Secrets to the Jab – #2 of 3


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Every time I throw my jab I want it to land. Actually that not’s totally true as there are times when I use it to draw my opponent into a counter attack or throw jabs in an attempt move them someplace else inside the cage/ring.  But I must admit that I absolutely love the look on my opponent’s face my jab hits them from a distance they never thought possible.

My upper body positioning before, during and after my jabbing motion plays an important role in maximizing my reach and maintaining my power.  More importantly, proper upper body positioning prevents me from telegraphing the punch, greatly increasing my chances of it landing it.

Here are some upper body positioning details I want you to focus on while jabbing:

Keep Angled

In my opinion the most common problem with many mixed martial artist’s jab motion is the angle in which they position their shoulders before, during and after the punch. Commonly fighters stand with their shoulders much too square –with their chest facing the opponent a bit –, which cuts down reach, power, leverage and results in a telegraphed punch. In other words the jab becomes predictable and pretty much useless against opponents with moderate to high level striking skill sets.

Here’s how to remedy that problem.

Keep your lead shoulder in front and you other shoulder back quite a bit. It’s tough to put into words but know that the change to the angle of your shoulders may be drastic enough that it may feel very uncomfortable at first.

To find the optimum angle, assume a fighting stance and extend your arm completely in the jab position.  Next, with your jab still extended, turn your shoulders slowly from side to side until you find the angle that allows your jab to reach the greatest distance to the front.  That’s it! That’s the position you need your shoulders to start, stay, and finish in when you jab.  Now, retract your arms and assume a fighting stance but remember to keep your upper body locked in at that new angle. In can be difficult to do at first, so be mindful during every aspect of your training until it becomes a habit.


Once the shoulders are properly positioned the next thing to focus on is the tension level within those shoulders. One word says it all. Relax! Keep your shoulders completely relaxed, free on all tension as if you were simply standing on the street waiting for a bus –kind of weird to think about but it’s usually what I say to my students when I train them in person so I’d thought I’d use it with you.  Yes, I know you’re in the middle of a fight, but you need to resist all urges to squeeze or lift your shoulders because doing those things will drain your energy needlessly. Relax! Relax! Relax! I thought I’d say it again to drill home how important I believe it to be.

Any time during training, when you feel a little tight, step back – out of range if you’re sparring for obvious reasons – and shake your arms down by your sides in a completely relaxed manner then re-establish your fighting stance with that level of relaxation in mind.

Keep your Chin Down

If I were a company looking to sponsor a fighter in the UFC, I would find a fighter that fights with his chin up in the air and pay him to wear my logo on the bottom of his feet. I’m pretty sure I’ll get some fabulous exposure every time he gets knocked down or knocked out by making such a huge mistake in upper body positioning.

Keeping your chin tucked is the easiest and most important thing you can do in terms of defensive positioning. It immediately and dramatically lowers the chances of getting knocked out yet many fighters still fail to do it.

While jabbing keep your chin down and visualize looking up through your eyebrows somewhat. Once you’ve established a strong chin down position try to keep it not only when you’re jabbing but at all other times during the fight as well.  Also focus on how your head is positioned laterally. Look directly at your opponent’s upper chest and shoulders and retain that head positioning throughout any jabbing motion you make. Turning your chin and separating your head from your jabbing arm can be a costly mistake that you don’t want to make.

Lock in Vertically

Another error that is commonly made by fighters is that they lift their bodies up as they jab thinking that it will add to their power when in fact, it actually does the opposite. Lowering the body as you jab also affects your jab –unless it’s a body jab– in negative ways.

The responsibility to maintain a steadiness in body positioning lies with both the upper body and lower body. Try to keep your head locked in vertically while you jab so that you avoid rising up or dropping down as you throw the punch. What’s the result? More balance, less effort and much more power! I guarantee you’ll feel the difference.

Now, it’s your turn to take these details and drill them. I suggest you combine these details with the tips from my article on LOWER BODY POSITIONING to maximize your jabbing effectiveness.

Coming soon…Secrets of the Jab #3 of 3 – Positioning and Movement of the Arms.

Categories : MMA Training Tips

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  1. joey says:

    thanks for the great tips jeff

  2. Jeff Joslin says:

    No Prob Joey. Lots more to come…

  3. […] #2 – Upper Body Positioning for the Jab var addthis_language = 'en';var addthis_options = 'email, favorites, digg, delicious, myspace, google, facebook, reddit, live, more'; […]

  4. jeff says:

    Keep the articles coming Jeff. Great stuff, it’s really working in my sparring!

  5. Eric says:

    You’ve always got great info on here Jeff! Great breakdowns as always.

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