The MMA Jab

From the Basic Fighting Stance: feet shoulder width apart, hands up, chin down, elbows protecting the ribs.

The Basic Stationary Jab extends straight from the chin towards the target with no wind up or preparatory movements. Keep your arms loose and relaxed. As your fist moves away from your jaw, your left shoulder should raise to protect your chin.

At the last moment your fist should turn over so that your palm faces the floor. As you hit the target tense up your fist and focus the force into your first two (your two largest) knuckles. Notice how Khru Yamasaki has “Sandwiched” his chin between his left shoulder and right fist.

The Jab returns on the same LINE as it traveled to the target. Be sure to keep your left shoulder raised as you bring your fist STRAIGHT back to its starting point. Avoid a circular or “rowing” motion on the return stroke as this leaves you open for any number of counter strikes.

The Jab is completed only after you’ve safely returned to your ready position.

Whether you’re a Boxer, Kickboxer, Muay Thai Practitioner or MMA Fighter, the Jab is an elemental part of the striking game.

It is the stinging bee immortalized in Ali’s timeless prose. A lightning fast, rapid fire, multirole, weapon, that in the hands of a qualified artist, can tattoo a face as quick as a convict’s pen gun.

Sugar Ray Leonard was said to have used numerous different types of jab to seal his place in history as one of Boxing’s Greats and that is perhaps one the qualities that makes the Jab so versatile and important. Many times, the Jab sets the stage for more sophisticated, and committed attacks.

It tests for weaknesses in your opponent’s guard. It probes for information on range and reflexive responses.

It’s like a special forces recon unit that reports back to central command and lets it know the number and strength of the enemy and what tools would be best utilized to destroy them.

But the Jab is not merely an information gatherer.

Like a hollow point 9 mm, some may say it lacks knock down power, but when well placed, the Jab has stunned if not stopped many a prize fighter. Ali put so many rounds on target during a bout against Patterson that Patterson had to take a knee from the sheer number of blows.

Tyson and Morrison have won fights outright with stiff Jabs used in isolation to incapacitate their opponents.

In the realm of MMA, the Jab is ideal as it leaves you less vulnerable to a takedown.

Dominic Cruz and Miguel Torres are both very talented at using it in this capacity, and with the smaller gloves, it has more potential to cause cuts and swelling.

BJ Penn was very effective in using the Jab to disrupt Sean Sherk’s offensive game plan.

This simple little tool can be used in so many ways and across so many different combative platforms. One would do well to study it in depth and to develop one’s own Jab.

The punch itself is relatively easy to learn, but how to set it up and perfect it’s various attributes (speed, snap, power, range, information gathering and intelligence) takes time and dedication.

Having a qualified coach/instructor to help you along the way can shave years off it’s development.

Best of luck to you as you explore and learn to appreciate this energy saving, high yield punch. Until next time, train smart, work hard, be excellent to each other and happy hunting!

8 replies
  1. Kyle
    Kyle says:

    Excellent teaching tool for breaking down the jab. a punch that seems so straight-forward has many technical aspects that cannot be ignored. i need to incorporate some of those drills into class. thanks!

  2. Kiser
    Kiser says:

    I love this article. I have been using my jab more ever since we shot this.

    The most effective jab neutralizer I have been running into is lateral head movement (Paul Roberts and Kensei Sato) and the shot under the jab (also compliments of Paul Roberts). I don’t mind the shot too much because I like working from the guard and Yamasaki taught me an awesome way to deal the lateral head movement. Spraying the jab off center line has been working like a charm. Thanks Kru!


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