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How To Use a Jab In Boxing

What Is the Purpose of a Jab?

A jab is a versatile and powerful punch with many uses. First, learn how to throw a jab. Follow along with FightCamp trainer Tommy Duquette (link to video), or read about how to perfect your punch (link to article). Once you've gotten the basic technique down, you can use your jab in a combination to create a plan to defeat your opponent in the ring.

The Offensive vs. Defensive Jab

An offensive jab delivers power to hit or knock out the opponent. A defensive jab is designed to set the opponent up for failure in his or her counter-punches to you. Anytime you throw a jab, you should practice good technique and form. However, a defensive jab requires less power and force than an offensive jab. When you throw an offensive jab, leverage your body weight to create a powerful punch.

How To Jab Offensively

To jab offensively, focus on using your weight efficiently to generate power. Imagine power coming up all the way from your toes into your legs, shoulders, and then fist as you activate your calf and thigh muscles, tighten your core, and throw your jab. Rotate and extend your arm to hit the bag or opponent hard, and snap back quickly.

How To Jab Defensively

To jab defensively, try one of these techniques:

1. Jab To Measure Distance

One of the best uses of the jab is to measure your reach. Throw a quick and soft jab to practice extending your arm completely. See how close you are to your opponent, and adjust your stance and position accordingly to make sure that you can reach your opponent with a full arm extension to deliver a powerful punch.

2. Jab To Apply Pressure

Nonstop jab or jab-cross combinations are a surefire way to wear down your opponent early in the match. Throw nonstop punches at your opponent to disrupt their strategic thought process or to provoke a counter-punch. This technique helps you read your opponent's plan and pick up the pace of a fight.

3. Jab To Intimidate

Throwing a strategic jab can also help you establish dominance in the ring. Throw a few light jabs to make your opponent flinch or lower their guard. Naturally, an opponent will react to the jab by focusing their line of sight and defensive posture to the incoming jab. Use the jab to distract your opponent and set yourself up to land a power punch.

4. Feint The Jab

You can manage the same effect by feinting a jab - pretending to throw a jab but not actually landing the punch. This, too, will distract and disrupt the opponent long enough to land an effective power combination.

5. Jab To Buy Time

If you are tired, preparing for a combination, or needing a break from your opponent's punches, jab to create space. Throw a full extension to push your opponent back and create distance between you so that you can take a second to reset for your next move.

6. Jab To Break a Defensive Stance

If your opponent is locked down in a strong defensive stance, use a jab to break down their guard. Shuffle around to throw a jab and disrupt their guard. When they lower their guard, respond with a combination of power punches.

Once you feel comfortable with the jab, continue to practice throwing combinations and dodging punches with a FightCamp workout like this one (link to workout).


The Author: Tommy Duquette is the Co-Founder and Head of Content at FightCamp. He is a former US Boxing Team member with 136 fights under his belt and qualified for the 2012 Olympic trials as the #2 seed. He has 18 years experience training clients in boxing and fitness.