No, I’m not referring to the inoculation against flu or a childish poke in the ribs.
Everything in life necessitates a beginning, middle and end. Just as we must start each week with a Monday and learn to walk before we can run, it is essential to start any successful boxing journey with the humble jab.
Each and every sport has its own version of the move that will decide your fate in the ring, stadium or on the track – in basketball it’s the jump shot, cricket it’s the long throw and golf it’s the swing. The ‘jab’ is the most fundamental punch in boxing; used both on the offensive and the defensive, it’s the one punch thrown the most often, hence one that can win or lose a match.
The purpose of the jab is to slowly wear down your opponent, by keeping him away from you whilst setting yourself up for the stronger punches and eventually the winning ‘knock out’ shot.
There is so much more to the ‘jab’ than meets the eye; generally seen as the weakest shot, what many people don’t realise is it buys a player time, dictates the pace of the match and keeps your opponent on his toes.
So now we’ve established its importance, how can you ensure your jab is the best that it can be?
Start standing in the basic boxing stance, keeping your centre of gravity as low as possible. Drive forwards using power from your back foot and step forward, rotating your shoulder and punching firmly towards your opponent in a straight line. Your knuckles should rotate along with your shoulder so your hand finishes horizontally at the end of your motion, with a fully extended arm. Keeping your other hand up to guard your face, immediately return to your starting position; this move should be quick and deadly, so be sure to remain light on your feet.
Arguably the greatest boxer in history, Muhammad Ali quite literally won fights based on his jab ability. Mike Tyson and Frazier demonstrated brute strength but were often kept out of punching range by boxers using the jab, therefore never allowing them to fully capitalize on the strong punches they had the power to throw.
Smaller boxers would have difficulty utilising the jab, due to the reach differentiation, so instead would try and dodge jabs and counter, trying to get on the inside. A strong jab is difficult to get past though, regardless of size.
The crux of the matter is, strong jab = strong boxer. If you want to be a winner in the ring, be sure to start with the basic punch, master it, and in turn master the entire sport. You heard it here first…