Skill Builder: The Jab – Variance and Efficacy

Skill Builder: The Jab – Variance and Efficacy

Jab Index / Types of Jab (s)

Feints / Fakes and Piston Pumping –

These are all forms of jabs that aren’t. A feint can be as simple as a shoulder or hand twitch toward the opponent with the jab hand. Fakes are often a semi-pronating lead hand not intended to land, but to, as it sounds, serve as a fake to manipulate an opponent’s defense. Piston pumping is often multiple feints or fakes and normally followed by an actual jab. This serves nicely in closing distance, or creating favorable/beneficial angles while putting your opponent to their heels via overreaction.

Defensive / Backward Jab –

Simple conceptually, difficult in execution (throwing a jab while moving backward). Like the rangefinder and framing jabs this jab creates distance in your favor and to the opponents detriment. Often times this will keep a pressure fighter off pace, and also set up 2’s on incoming fighters.

Intercepting Jab:

This is also defensive in theory, but can be used as a tremendous addition to your offense as well. GGG is one of the kings of this technique which involves using your non-jab to intercept the opponents while simultaneously throwing your own.

Power / Thai Jab –

Covers distance via explosive movement off of rear foot.
This jab propels the entire body forward via fleet feet and has power due to your torque and body weight. It can be used as a good way to break the guard up to follow with subsequent strikes.
This jab often coincides with the level change jab as your body often springs from a seated position into it.

Step Through / Switch Jab –

The switch jab, often seen in MMA by TJ Dillashaw, and in boxing by Kovalev, GGG, and Hagler, has your rear foot stepping through your front. It is usually thrown from the 30-45 degree angle in order to not square your hips to opponent, making counters easy.

This is another powerful and jab and great way to set up subsequent strikes, especially awkward angled kicks. Think of Wonderboy’s debut finisher. The Superman Jab is another good example of this sentiment / technique.

Pivot / Coil Jab –

This is a powerful jab often employed by Tyson in his prime. It is somewhere between a hook and uppercut and often without turning your punch over. There are a million names, and a ton of variance to this punch, but generally it is thrown from your coinciding hip, after a coinciding semi-crouch. It is explosive and works well symbiotically with head movement.

Pop / Up / Vertical Jab –

I often call this the Roy Jones Jr. jab (which we’ve seen recently from Robert Whitaker and a few others) though in his case it is normally from a draped arm, rather than just hiding / coming from a lower position / guard. Ali threw this type jab at times as well. Like the pivot jab it is often used as a speedy guard disrupter via not turning over the hand.

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Circular Jab –

This really could just be called the Ali jab, as it is a combination of the defensive and the flick jab.
As Ali would circle to his own left he would often confuse his opponent with this jab along with stop and go misdirection.

Framing / Pawing jab –

Used to create space defensively, usually aimed at the opponents center of mass moving backward, or as a distraction moving forward which if not fully pronated, is more of a fake to change the eye line and / or invite counter strikes.

As a frame it is usually used to begin or end a combination. In MMA it is important not to keep the arm out for any significant duration, as it invites counters itself.

Flick / Backhand Jab –

This jab is often thrown at the guard of the opponent to disrupt cadence and often invites counters as well. The backhand jab is more akin to one Floyd Mayweather would throw from the shell, connecting with your actual backhand rather than your knuckles.

Sometimes this will follow a slipped 3 to maintain balance, or as a fake to setup a “through” 2.

Level Change / Body Jab –

Though they aren’t necessarily the same, they are symbiotic. Jabbing the body is important, especially as a means to wear an opponent down, and/or bring down their head. This is often followed by a rear 6 (uppercut), or overhand 4.

In the case of level changing, it’s sometimes best used as a double jab, either high to low or low to high. This is one of your very best weapons vs. an opponent that throws a lot of round punches, especially overhands and (directly opposing arm) hooks. *One of the “keys to efficacy” with this jab is creating range to path, and to escape.*

Hammer Jab –

In MMA we often call this a hammerfist due to it’s efficacy amidst ground striking. This is seldom seen in MMA, or boxing for that matter and is the opposite of an upjab. This comes from a high guard, down, either to break a guard or to aim at the nose of the opponent. Finding footage of this should be fun.


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