As the title might suggest, this article is about selling the jab. A couple of days ago we received a really good question on our YouTube channel from “Justaname”.
I’m a tall mma fighter and I throw my jab very often because all my coaches tell me to, but once in a while I get nailed with a huge counter looping overhand right. And one day I might get knocked out. I’ve been practicing slipping back and blocking with my shoulder, or ducking and rolling, and just trying to get my hand back quicker to block. Do you have any opinions about the best way to avoid the overhand?
Thank-you for your question Justaname. You are doing everything right with regards to your defence. Slipping back and using your shoulder is a great covering technique to protect your chin from the overhand right (although the temple can still be exposed). Getting your hands back faster to guard your face is also correct, as are incorporating ducking and rolling. So your coaches are completely right to get you drilling these skills in training.
Your coaches are also correct about using your jab, as a taller fighter you should be able to use your jab to keep your opponents at bay and to line up your own power shots. Make sure you incorporate head movement in all your training, whether it’s shadow boxing or bag/pad work. For example after throwing the jab (or multiple jabs) immediately slip your head to the right or bob your head down (whether you have an incoming shot or not). Try to incorporate this head movement with your other techniques too e.g. ending your combo with a right cross, then immediately slip to your right or bob your head down. Getting this head movement perfected in training will make you a very tricky target to hit when fighting – as you are stopping yourself from being a stationary target.
Now back to the jab. Without seeing a video of you actually fighting I can only speculate on certain things. Not “selling the jab” is a common shortfall I have seen in many boxers I have trained with over the years. Although your coaches are correct in telling you to jab, you have to make sure your jab is working correctly. If you are just throwing the jab out there, without a specific goal, it is easy for an opponent to gauge your timing and to start countering. Again this might not be the case with yourself, but it is still an important aspect to train and to think about.
When I say “sell the jab”, I mean you have to sell the fact that your jab is “dangerous” to your opponent. You need to make your opponent respect your jab and be unaware of what’s coming next. There are plenty of ways to put this into action and here are a few:
Multiple – Constantly switch between singular, double and triple jabs (obviously mix this order up:-)
Mixing up the number of jabs thrown makes it harder for your opponent to predict what’s coming, and in turn prevents them countering.
Power – Throughout the session change your power output – light, medium and hard.
Sticking a stiff jab in your opponent’s face is a great deterrent, keeping him at bay. Changing the power keeps him on his toes!
Timing – Make sure you’re throwing the jabs at different speeds – don’t ever become predictable.
Many times I have watched fighters throw (for example) the jab cross and it’s as though they are saying one (jab), two (cross) in their head whilst they’re throwing it. Try this for yourself, then try and throw the jab, cross all in the count of one. This little explanation just touches on timing issues that can be easily remedied with a bit of practice and some thinking. Basically don’t get into the rut of 1,2,3. If you alternate your rhythm you increase your unpredictability.
Feints – Get your feints working for you, keep your opponent on edge.
Throwing feints is great way to open up your opponent – again mix these up.
Angles – don’t just throw straight jabs, include sneakpunches (screw shots) and lead hooks. Mix these up.
If you can implement all the above correctly and then start throwing angled shots off of your lead hand, your opponent won’t know what’s going on. You will confuse him with your timing, power, speed, quantity and angles and stop him from being able to get himself set for a counter attack.
Although it might seem odd that I’m talking about jabs when the question was about avoiding the overhand right, all these jab elements (if put into practice properly) should immediately decrease the amount of counters your opponent can throw – so in a round about way you will be avoiding the overhand right:-). It does take practice and a lot of it, but as one of my amateur coaches always told me as a young fighter “If you can master the jab, you can win fights with one hand”.
Thanks again for the question Justaname – I hope this has helped and let me know how you get on.
Keep up the training