Jabbing for Muay Thai (diary entry)

Boxing Jabjab anatomy jab woman06.01.20


Monday night saw my Kickboxing/Muay Thai client start her third course with me. After the end of year closed-door workshop, she told me that she wished to focus on punching. I suggested two options: my cross-training option of Western Boxing whereby this art is entirely embraced and the final two consist of integrating its attributes into Muay Thai or isolating punching within the general context of Muay Thai each lesson before putting them into Muay Thai combinations at the end of each lesson. We decided to go for the latter.


Tonight we focused on the jab. We ended up working the basic jab and the step jab. This was first done with no gloves on in order to properly assess technique. Gloves are very forgiving and it was time to have a reassessment of structure in a punch. Muay Thai and Western Boxing both prefer to use the top two knuckles when punching, however, there is wide disagreement regarding whether a punch should be held horizontally or vertically. I have discussed this in previous posts, but my general view is that the target and the individual determine which to use.


We began with the basic jab, simply feeding the shot into a focus mitt and keeping relaxed whilst maintaining a guard. Then we donned gloves and began a one-for-one drill, parrying with the rear hand whilst feeding the basic jab with the lead hand and performing basic footwork patterns. We progressed onto doubling up and also using a low jab. Throughout this drill we checked the guard and telegraphing both punches and parries. Watching for telegraphed parries helps defeat predictive fight patterns. I regularly changed footwork and broke up the rhythm of the jabbing.


We then looked at the step-jab. I believe this to be the most common type of jab thrown in Muay Thai. I have seen several krus teach it as the basic Thai jab. This is largely due to the fact that nak muays are encouraged to use their entire body with every technique. Of course, this does not always happen and cross-training in Western Boxing has seen a lot of evolution, but the step jab generally complements most Muay Thai combinations. It is a heavy punch than the basic jab having greater weight distribution and kinetic force due to the stepping movement added to the basic jab, but I consider it to be at the lighter end of the power-jabs. Shuffle-step jabs and pendulum jabs user greater movement and drive their energy from a further distance – the rear leg – so they are more powerful. Besides offering more power than a basic jab, a step jab’s strength is the way it can move a fighter easily in and out of range. We did the same drill as the basic jab for the step jab.


Next we combined the two types of jab with kicks. These consisted of the basic jab/rear-leg round kick and the jab/lead teep combinations. We looked at creating flow and minimizing the time it took to throw the kick after the jab. With the teep combination we used a basic jab and then put a step jab on the end.


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