Keys to a Stiff Powerful Jab – The Most Important Muay Thai Weapon on the Street and the Ring

The Jab is King (and Queen) of Muay Thai

Muay Thai Self-Defense Hockessin Chadds Ford Glen MillsIn Muay Thai, in boxing, and kickboxing, it’s the strike used to set up most all offense. Why?

  • It’s lightening fast – (a bee-line straight from your fist to their face)
  • blinding to the opponents vision
  • It’s used to gauge the distance of your opponent
  • You can throw it from a protected defensive stance

The jab isn’t the knockout punch. In fact, it’s the weakest strike in Muay Thai. But it’s used to set-up those vicious elbows, knees and kicks.

Throwing a stiff jab in the line of sight of the opponent gives you the opportunity to deliver a solid strike behind it.

It’s a simple move, and with a few tweaks, you all will be throwing stiff jabs at (‘insert name of target here’). Just Kidding…

To explain the intricacies of the jab, I broke it up into two videos. One explains the upper body motion…the second puts it all together with the lower body movement.

Keys to a Stiff Jab – The Movement of the Shoulders and arms


Key Takeaways

  • Elbow tucks into the ribs, to turn the lead shoulder into the chin (this is an added defense, to protect the chin from getting KO’d while you throw the jab)
  • Spiral the lead fist inward – This will cause those two bony knuckles in the front to protrude forward. By hitting with just the two knuckles, we maximize the power by sending the energy through two small points…instead of a flat knuckle
  • The lead fist tightens up ONLY at the point of contact – then relaxes…so the arm can comfortably return after the strike is completed.

Common Mistakes

  1. Tensing up the biceps to throw a hard punch – the power comes from a snap! Not a push (pic of me pushing) So snap that arm out as if someone threw your smartphone off a cliff and you tried to catch it. Make sure your relaxing the arm after the strike hits so it returns fast.
  2. Holding the knuckles the wrong way – we want the two knuckles to stick out
  3. Pulling the elbow back behind the body – instead pull the elbow into the ribs to send the forward
  4. Flaring the elbows outward – this takes a lot of power off the jab…we want to throw it behind the mass of your torso for max power, defense, and speed.
  5. Making a mean face with the jab – it often indicates your trying too hard. It’s fluid, it’s fast, doesn’t take much energy…if you’re making a mean face…

Hit Like Someone Twice Your Size – The Movement of the Feet and Hips

The movement of the feet is the same as if you were step forward in your good fighting stance…pushing off the back foot…landing onto the front foot. The footwork and lower body really puts all of your weight behind the jab, making you hit harder than anybody would even think to expect

Key Takeaways

  • Remember to keep the foot pointed at the target as you step into your jab – this keeps the hips externally rotated, making your body solid – if the hip isn’t kept in this rotated’ll be ‘bleeding torque’ out of the hips
  • Weight on both feet is on the bottom parts of the feet
  • Landing that lead foot the same time the jab makes contact – this sends the full weight of your body into the strike…instead of a puny punch powered by just your arms.

Common Mistakes

  1. Starting the jab from a leaned back position. You want to have your body ready to lunge forward..this makes the jab SLOW
  2. Turning the foot inward
  3. Throwing the Jab with the back foot flat – again – the ankle needs to lift off the ground before the strike, making it SLOW
  4. Dragging the back foot – both feet move forward with speed and deliberate intent (to hurt =) )

Here’s a video on some exercises I’ve used to improve my jab piece by piece.

  • Landing on both feet…and watching – feeling that both feet move, checking that it’s straight
  • In the mirror just practicing that motion with upper body…should feel like a snap
  • Putting it together, timing it, eyes are on the knuckles

Focus on improving things one at a time! I know you’ve heard it before…as humans, we’re not good multi-taskers! You’ll drastically improve quickly if you take the time to address each one at a time.

See y’all in class and happy training!


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