. But used sparingly it’s a great tool to mix things up, really confuse the other guy, and land a really stiff jab to his nose!!
I hope you found these 3 tips useful. There aren’t as many techniques in boxing and kickboxing as there are in grappling per se, but that makes the details, variations and refinements even more powerful.
The devil, as they say, is in the details!
Go forth and unleash your jab!
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