How To Throw A Left Jab In Self-Defense


Today, we’re going to learn our first punch and it is the jab. Even though we focus on knockout punching in self-defense, the jab is actually not typically a knockout punch. However, it is a setup punch. What you need to do is to be in your stance and this jab will set up other knockout punches. It basically opens the door to your other knockout punches.

How To Throw A Left Jab In Self-Defense

You don’t usually start a fight by just throwing only knockout punches. You have to set them up properly. And that’s why the jab is. It’s a quick, snappy punch and it opens the door for you so that you may unload your broad of heavier punches.

Principle One: A Proper Stance

In order to throw a JAB properly, a proper stance is important.  I want you to push off the back leg. That initial push off is very important for power. So, push off the back leg, take a step with the front leg, lean into it, bend that knee.  Your arm should go out then. Tighten up your fist.  Your shoulder should be there to protect the cheek. That’s a proper stance for a jab (See the screenshot below).

A Proper Stance For A Jab


Principle Two: Shoulder Up, Chin Down

When I throw my jab, I don’t leave my chin unprotected. This is important also. An unprotected chin leaves you wide open for a shot at your chin. Your shoulder should be up and chin down. So, even when my hand is not there to protect my chin, the shoulder should be there to protect it.

Shoulder Up, Chin Down

Principle Three: Push Off And Step Out

For a powerful jab, you need to push that jab out there; initiating that motion with the leg and then snap it back. So, the leg work here is important. You’ve got to push and catch yourself with your jab. A push off and I step out. This is critical. My leg is bent. I have to step. I have to put my weight forward. I want to push all my weight into my opponent by means of my fist. So, the footwork here is critical. You push off the back leg, kind of catch your weight with the front leg and then bring it back.

Push Off And Step Out

Principle Four: Don’t Telegraph Your Jab

One key thing I want to point out here is that you shouldn’t telegraph your jab. Don’t ever tell your opponent that you’re going to hit him with a jabThere should be no warning signs. When you’re planning to hit him with a jab, then just do it – without giving him any hints at all.

Some Important Suggestions

For a quick jab, you need to practice a lot. I used to do entire rounds (3 minute rounds) of just jabbing and you should practice a lot. Jabbing sometime gives a feeling like your shoulder is going to fall off . That’s how you get a powerful jab as you do it all the time. You can double up your jab also. For the first jab – bring it back half way, pop the second one – that’s a double jab.

Summary: How To Throw A Left Jab In Self-Defense

To summarize, if you are serious about learning how to throw a jab in self-defense, please follow these important steps:

  1. Get a proper stance.
  2. Shoulder Up, chin down.
  3. Don’t telegraph your jab.
  4. Punch straight keeping your rear hand up for protection.
  5. Practice a lot!


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Father of eight, Dr. Scott Sullivan is the chief instructor at Bam Bam Martial Arts in Houston, TX. He holds a doctorate in philosophy from the University of St. Thomas and is a seasoned martial arts instructor with over 30 years of experience. A firm believer that martial arts really does help people become more fit, safe, and happy, he remains vigilant about helping people improve their lives through martial arts.