If you were to ask most fans of boxing or mma what the purpose of the jab is you may find the following answers. Its to set up other attacks, to throw off your opponents timing, acumulates damage wearing down your opponent causing swelling and cuts, and is used to gauge distance and keep your opponent from just walking right in.
All of these are true and most people know this. A jab is much like a leg kick and if the fighter is comfortable using it,then its unlikely they will get caught in a bad spot from using it. In fact proper and frequent use of the jab can have a huge impact on the outcome of a standing fight.
I think in some cases the jab is highly under rated as far as the impact it can have in competition, you always here the corners screaming for more of them as fighters tend to abandon the basics in search of bringing a hard fight to an end with bigger guns.
Never will any trainer question of the importance of this tool. If you look into the tool bag of a fighter, you will find an assortment of tools that fit every job they figure they may encounter and have prepared for. if each tool fits in a tool slot, most might think that there will be one slot for that tool, the jab.
This is where we may be surprised to find that there can be a variety of slots for different jabs that do slightly different jobs. The basic jab shoots straight to the target with the hand turning in slightly and the shoulder lining up with the jaw line and returns from where it came.
Now if you so desire you can put a little english on it for specific tasks.
The cork scew jab. some guys may move straight back or pull the head up. this jab pushes the face slightly down and to the side setting up a short hook or head kick. this is done by twisting the hand a little extra at the end and pushing slightly down. keep in mind to pull the jab straight back.
The hooking jab. This is a normal jab until it reaches the target where the knuckles are hooked inward to turn the head. not as effective as a hook but its a different tool intended to place the head in position and making it difficult for the opponent to respond immediatly.
The stiff jab. Most have seen this, the fighter jabs and moves in first hitting and pushing through to move the opponent where they want and or gauging a follow up while keeping a mit in the opponents face. if counter comes the fighter can respond with kick punch or turn into lead elbow strike from here.
The up jab. this can be a highly effective tool, this one shoots straight in and moves slightly up. when this jab strikes the head it pushes the opponents head up into the open exposing the jaw for the cross. some say they prefer not to twist the hand so much keeping the knuckles more verticle as this makes the motion more natural and the cross should follow close behind.
The whipping or snapping jab. this jab is what everyone that fights looks for. you want pop in your punch. this jab is the tool intended for frequent use, causes damage and throws your opponent off his game. you want to swell a guy up, this is the bread and butter,just ask forrest how he liked andersons snapping jab in the lips. this one shoots straight in and out. the key to the pop in the jab is speed. to achieve this you shoot it out fast but concentrate on pulling it back quick. emphasis on pulling it back as quick as possible, trust me your jab will increase in both power and speed while allowing your follow up to be loaded extra hard and ready sooner.
The double jab. This one is one of my favorites. simply shoot the jab out and pull it back half way then shoot it out again advancing with the attack. this one sets up the power punch. i have personally used this one alot and its yielded me a great knock out setting up my right cross. this one is good to use here and there when its a surprise the opponent wont be looking for it as long as its not used to often.
A fighter can use these mutated together in various ways to suit theyre needs creating even more possabilities, throw in some feints and fakes coupled with great foot work and presto you are the larry holmes of your neighborhood. So next time your watching an event and the opening round is in the books, you can open up your tool bag and pull out the appropriate jabs for the job and say id jab this turkey to death and make him pay for his bad habits from the safety of the sofa, you can bet ill be doing the same.
Im sure i have overlooked or forgotten some details or tools so please add to the list and help me improve my tool kit. as the sport grows so does the fans understanding of the technique involved. this is an example of just one of many techniques that to some may have seemed to be so basic but yet in the hands of a great thinking fighter can be used for so many different purposes.