Boxing 101: The Flipping Jab

03.12.04 - By Coach Tim Walker Ė - If you ever get the opportunity to sit down and talk boxing with one of the old-time boxers or trainers please take advantage of it. You might just learn a thing or two. I did and do almost everyday. Boxing is a sport unlike any other. It is as much based on skill as it is power, as much based on footwork as it is hand speed, as much based on stamina as it strength. No two boxers are alike and typically the man who is able to present the best of attributes in the ring walks out the victor.

Some old-time trainers preach that the way to boxingís Promised Land starts with road work and bag work. Some believe that it can only be achieved by a body hardening regiment of push-ups, sit-ups, and jump rope. Still there are trainers who think that sparring and only sparring is the way. The methodology of training a boxer varies from trainer to trainer but there is one point by which every trainer can agree. Everything, absolutely everything, starts from the jab.

When you walk into your gym today stop all the action. Gather your amateurs and ask them this question: What is the purpose of a jab? Be mentally prepared to get responses that are far away from what you are looking for but that is the purpose of the question. According to old-time trainers there are only three answers to that question and they should fall into this order of importance. The most important purpose of a jab is to keep your opponent at bay, the second purpose of a jab is to setup your offensive array, and the third, and this is the one many current trainers donít teach, is to tear the facial skin of your opponent. Too gross? Get out of boxing.

Wait a minute! I am assuming that everyone knows the proper technique for flipping a jab. Whoops my bad. Before you can flip a jab you must have a proper stance. Your feet should be approximately shoulder width apart. Imagine there is a stool 2 to 4 inches underneath your butt and sit on that stool. Drop your chin down approximately 1 to 2 inches. Place your fist as high as your cheeks on either side of your face. Do not lift your shoulders, keep your abs tight and relax.

Now that youíve got a stance letís work on that jab. It is said that in boxing the elbow should always follow the fist during a punch. For the jab this is especially true to avoid telegraphing. Telegraphing is when a boxer give clues that he is about to punch. There are several ways to telegraph but the most common while flipping a jab are pulling the jab hand back before it goes forward, raising the shoulder, or showing the elbow (chicken-wanging). While in your stance, relax your (shoulders), look at your jab hand without moving your head. Turn your wrist slightly inward until you first see the inside cusp of your palm. This is the correct position of your jab hand before you punch. From this position focus on moving your fist forward while keeping the hand in this position. Pay attention to your elbow. If the elbow goes outward (chicken-wanging) then you are telegraphing. When you have your arm approximately 80-90% fully extended turn your hand over and back quickly THEN retract your arm straight back to its ORIGINAL position. Never overextend the elbow because you might injure it.

That is only the arm motion. Jabs are outside to inside to outside punches which means that your legs are involved in the punch. The key to remember here is that after you flip your jab you donít want to be in your opponents punching range so use your feet to move in and out. One final point to remember is that when you are jabbing your only defense is your opposite hand. Keep it tightly in defensive position.

When utilized correctly a stiff flipping jab will be an effective weapon. It will allow you to keep your opponent at distance and effectively setup the rest of your offensive strike. Still it is totally possible to have a stiff effective jab without the flip. The flip, at the end of the punch, will twist and cause cuts to your opponentís skin. This could be a psychological advantage over your challenger.

Thanks for reading. Just felt like sharing some knowledge.

Two of the best jabs I recall in immediate history were Muhammed Ali, Larry Holmes, and Bruce Seldon prior to the air punch courtesy of Mike Tyson.

Article posted on 03.12.2004

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