Lethal Weapon: MMA's Underused Weapon ... The Jab




The Jab.


Plain and simple the most effective strike in any strikers arsenal. In MMA and in boxing alike the jab in its purest form is extremely effective and if used correctly lethal. It often gets overlooked when more flashy strikes like uppercuts and spinning back fists are presented at the table, however the jab is often the appetizer at dinner. Its often overlooked and even forgotten but when done properly it enhances the meal and sets the tone for the evening. It wont usually fill you up but most definetely will get you started. The jab has been utilized over and over again in MMA to alter fights, change momentum and even end and win the fight.


In MMA the jab is extremely much more effective in terms of damage then in boxing because of the usage of four ounce gloves. The jab often is the reason for facial bruising, swelling and cuts. A stiff jab can easily break the nose even though it hardly carries any KO power.  As we have seen a closed/swollen eye can severely effect the outcome of the fight when it renders the victim basically able to see with only one eye and if a cut is in the right spot blood can seep into the eyes also rendering the victim temporarily blind in one if not both eyes. But the jab isn't solely used for physical damage, its far more then just a simple punch.


Continue Reading About The Jab After The Jump.

To start, lets talk tehnique.

How do you throw a jab? Well that depends initially on your stance whether your ortodox, soutpaw, etc. (*Unless your Keith Jardine and I can't help you with technique if you carry his stance) From your fighting stance whichever shoulder is forward this is the arm the jab should be thrown from. The jab requires no hip rotation compared to an array of much more advanced strikes. When you begin to throw the jab keep the unused arm tucked tightly to your body with the hand covering and blocking the face. When the jab is delivered it is ideal to land with the middle and index finger knuckle. You want to start by placing more weight into your lead leg to have more power while maintaining a solid base. Although thats not entirely always the best way to throw a jab, often we have seen the jab thrown more quickly with less power. Which I was trained to call the snap jab.



This is a good example of a snap jab. Its all about speed here and Okami doesnt plant the lead leg with any extra weight and sort of jumps in and out while landing the jab. He gets right through the opponents guard and flushly lands the jab.

To get a good look further into the snap jab all one has to do is study B.J. Penn. He often demonstrates a jab where its quicker with less power but almost always accurate. In the "snap" jab you don't put any added weight to your lead leg and instead attack your opponent with the jab much more quickly without any signs of coiling for a strike. It lacks the extra power which would come from translating weight into the lead leg but it adds speed which can catch an opponent off guard which would set up nicely for a striking combination. Its also easier defensively to avoid being countered, a snap jab allows no commitment to a lead leg which enables you to keep your head back and have your hand back to block more quickly in the event of being countered. Its also used as a feeler, or a range finder. You may see alot of fighters throwing their jab out "lazily" or without much commitment. It's a way to gauge your opponents distance.



Yushin Okami ran right through his opponent on the feet in this bout. Above, we see him implementing the jab early. His jab is powerful, you can see him step into his jab here which of course is going to lead to much more power being sent through the jab. However, I picked this gif to show something else. While he keeps his left hand tucked tight he drops his hand and had his opponent slipped his head to to the side to avoid the jab he would have had a wide open exposed chin of Okami. Of course Okami landed the jab but when we talk about technique and the jab you always want to make sure your opposite hand stays up. We can go more into defense at another time.

The normal jab however is much more sophisticated then just throwing your lead arm out to the opponent. You have many other things to consider as well, keeping the chin tucked, keeping the unused hand up to protect the face, keeping your elbow tucked firmly against the body and also maintaining suffecient balance to be ready to unleash the next attack or strike. The Jab is used for alot of things but lets start by discussing the jab and its effectiveness to be used as a distraction.



When a jab is thrown ideally you hope to connect in the center of the face of the opponent especially if the plan is to distract your opponent. If connected, it very well may break the opponents nose and at the least stun him enough for him to close his eyes and allow you to slip another strike through his guard. If you land on the jaw it also may cause the same effect, which is one reason why the jab can be so simple yet so effective.

Above we see what I am describing. Although a very unorthodox jab is used (Superman Jab) the effect works perfectly. GSP catches Penn flush in the face and surprises him as well as stuns him. You see his eyes close and his head move from looking at GSP which tells us also that he was rendered blind momentarily. This style of jab can also be linked directly to the snap jab I mentioned before.



The jab can also be used to be a range fighter like mentioned above. GSP here vs Alves feels out his distance and immediately delivers a cross. Had he thrown the cross first he may not have been as accurate. Anderson Silva is notorious for spending the opening minutes of fights gauging out the opponents distance and range. Its a safe way to start picking apart opponents, the process may take some time but alot of fighters using a boxing style understand the importance of setting up the jab early on in fights.



GSP has the jab-Cross combo down. Early in the clip Fitch charges in to throw a hook, a faster jab from GSP interupts but doesnt connect clean but sets up a huge power cross that sends Fitch backpeddling. The jab GSP delivers helps throw Fitch off guard when it interupts his intitial strike. Speed is very important because if GSP didnt land the jab first he may have been tagged with a power strike. The jab is coming from a shorter distance and straight on to the face compared to Fitch who is throwing a lunging hook from behind his body with an arching trajectory.

Throwing the jab in comparison to throwing a cross or hook has much less consequence. Throwing those type of punches enable more room for error, higher chances of inaccuracy of strikes and easier opportunities to be countered. Throwing the jab will allow you to get the glimpse of your opponents length which in turn will allow you to get inside the pocket comfortable without being picked apart. This is where your reach really comes into play.



In this clip, we see GSP once again jabbing his way to success. He lands the initial jab stiff by placing his weight and momentum into his lead leg (*while he keeps his hands up to defend) and throws a stiff jab. It lands, it stuns an already wobbled Hieron . GSP uses it to gauge the distance and throws another jab followed by a right cross that rocks Hieron. Another example of distancing, proper technique, and setting up a combo.

Offensively, the jab also sets up a wide array of strikes to follow up. The most traditional being the combo of jab-cross. And from that jab-cross-hook/uppercut. The jab in this situation does alot all at once, it stuns momentarily the opponent, temporarily blinds him enough to slip the second strike in and finally allows for you to get the momentum to deliver a combo. Once you have the upperhand it is very hard to stop after being caught with multiple punches. Think of it this way, usually if you land a flush jab the opponent is just blocking blindly and if you have thrown a combo he will be behind on each strike you through. Once your opponent is guessing your next strike you have the ability to keep landing strikes or surprise him with a takedown. But also keep in mind a flurry of strikes just may leave you wide open to being tagged with your hands low and your chin unprotected.

Range finding also plays a part in the next use of the jab which is keeping your opponent from swarming in.



Some fighters aggressiveness can be negated by a good jab. A stiff jab will make a fighter stop in his tracks while charging in. Accuracy plays a huge part in this, when a fighter rushes in a well timed, well placed jab or series of them would keep them outside the pocket where power punches would be less effective. This also works against wrestlers who want to get in close to clinch. It keeps them away from getting too close to engage.

In the Gif above we see a single counter jab ending a fight. A well place jab from Seth P. rocks an over zealous Kimbo as he rushes in hands down and chin out. When we talked technique earlier we mentioned keeping the hand not used for striking tucked and guarding the exposed face. This is horrible defense on the part of Kimbo and Seth finds a sweet opening for a jab to rock Kimbo, remember power isnt everything, a well placed punch can be all the difference in itself. Alot of people use this fight to question Kimbos chin, I am not sold on that more then I am believing an accurate striker like Seth just hit Kimbo flush on the button. Clean shots go a long way, look at Anderson ending Forrest Griffins night with a pawing type jab. 



Above, we watch Mac Danzig set the tone with the jab. This gif shows so much of the jabs technique in such a small amount of time. First, he uses it to keep his opponent out of reach, also lets him know he is in range to continue to attack. Danzig steps back and transfers weight into his lead leg as he coils into the second jab, the third jab is more of a feint and follows with a flurry combination. He range finds his own distance and his opponents reach keeping his opponent outside the pocket, he stuns and distracts his opponent all while he sets up the combo to rock his opponent. All the while he shows some tremendous foot work.



Here we see what a feint can do. If you go back and watch this fight, Miguel has already set up his jab, and his opponent starts to block or attempt to block each jab. This distracts him to the point where Miguel catches him off guard and off balance enough to slip in a lead hook followed by a power cross that sends his opponent tumbling to the canvas. Setting up the jab can do wonders without even implemeting any sort of contact as we see here.



The jab doesnt have to be used to set up more strikes, another common use of the jab is to set up takedowns. My favorite being the jab to a double leg. Here we see maybe one of the best fighters to incorporate his game with a mixture of striking and power wrestling. He throws a jab feint that not only distracts Alves but also has him off balance as he sways to avoid the strike. From there GSP shoots powerfully into a double before Alves can get any sort of base to try and sprawl.

The jab here is used to either stun or distract the opponent or more so as a feint to get the the opponent to put his hands high to block the punch or adjust his weight to avoid it. In the instance of trying to stun the opponent its very important to committ fully to the strike and not to drop levels before contact is made. The feint would be the most effective if you have already set up a jab on the opponent and when he starts assuming the jab is coming, feint it and shoot for the take down. Either instance requires to throw the jab with weight added to your lead leg so you have power and momentum in your shoot, pull back the jab and change levels after you have reset your base.



This is just a whole other skill set in itself. Using the jab to make combos from kicks is a bit more difficult but the principles remain the same. He feints the jab after he has already set up Matt Hughes earlier in the fight. From there the feint totally distracts Hughes and throws him out of his stance and unprepared and not properly balanced. GSP uses his speed and atleticism to sneak in a kick sweep that drops Hughes immediately.


Plain And Simple, the jab is not utilized nearly enough in MMA. Sure some fighters have found success without it but really think about all the dangerous BJJ and Wrestling guys adding such a tool to their tool box. Welterweight Champion George St. Pierre has shown us how effective striking can win fights, as has Anderson Silva who is as lethal as anyone in the sport and BJ Penn has shown us all what a jab can do (*Sean Sherk?) and even Frankie Edgar who just dethroned the champ displayed great headwork and quick strikes to win the belt.

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