How to throw a jab: a step-by-step guide

A jab is the most commonly used punch, especially the front jab. If your stance is Orthodox, then your front jab is done with your left hand. On the other hand, if your stance is Southpaw then it is done with your right hand. How to throw a jab is maybe the hardest thing to learn, especially the front jab. When front jab boxers begin their combinations, they use it to trick the enemy, and to stop their counterattacks. A proper front jab is one of the keys to a successful match or sparring.

How to properly throw a jab – a step by step guide

Step 1: First and foremost, assume one of the stances, with your front hand aiming toward your opponent, punching bag or pad (we advise beginners to first practice on a heavy bag, then move on to pads).

The tip of your fist needs to be directed towards you. Your elbow should be next to your rib cage. Your upper body must be straightened.

Step 2: Next, what you need to do is a torsion (rotating move) of the hips to the right (assuming you’re right-handed and having the Orthodox stance; if you’re a Southpaw, then rotate your hips to the left), and at the same time let your fist “fly”, by rotating it in the air like a bullet, so that when the punch lands, the position of your fist is opposite of you, while your elbow is pointed to the outside.

Tip: Your shoulder must be on the side of your chin, protecting you from knockouts, and remember, your chin should always be down. Your other hand must be on your jaw at all times.

Tip: Never let the distance between you and your target be great enough so that your entire arm straightens when the punch lands. Always have a 160-170 degree angle between your upper arm and your forearm. Not only does it reduce the chance of elbow joint injury, but the peak of your punching force is on this point.

Tip: Your body must be relaxed the entire time, except in the moment you throw the jab (then your entire body needs to be in convulsion so that it transfers all your energy onto the target, which lasts for a second).

Remember that the power of every punch comes from your legs and hips. Your hands are there to transfer the momentum of the force. You don’t need to be bumped up to be a good hitter, you just need to have speed and sharpness in your motions. And if you’re tall, the front jab should be your main weapon. It can almost never knock an opponent out, but it can keep him at a distance which will prevent him from hitting you.

Why is a proper front jab the hardest thing to learn?

When you first start with your training, you’ll most certainly make mistakes when using this punch.

Mistake #1 – Letting your hands fall
Letting your hand fall after throwing a jab and exposing your chin. For fighters much taller than their opponents, this mistake isn’t as dangerous, but for shorter fighters it can be the end to a match. After you’ve thrown a punch and it landed, return your hand to your chin as fast as possible.

Mistake #2 – Lack of distance
Distance. In the beginning, before you throw a punch, you’ll always feel the lack of a few inches, and the target will seem out of reach. This will lead you to make a step forward while throwing a punch. When the distance between you and the target is good enough for you not to take a step forward, by making this mistake, you’ll make your hand hit the target halfway of the path.This will result with a weak punch, encouraging the opponent, and making him gain a psychological advantage.

Mistake #3 – Telegraphing the jab
When you need to cross the distance to hit your target properly. You’ll probably (as we all did), make a step forward with your front leg first, followed by a punch. This is wrong, especially if you’re fighting an experienced fighter, because this step is sort of a hint for him. He’ll be able to evade your punch or block it and then spring into a fast counter attack.

Mistake #4 – Keeping your feet too wide apart
After taking a step, your legs stay widely spread because the other leg didn’t follow the move. This will make you shorter in height, thus making your head a close target for the other fighter, which will in turn make you less movable.

Mistake #5 – Returning your hand
After the punch is done, you don’t return your hand to the starting position. It’s not a big mistake if it stays on the same altitude, but it will drain your strength and after a while, your hand will start to fall down, leaving your chin exposed.

Practice your front jab with shadow boxing (it’s an exercise in which you fight an imaginary opponent) first. Make sure you follow every single instruction given in this guide from A to Z. Remember to take your time and practice step by step before trying on a punching bag.

How to properly throw a power jab

A power jab is a punch thrown with your stronger arm. This one is a finisher, the cherry on top in a combination. As we’ve already said, the ingredients for a perfect punch are:

    • Hip rotation – but this time to the opposite side from the one used for a front jab
    • Fist rotation like a bullet
    • Sharpness and speed in the punch

Basically, everything we wrote for the front jab applies here. However, in this type of punch there’s also one more detail, which is maybe the trademark of boxing. You’ll see it on many logos of boxing clubs, boxing tattoos, etc. What we’re referring to is the position of the right leg (left leg if you’re a Southpaw). While the foot must be on the ground along with the toes, the heel must be lifted.

The knee must be bent, creating a wide angle.The foot also gets into this position by rotation. Every trainer will tell you that this move is similar to putting out a cigarette on the floor, except this time you’ll be putting out your opponent. There are two main reasons for this move. The first is reach and the second is power. Now, assume a stance and try throwing this punch without, and then with the foot rotation. See where the tip of your fist finishes without this move. Then, try it with the foot rotation. Those 3 inches that you gained in the reach, make a huge difference between a knockout and a miss.

Tip: A commonly made mistake is that when the power jab is thrown, instead of rotation, the foot is moved forward. This is bad because it disables you from doing the hip rotation properly and narrows your stance.

Try to practice the basic jabs we’ve described. A good way to practice jabs is to stand beside a wall in your room, close enough so that your foot touches the wall with your heel after the rotation. Practice the front jab in combination with the power jab.