This is an excerpt from Total Knockout Fitness by Martin McKenzie & Stefanie Kirchner.
Total Knockout Fitness Punches
This section outlines the punches used in this programme. You will learn how to throw the jab, cross, hook and uppercut and some great exercises to make them the calorie-burning tools you want them to be. Let’s get started!
The jab is delivered with the arm that is above the lead foot, or the arm nearer the target. This means that if your left foot is the lead foot, you will deliver a jab with your left arm, and if your right foot is the lead foot, you will deliver a jab with your right arm. In boxing, the jab is a quick and explosive punch mostly used to distract the opponent, keep distance, set up for a punch combination and defend from an opponent’s attacks. It is also used to build up the attack and keep the opponent guessing where the boxer is going to punch. You could say that a boxer with no jab is like a basketball player who can’t dribble.
In boxing, just as in any other sport or activity, it is vital to start from the ground and work your way up step by step and bit by bit. A solid jab is the foundation of good punching technique that will get you fit and in shape. Getting the jab technique right and using the Total Knockout Fitness exercises featured in this round (which include both single and combination punching) will allow you to move on to trickier boxing for fitness skills and ultimately advance your fitness level.
If you are right-handed, to execute the jab, start from the midlevel guard and upright stance position (see figure 7.1a). Keep your chin down to avoid holding your head too high. Push down and twist off the ball of your left foot to start the movement. With your lead hand, extend your arm almost fully and twist your arm in a corkscrew motion just before completion. This means that halfway through throwing the punch forwards, your forearm rotates in the last quarter of the movement so that your thumb is facing the floor when the punch is completed (see figure 7.1b). At the contact point, make sure your elbow is still soft and that you your shoulders are relaxed. The rotation of the forearm will give you the snap you need for a good punch. The nonpunching hand stays in guard position throughout. After making contact, quickly return to the starting position.
In boxing, in addition to being a range finding punch, the jab is a good defensive punch. In fitness, it is a good setup punch for the cross and improves the strength and endurance of the shoulder muscles. If you are not a professional boxer, throwing the jab three times to one cross is a great way to build strength in your weaker arm. It builds endurance and strength and energizes the neuropathways and motor skills in that arm. Using your weaker arm to jab three times to every jab with your preferred arm will increase the signals sent from the brain through the neuropathways to the weaker arm, making it more active. As a result, you may find that everyday activities (e.g., picking up shopping bags) carried out with your weaker arm are much easier. Increasing strength in your weaker arm can also help balance your body so that it is not so one-sided.
To throw multiple jabs, begin in the upright stance and midlevel guard position. Start throwing jabs, gradually building up your speed. Focus on getting a sharp, clean punch, finish and come back to the stance and guard position, wait two seconds and then throw the punch again.
Note that the nonpunching hand is on guard at all times. Try throwing three jabs at one time; then throw three more jabs at a faster speed, and then five jabs (this 3-3-5 sequence is a typical recurring training method in the Total Knockout Fitness programme). Practise multiple jabs as prescribed here until you feel confident throwing a jab using the correct technique.
The jab twist builds endurance in the forearms and triceps and can increase joint stability by strengthening the elbow and shoulder joints. Start in the midlevel guard and upright stance position. Try the jab technique with a twist by pushing through from the ball of the foot, twisting, and rotating through to the hips, shoulder and fist. This is a movement pattern through which the energy is transferred from the ground up as the body rotates around the central axis. You should be able to feel how this twist, or snap, improves your punch power when throwing a jab. Try to feel your shoulder being thrust into the punch. Remember whipping a towel at your friends when you were a kid? The jab is just like that towel. Always remember that you are aiming for a quick, straight and precise jab; this snap will give you the extra bit to perfect your technique. See figure 7.2 for an example of the jab twist.
Learn more punches and how to integrate them into your workout in Total Knockout Fitness.