Why I love the jab
I love the jab.
If I throw the punch enough times I can actually find the sweet-spot. Not unlike a perfectly hit baseball, the sweet-spot of a punch has similar a meaning: the place where the fist perfectly percusses with the object. Some days it takes three rounds of shadow boxing, four rounds of work with my trainer and I don’t know how many on the double-ended bag before I find it. And other days, well, you get the idea.
When I think about the jab, I’m reminded that all things come down to the fundamentals. For the jab that means stance, arm position, and the actual mechanics of how the jab is thrown. The jab is also foundational to the sweet science itself. Try to box without one and you’re really not boxing anymore. Every trainer also has a story or two about a boxer who “fought twelve rounds with nothing but the jab and won.” And it is a pretty cool punch to throw. It establishes your pace, helps you find your range, and keeps your opponent at bay while you ready yourself to let loose with your hammer hand.
The jab also teaches an economy of movement. A boxer’s body has to be aligned so that when the punch is thrown it’s not just the fist, but the momentum of the entire body that connects. The “boom” is the fist finding its target, but its fueled by the feet, legs, hips, chest and shoulder in one brilliant moment. If you throw it and the body is misaligned, the punch doesn’t pack any power. Sure it might look good, but it’s a waste of energy, or as Johnny used to say, “nothing but pitty-pat.”
And I guess that’s what I find I love most about the jab. The possibility of its allowing me to find a moment when all things align. My body for sure, but also my mind because in that moment, I’m not there, I’m in the punch; somewhere close to what the Buddhist’s call not-self. Not to say that boxing is an aspect of Nirvana, but losing oneself in an instant of physical perfection is a nice way of tasting enlightenment.