How to Throw a Jab Punch

In stance, the jab is thrown by punching with the lead hand (left for orthodox stance and right for southpaw). It’s the first punch you learn, but like anything in martial arts it takes a lifetime to master.

The jab is as versatile as a punch can be. Below I’ll outline different uses.

This is how the basic jab is thrown:

How to Throw a Jab for Boxing, Muay Thai, Kickboxing, and MMA

  1. Line up your lead shoulder with your target

    By aligning your shoulder, and therefore your punch, with the target you are ensuring that you maintain balance while striking. This allows you to better fire straight down the line.

  2. At the same time, your lead foot should be pointed toward the target.

    The idea is to hit the target as fast as possible without compromising yourself.

  3. Begin to snap your hand forward down the line

    Staying loose and shift your weight slightly forward for power.

  4. Connect with your target

    Your arm should extend to about 90-95% out and connect with your target. Then start returning to its original position. DO NOT lock out!! Locking out your elbow will not give you more power and could cause injury.

  5. Protect your chin

    As you jab, your lead shoulder should come up to protect your jaw. Your chin should be tucked down to prevent a knockout.

  6. Add some torque

    At the end of your extension, your fist should rotate and be parallel with the floor, tightening as you connect. This allows you to punch faster than staying tight and rigid throughout the strike.

  7. Bring your hand back

    It’s important that your hand is returned to where it was before striking. You want to be able to attack again or defend if needed.

Uses of the Jab

Jab to Gather Information

It is a go-to technique for gathering intelligence. A critical aspect of combat is the ability to read and predict your opponent. Jabs test your opponent’s guard, his understanding of range, and his reflexive movements. If you understand your opponent better, you’re likely to have an easier time fighting him.

Jab to Disrupt

The jab has a profound ability to stop the offensive game of your opponent and break their rhythm. When an opponent comes into range, a stiff jab can make him think twice. Once the jab hits your opponent, a chain combo will be much more unlikely because of the off-balancing you’ve just delivered.

Jab to Frustrate You Opponent

There’s nothing more frustrating than fighting someone who you can’t hit, and is also constantly hitting you. This looks good on the 10-point must scoring system. When frustrated, your opponent is that much more likely to overcommit and leave himself vulnerable to your other attacks.

Jab to Hurt

The jab is not your most powerful punch, but it can still be delivered with power. This is especially true if you can make your opponent come forward into your jab. There are other subtle tricks which you can do to make the jab more powerful, but we’ll save that for later.

Jab for Efficiency

The jab lets you use minimal energy while remaining extremely effective.

Jab to set up Other Attacks

This is the jab’s most important offensive use. Every time you get a hit on your opponent, it pushes the head back, off-balances, and blinds them for a split second. These split seconds allow you to set up powerful strikes. Get that combo in and go for that headkick knockout.

More jab tips

Don’t load up your punches. Don’t pull back your punches before you fire them for power. This is also called telgraphing your punch and it’s predictable. If you don’t land a punch when you’ve intended to, that punch is useless.

Don’t overextend yourself just to land the punch. Your head should not go past your knees as you throw the strike. Anytime you overextend, you are more vulnerable and off-balanced.

Use your legs. Drive through to generate more power.

Hopefully this has been helpful and you learned something new. Check out more techniques and get back to training.