When I would spar with folks and start jabbing, they’d often reply, “Oh, a boxer, eh”? I’d tell them no, but I do incorporate it into my fighting. Most often they would have no idea how to handle it. For some reason in the traditional arts there is this great disdain for the jab. So, let’s think about this and what the reason for jabbing is. If you have a stick and a dog is barking and approaching you do you swing at it or poke it? If there’s an animal lying quietly in your way do you go up to it or poke it with a stick? You poke it if you have any smarts. Why? Because it tests the animal from a safe spot. You can see the animal’s reaction without being in its grip. A jab does the same and more.
Jabs are not mindless pokes. They are calculated and intelligent. There’s technique, power and intent. If you think you can handle a jab because Johnny Q in your gym will throw some at you, you’re mistaken. It’s like thinking you can handle a fast ball because your buddy throws it versus Nolan Ryan winging it at you. You can’t. A real boxer doing a real jab is a formidable opponent. He’s not just poking the air. When you watch the MMA vs traditional fighters on YouTube you can see them pawing at the jab and falling for a combination. So many people in traditional arts throw regular, big, committed punches when they train. They get used to it and they can recognize and react to it. There’s a real sense of 1-2 movement here that is not realistic. At jab is meant to test you, disrupt you and reveal your reactions. It’s not a stick poking but a lance stabbing. The time you take to paw at it or move from it is the set up to take you down. Non skilled fighters will slip the jab towards the other arm that is chambered up to hit them. It’s called moving towards his power. This is something you learn to avoid only by continual practice. Also, when you jab you can see the opponent put their weight on the back foot to avoid it thus hampering their ability to move after that. You see them move their weight on the back leg and you can pressure them and attack. Similarly, a skilled fighter will act like he is moving his weigh to the back in an attempt to get the jabber to commit forward and then take his balance by moving sideways. A number of the MMA vs trad fights have ended on simple one/two combinations set up with the jab. If you practice it you can see it coming from a mile away. If you don’t you won’t see it and lights out.
Jabbing is an intelligent way to fight. You can immediately learn a lot about your opponent. Many folks say ‘if he jabs, I will just step in and attack, it’s got no power”. Well, wrong, it does and you stepping in is what he wants so he can divert and viciously deliver the other hand. The other comment is “Well, I would just kick under it”. Ok, that might affect a boxer but I am talking about a martial artist using it. He should be highly aware of his vulnerabilities and cover them. Also, it’s a way to get the person to kick so you move to the outside and strike. There’re tons of strategies here. Another response, particularly from Aikido, is “I would grab his arm and do a wrist lock” or “step sideways and grab the arm and throw him”. Sure, have you ever tried to grab a whip? They don’t leave it out there as a gift to you. If you’ve ever watched real boxers train, you’ll hear the trainer yelling “You’re dropping your left, stop it” or “you’re leaving it out there” in attempt to stop those bad habits where someone can take advantage of bad technique. Boxing is based on intelligent theory and practice. They are skilled fighters. It would do you well to learn about this and incorporate it in your repertoire when you train. You might be surprised at what comes out of it.
I strongly suggest you look at some of Marvin Cook’s “True Boxer Stance” videos on you tube. He’s an excellent teacher and he shows the great strategies of real boxing.
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