Anatomy of a Jab

Every great story starts with a strong introduction—and the Gloveworx story starts here.

When it comes to boxing, the first punch many people are taught is called the jab. In fact, this fundamental punch is one of the first lessons taught in many forms of combat sports and martial arts, whether it's boxing, muay thai, or kickboxing.

When learning how to throw a jab properly, you must first understand that the jab is one of the most fundamental components of this craft. Since it is used very frequently, it must be refined and mastered in order for it to be a dangerous offensive tool and a vital defensive tactic.

Here's everything you need to know about how to throw a jab.

Boxing Anatomy: Jab 101

When working on your jab technique, there are a few key coaching points that need to be addressed. Among them, the most important points are how to safely and properly throw a boxing jab and how to use it effectively.

Starting Position: Your Boxing Stance

The first order of business when trying to build a powerful punch is to find a proper boxing stance. The importance of having a strong starting position can't be understated. Whether you're trying some shadow boxing between training sessions or getting ready for a boxing match, stance creates your fighting foundation. Having the right stance will help you with weight distribution and balance during lateral movement, turn to deflect punches thrown by an opponent, and return to a defensive position after punching to deflect a counter.

At Gloveworx, we use tape—two pieces applied horizontally on the ground—as a reference to create a consistent pattern and find the optimal distance and range for your punch.

Before learning how to throw a jab, approach the tape with your feet positioned a little wider than your shoulders. Keep a slight bend in the knees to allow for movement and explosive power. From here, rotate your feet to face 1 o’clock for a sturdy, athletic base position that would have you face your opponent. In this position, keep your shoulders pointed at an angle toward your opponent.

Working on your hand position, keep the right hand up by your ear, as if answering the phone, and the left hand in front of your face, at the same level as the chin. Remember, your chin needs to be tucked firmly into your chest. Hands up, chin down!

For the jab, like all basic boxing punches, the power is generated from the back leg in a proper boxing stance. Start by stepping forward to the tape and pushing off of your back leg—this approach is called “step in the hole.”

For right-handed boxers, your left foot will be stepping into the hole with your left hand throwing the punch to land the perfect jab. If you're a lefty, your left foot will be behind, driving the force that will power your punches.

Practice a few steps to determine your reach (or range), which is how close you need to be to deliver a powerful punch. It’s important to determine your range to ensure that you are not over or under extending (stepping too far or too close) and throwing yourself off balance.

Now, it’s crucial to grasp how to combine the action (stepping in the hole) and the extension (the punch). While staying “on the phone” with your right hand, step forward and extend your arm into the jab. At the end of the extension, the arm should be parallel to the ground with the knuckles rotated 180° from their starting position.

You’ve Now Learned How to Throw a Boxing Jab!

To return to your neutral boxing stance, all you have to do is bring your front foot back to its original position and return your extended hand to your chin for critical protection. the jab in boxing is one of the basic punches you can use to put together a powerful combo.

To be able to throw the perfect jab, try adding some shadow boxing to your warm-up before a workout. Shadow boxing in front of a mirror can help you check your boxing anatomy: how is your stance? Are you "holding the phone" to protect your head? Is your wrist rotating as you throw your punch?

Now that you’ve learned about the anatomy of a jab, you can continue on to learn about the other essential punches in the boxing repertoire. Schedule a private training session or join a Gloveworx 101 session to start working on this foundational movement.