“Jab,Cross,Uppercut,Hook”. Come to our outdoor classes and chances are that you will hear our coaches giving out this set of instructions. For a beginner like me, terms like this confuses me more than anything else and in boxing where sequence is more important than anything else, this confusion could lead to a stagnation of growth and development. But fret not! In this post, we would be unboxing and exploring the fundamentals of boxing and the technique.
Jab: A small step to greater things
A jab is a type of punch used in martial arts. Many variations of the jab exist, but every jab shares these characteristics. While in a fighting stance, the front fist is thrown straight ahead, and the arm is fully extended from the side of the torso. This process involves a quick turn of the torso. and the fist is generally held in a horizontal orientation parallel to the ground.
A jab can be utilized for many different purposes, from defense to scoring to setting up of combinations. A jab is an integral part of a fighter's defense. Its speed and power of execution and reach can keep the opponent at a distance, preventing him from charging in. Defensive jabs can be employed while moving backwards. A jab could also be used to estimate the distance between a boxer and his opponent. It can help to conserve stamina and lower the risk of being countered by allowing the fighter to commit his stronger hand only when he is within proper range. Lastly, a jab is the opener for different combinations of punches. Even though a jab does not amount to much damage, it can open gaps in a fighter’s defense that leaves them susceptible to a powerful punch such as a hook or uppercut.
How to throw a jab?
1) Be in your boxing stance
Hands up, elbows in, hips between your feet, knees slightly bent, and back heel lifted. Front foot at slight angle pointing towards opponent, back foot about 45 degrees diagonal.
2) Extend your front glove forward
Now extend your front glove (left hand for orthodox, right hand for southpaws) towards your opponent, while exhaling a sharp breath. The extension is the speed portion of the jab. It must be relaxed and fast. If you tighten your fist too early or visualize your fist becoming a brick and hitting your opponent, it decreases your jabbing speed. Try instead to imagine your fist cracking upwards and forwards like a fast whip, with your knuckles slapping upwards at your opponent.
3) Rotate your arm
While the glove is extending outwards, rotate your entire front arm so that your punch lands with the palm facing down and your shoulder rotated up to cover your chin. Rotate the fist for power and snap. Also, tighten your fist right at the moment of impact. The fist tightens and entire body contracts explosively only for a split second at the moment of impact! If you tense up before the impact or beyond the impact, it slows your speed, reduces power, and wastes energy.
Cross: Leaving your opponent cross-footed
The cross, which is more commonly known as the straight, is a punch thrown with your back hand directly at your opponent in a straight line.
A cross is the second most used punch after the jab and is the best punch to use within mid-range to long-range. A cross is used extensively because it is the quickest way to reach your opponent. It is also easy to throw and set up, as well as thrown independently just as easily. Moreover, a cross does not take your out of your stance and thus it leaves you in an advantageous position to follow up with other punches and when thrown properly could generate a lot of power.
How to throw a Cross?
1) Guarding your face/chin with your lead arm.
As a basic rule, you should always guard your chin and the temple. Guarding your face with your lead hand is important especially when you are not intending to follow up. If you fail to do so, your opponent might sense an opening and can land a fatal blow.
2) Extend your arm and distribute the weight
To generate maximum power, ensure you fully extend your arm to deliver a vicious right cross. Also, to deliver the right cross you should distribute the weight from back to the front. To distribute the weight, pivot your rear foot whilst rotating the body and bending the knees while leaning forward slightly. All this movement must happen at the exact same time to ensure maximum thrust and power.
3) Rotating your fists and pivoting your body
Just before you hit the target, rotate your fist so that the palm of your hand is facing downwards towards the floor. At the same time, pivot your rear foot. You should end up with your heel upwards, toes on the ground and facing exactly in the same direction as where your cross is heading towards. You should also rotate your body anti-clockwise (orthodox) or clockwise (southpaw) as you throw the cross to gain maximum power.
4) Bring your hand back and guard your chin
After you throw the cross, never leave your hand out there. A lapse of judgment in doing so will leave an opening which your opponent can pounce on. Always bring your rear hand back quickly to guard your chin.
Hook: One punch to get you “hooked”
The hook is one of the hardest punches that you can throw, which is why it is essential that you have a great hook. The reason hooks are so powerful is because they are short and compact and travel a short distance from starting point to target. They also carry most of your weight behind each punch, assuming you have thrown the hook with the proper technique. It is performed by turning the core muscles and back, thereby swinging the arm, which is bent at an angle near or at 90 degrees, in a horizontal arc into the opponent. A hook is usually aimed at the jaw, but it can also be used for body shots, especially to the liver. When throwing a hook, the puncher shifts his body weight to the lead foot, allowing him to pivot his lead foot and generate kinetic energy through the hip/torso/shoulder, swinging his lead fist horizontally toward the opponent. Sometimes, depending on style and what feels comfortable to the individual, the lead foot is not pivoted. However, even though pivoting increases the power of the punch, it leaves the boxer with limited options to follow up on. Once you’ve mastered the hook, though, you gain an important piece of your offensive arsenal. You’re ready to unleash one of your biggest punches and ready to score some knockouts.
How to throw a hook?
1) Keeping your guard up
As with every punch you throw, keep your rear hand up guarding your chin with your elbow tucked in to protect your body.
2) Bending your arms at a 90-degree angle
When you throw the hook, your arm should be bent at an angle of 90 degrees, or close to it. If the angle is much more or much less, then you will not get the maximum power from the punch.
3) Rotating your body and pivoting with your foot
Rotating your body is an essential motion to increase your punching power. Not only that, but you will find that when you rotate your body simultaneously with the hook, your head also moves which helps to either avoid punches coming back or at least rolls with them. Also, you should pivot your lead foot simultaneously with the lead hook or if you are hooking with your rear hand, then pivot with your rear foot. Pivoting your foot would ensure that you best optimize the power of your hooks.
Uppercuts: The Punch that Cuts Through Any Defence
The uppercut is a punch used in boxing that travels along a vertical line at the opponent's chin or solar plexus. It is, along with the cross, one of the two main punches that count in the statistics as power punches. Uppercuts are useful when thrown at close range because they are considered to cause more damage. Additionally, it is likely that a boxer would miss if the uppercut were thrown when the opponents are apart. Uppercuts usually do more damage when landed to the chin, but they can also cause damage when thrown to the body (particularly the solar plexus) or when landing on the nose or eyes. It is therefore a great punch to set up other punches resulting in quick and powerful combinations. However, an uppercut would leave you open for counter-punches and ‘same time’ punches as the uppercut requires you to temporarily drop your guard.
How to throw an uppercut?
1) Bend down low on your knees & keep the hips to the ground
The power starts from the ground, so you always want to bend your knees to put draw power into your punches. It is essential for your hips to be as close to the ground as possible if you want to throw a powerful uppercut. This is because the uppercut punch does not get its power from you jumping off the ground but rather the power generated from the hip rotation. To get powerful hip rotation, your body and hips must stay low.
2) Rotate your body
This is where all the power for your uppercut punch is being generated. Your hips generate power from the ground by rotating not jumping. You pivot your feet, pushing off the left calf for the left uppercut or off the right calf for the right uppercut. The foot that is not powering the uppercut will drop its heel to the ground. Your hips will rotate just as it would for any other punch spinning your whole body especially the hips and shoulders into the uppercut punch.
3) Time the impact of your upward motion & recover it.
The uppercut punching fist tightens on impact and should lend right after the hips rotate. Just like a hook, the left uppercut should land right as the right heel touches the ground; vice versa, the right uppercut will land as the left heel touches the ground. Again, the uppercut should land right as the hips finish rotating. The uppercut should be recovered once it hits a certain distance. The punch should not just rocket into the sky when you miss. You should pull the punch straight back to your chin or drop it again to throw another uppercut. The main idea is to make sure your uppercut punch has an endpoint, and it does not go past that so once the uppercut has hit its intended target or spot, it should be pulled back immediately to protect yourselves from any attack.
While each individual technique is effective on their own, they need to come together to form a lethal weapon for a lethal boxer. As such, it is important for every boxer to have a repertoire of attacks in their arsenal both for offensive and defensive purposes. It is also important for boxers to know their preferred style (Part 2!!!) so that they could best use the different techniques to the fullest! What if you are a tactile learner like me and learn best from doing and touching? No worries, we got you covered! Our coaches here at The Jungle are friendly, don’t bite and can be seen offering pointers to members to improve their technique. Moreover, our classes are hands on where participants are given ample time to practice the techniques taught on their friends and on the bags at the gym (Yay to finally being able to hit bags and pads!) So, what are you waiting for? Book now to learn, laugh and sweat together with your fellow friends here at Jungle! Till next time!