Sunday, 19 February 2012

The boxing jab or lead jolt

Mark Dacascos in Le Pacte Des Loups

Just like Mani (played by Mark Dacascos) above firing the lead jab, most of us who have been training a while have worked the basic boxing jab and found it to be useful in the context of sportive sparring matches. Today I would like to examine using the boxing jab in the realms of self protection and to do so I am going to write about my own journey using the jab as one of my tools.


I was first taught the boxing jab back in 1977, it was the first punch I was taught in amateur boxing and I was told it was a point scorer, a range finder and a fight controller also that you could not knock someone out with a jab but you could knock someone over with a straight jolt. In short you could use the jab to control the fight, keeping you opponent off balance and set up your power techniques such as the rear cross or left hook.  The jab needed two things to work; speed and deception, it had to be fast to avoid counters but it was the closest tool to the target and with lots of repartition and footwork you could get the speed. Deception was all about faking a shot and being non - telegraphic. You had to be able to throw it at different angles and double it up as needed.

GSP gets it done

Being long and lanky, I always had a good jab as I could keep my opponents at bay with my long arms and good footwork; however that’s about all I used the jab for. Sometime later I got to chance to train with Bob Breen, a great martial arts instructor here in the UK and one of the best “boxing hands” coaches I have ever seen. Bob took me on the focus pads for a few rounds and one of the things he said I should work on was my jab as I was just an  arm puncher.


Bob Breen

I needed to learn how to put my whole body behind the punch to get extra power and zip. Following Bob’s advice changed my jab forever, now it hit with real power and it was a much better tool to dominate my opponents. I am not going to give away Bob’s training secrets here, but I recommend you either train with him or watch some of his coaching DVDs.


A couple of years later, I started training Geoff Thompson's Fence for self protection, this was all about using the hand fend to control the space and deception to launch a big fight changing hit. A lot of my friends switched to this and their jabs fell in to disrepair unless they still boxed.  I think the jab is a valid self protection technique; people disagree with me because they want a big hit followed by lots of go forward and bigger hits to knock the opponent out. I think that like the eye jab the boxing jab has its place in self protection, because done right you can use it just like in boxing to control the range and hurt without steaming into your opponent. You may choice to switch to the all out steaming attack at some point but I have found that a sweet jab can dissuade the less committed attackers. I realise that I am taking a chance not utilising the lots of go forward steam roller approach straight away but sometimes a stiff jab is all that’s needed if it results in a bloody nose.

Sold on the jab for self protection?

Felice Herrig

Here are a few pointers you may like to consider if you are training the jab for self protection.


  •  You need to hit with your whole body to get the correct power, you also need to be moving to get the correct angle. Think of your jab as a jolt.

  • Timing is everything, you’re not sparring, and so get used to firing you jab straight away.

  • Your target is the nose, not the teeth or the neck. You are trying to break the other guy’s nose. People tend to dip their chins to protect their neck, so it’s really hard to get you fist into the neck.

  • One training idea is to put two eyes and a nose on one of your focus pads with masking tape and practise popping that nose with your jab.

  • During boxing sparring, work popping the jab from your natural squared up, less bladed self protection stance. If you can tag a pro boxer on a regular basis, that should give you the confidence to throw your shot.

Watch Felice in action- count the jabs with hand and foot




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