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It’s our opinion that the fundamentals of boxing begin with the learning of proper footwork and stance; correct stance and footwork will set the foundation for anything and everything you do.
Once you have your footwork and stance down you can learn how to throw a jab the right way – the way that can overwhelm your opponent and give you the opening you need to throw, and land, harder punches.
While we know it’s difficult to learn how to throw a jab from an article, it can be helpful to see the mechanics in written form as a way to remember the steps. With all punching techniques, the only true teacher is practice.
You should spend a lot of time at home, or with your trainer, throwing these punches over and over. We recommend practicing on a heavy bag – check out our best heavy bag round-up here.
Let’s start by remembering something very important. Landing punches is far from being the only thing you need to do in order to win a boxing tournament or match. One of the most difficult and most critical aspects of the sport that you mustn’t ignore is your defense. If you don’t want to get hit you need a solid defense, and you should keep your hands up as much as possible.
So, to begin, ensure you are in a proper stationary stance. If you have a mirror, this will help ensure you get this bit right. Your chin should be tucked down, and your left hand should be in line with your left temple, ensuring that it’s a bit further out in front. Your right hand will be in a position that is similar, but further back and more flush with the right side of your head. If your angle is correct, your left hand will be further forward than your right.
One thing that many people forger is to keep elbows by your side; this will help protect you from big body shots. If your elbows are by your sides, and your hands in the correct place, you opponent should fail to land anything, even when throwing punches from all sides.
A great way to check this is to get someone to put on a pair of mitts and allow them to slap you on both sides. In this situation, it’s extremely easy to become tense. But, if you manage to stay relaxed and in the correct position, you will be able to absorb all the punches thrown at you, along the back of your gloves and your arms. (If you’re looking for some great gloves, we recommend these Everlast gloves available on Amazon).
Learning How to Throw a Jab
Once you are comfortable with the technique you need to maintain this position naturally, you’ve mastered the hard bit. The movement is actually relatively simple when compared with what you’ve just mastered. All you need to do when it comes to the movement is extend your elbow in a punching motion, making sure you keep your arm out in a straight path and that you don’t swing it out.
As well as this, you need to ensure that the palm of your hand is pointing down towards the floor when you first strike the target. All of this should occur in one motion that remains fluid throughout the punch. Keeping your wrist locked, your fist will move away from your body, and your arm will turn inwards; this will allow your palm to face downwards at all times.
If you perform this motion slowly, pausing as you go when your arm is extended as far as it can be, you will find that you chin should still be tucked down and is still protected by your shoulder.
When you bring your fist back, your aim is to end back up in the same position you started in. The motion should feel natural, and your first should end up near the left temple of your head.
If you are starting to feel overwhelmed with so many details involved in throwing a punch, I found that focusing purely on keeping my elbow as tight to my side as possible was sufficient for throwing a good jab when I was still in the learning process.
Anything else you learn to put into practice after this can be seen as a way of fine-tuning your punch. Having said that, however, no two people learn the same; we are all unique in the way we learn to throw a jab. So, if you feel you are not progressing or you are consistently having problems, advice from a boxing trainer and one-on-one sessions or sessions could be beneficial to you.
Important Points to Keep in Mind
If you are new to boxing, it’s an impediment that you keep with the fundaments, the learning curve being a gradual one that can’t be rushed. In order of importance:
- Your stance. Remember to keep your knees bent, to stand on the balls of your feet that should be kept slightly apart, and to keep your body on an angle. All this should become natural to you and you should not feel stressed or strained whilst keeping this position.
- Footwork. Never have your feet together; they should always be kept slightly apart, but not so much so that you impair your mobility. Your footwork will allow you to be solid.
- HANDS UP AT ALL TIMES. It doesn’t matter if you are still fat away from sparring, keeping your hands up will ensure that you are always well prepared. You will find it difficult at the start to keep your hands up, but it provides you with an excellent base and some great conditioning that will ensure you continue to build your skill set.
- The Jab. Always keep your elbow in, bringing your hands back to where they first started. It’s really easy to forget this and to bring your fist back lower than where it started; it’s a problem that everyone battles with. If you can get this part mastered, it’s safe to say that you are doing really well.
It’s not too uncommon to see fighters go on to professional levels, where they start out well, get comfortable, and then experience a decline in their performance. The reason why this quite often happens is that they develop their own individual style, which over time compromised the fundamentals of the sport.
How to Increase Power and Speed of your Jab
This really isn’t something that you should start worrying about until you become more advanced in boxing. As you learn all the proper techniques and become comfortable using them, your power and speed will increase naturally.
Many people presume that lifting weights and bulking up can be beneficial to this process. The truth is that when this logic is applied to boxing, it is rarely true, especially as in boxing you are supposed to match up and fight with people in the same weight class as yourself.
But, if you are on the lookout for something a little extra, you could try some shadow boxing with very light weights; 1 pound in each hand is enough. This will provide a little more conditioning and will ensure you stay focused without cheating.
If you focus on your technique, the conditioning will flow naturally, and before long you will become a true striker. So, remember. Technique, technique, technique.
Once you’ve mastered the jab, you can use it to set up many other punches including the right cross or left hook. These are punches that can help you win – so spend some time learning the jab followed by other punches for some effective combos!