A jab is one of the four main punches used in boxing. Several variations of the jab exist, but every jab shares these characteristics: while in a boxing stance, the lead fist is thrown straight ahead and the arm is fully extended. It is an overhand punch; at the moment of impact, the pronated fist is generally held in a horizontal orientation with the palm facing the ground.
The jab is probably the most familiar punch to the layperson. Although it is rarely the strongest punch in a fighter's arsenal, many consider the jab to be the most important punch in boxing . The Compubox computerized punch scoring system divides punches between jabs and power punches.
A jab is an integral part of a fighter's defense. Its speed of execution and reach can keep the opponent at a distance, preventing him from charging in. Defensive jabs can be employed while moving backwards.
This jab gives a fighter high mobility and is often used with the intention of scoring points. Fighters use this variation of the jab when they want to preserve the mobility and balance of their stance.
Power can be added to a jab if it is thrown with a moderate step forward. The drawback to this technique is that it takes the fighter out of his boxing stance, committing him to the punch rather more than the speed jab. A "pivot jab" is the most powerful jab, one in which the weight shifts almost entirely to the lead foot, which pivots to put the mass of the body behind the punch. Jabbing from the hip, rather than from a tight guard, will add power to the jab at the expense of speed.
Jabbing to the body is relatively uncommon, because it increases a fighter's vulnerability to a counterpunch. Typically, the fighter bends at the waist and fires a speed jab to the midsection of his opponent in an attempt at getting the opponent to drop his guard. It is impractical to put the body weight behind this punch, so power is limited.
Historians consider some of the best jabbers in history to be Sonny Liston, Larry Holmes, Muhammad Ali, Hector Camacho, and Sugar Ray Leonard. Holmes' jab has often been called "the best among Heavyweights", Ali's jab was famous for its speed and Liston's for its power.
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