How to: Throw a Jab and Straight Punch.

This is the first in a series of articles that present instructions on martial arts and physical culture-

The jab and straight punch are very simple and effective punches. But before you learn the punches, we must learn about:

STANCES

There are many. But the few that are practical for actual combat (rather than those that are more along the lines of calisthenic exercise, or those that are along the lines of complete bullshit) are as follows:

The Old English: Also called the Upright. With your weaker foot forward and your dominant foot back, bend your legs slightly and keep your back and head erect. Keep your weak hand out far and your dominant hand moderately back (not as tight as the latter two). This is a good defensive stance (for defending strikes, not so much for defending throws), but the static pose won’t help you much for putting power behind your punches. However, while the Old English is not particularly useful for punching, it is highly applicable to kicking-as this position keeps the body linear, the hips high, and the legs straight, the Old English lends itself to lunging in and out of your opponent’s striking range for sidekicks, push kicks, and other kicks that move in straight lines, and to a lesser extent for roundhouse kicks, crescent kicks, and other kicks that move in arcs (all of which will be discussed later).

The Orthodox: Also called the Semi-Crouch. This is the one most people know: keep your dominant hand snugly back towards the chin (but not behind it), the weak hand slightly in front of your face, the dominant foot back and standing on the ball of your foot, and the weak foot forward and flat. Bend the legs and slightly hunch over.

The Deep Crouch: Kind of like the semi-crouch, but hunched over more and with a deeper bend of the legs. This one is good for those that are “infighters”, preferring to get in close, clinch, and throw hooks, uppercuts, elbows, and knees

The Hitman: A position similar to the semi crouch, but with the power hand held at hip height rather than chin height. This facilitates the use of powerful body punches, and primarily relies upon head movement, footwork, and shoulder rolling for defense.

OLD ENGLISH

Old English

SEMI-CROUCH

Semi-Crouch

FULL CROUCH

Full Crouch

STEPPING IN

Before any punches can be discussed, realize that proper striking (using any limb) boils down to setting your body weight in motion to throw your bones at another man’s body (there’s more to it than that, but I’m trying to simplify things). Thus, stepping in to a punch or kick can add a little oomph to it. It slows the strike down a fair bit, so use with caution.

Stand in the stance above, lift your front leg, and just let gravity send your body forward. Just practice this motion now, and worry about applying it to attacks later. In general, it works better for straight attacks (jabs, straights, push kicks, etc.) then whirling attacks (hooks, uppercuts, roundhouse kicks, et al)

THE JAB

 The simplest, and thus the weakest of punches. However, it is an essential, primarily for setting up combinations and creating distance between you and your opponent.

Standing in any of the stances above, punch with your weaker (frontal) hand, just snapping the arm forward, without drawing the arm back, and without much rotation of the waist and shoulder (it has to be quick and sharp). The tips of the fingers are within the top of the palms (in other words, the hands are semi-clenched), and then suddenly snapped shut and tight. You can throw the jab with vertical fists, or rotate them to be horizontal.

The proper use of the jab is actually something debated by pugilists: whether or not the jab is meant to hurt the opponent, or just sort of disorient him. Truthfully, there is no “right” or “wrong” answer: many boxers have effectively used strong jabs to tip the head back, blacken the eyes, bloody the nose, and expose the chin (my personal choice), and many boxers have also used a “flicker” jab to overwhelm the opponent through sheer numbers. See what works for you in your practice.

THE STRAIGHT RIGHT                                                                                           

Stand in a proper fighting stance: dominant foot behind, and standing on the ball of that foot (With the heel raised off the ground). The weaker foot goes forward and is flat. The legs are bent, with the weight upon both feet equally. The weaker hand goes forward, as it is predominantly for throwing jabs and blocking. The dominant hand is drawn back towards that arm’s shoulder. The tips of the fingers are within the top of the palms, similar to the position of the jab.

Once in position, you throw the punch with your hips, waist, and shoulders, NOT the arm. Do not even think of moving the arm. Just whirl your torso and “launch” the fist, aiming with the third and fourth knuckles (avoid landing on the fifth whenever possible, it’s the weakest). Once your fist is in flight, clench the fist closed and tight, and rotate the wrist so that the palm is down.

The reason you land upon the third and fourth knuckles, rather than the 2nd and 3rd as some espouse, is because landing with the third and fourth knuckles means the knuckles, wrist, and fist are aligned as they naturally should be (in a straight line running from the shoulder to the fist, referred to by some as the “power line”), and thus the force of the punch is transferred purely. In contrast, the index/middle landing causes the wrist to be turned, dampening the force of the punch somewhat.

For me, it helps to imagine it in terms of this puzzle: “You are in the orthodox stance-you need to get your fist into your target’s face. But you are not allowed to move your arm at all. How are you going to do it?”

Look at the target you are punching at, and follow through (in other words “punching THROUGH the target”). It also helps if you step into the punch as well, although that’s sort of an ideal position that you will often be unable to do.