Any striker’s most valuable and crucial tool is the jab. It’s a straight punch with the lead hand at its most basic level. However, that statement falls well short of defining the broad spectrum of applications for which the jab can be used. It may be learned in a single lesson, but mastering it takes a lifetime.
A jab may be anything from a simple probing shot to a battering hammer that can break people’s faces with repeated use. Potential uses include:
- Measuring and configuring the user’s chosen distance.
- Creating a rhythm and timing.
- Setting up the subsequent shots.
It’s the fastest attack in the game. Thus it’s especially useful as a counter, as former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva demonstrated against Forrest Griffin and Yushin Okami, or to throw off the opponent’s rhythm. It covers the forward movement of aggressive fighters like Cain Velasquez and Daniel Cormier by giving their opponents something to think about while driving their opponents back.
The overhand, a looping punch thrown from the backhand that resembles a baseball pitch, isn’t as popular as the jab, but it’s unique to MMA compared to other martial arts that feature foot striking.
Why? There are two explanations for this. MMA gloves are smaller, for starters, making it more difficult to block with a standard high guard—tight elbows, hands shielding the sides of the face. Second, level adjustments, in which a fighter bends their knees and dips down, are the finest way to set up overhands. In MMA, which features takedowns, level adjustments are more often than boxing.
Kick in the Round
The round kick is found in almost every art form that features kicking with certain modifications. Most MMA fighters learn to throw it in a muay Thai-style, and as a result, it should be landed with the bottom portion of the shin.
The action is simple:
- Put the lead foot perpendicular to the target.
- Thrust the hip into leading the kicking leg.
- Flip the hip over to bring the maximum force into the strike.
Although these gestures aren’t required, a skilled observer could add a scrunching of the abdominal muscles and a chopping action with the hand on the kicking side.