This ultimate guide will help train you in one of the most fundamental weapons in Muay Thai – the jab! The jab is a technique that is used effectively for offense and defense. The jab is a weapon that is often used in combination of other Muay Thai techniques for full effectiveness. If you want to improve your muay thai sparring and become a better fighter, you will need to learn the fundamentals of a good jab.
Although the jab (straight left punch for orthodox fighters) is a technique that is not usually associated with Muay Thai, a good Muay Thai fighter will use this weapon effectively in their arsenal of attacks. Although the kicks, elbows and knees are given more praise in Muay Thai, the jab is going to be your best friend when you are dealing with an aggressive opponent that is coming forward.
Basic Jab Theory
Why is the jab so effective in Muay Thai?
The jab is your quickest weapon in Muay Thai. When you throw a jab correctly, it will be a very quick attack that keeps you in a strong defensive position after your attack. Even if you don’t land the jab with full force, it should be strong enough to stop your opponent while he’s in the middle of a combination. After you are able to disrupt an opponents flow of attack, you should use your jab to set up your combinations with your kicks, punches and elbows.
Used from a defensive perspective the jab is another excellent tool that should be utilized to maximum potential. The jab is excellent if you have an aggressive fighter that is coming forward and not giving you enough space. It is a must have weapon when you are backing up against an opponent that is coming forward.
Note* The following description is for orthodox fighters (regular stance) if you are southpaw (right foot forward) then you have to use the opposite side for everything.
The jab (straight left punch for orthodox and straight right punch for southpaw stance) is the weapon that is closest to the opponent, although it’s not as strong as a right straight punch (cross). This Muay Thai technique is a great starting move before any combination or attack you are going to do on your opponent.
If you can time your jab so that it is fast, strong and able to hit your opponent when you use it, it can help you disrupt your opponents rhythm. This will allow you to break up your opponents timing when he is about to use techniques on you. A good jab will be able to stun an opponent if used correctly, creating a window of opportunity to use another technique or strike against him.
Now that we have discussed some of the theory behind the jab, lets look at a few good examples of the perfect jab in some picture illustrations.
The Perfect Jab in Pictures
Sudsakorn Sor Klinmee is demonstrating an excellent Jab. Notice how he is leaning forward and getting extra reach from his jab. This is a perfect demonstration of the Muay Thai jab that can be used to full effect.
This photo showcases a great jab from Juan Marquez against Manny Pacquiao. Whenever you mention the jab you should always look at boxing for some great examples. Notice the extension of his arm allowing him to cover a lot more distance while he’s leaning forward.
Now that we have seen some good examples of jabs, lets talk about the basics of the jab.
The Basics of the Jab
Start from a Solid Base – A good jab starts with a solid base. Your feet should be shoulder width a part with your left (orthodox stance) foot a small step in front. Your right hand should be protecting your chin on the right side of your face will the left hand is slightly forward in front of your face. You should be able to see a tunnel between your guard. If the opening is too large, it will be very easy for your opponent to punch you throw your guard. It is important to protect yourself with a strong guard. Make sure that you are not tensing your arms when you are in your basic stance. Muay Thai is all about being efficient in your movements and your stance. By being relaxed you will be able to conserve much needed energy that can be used later in the fight.
Extend your Left Arm – From the basic Thai stance you will then take a small step forward with your left foot and extend your left arm (opposite for southpaw) to the full length. (It is important to step straight in front of you and not off to the side or an angle. This will ensure you are covering the most distance with this movement.)
Turn over Your Fist – Rotate your entire arm including your shoulders, elbows and your fist. The palms of your hand should be facing the ground if you were to open your fist. Make sure your jab is fully extended to ensure you are covering the most distance with this technique. Your fist should be turned over and the palm of your first should be facing the ground. Your right hand will remain at your right chin keep yourself protected from an opponent counter. At the end of the left straight punch the left shoulder much be touching the chin and the left arm must be parallel to the floor. Your knuckles will be the point of impact of the punch, so keep this in mind when you are hitting your target.
Keep your Chin Down – Your chin should be kept down, keeping your eyes focused on your target. Keeping the chin tucked in can save you in case of an opponent counter. Always keep in mind that your chin is your week spot, if your opponent lands a good shot to your chin, there is a good chance you will get dazed or knocked out.
Return Arm to Original Position – Once the left arm has been fully extended you want to bend the elbow and smoothing return it to the guard position. The left jab should be a fast snap. Imagine that you are touching a hot plate in front of your face, once you touch the plate you want to pull it back as fast as possible so you don’t get burned. Quickly returning your jab or straight left to the guard position will ensure you are in a good position to remain protected.
SMART TIP: Try doubling or tripling up on a jab. If you always throw a single jab, your opponent might be able to start getting a read on your timing. By doubling up on the jab, it will add one more element to your attack, causing your opponent to hesitate more.
Remember that practice makes perfect!
In order to develop a good jab you need to start by practicing this technique in a mirror. Start off by going very slow with your techniques and getting your form correct. Once you have good form you can work on adding speed to the drill. If you start getting more comfortable you can then start adding movements forwards, backwards and too the sides to simulate a fight.
Remember that putting everything together is important when executing a good jab. The following are 4 points that can help you improve your job.
Important Factors to Remember
Full extend your arm – Some people don’t extend their arms fully, which is taking away from some of the power of their jab. A lot of times you will see pad holders absorbing some of the power behind the jab by coming to the punch, instead of allow the person to fully extend their arms. This will teach bad habits of not fully extended the jab.
Use your shoulders not your elbow – The jab should come from your shoulder pop and not your elbow extension. This will prevent you from getting elbow injuries and also increase the power behind your jab. The power is generated from your shoulder
Keep your right hand on your chin – The right hand should be tucked on your chin whenever you jab. This will protect you from any counters that your opponent throws at you when you are jabbing. Remember that you should always snap your jab back to your original position as soon as you extend your elbow fully.
Tighten your fist right before Impact – If you are flexing your fist together you will notice that you will decrease your speed and power behind your punch. You want to tighten your fist the moment before impact that way you will increase your acceleration to the target.
Videos Demonstrating Effective Jabs
This clip shows Damien Alamos utilizing the jab to keep his opponent at a distance. The jab is extremely quick and sharp, a very good weapon to use in many situations.
This is another clip of a jab that is utilized when the fighter’s opponent is coming forward for an Elbow. The quick reaction is able to catch the opponent on the chin and drop him for the count.
The jab is the most important punch in your arsenal. It is the punch that will lead your combinations 95% of the time. It is the strike that will stop an opponent from moving forward against you. This is the swiss army knife of techniques because it is used in so many different elements of fighting.
The key thing to remember when throwing a jab is to bring your arm back to the original position after the technique. It is also important to understand that your opponent can counter your jab. That is why it is essential for you to throw a fast and accurate punch. This will reduce the amount of time they can use to counter your strike.
A fast jab is such an effective tool and judging your distance and setting up your strikes. You can never be too good at jabs and it is important for you to focus on this technique when you are training. This is a strike that you will learn to appreciate after you experience what it can do.