Thursday, December 05, 2002

The Jabbing File thread started by Rastus

NOTE: I had this thread archived to my 2nd Tripod site ages ago. Tripod took down my second archives. In time, I will be adding to this blog some of the info that was up there. My thanks to someholdsbarred and waise pairasta for their help.


From: Rastus
Date: 07-Sep-02 07:13 PM
Edited: 07-Sep-02 09:58 PM, 07-Sep-02 09:57 PM, Edited:07-Sep-02 09:3

After being scolded by a certain person for not posting more on the boxing forum...a person who I will not name, because that would be rude....(Martinburke)...I thought we could try to all contribute to a thread: A use for the Jab.

As many of you know, I am a huge proponent for the jab. I consider it the foundation off of which all boxing operates. It's the keystone, it's that important. I'll start the list of reasons to use the Jab.

  1. It's the fastest punch there is. Crosses, hooks, uppercuts all take more time to land. The distance traveled is the least, the speed is the greatest. ~ Rastus.
  2. It upsets the rhythm of your opponent. When you bang his gloves, forearms, body, forehead, face, etc... it disrupts your opponent's rhythm and train of thought. Keeps him less "together" and grouped and planning your demise. ~ Rastus
  3. It's a very versatile punch. You can throw snappy punches with it, using it as a range-finder or just as a general annoyance for your opponent. Or you can sit down on it a little bit, and hit with strength and accuracy. ~ Pound 4 Pound
  4. You have to make your opponent respect your jab right away. After you stop him in his tracks a few times with your jab, he will be looking for it. It is from this point that you can begin working everything else off your jab. If you are feather-fisted with your jab, most guys won't think twice about wading through it in order to fire their own punches at you. Make him fear your jab and then everything else falls into place. ~ 5 o' Clock Shadow 
  5. It's the easiest punch to throw, and landing your jab says "dominating the fight" to most judges. ~ martinburke
  6. It's good for blocking your opponent's vision, so you can give him something that he won't remember.:) ~ martinburke


From: Rastus
Date: 07-Sep-02 07:49 PM

Alright, alright I'll post a second reason to get the party started:

2. It upsets the rhythm of your opponent. When you bang his gloves, forarms, body, forhead, face, etc... it disrupts your opponent's rhythm and train of thought. Keeps him less "together" and grouped and planning your demise.


From: Ron Simpson
Date: 07-Sep-02 08:27 PM

Boxing 101 "Everything works off the jab"...


From: PoundforPound
Date: 07-Sep-02 09:08 PM

It's a very versatile punch. You can throw snappy punches with it, using it as a range-finder or just as a general annoyance for your opponent. Or you can sit down on it a little bit, and hit with strength and accuracy. 

According to a Black Belt magazine interview, Sugar Ray Leonard would sometimes even throw it as a backfist so that he could score from odd angles.


From: Chad Hamzeh
Date: 07-Sep-02 09:22 PM
Edited:07-Sep-02 09:23 PM

Since its your fastest and has the least distance to travel, what are your guys thoughts of leading with your power hand? (i guess that was bruce lees reasoning, hehe)

I wouldn't do it, hate the way i feel on that side, but is it worth adapting? MMA purposes.



From: Rastus
Date: 07-Sep-02 09:41 PM

Converted southpaws can be like that. I guess it's a matter of personal preference and style. For boxing purposes, it would be tough to switch to lefty for a strong jab. Hmmm...I've never really thought about leading with my power hand. Converting to southpaw would be an interesting style! Maybe it would be certainly would be unconventional!

Note about jabbing:I argued one time with Machine May about rotating the shoulders on the jab. Rotating the shoulders is more of a Ted Kid Lewis "straight left" than a jab, but for me the clincher is this - do three jabs in a row without rotating your shoulders, then with rotating your shoulders. Big difference in speed, isn't it? (I'm serious, stand up and throw the punches both ways).

Focusing too much power on the jab defeats the purpose of the jab and interferes with the real power shots.


From: 5 o clock shadow
Date: 07-Sep-02 09:47 PM

You've been my boxing coach while I have been here in Korea, you know that? I have been reading your posts at stickgrappler's and they help my boxing IMMENSELY. I am glad to see you back on here posting. I am still waiting for the thread on body shots that you promised a couple years ago...

Here is the most important thing I learned about the jab from reading your posts and getting out in the ring and seeing what works for me:

You have to make your opponent respect your jab right away. After you stop him in his tracks a few times with your jab, he will be looking for it. It is from this point that you can begin working everything else off your jab. If you are feather-fisted with your jab, most guys won't think twice about wading through it in order to fire their own punches at you. Make him fear your jab and then everything else falls into place.

I never used to do this before. Since I was an inside fighter, I would just try to slip inside right away and start banging. Now I establish my jab, disrupt my opponents timing, and slipping inside is much easier because my opponent has something else to look for and be wary of.



From: martinburke
Date: 07-Sep-02 09:54 PM
Edited:07-Sep-02 09:56 PM

Damn,that didn't take long.:)

It's the easiest punch to throw,and landing your jab says "dominating the fight" to most judges.

It's good for blocking your opponent's vision,so you can give him something that he won't remember.:)

Chad-I think most people are more balanced offensively with your power hand to the rear.


From: Rastus
Date: 07-Sep-02 09:56 PM

5 o clock shadow,
Hey, what's up, buddy? Long time no chat. I'm glad to hear the posts have been helpful! and you just posted an excellent insight too. It's going into slot 4.

(I'm updating the list in the first post for convenience to the reader).


From: JRS3
Date: 08-Sep-02 11:58 AM



From: lefthooker
Date: 08-Sep-02 12:12 PM

I'll post tomorrow. I've got some verrrry good stuff on the jab.


From: LEMon
Date: 08-Sep-02 11:37 PM

Start the begginer off by jabbing with his thumb up, this ensures that he doesnt put his elbow out. Next after a week or two have him twist it at the end and u have a picture perfect jab, now just do it 100 times a day :)


From: Jody
Date: 09-Sep-02 02:33 AM
Member Since: 01-Jan-01

I love the jab because it allows me to take advantage of my reach and I love to hook off of it. A good jab makes a boxer look like an artist or a technician, which is aesthically pleasing to people like us, who know a little bit about it. A brawler can use a jab as well, allowing himself to take small break in between flurries. I could go on, but then I would start being redundant.


From: lefthooker
Date: 09-Sep-02 03:59 AM

LEMon makes some good advice


From: Stickgrappler
Date: 09-Sep-02 08:02 AM

*WOW* you guys wait for me to leave work on friday before posting good info!

special thanks to martinburke for *jabbing* Rastus to contribute :-) and of course to all the others who contributed.


From: Stickgrappler
Date: 09-Sep-02 08:49 AM

many of the regulars know about my website and Frank Benn. but for the sake of the newbies, here is some advice from Frank Benn:


The jab

To me, the art of boxing is founded on the jab. If you've got a jab, you can box. If you don't, then boxing is hard. Simple as that. Without the jab, expect to get hit a lot. The jab helps to make you a good boxer. Without one, you're just a puncher (which can also be effective, but requires specialized attributes to pull it off).

The Can Opener, and the Spoon

There's a saying in boxing that your jab is a can opener, and your cross is a spoon. The opponent is a can of meat. You've got to use your can opener to open the can BEFORE you can use your spoon to dig out the meat. If you try to use your spoon first, you'll generally fail. Even if you like to lead off with a cross (not usually advisable, unless you're Roy Jones, Ali, or a pissed off Jack Johnson), it is advisable that you at least feint a jab to conceal the load-up of your rear shoulder for the cross.

Jab like a fencer

Jabbing is a game of controlled lunging in coordinated footwork to achieve the right range for other things. Some people use the jab in a light way, like a fly swatter. I like to use it light, but also as a heavier punch as well -- a dichotomy which comes from originally learning to box at 175 lbs., but finding myself now at a trim 215-220 lbs. with enough speed AND weight to use it both ways.


From: Stickgrappler
Date: 09-Sep-02 08:50 AM

Boxing Tips for Fighting -- Part 2 -- With Some Street Applications, and Some Advice by Frank Benn

The Jab Revisited

Remember, the jab is your can opener. It precedes most other utensils. Look at it also as your sword. The jab must be fast, and reliable. When you've got nothing else left, you'd better at least have a jab. Insert it into every gap. Use it to probe the opponent's reactions. Imagine that you're blind -- your jab is how you feel for every contour.

Use of the jab ranges from pawing with it to load up your cross (Ali) to using it to conceal your low entry (Chris Byrd, even Royce Gracie) to a damaging tool that will make your man see stars (Larry Holmes). Hurting a man with your jab has to do with how much you bring your lead hip in line with the shot, and how much you shift your weight into it.

Most people don't put anything on their jab, and a decent boxer will not respect it -- as you throw it, he'll come right over the top of it with his cross and knock you out, or slip inside of it and catch you with his hook.

Feinting with the Jab

Before you can even use your jab as a feint, you have to make it believable. Otherwise (as already stated) your opponent will wait for that soldier to leave his post and storm that wall (previous metaphor from other post). Once you've made your jab into something credible and fearful in your opponent's eyes, you can work some other variables with it.

Bread Basket Jab

This is a great way to get the opponent to lower his lead hand and expose his chin. Or, if he won't lower that hand, you just crack away at that floating rib. I've put heavyweights on the floor with breadbasket jabs -- not hard to do if you've got a jab with some starch in it, and you time it when he's coming toward you. You've got to do it as you slip outside or sidestep -- i.e. your head moves on the same first beat that your punch did.

For more of Frank Benn’s insights, check out:

Frank Benn - Some tips and concepts related to the Jab

in which he writes a whole article on the jab.


From: joemurphy
Date: 09-Sep-02 09:18 AM

Rastus - what do you mean by "rotating your shoulders"? Is that the same as rolling your lead shoulder to hide your chin? hmmm....can't say I'm for or against it until I understand it.


From: Stickgrappler
Date: 09-Sep-02 09:19 AM

of course, Rastus wrote "Top 10 Reasons to Jab"


From: LEMon
Date: 13-Sep-02 07:31 PM



From: Rastus
Date: 22-Sep-02 01:47 PM

hey guys,
Did anyone notice on the De La Hoya/Vargas fight, how the Oscars win WAS A CONSEQUENCE OF HIS ESTABLISHING HIS JAB?

He didn't outmuscle Vargas, didn't out bomb him...he outjabbed him. Once this jab was established, it ushered in the bombs.


NOTE: posted to the Underground's Boxing forum. Posted Dec 2008 and backdated to Dec 5, 2002 to mirror my old archives

Other Rastus articles posted:

De La Hoya vs Vargas: The Jab thread started by Rastus

NOTE: I had this thread archived to my 2nd Tripod site ages ago. Tripod took down my second archives. In time, I will be adding to this blog some of the info that was up there. My thanks to someholdsbarred and waise pairasta for their help.


From: Rastus
Date: 22-Sep-02 01:51 PM
Edited:22-Sep-02 01:57 PM, Edited:22-Sep-02 01:53 PM

Did anyone notice on the De La Hoya/Vargas fight, how Oscars win WAS A CONSEQUENCE OF HIS ESTABLISHING HIS JAB?

He didn't outmuscle Vargas, didn't out bomb him...he outjabbed him. Once this jab was established, it ushered in the bombs.

This fight is a great study for people who don't believe the critical importance of the jab in boxing, or who accept the point without implementing the punch.

From: KS
Date: 22-Sep-02 07:36 PM

Rastus I agree, but isn't Dela hoya's jab stronger than most--after all he is a natural southpaw, so his jab and hook are his most powerful weapons.

From: dolemite_112
Date: 22-Sep-02 09:40 PM
Edited:22-Sep-02 09:40 PM

Rastus! I've been usin the jab more in my mma situations to bring the guy in, then havin my way, lovin it.


From: Rastus
Date: 22-Sep-02 11:23 PM


His jabs are strong, no doubt...but one can also develop a devistating jab without being a converted southpaw. Yes, they are probably more powerful than most. I'm telling you guys, establishing a jab is a devistating advantage.


EXCELLENT!!! So that strategy's working? F*ck, I always thought it would!

From: ron den otter
Date: 23-Sep-02 12:35 PM

Rastus, before the fight, a lot of people singled out DLH's superior jab as one of the best reasons why DLH would beat Vargas.

From: Rastus
Date: 23-Sep-02 02:28 PM

interesting, ron. I would have agreed with them.

I want you all to imagine something (and for those who've experienced it, you'll know what I mean) - you're boxing an opponent who keeps pop...POP POP!...popping you with a jab...keeping you at the end of his punches, forcing you to throw heavy punches from the outside, which he always seems to duck under or're nose is bleeding, you're head is hurting, you're frustrated, then you start getting caught with big punches AFTER being blinded and disoriented in that flash.

It's disheartening and debilitating, and it's something Vargas experienced first hand with De La Hoya.

From: JRS3
Date: 23-Sep-02 03:35 PM

Rastus, what did you think of Oscar's shoulder roll?

From: Rastus
Date: 23-Sep-02 07:21 PM

He seems to be comfortable using it, and it's been effective for him. What I don't like about it is that it can put one out of position to attack.

If it's working for him though, as it appears to be, and he can integrate an offense with it, as well as the capacity to just make an opponent miss, more power to him.

From: billy jee
Date: 24-Sep-02 11:00 PM

the jab saved lennox from the potentials of a massacre. Hoya is a skilled technician, shoulder rolling, feints, slick jabs on 1/2 beat etc,hi lo hi combos, beautiful artistry. DLH's new style is called the peek a boo lead hand low other hand by face, chin and shoulder. He’s definatly getting used to it. he seemed to get walloped a considerable amount in the vargas fight. I think he is most deadly on his toes, footwork and a determining factor of an altercation of two equally skilled opponents is BROKEN Rhythym.. DLH is nice with the hands.

From: Rastus
Date: 25-Sep-02 12:54 AM

good observations, billy jee. I agree.

Some people say, "why jab to the body? Doesn't hurt him..."

It does. Makes him feel vulnerable and take him a little bit out of his game.

Jabbing to the body is a good way into a man's head.

From: JRS3
Date: 25-Sep-02 09:19 AM

Cool thread. TTT.

From: GT99
Date: 25-Sep-02 09:48 AM

Its true, the jab is the most important punch in Boxing....always has been and always will be, Alot of todays fighters have neglected the jab, but I can see the trend coming back, the jab is the one punch that can dominate a fight.....DLH has proved what the jab can do....look at Forrest using the jab to dominate Mosley.

I fight as a heavyweight and I am one of the shorter guys at 5'9, but even against a tall opponent, I still use the jab alot.....maybe not as much, but it is the punch that gets things going....whether it is to set up another punch or if it is used to get in close

As far as shoulder rolls go.....I think Oscar is naturally good and can use anything he learns, however I believe he is much better at just boxing like he used to, the Mayweather defence is great and very effective but I think you need to learn it from the beginning, Oscar gets hit more now....sure some shots are not really landing but alot are and the ones that dont land are still annoying you....they scrape alot of the times and your shoulders will look like they took a beating.

From: ron den otter
Date: 25-Sep-02 11:02 AM

Oddly enough, during the first round, Tyson was able to land a number of jabs against Lewis. It was downhill from there, however,...

From: Rastus
Date: 25-Sep-02 01:31 PM


Its true, the jab is the most important punch in Boxing

That simply can't be stated enough times. I state this in so many of my threads, I make a broken record sound unpredictable.

look at Forrest using the jab to dominate Mosley.

Absolutely! IMO the prime reason Mosely lost is that he was dominated by Forrest's jab. Mosely would leap into these attacks, which Forest was well trained to counter.

maybe not as much, but it is the punch that gets things going....whether it is to set up another punch or if it is used to get in close

It's the facilitator...the oil in the engine. When the jab's working, everything else seems to be so much more smooth and easy.

The one thing I like about Oscar's shoulder roll is mental - it allows him, apparently, to enjoy boxing more. The benefits of that enjoyment may be sharper timing, more dedication and longevity. He does seem to get hit more and I think, though a shoulder roll can block a punch, or cause it to glance off, it leaves one slightly out of position.

NOTE: posted to the Underground's Boxing forum. Posted Dec 8, 2008 and backdated to Dec 5, 2002 to mirror my old archives

Other Rastus articles posted:

Terminology and Stance thread started by lefthooker

NOTE: I had this thread archived to my 2nd Tripod site ages ago. Tripod took down my second archives. In time, I will be adding to this blog some of the info that was up there. My thanks to someholdsbarred and waise pairasta for their help.

From: lefthooker
Date: 18-Nov-02 10:41 AM

Terminology and Stance

Terms of Direction, Forward, Backward, Outside and Inside.

In teaching my system of boxing the direction of the different punches and moves are very important. Forward and backward are self explanatory. I do not use the terms left or right as it relates to direction. It is easier to use the terms OUTSIDE and INSIDE to determine and refer to lateral direction. These moves can be employed by either the right-handed or the left handed boxer.

Lateral movement is started from the center of the body. For the right handed boxer movement to his left (toward his jab) is referred to as movement to the OUTSIDE. Movement that starts to his right (toward his power hand) is referred to as movement to the INSIDE. For the left handed fighter the terms remain the same. Any move that starts towards his jab hand is to the OUTSIDE and any move towards his power hand is going to his INSIDE.

Proper On Guard (Stance) position. The proper stance is very critical. All offense, defense and movement must come from a balanced and relaxed stance. There are many different stances depending on the preference of the of the trainer and the boxer. Some stances are very square with almost the entire body with the shoulders and hips in a straight line and both feet in a straight line. Others are slanted at an angle with the rear shoulder almost hidden. Some boxers have a severe parallel stance showing very little of their body with their feet at a right angle to their head.

The directions for the stance that I use in my system will be described for the right handed boxer. For the left handed boxer the stance is the same just reverse the directions.

  1. Place your left foot directly in front of your left shoulder.
  2. Place your right foot under your right shoulder, step back with your right foot about 18 inches and turn your right foot to approximately a 45 degree angle. There should be a slight angle with the back shoulder directly over the right foot.
  3. You should be in a comfortable stance, bend both knees slightly and sit slightly, dropping down an inch or two. Raise your right heal so that you are resting on your entire left foot and the front half of your right foot. You should feel a bit "springy" and loose, not at all tight.
  4. Tuck your chin into the center of your chest so that you can see forward with the tops your eyes. All you need is a very narrow focus. You should focus your gaze on your opponents shoulders, you want to see any hint of movement.
  5. With your elbows close to your body, turn your hands and palms forward with the fingers open, do not make a fist. Keeping your hands in a tight fist will only tire your hands and arms and make them react slowly.
  6. The left hand should be over the left foot.
  7. The right hand should be just in front of right ear. There should be about a 6 inch open area between your hands.

From: lefthooker
Date: 18-Nov-02 10:42 AM

Because of the different physical and individual characteristics of each person the stance can be modified to fit the boxer. The spread between the legs can be adjusted but you should have good balance, the rear leg should too far or close together. A good way to check your stance is to see if you can sit down and make a "U" by moving up and down from one leg to the other and back again. If you can your stance should be corre

From: Stickgrappler
Date: 18-Nov-02 11:15 AM

this is from your booklet or your coach's booklet, right? i vaguely recall you mentioning this.


From: lefthooker
Date: 18-Nov-02 11:16 AM

Yes this is from the boxing manual that we created. Once we meet up we're going to make a video as well.

From: martinburke
Date: 18-Nov-02 04:05 PM


From: Nikto
Date: 19-Nov-02 05:13 AM

Lefthooker, are you a trainer?

Any info on the left hook? :)

From: lefthooker
Date: 19-Nov-02 06:09 AM

No I am just an aspiring boxer. I'll post something on the left hook later.
From: wanderer
Date: 19-Nov-02 10:24 AM

Awesome post. Threads like these are so much more interesting than "Roy Jones sucks ass" or "So-and so is the best". This kind of thread is why I keep coming back to this forum.

From: JoeyCrawford
Date: 19-Nov-02 11:14 PM

Well, I was going to make a whole new thread but you sound like a good guy to ask about this: I'm about 6'3" or 6'4" and anywhere from 175-185, so I'm taller but less powerful than most guys I fight. So should I still only squat slightly to take advantage of my height or should I "sit down" in my stance more to even out the power part? Here's a quote to take into consideration:

"An advantage is only an advantage if you take advantage of it."
- Dikembe Mutombo

Date: 20-Nov-02 12:06 AM

thats a good question crawford, me id use my size and reach, did you see the morales/barrera 2, if you did you see how morales is trying to stand tall and use his reach, i dont like the stand straight up style,id stand tall and use my size and reach like lennox does also

From: lefthooker
Date: 20-Nov-02 07:36 AM

I'd stand tall, but still have a little bend in your knees of course.

From: wanderer
Date: 20-Nov-02 09:14 AM

What if it's the opposite? Me, I'm about 5'8" and around 156-158 lbs. I'm actually shorter than most guys in that weight class. Many guys are going to have height and reach on me. Should I do the opposite thing that Joey should do, and get even lower into a crouch?

I remember someone saying"If you have a tall guy, make him fight tall, and if you have a short guy, make him shorter." Something like that.


From: lefthooker
Date: 20-Nov-02 11:43 AM

you don't have to be in a crouch, no need to make yourself smaller than yoiu alrerady are, just fine the right level of stance for yourself and work from there.

From: martinburke
Date: 20-Nov-02 01:27 PM

I'm with them,Joey.Fight tall.Make the other guy reach for you-that'll make your punches that much more effective.

"Sitting down" all the time ends up being more like "setting your feet";you'll end up trading more.

Why give up your strength to play into theirs?

The only time you may need to make yourself smaller is if you find yourself moving straight back.Close yourself up for that split second(at least you hope)before you come to your senses and circle out of there..
From: jcruz
Date: 20-Nov-02 02:05 PM

good stuff, indeed, lefthooker. sounds alot like my instructor and what i get in class. reading this post and the reactions certainly re-enforces the fact that i'm getting excellent training.

thanks again.

From: tacticalfighter
Date: 21-Nov-02 12:42 PM
Edited:21-Nov-02 01:07 PM


I am 6'2 and 195-200 (up from 185-190 last year), I too share the same concern, some of my sparring partners are stronger 215, or 230 lbs. Luckily, since I am leaner, and happen to be faster and lighter on my feet. Develope your punching speed by relaxing, working lots of reps on the bags, shadowboxing combinations fast and light. Get back to basics, work one round just jabbing, one crossing, etc. Speed and endurance work well for me. And don't get me wrong the guys say I am a hard hitter( anyone using good mechanics and weighing over 150lbs can hit hard-if you weigh 185 to 200 thats harder yet) But developing the good attributes you have now will be easier than developing new attributes. Same goes with skill acquisition-polishing what you have is faster than learning new skills. (Though you should also work on your weaknesses too, but you may find encouragement from some nice quick improvements!)

And work on your foot work by jump roping. I don't know how much you rope, but I try to do 3-5 rounds each training day as my warm up. I skip stationary for 1 round, then I skip forward and backwards, and hop side to side with both feet for a couple rounds. Single leg skipping adds variety too, but wears you out quicker. Also spend a few rounds just working foot work. Step and slide, slide and step, shuffle, pivot circling one way then the other. On Sunday, one of my conditioning days, I will work 3-5 rounds of foot work with a rubber strength bands looped to the wall with a heavy duty eye bolt and to my weight belt by the handles. I then work foot work drills a round with resistance facing forward away from the wall, the next round facing the wall. Damn good workout!



NOTE: posted to the Underground's Boxing forum..

Originally posted to this site on Dec 22, 2008 - edited today Nov 27, 2013 to mirror my old site's posting of Dec 5, 2002. Copied from

The Definitive Jab thread started by lefthooker

NOTE: I had this thread archived to my 2nd Tripod site ages ago. Tripod took down my second archives. In time, I will be adding to this blog some of the info that was up there. My thanks to someholdsbarred and waise pairasta for their help.

From: lefthooker
Date: 18-Nov-02 10:37 AM

Introduction to the Jab

The JAB is the most used punch in boxing, this is because the Left JAB (for right handed) people is the punch that is closest to your opponent. Normally thrown with the elbow straight, the punch is the quickest and safest punch that can be thrown. It will set up any other punches that will be thrown in combinations. It can be used either in offense or defense. By adjusting your footwork as you throw the JAB you can to move to different directions in the ring. The punch can be thrown at different speeds, from different angles and you can adjust the about of power behind the punch. The JAB can be a light flicking punch that probes for openings or can be a hard jolt that can almost be a knockout punch on it's own. Some noted boxers that have relied on the use the JAB are Oscar De La Hoya who employed a hard stiff JAB, Floyd Mayweather Jr. who uses a FLICKING JAB to set up his power punch and Larry Holmes who used an UP JAB to raise the chin of his opponent for his power punch. Each JAB was thrown differently but the all had the same result, to set up other punches and help build successful careers.

OFFENSIVE JABS- Offensive Jabs begin when the front foot moves first into a different position, usually a change of angle will result. On the completion of the JAB an attack will commence.

DEFENSIVE JABS- Defensive Jabs begin when the back foot moves first into a different position, usually a change of angle will result. On completion of the JAB you can attack or you can gain further distance.

The Jab – Part 1: The Offensive Jabs

The following will describe the 5 offensive jabs. For a right handed person they will be jabs thrown with the left hand.

The BASIC JAB When the BASIC JAB (I refer to it as the JAB when training) is thrown your relative position does not change. The mechanics of the punch are thus. While standing in your normal stance,

1. Step forward with your left foot about 1 foot pushing off of your right instep.

2. Thrust your left hand straight out at the same time.

3. Turn your right palm to your left to cover your face.

With practice these 3 movements will be done at the exact same time. When the punch is completed, the left hand, left foot and right palm will go back into the position of the original stance. In effect you are throwing a left jab and right block. The right hand will catch any straight punch coming back at you. If you keep the correct distance from your opponent he will be unable to counter you with any other punch other then a jab or possibly a straight right hand. It is possible to place your right hand by your right ear when you jab if your opponent insists on trying to counter you with a left hook. You can even place your right palm by your left ear to counter right hand counters. I suggest you place it in front of your face as it is the most likely target when trying to counter you jab.

The FORWARD JAB: The FORWARD JAB will allow you to gain distance on your opponent. This will allow you to get closer to him while still punching. This will set up quick combinations of hooks and uppercuts. This is especially important when boxing someone who is taller and has a longer reach then you. The only difference between the mechanics of the BASIC JAB and the FORWARD JAB is that upon throwing the punch and stepping with the left foot you do not retract the left foot but bring the right foot forward so that you are in your original stance. This movement will bring you forward, ready for a quick attack upon your opponent.

The BACKWARD JAB: The BACKWARD JAB will allow you to increase the distance between you and your opponent. This will allow you to be at a distance where you cannot be countered directly. This will make your opponent come forward to you if he desires to attack. From then on you can set up pivots and counters to stop his attack. The only difference between the BASIC JAB and the BACKWARD JAB is that upon throwing the punch you dip down slightly and then step back with your right foot about 8 inches. You then bring your left foot back into your original stance. This movement can be very effective as you can punch and see what type of defense your opponent uses against your jab. It is possible to move your right foot to your inside (right) or to your outside (left) this will change your angle. It is good to vary this move, it will make it difficult for your opponent to know which direction you intend to go.

The OUTSIDE JAB: The OUTSIDE JAB will allow you to step diagonally to your left as you jab. This will bring you to an angle so that an attack can be made while your opponent should be on his heels and off balance. The only difference between the BASIC JAB and the OUTSIDE JAB is that instead of stepping directly forward with your left foot, you step forward and to your outside (left) you then pivot on the ball of your left foot and bring your right foot into your original stance. The distance you step and the speed of the pivot will allow you to make the move wider or narrower depending on where you want to end up.

The INSIDE JAB The INSIDE JAB will allow you to step diagonally to your right as you jab. This will bring you to a angle so that an attack can be made to the back of your opponent (if his is right handed). This angle cannot be countered and is very effective. The only difference between the BASIC JAB and the INSIDE JAB is that after you have thrown the punch (while stepping forward) step to your inside (right) with your right foot then pivot slightly to your inside on the ball of your left foot. This will change your angle so that a straight right hand should land cleanly.

HAND POSITIONING The left hand normally is held high, the thumb held about the height of the nose. You can also throw any of the OFFENSIVE JABS from a low position with the hand held just above the waist. This will make the jab come from a different angle and make it harder to block. Any of the above jabs can be thrown in this manner. It is a bit more dangerous and it is imperative that you bring the jab hand back to a HIGH position after you jab so that you can defend against a jab or right hand counter. There are times you can bring the left hand back to the low position it you desire to counter your opponents counter. I will explain this later in the tactics section of this manual.

FLICK JAB The FLICK JAB is a jab that is thrown with the left hand held high (the elbow is at a level of the shoulder with the glove held near your chest), the left hand is thrust out so that the knuckles just touch your opponents face. The hand flicks out and in quickly in a flicking motion. This punch is not powerful but will confuse your opponent as it makes it very hard for him to set himself up to punch back. The flicking jab is used to set up a right hand. This is especially true for boxers that like to use a lot of movement.

The disadvantage of the FLICK JAB is that there is little power to it and it is almost impossible to throw the left hook or the left uppercut after the FLICK JAB is thrown. And because of the angle of the elbow the left hand can not be used for parries. However, it is a good punch to have in your arsenal, used once in a while it will give your opponent something else to think about during a fight.

The Jab – Part 2: The Defensive Jab

The DEFENSIVE JAB is used to keep an on rushing opponent at a distance and allow you to quickly change angles for a counter attack.

The mechanics of the DEFENSIVE JAB are:

1. Throw out the left hand as in the offensive jab.

2. Turn your right thumb so that the right glove is in front of your face.

3. Step back with the right foot about 1 foot while leaving the left foot in place.

4. Bring back the left foot so that you are in your original stance. These 3 steps are done very quickly and almost instantly. With practice it will all flow seemlessly into one move and you will be able to place yourself at a distance from your opponent.

Inside and Outside Defensive Jabs: It is possible to change angles when using the DEFENSIVE JAB. Instead of stepping directly back with the right foot you can step to either the INSIDE or OUTSIDE to change your angle to either direction. This will allow you to set up a right hand and be in excellent defensive position. Practice the DEFENSIVE JAB moving to different angles and setting up the counter. This is a very important tactic and should be a part of every boxers inventory of punches.

From: Stickgrappler
Date: 18-Nov-02 11:15 AM


From: Bull_in_chinashop
Date: 18-Nov-02 11:42 AM

Excellent! ttt

From: 5 o clock shadow
Date: 20-Nov-02 11:30 PM


Can the flick jab be kinda like a backhand (backfist)? I saw James Toney use this one a lot from his lead-hand-down, look-over-the-shoulder stance. It almost looked like a backhand.

Also, this is a GREAT thread. The jab is the most important punch in boxing. I also seem to pick up little details from these threads on the basics.



From: koralwarrior
Date: 21-Nov-02 12:11 AM

lesson in jabs = Marco Antonio Barrera

From: wanderer
Date: 21-Nov-02 08:39 AM


From: 5 o clock shadow
Date: 21-Nov-02 09:03 AM


Care to add your two cents about the "jabber-cut?"


From: tacticalfighter
Date: 21-Nov-02 11:58 AM

Good posts!

From: martinburke
Date: 21-Nov-02 02:48 PM

fos-That flick jab is just a quarter-turn of the wrist away from being a backhand.And even a flick jab can be "illegal" if you don't close your fist.

That being said,in a pro fight,it'll depend on the ref,and your reputation,as to whether it gets enforced or not.

I remember talking to an old photographer back toward the end of Ali's career.He mentioned that Sports Illustrated and other mags wouldn't buy many of his Ali pics because they would capture him turning his thumb forward during his open-gloved flick jab.

It wasn't a side of Ali that SI readers wanted to see,I guess.

From: wanderer
Date: 21-Nov-02 04:42 PM
Edited:21-Nov-02 05:06 PM

martinburke is that true?? Holy shit that blows my mind. Not that I thought Ali would never be dirty, but...he is such an icon that I just wouldn't associate him with doing that.

I guess it's kind of like Marciano hitting Walcott with his forearm..the great ones were great, but they all took a shortcut now and again...:)

From: LEMon
Date: 22-Nov-02 02:15 AM

The jabbercut is basically a jab with your palm turned up. It travels from your face, in a downward then upward arc about 4 inches, designed to lift the chin. U must be very careful of his right hand doing this, its nice if u combine it with a left hook or and overhand right after. I have caught alot of guys with it but u gotta be prepared for what happens after, either have a combo ready to flow into or dont do it because u will get nailed if u dont move quick or hit with a combo. Judah used it well against Kostya, he slipped left and right and as he slipped left again he had it loaded and leaped into it. Naseem uses the same thing as well. As i said u can get nailed if u do it to much and they expect it.

From: 5 o clock shadow
Date: 22-Nov-02 03:14 AM


I tend to use the jabber-cut when I tilt backwards from a blow. Without resetting, I'll fire the lead hand out and up-wards. Bruce Lee has a picture of this in the Dao of Jeet Kune Do labeled as "the elusive lead." I also like to use the jabber-cut from a slip to the left. As I am coming up, I fire the jab outwards. Due to the angle of my stance, it is most comfortable for me to hold my fist facing up.


I heard that Ali had a certain technique, a flick that he would use on the end of his flicking jabs to cut people. Some people said he picked it up from a Karate guy. I remember Mills Lane talking about it once on a documentary. He said that Ali would cut people up like he had a razor.


From: martinburke
Date: 22-Nov-02 02:28 PM
Edited:22-Nov-02 04:00 PM

wanderer-I don't know if it was 100% true;he may have been stretching the truth a bit as far as the frequency.But I've seen a few photos of him doing that very thing.

As far as being a dirty fighter,well,it's human nature.It's not like we're throwing kisses to begin with.A punch to the head with murderous intent differs from a thumb to the eye only in degree.

fos:I think most people would find a palm-up jab more comfortable in that instance(after slipping to the left-especially from the peekaboo).don't know why it's not taught more.

About that Ali technique-you can't do it so much with the gloves today,but back then you could flick the tip of an open glove and it would pop like a whip,especially after it had gotten wet.

He wasn't the only one to do it.There was guy called Orlando Zulueta(sp?)who couldn't break an egg,but he'd slice people open like that,too.

From: Sobolewski
Date: 22-Nov-02 03:14 PM

lefthooker: Are you writing a book? If so, I'll be one of the first ones in line to buy a copy! Great stuff!

From: lefthooker
Date: 22-Nov-02 06:18 PM

Me and a friend of mine who trains fighters at Gleasons wrote a boxing manual. We have the first copy completed.

This is just an excerpt from our manual.

From: Sobolewski
Date: 23-Nov-02 03:21 AM

Let us all know when it's available! Seriously!

From: Bramacharya
Date: 24-Nov-02 11:49 AM


This is the kind of information I’ve been looking for, would definitely be interested in obtaining a copy of your manual.


NOTE: posted to the Underground's Boxing forum.

Originally posted to this site on Dec 22, 2008 - edited today Nov 27, 2013 to mirror my old site's posting of Dec 5, 2002. Copied from

Thursday, May 23, 2002

Archone's Updated Weapons Drills

In my previous installment, I described a series of drills, designed to attain basic mastery of most weapons. Shortly after finishing it, I realized that I had excluded many differant weapons and styles. Whether with one or two hands, the weapons used with the previous drills are all SINGLE SURFACE WEAPONS. That means that they have a single striking surface. Furthermore, I failed to take into account the limitations of a student who does not have a job that involves hours spent on an empty lot, with weapon in hand, free to train as he or she pleases. Lastly, I made new discoveries in my studies of weaponry, and have to account for these new areas as well. These new drills will cover everything but flailing weapons such as a chain or nunchuku.

First, let's touch on HOW to strike.

I'm going to go off on a tangent here(and possibly take a lot of flak from groaning "hardcore" types), but please bear with me. Capcom, a noted manufacturer of video games, achieved international acclaim with the release of their instant classic, "Street Fighter II." Arcades had lines going out the door, for people wanting to play SFII. Today, I find it almost impossible to find anyone in the 20-30 age bracket who admits to having played SFII, or even responds to the name. Must be a case of mass amnesia, or something.

ANYHOW... SFII's characters were notable for two areas. Let's disregard the area of "special attacks" that involve massive fireballs and jumping uppercuts. The OTHER area, was that each fighter had three punch and three kick attacks. A "jab" or light attack, a "strong" or medium attack attack, and a "fierce" or powerful attack. Naturally, most early players adopted a strategy of only using fierce attacks. Okay, that's enough discussion of video games.

Now back to weapons training. Weapons training ALSO has three attack types possible. As this is MY system of training, I named them myself, quite imaginitively if I do say so. I call them, "Type 1," "Type 2," and "Type 3" attacks types. I call them this, because of the number of arm joints involved.

A TYPE 1 ATTACK involves only one arm joint in the execution. Specifically, the wrist. The hand is either held out, or shoots out in a flickering movement, while the power comes entirely from the wrist motion, in a type 3 lever action(Resistance at the tip, Force in the middle, Fulcrum at the end). If you are holding the weapon in a two handed grip, it becomes a type 3 lever in conjuction with a type 1, the most powerful lever possible(Resistance at one end, Fulcrum in the middle, Force at the other end). This is the fastest possible attack type.

A TYPE 2 ATTACK involves TWO arm joints. The elbow joint straightens out, bringing the awesome power of the tricep(well, it's awesome if you've done a lot of pushups, anyway...). At the same time, the wrist bends as with a Type 1 attack, combining the power of both joint in TWO type 3 levers(or if you use two hands, three type threes with a type 1). A much more powerful strike, but slower and harder to recover from.

A TYPE 3 ATTACK involves THREE arm joints. As the first two joints extend and flex, the shoulder brings those chest and back muscles into play. FURTHERMORE, the body drives off the hips, either from a stationary stance or stepping forward or back, getting the power of the legs and abdominals into the strike as well. Three type 3 levers(or five plus a type 1) in the arm alone, plus the considerably more complicated(to describe, anyway) power generation of the body. This is THE most POWERFUL attack type possible. Also slow as hell, but...

For the record, a thrust is a type 3 attack, as it involes the use of all three joints, plus the body. And it should be practiced with ANY weapon, regardless of configuration. A club tip jabbed into the stomach works very well(as long as it's not a collapsable baton), as will a hammer or hatchet head shoved into the face. It's especially effective with such weapons, because it's unexpected.

The weapon you use determines the attack types you'll use. A type 1 is most useful with a knife or saber, a light slashing weapon. The rattan escrima sticks can also be used effectively with a type 1 attack. Surprisingly, a hand axe, hatchet, or tomahawk can also be used with a type 1, as the head heavy balance gives it the ability to gash and hack a target with this motion. A type 2 attack is useful with almost any weapon you can carry, from club, to sword, to knife, to axe. A type 3 attack is useful with any heavy hacking or bludgeoning weapon, such as a hickory club-but not a light rattan stick- or axe handle, hatchet, hammer, heavy sword.

Next, we'll touch on the angles again. If you're reading this, you're almost undoubtedly familiar with the concept of angles. Here's my designation of nine angles:

2 1 3
\ | /
/ | \
6 8 7

That's it. Other people use their own system of numbering. This is mine. If you really want to, superimpose your labeling over mine. "Take the best, and leave the rest."

Now comes the drills. Modified, and updated. Do you have an hour and a half a day to spare? That's all this will require.

First, choose your weapon, and the attack type you'll train in. You can choose another attack type to study later, you can choose another weapon to train in later. Please only choose a single surface weapon, though, for your initial weapon. LATER, you can study DOUBLE SURFACE WEAPONS. Start with simpler stuff. This will take you about 2 months.

Month 1: Basic techniques.

In the first week, practice 100, that's one hundred, ten tens, of each of the nine attacks, with the chosen attack type, every day, each hand(for single surfaced weapons that require both hands, i.e. a baseball bat, a katana, etc. switch between left and right handed grips). That's eighteen hundred techniques per day. You can do it first thing in the morning, you can do it in the evening after work. Doesn't matter. 1800 strikes/24 hours. That's all that matters. Also important is that you focus on the technique. Don't just throw it as fast and hard as you can. For this first week, emphasize the technical aspect. If you make a mistake throwing a technique, strike it from the tally and do it again("...80, 81, 82...oops, that one was off...82, 83, 84...). This should take you no more than an hour, assuming an average of one strike every 2 seconds.

In the second week, you'll begin double strike combos. First, deliver ALL the two strike combos that start with a angle 1 strike, i.e. double 1s, 1 2, 1 3, 1 4, etc. Five repetitions of each combo. Then five reps of each combo with the other hand. Then back to the first hand, for all the strikes that begin with a angle 2 strike, etc. This assumes 1620 strikes/day, and an estimated practice time of 28 minutes. Half an hour a day.

For the last two weeks, you'll work on triple strike combos. Let me showcase the "matrix" for the combos.


That's all 81 three strike combos that can start with an angle 1 attack. So you'd do an angle 1 twice, followed by each of the nine angles, for the first nine attacks, then imediately move one to 1,2,X, then 1,3,X, etc. Perform all of them in sequence, only 1 rep of each. Then do the other hand. Then the combos that start with angle 2 strikes, etc. That's 4374 strikes per day, but by now, you'll be delivering them with far greater speed, in rapid combos. Figure at least 1 strike per second, for an estimated time of about an hour and a half each day. Do this every day, for the next two weeks.

Now, you've trained your body to deliver technically proper strikes in rapid combos, even under stressful conditions. I recommend that you keep up your training in the triple strike combo drills, just to stay in practice, further hone your abilities, and maintain your callausses.

Month 2: Accuracy and speed

I used to use empty soda cans for this. Sheets of scrap paper crumpled into a ball works even better, and is easier on your weapon, as well. For a week, practice tossing the target into the air, then striking it out of the air. Do thrusts as well. These will be the toughest. But if you can get the "point recognition" necessary to spear a paper ball with the tip of your sword or stick, then you'll have AWESOME control over your weapon, which will show itself when you spar. And when you fight for real.

Second week, practice tossing two targets into the air, then striking them both out of the sky.

Third and fourth weeks, focus on hitting three targets at once. These will be the toughest, since this is supposed to be a treatise on solo drills, and it's difficult to toss three paper balls into the air in such a way that you can then strike them with three seperate attacks.

Okay, that's it for basic offensive training with a single surface weapon. Now let's move on to double surfaced weapons.

A DOUBLE SURFACE WEAPON, means a weapon with more than one striking area. This means any weapon that is used in pairs, such as a pair of knives, a brace of rapiers, double baston escrima. This also means two weapons used together, like combining a knife with a sword, or grabbing up a screwdriver as an improvised reverse grip knife in conjuction with a 1 1/2" crescent wrench as a club. This ALSO includes the quarterstaff, as a staff, in functional use, is a pair of sticks, joined together at the handles, to increase the power of the strikes thereby.

To learn to use a double surfaced weapon, first learn to use the single surface weapon. That means take the single baton, the single katana, the one knife, and train with it under the methods outlined above.

A double surface weapon allows for a far greater variety of attacks, and far faster combos, since you can strike with the second weapon while recovering with the first. Unfortunately, double surface weapons also require far more control. Having practiced using the weapon with one hand, you definately know how to deliver single strikes(I'll discuss the quarterstaff in greater detail later), precisely and accurately. So we'll go straight to combos.

In the first two weeks, you'll work on two strike combos. But with two weapons, combos become far more varied. With just the angle 1 attack, you have four possible combos: Left Left, Right Right, Left Right, and Right Left. Mathematically, it works out to 18 squared, or 324 possible 2 strike combos. Five of each. 3240 strikes a day. Assuming at least one strike per second, that's a workout time of just under an hour. It WILL be difficult at first, learning to coordinate the strikes. That's what this is for.

In the next month and a half, you'll practice triple strike combos. Now, it's 18 cubed, or 5832 possible combos. Just with angle 1 strikes, you're looking at EIGHT possible combos:

Left Left Left
Right Right Right
Left Left Right
Right Right Left
Left Right Right
Right Left Left
Left Right Left
Right Left Right

You're not even going to try to do ONE rep of each combo. Not unless you have five hours a day to spare. Instead, you'll divide the training into thirds. The first day, you'll do all the combos that begin with the first three angles. The second day, you'll work on the second three angles. Finally, on the last day, you'll start with angle sevens and end with thrusting nines.

I find that the easiest way of keeping track of the combos, is to do the first set of 81 combos(all the ones that start with an angle one) entirely with the left hand. Then, without pausing, move on to all the angle 1 combos that focus entirely on the right hand. Then the Left Left Rights, Right Right Lefts, and so one, just as I stated above. After 1 and a half months of daily practice, you'll have done 14 of each combo. I suggest you keep this up. Even if you were working on single surface practice before, practicing two single surface weapons at once will not only maximize your efficient use of time, but also increase your control over both weapons thereby. Furthermore, you've been swinging a weapon every day, for(assuming you went straight from completing your training with a single surface weapon to using two weapons in tandem or suchlike) for four months. Look in the mirror. Are you a little leaner? A little more muscular(Oh, did you decide to use an axe or heavy sword? A LOT more muscular, then)? The hell with Tae Bo...

Now, a little aside as to how to properly use a quarterstaff. I said the staff is used as two sticks joined together. I meant it. Forget what you've been taught about slamming the stick into your armpits with every strike. The idea is to hit the OTHER guy with the ends of the staff, not yourself.

First, take the quarterstaff in the traditional grip, divided into thirds. Now, let go with one hand, and hold it as though it were a single stick. Now, deliver type 1 attacks, practicing with each hand. Good. Now, grab the staff in the traditional grip once again. Now, again deliver type one attacks with each hand, while AT THE SAME TIME, you guide the other end of the stick, with a hooking, uppercut, or overhand motion. Thus, the right hand strikes with the left tip, and the left hand adds power to the blow, while when the left hand strikes with the right tip, the right hand guides it and adds power. When you deliver what would be a forehand strike with a single stick, like say a type five attack with the right hand, the other (right end, in our example)end swings down and comes up on the other side of your body, while the other hand(left) makes a backhand motion. It sound complicated, but try it, and you'll see that it's like doing figure eight moulinets, it looks fancier than it actually is.

Practice doing these strikes, every day, for the next couple of weeks. Then proceed to the double surface combo drills as outlined above. I recommend you use a FULL staff, made of heavy oak, instead of the lightweight competition bos. Not only will it accustom you to using heavier objects such as metal poles as improvised staves in a pinch, but if you are into competitions, then using a heavy staff will make those flimsy little sticks fly in your hands like magic.

Next time I post, it'll be on so called "special moves," a la streetfighter(only more realistic), that can be applied to real weapons in real life situations(as opposed to swinging a wooden sword and cutting down a skyscraper on the other side of the street, or whatever your favorite fantasy character likes to do...), as well as defensive training.

Well, that's it for this installment. Any feedback would be much appreciated, send it to:

NOTE: Posted 8/5/2014 and backdated to 5/23/2002 to mirror my old site. As the contact email was from 2002, it may not work anymore, but take out the "NOSPAM" before emailing. At the time of mirroring, this article on the old site received at least 2,258 pageviews.

Thursday, April 11, 2002

Mobility and the Snap Front Kick by Gerald Moffatt

Mobility and the Snap Front Kick by Gerald Moffatt

Date: 1999/01/10 

I had real trouble posting the previous version and I'm not sure it got through - if this is a repost I apologize. Here's the whole series in one go.


Here's another of my mini-series for your delectation and edification. Feedback, questions, comments, critiques, even flames are welcome.

There is a discussion of the Thai-style application of the front and roundhouse kicks in the February issue of Black Belt magazine which, while cursory, is a lot better than most of BB's articles. The article discusses using the lead-leg front kick either to maintain distance or to unbalance, disrupt, and set up the opponent for the powerful Thai roundhouse kick. The article also mentions the occasional use of the rear-leg front kick as a power kick. The Thai form of the lead-leg front kick is usually delivered as a thrust or even just a push - kinda, sorta a leg jab. This can be a very effective way to use the front kick. (As an aside, the article even mentions the cross-body bent-knee Thai roundhouse which lands the shin very roughly horizontally across the opponent's thigh. Great move!) The BB article and the thread on Thai kicks and its digression into oblique kicks made me want to bring up a slightly-unusual application of the good old-fashioned front kick that I think would be more popular if it were better known.

To get started I believe that there are three (rather than two) fundamental ways to deliver a front-kick: the thrust, snap, and (the less-emphasized or well-known) rising/momentum versions. I'm going to continue to neglect the thrust and rising/momentum versions (although I think they are effective) to talk about a particular way to use the snap front kick, mostly from the front leg. This kick is definitely not a finisher, even when repeatedly landed - it is a supplementary technique that must be integrated into a more extensive repertoire of hand, leg and other techniques. But it is a quite effective way to use the lead-leg front kick, especially for light- or middle-weight fighters (or any others who rely heavily on mobility as a fighting strategy). It really frustrates, wears down, breaks the rhythm of, and opens up other fighters.

Enough teasing, here's the core idea: the snap front kick is delivered low with no pause or setup, (potentially) on each and every step, and while constantly moving forward, backward, circling, or sideways (usually off the line), and without breaking off from the opponent. If you fully grasp the implications of using the front kick this way, then you can work out the details for yourself without reading further. Or you can endure the tedium while I expound on and develop the concept.

Before getting into how to apply it, let's look at a few subtleties (well, I think they're subtle) regarding how to do it. The first point is that this kick is delivered below-the-belt targeting belly, balls, thigh, knee, or shin. A second key point is that for the sake of fluidity, rapidity, and mobility there is no chambering - the kick starts from wherever the foot happens to be and the foot travls directly to its target. Yeah, I know there's a downside to this - life's full of tradeoffs. Another fluidity tradeoff is that upper body movement/contortions should be minimal, to avoid both telegraphing and over-commitment. Here's a tricky, but quite important, point: the kick is usually delivered not from an *unweighted* foot but from an *unweighting* foot; the delivery of the kick is coincident with weight transfer done for mobility reasons.

I'm going to give some exercises to develop this type of mobile snap kick starting with a childishly-simple preliminary exercise. (I presume you already know how to do a generic snap front kick.) Stand facing a full-length mirror with your feet together. Snap kick with alternate legs. Return to the original position between kicks. (For now I don't care whether you chamber or not.) Make sure you can't tell whether you are kicking or not by looking at your reflection from the waist up; I don't care how low your kick must be or how much power you must sacrifice to accomplish this. Paradoxically, in many of the exercises that follow, you should almost think in terms of how to make your snap kick weaker rather than stronger; it will help develop the other attributes of the overall technique. Later we'll look at ways to get some power back into the move, but even then it will still remain a sting technique, not a finisher. The value of using the snap kick in the way I'm in the process of describing is (mostly) not from the kick itself but from its synergy with mobility and other blows.

For the next exercise start spread your feet sideways about shoulder-width apart (a bit like an "at-ease" stance). Alternately snap kick with each leg (initially at a slow to moderate tempo) and set each foot back to the original position. Don't chamber (in the sense of bringing the kicking foot over toward the knee of the stationary leg before going forward), not even if you feel as awkward as a duck. And again I don't care how low or weak the kicks have to be. Try also to minimize rocking and tilting of the upper body. Once you get this down try speeding up the tempo (but continue to pay close attention to minimizing upper body tilting, etc.) As you speed up you will start to get the feel of kicking as the kicking foot unweights. And you may notice that the alternation of the weighting also "pre-loads" the supporting foot for the next kick - this is the dynamic part.

Now we're going to add a few additional components to the exercise (there is nothing sacred about the order in which I present them - feel free to combine them in any way that works for you. This next bit is to enhance your feel for the technique - it is not quite how it is used in a fight. Experiment with almost (don't get exaggerated about it) hopping from one foot to the other, still landing the feet in the original positions. As you do, try different amounts of bending at the knee of the leg you land on and then push-off/thrust-up from that leg as you transfer weight to the other leg and kick with the unweighting leg. The thrusting up doesn't stop when you have unweighted the leg - the leg continues to rise and becomes the snap kick all in one continuous motion. You begin to see why we don't chamber the kick. I'll come back in a while to discuss how the thrusting up increases the speed and power of the snap kick (and another way of doing it that's even faster).

Building on the previous exercise which started with your feet spread sideways shoulder-width apart, let's introduce another element. Instead of stepping/hopping from foot to foot as we deliver snap kicks replacing each foot in its original position, this time try for distance, lateral displacement, as you push off each time. The feet no longer land in the original position. Do the move purely sideways at first but eventually add a slight twist/reorientation to face your imaginary stationary opponent. With lateral displacement don't waste energy and telegraph your kicks by bobbing your centre of gravity up and down. The rule of "quiet upper body" still applies. Don't emphasize the leg that steps out - instead still focus on the push-off that will add power to the snap kick. While the kicking foot must come over a little laterally, still don't chamber it.

Next level of the exercise: This time instead of moving your foot purely sideways each time, try sideways and backwards at roughly a 45-degree angle. Experiment with the step, hop, and distance versions (and vary the angle). The 45-degree backwards version is the one most used defensively in sparring or real combat.

Next - this one is tough - try going purely backwards. I'm anticipating a bit here but have a partner help you with this one by coming forward at you (have him adjust his intensity so he doesn't overwhelm you while you're learning). The reason for the partner is that your objective is to maintain (or at least control) the distance between you and the opponent without getting run over or backing off too fast/far and losing contact. The pure backwards version is by far the toughest way to practice this - but if you get it right (and your opponent is not too fast) you should be able to neatly tap him in the belly/balls on each step for two or three moves. (If he's fast you should still land one, maybe two.) The reason you want to maintain distance is that you are not depending on the kick to seriously hurt him but to disrupt his attack and permit you to counterattack at any point. The break in your opponent's rhythm caused by your kick is only momentary - you will only be able to exploit it if you can react immediately, not if you must "re-engage" him. (In the exercise you are not yet counterattacking, but you are training yourself in distance management while highly mobile.) Depending on how much pressure your opponent puts on you, you'll probably spontaneously do the second or third step 45-degrees backwards/sideways rather than straight back.

Now try it stepping forward/sideways at a 45-degree angle. Strictly speaking each snap kick will now be a rear-leg rather than lead-leg one, but don't overpower it. The kicks should still be more flick than power. (Later we'll do it the power way, but for now the emphasis is on fluidity and mobility.) Keep working on various amounts of step, hop, distance, slide, etc. And still emphasize the push-off leg. The push-off and the kick with that same foot should be one seamless integrated move with no hesitation or discontinuity.

Now I suppose, for completeness' sake, you could also do the exercise moving straight forward. I haven't found this variant to be particularly useful. It's hard to push back a powerful (but less mobile) opponent with just flick kicks and you would soon bump into him if he didn't give ground. (Remember, we're the ones favoring mobility.) You will find that the kicks become power shots, which is OK, but isn't the mobility strategy we're working on. (The temptation to use power is particularly strong since the kicks are delivered with the rear leg.)

The next level is fairly obvious - try doing the moves in combinations and sequences, either alone or with a partner. (It all reminds me a bit of a Scots lass doing a sword dance.) From here it starts to get a little hard to describe the nuances, so I'll duck that problem for now while I figure out how to approach it and instead talk about a different aspect.

I've talked a bit about how to deliver the snap front kick, but now I want to say something about how to land it and how to step down. There are three main ways to land the snap front kick: ball of the foot (toes curled back), instep/shin and toe-point. Toepoint is risky in the dojo unless you have "toes of steel" but with shoes that aren't outrageously flimsy, the risk is small and the concentration of force on the target is high. BTW, "toes of steel" can be trained, although it doesn't seem very worthwhile if you mostly wear shoes. Also BTW, the instep can be quite vulnerable to damage even if partially protected by a shoe, although the risk is not so high as to disqualify its use. The ball of the foot is fairly safe and versatile, although you can "snag" or bend back a toe in the dojo and street use can sometimes be limited by the flexibility of your footwear.

The way you prefer to land the snap front kick can affect whether you want to use one other good method of initiating the kick. I've already talked about using a bent leg to push-off the (more-or-less flat) foot both for mobility and to launch the kick. The other method uses the calf muscles to push off and speed the kick. Instead of just pushing off flat-footed, push off with the ball of the foot. The heel leaves the ground first. Any cyclist knows that he would throw away considerable power if he didn't use ankle flexion and extension, so we should use it too. This propulsion method tends to favour the instep or toe-point methods of landing the kick, but I have known those who can use the method with the ball-of-foot striking surface. If you like this propulsive method you can augment it by landing on the ball of your foot and then (almost) setting the heel down before springing into the pushoff/kick. This engages the "stretch reflex" of the calf muscles and really adds speed and power to the kick. The main point is: don't use just your hip flexors (psoas, etc.) to lift the leg in preparation for the snap kick, explosively propel it off the floor by pushing down with the ball-of-foot (calf muscles) and/or extending the leg and "unflexing" the knee (quads, etc.). But, remember, if you do this, you mustn't squander the speed and energy by stalling or hesitating, however briefly, in chamber.

Now for the second half of the kick, the part after it lands. Some people favor actively retracting or snapping back the kick. I don't, at least not the way we're using it for mobility. There's no chamber on the way out and none on the way back. I don't like even a hint of slowness (in mobility, not the kick) from having "retracting" muscles contracted. It's part of the reason I emphasize using less rather than more power when learning. Let the kick hit and recoil/bounce-off passively while the "snap" muscles relax (actually just lose their acute tension). Then (it's continuous, without lag or hesitation) put the foot down wherever you wish it to carry you (it's not just a kick, it's also a step). The "retracting" muscles never get used or tensed, muscles are only used (lightly) to guide the foot to its landing zone on the ground. You should feel very relaxed and loose the whole time you are moving around - the kicks are just little blips or pulses in the smooth flow. Don't sacrifice fluidity to "get set" and deliver more power (you'll only violate this rule when you "shift gears" to seriously counter).

But what good are these flicky kicks? Not much, except they work. Imagine you could land a jab at will to your opponent's face - go even further and imagine it's only a slap but you can always land it. The opponent, in principle, should ignore it and walk right through it. And maybe he would, the second or third time he fights you. But right now he's distracted - the slap is nothing but what if the next one were a bilgee? Or what if the next one were a power punch? This kick is the same kind of thing to his belly or balls. It's hard for him to assess it - he just knows he's open and getting hit and that it's breaking up his attacks on you. If it was the only thing you had you'd be dead meat - but it isn't (at least, I sure hope it isn't). And even though I'm discounting its intensity, in reality, with practice, it hits hard enough that, although not usually a stopper, it sure can't be ignored. The opponent is even more aware than you are that if you "set" and deliver it hard he could take serious damage. And for you, it's great to have an uncertain, hesitant, and frustrated opponent.

Now the mobility and range parts come into it. I'm not going to try to discuss all the mobility aspects, just give some examples so you get the flavour.

I imagine your opponent to be powerful, fairly skilled, but less quick (particularly in footwork) than you. You would be reluctant to fight him in direct opposition (either because of his skill or power) and you will try to fight on the angles. Against such an opponent the main mobility variants will be the sideways and 45-degree sideways/backwards movements. You want to make your lateral moves so he must turn to face you (to bring his centreline to bear). And you want to move again, not once he has lined you up, (and certainly not after) but just as he is lining you up. At the simplest level you can "windshield-wiper" him by repeatedly crossing his centreline to the opposite side. And of course there are those little kicks on each move. (Even some WCers who are used to opponents trying to fight them from the outside lines and who are ready to realign their centrelines, are often not prepared to have to realign so frequently.) Now if you do it this simplistically for too long the opponent will read and time you, so mix up the direction changes, repeats, etc. You will also (unless you are fighting an incompetent) generally have to use your hands to help your disengagements to the outside. The possible hand moves (defensive and offensive) get so complicated, I'm not even going to try to describe them, but they are exceedingly important nonetheless. The problem you want to create for the opponent is never knowing whether to set and pound you or get ready for another movement. Even though the opponent is the aggressor and chasing you, you are in control, because with respect to mobility, you are the actor/initiator and he is the re-actor.

You are avoiding the opponent (while pecking him with those little kicks) but you are not breaking off. As long as you are emphasizing your mobility (you'll counter later) you don't want to break off or disengage but to always be tantalizingly at slightly the wrong angle or just out-of-reach (or, even better, a little closer, just at the limit of his power). And we're talking his hand power - he can't deliver a kick worth anything unless he sets. If you can lure him into overextending or leaning even slightly your little kicks will really start to hurt.

I talked about moving side-to-side and angling backwards (and there is always pure retreat backwards). Forward angling can have two purposes: getting "past" him so it takes a large-angle turn for him to realign his centreline (feel free to punch him once or twice while he's doing this - the "light" counter), or delivering the power kick/knee (or maybe big punch) surprise heavy counter. This is the safest position from which to deliver your big counterattack. But you can also counter on the other angles by uncharacteristically and unpredictably "setting" and delivering a combination (hand and/or foot) - don't stay too long or stop to admire your work - and immediately resume the mobility game. You must set, deliver your combo, and then move off just as he's bringing his heavy guns to bear. Easy to describe, but it takes a lot of experience not to tarry too long.

Up to now I've talked as if you snap kick on every move and that's exactly the way you should do it in solo and partner practice and in sparring the first few hundred times. I joke, but the point is that only when you feel you could kick on every move (even if pressed by a formidable opponent) should you permit yourself sometimes not to. It's not just for the sake of always being able to kick - you will have trained yourself in lightness of foot and mobility. You will never feel as though you are trapped (even briefly) with your weight on the wrong leg pinning you to the floor, while some heavy-hitter unloads on you.

To close this series out I'm going to touch on a pot-pourri of topics.

The first is broken rhythm. At the simplest level this consists in making each step-and-kick in a varying tempo, such as 1…2…3…4,5…6…7,8…9 etc. Now here's the tricky part, even for such a simple scheme. Since the opponent is generally attacking while you are moving, the opponent may set the basic timing rather than you. But even if he sets the rhythm you can break it by occasionally doing a double beat, beat-and-a-half, etc. If you're even slicker, you can attempt to take over the primary rhythm - since the opponent is the aggressor this takes considerable finesse. It's sort of like leading when dancing.

The other way you can break the rhythm as well as punish him is by occasionally setting and delivering a power combination. In terms of footwork rhythm this is nearly equivalent to a musical full stop (even if it involves a kick or two).

Now I'm going to ignore hand combinations and hand/foot combinations to talk just about the more limited (but hopefully more manageable) topic of integrating power kicks into the process. When using the lead-leg snap front kick for mobility the rear leg is generally available as a power followup instead of just continuing with flick kicks. The threat of a power kick followup to the flicky snap kicks is one consideration that prevents the opponent from throwing caution to the winds when turning to face us or chase us. And while the power kick can be a front kick (snap, thrust, or momentum) it doesn't have to be - for instance, a Thai round kick also works well. The 1-2 foot combination is analogous to a hand combo of jab/straight or jab/cross.

But there can be some problems with distance management when integrating power front kicks from the rear leg - if you have maintained contact during your maneuvers, you may be just a little too close. I find that power knees are often the better choice. However, the distance may still be too far for a rising knee. The knee strikes that seem to work best are the forward-thrusting knee and the roundhouse knee. These are especially good choices when you do a forward-sideways step as a counterattack rather than for pure mobility. (And usually don't stop with a singleton knee kick - if you land a hard one go to plum position and give him a few more. Maybe throw in a few elbows for good measure. Then - if he isn't finished - push out, but don't lose contact, and resume the mobility game.)

I want to talk about one footwork move that integrates beautifully into the snap-kick mobility strategy (although it also has many other applications): the scissors lead-leg change. The basic mechanics of the scissors step are simple - from, say, a front stance, change leads by simultaneously moving each leg, landing in a front stance with opposite lead. On completion you have moved neither forward or backward. Try to be light and smooth, and just skim above the floor, without too much up-and-down bobbing of the upper body when you unweight. This move has a lot of uses, such as, changing leads for mobility (e.g., to circle in the opposite direction), retracting the lead leg from a roundhouse kick (or a shoot), or setting up an "instant-return" power kick (front, round, or knee) from the rear (former lead) leg. (And there are even some good wrestling moves based on it.) There are any number of other footwork moves that also work well with mobility, but I don't want to digress into a general discussion of footwork and kick setups.

We'll end with one modification of the lead-leg snap front kick for use at closer than ideal range. To deliver a snap front kick close, really curl your whole back (curl - don't lean back and don't bend forward either) and tilt your pelvis up while bringing your knee high and close to your chest (actually it's not this exaggerated - I'm giving a training description). It feels almost as if you were trying to curl your pubis up to your chin, rather than your chin forward or down. The lift of the knee is not so much to target the kick high on the opponent but to fold the knee a bit more tightly when the opponent is just a little closer than optimum (if he's definitely too close, you're asking to be jammed or dumped on your ass by trying this.) Because of the curl of your back your hands can continue to engage the opponent's and there is not that much telegraphing. (Some telegraphing is unavoidable, but it's way less than if you lean forward or back. Distracting the opponent by keeping his hands busy definitely helps). My personal "feel" for the right range is about when my and my opponent's slightly-bent lead arm would just cross. No chambering and don't hesitate or "pose" with your knee high - the foot accelerates directly from floor to target. Try kicking a wall, progressively inching closer each time, in order to initially "tune" the technique in terms of distance, height (and power) - afterwards refine it with a partner.

Some day I'll describe how to (try to) thwart the snap-front-kick mobility strategy, but for now I'm done.

Gerald Moffatt


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Please check out 2 other articles by Gerald Moffatt:

  1. Headbutts or How to be a Nutter by Gerald Moffatt
  2. Iron Palm - A Simplified Method by Gerald Moffatt

Iron Palm - A Simplified Method by Gerald Moffatt

Iron Palm - A Simplified Method by Gerald Moffatt

Date: 1997/05/18

In response to several requests I am posting a simplified method of iron palm. I will post additional installments as my time permits. I would be interested in comments, critiques, even flames. :-)


This is the first installment of a series presenting a simplified guide to the iron palm. It uses a combination of western and Chinese methods. No book or video, let alone newsgroup posting, is sufficient to properly learn the full technique - that takes expert personal instruction. Hell, would you think someone could learn to ride a bike or fly-cast from printed instructions?

I am not an expert in iron palm, but I would classify myself as a competent journeyman. I will focus on the core "big" iron palm using the full palm and fingers although I will also comment on the "small" iron palm, and other delivery variants, as well as other different striking surfaces, such as palm heel, backhand, etc. I will say only a little about breathing and dit da jow. The breathing is important - the dit da jow less so. The method I use is derived from the Pak Sing Fut Ga substyle of Choy Li Fut.

The reason I emphasize incorporating western methods is that a lot of the trappings of iron palm are traditional and it is somewhat unclear whether they are really necessary. (I am reminded of the statement ascribed to a Borneo chieftain, "It has been conclusively proved by hundreds of experiments that beating drums will restore the sun after an eclipse.")

The iron palm is ultimately a "power slap" and derives much of its power from simultaneously combining two power generation techniques from the martial arts: torquing/rotation of the hips and the body drop. These are the engines of the technique; the delivery system is the whipping motion of the arm. The objective is very high hand speed - this explains the similarity to the baseball throw.

Most martial artists are familiar with hip rotation as a method of generating power from the large muscle groups of the body - the body drop seems less well known. The body drop is used in the short punch of Chinese martial arts. An explanation of the body drop follows.

The body drop has two subtechniques: the knee buckle and the abdominal crunch. The first part, the knee buckle, is well explained in the booklet Bruce Lee's 1 and 3 Inch Power Punch, James W. DeMile, 3rd ed., Tao of Wing Chun Do Publications, 1979.

Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Step the right foot back about one foot or so (depending on your body size). Both feet point roughly straight ahead (this is for training, not fighting). The heel of the rear foot should be slightly elevated (although some people leave it flat). The knees are just barely bent. Suddenly let your knees relax and buckle, dropping your body mostly down by several inches but also a bit forward. The heel of the rear foot lifts as the body drops. You should bend the rear knee a little more than the forward knee. This will have the effect of more weight shift to the forward leg as well as some rotation of the hips. The rear knee will come partially over towards the side of the lead knee (but not exaggeratedly so).

The abdominal crunch is similar to the training exercise that is performed supine, except now we perform it standing. It is not like a sit-up. Think in terms of trying to touch your chin to your pubic symphysis, resulting in a uniform arch in your back (i.e., no reverse curve in the small of the back). The recti abdominii are strongly tensed, yet most other muscle groups stay fairly relaxed, especially the shoulders which must stay dropped. The tensing of the stomach muscles is a short explosive pulse, not a sustained contraction. The breathing is important here. During the contraction pulse, expel your breath (not all of it) leaving your chest rather concave and hollow, and your belly somewhat distended and full. As a result of this pulsed abdominal crunch your head and shoulders will come forward. Augment this forward movement with a slight additional bending from the hips and waist.

Practice integrating these two movements. As you master them, you have only to add the arm and hand techniques to be able to develop the basics of the Chinese short punch. In the next installment we will start adding additional aspects of the iron palm.

Date: 1997/05/19

This is the second installment of a series presenting a simplified guide to the iron palm. In this installment I will discuss hand conditioning for the iron palm. I will post additional installments as my time permits. I would be interested in comments, critiques, even flames :-)


The key point about hand conditioning is *go slow* and don't overdo it. If you are training by yourself without guidance by an experienced sifu *go even slower*! The line between strengthening the hands and injuring or deforming them from repeated trauma is a fine one. This is especially true for impact exercises. If you overdo it, you may impair the mobility and dexterity of your hands and set yourself up for later problems such as arthritis from joint inflammation, etc. Even for martial arts, using the hand to grasp is at least as important as using it for striking. Loss of hand sensitivity will impair both ordinary daily activities (e.g., writing, picking your nose) and your martial arts.

I believe that ordinary western methods of strengthening the hands without impact exercises will go a long way towards developing an iron palm. These include the various hand grippers and squeezing exercises. I also recommend strengthening the forearms and wrists with wrist rollers, etc. Finger pushups are OK if approached slowly and progressively. The key point about hand conditioning for iron palm is that strengthening involves more than an increase in muscle strength. Sinews, tendons, ligaments, and fascia must be strengthened and this is a slower process than building muscle. Bone density will also increase from a regimen of exercise continued over a long period. The process of strengthening consists of the stimulus of training followed by time for recovery and response - be sure to leave sufficient time between training sessions or you will tear down rather than build up.

The impact methods include thrusting and striking. Thrusting consists of plunging the extended hand into a bucket of granular material. The bucket is supported on a sturdy low table or bench (a bit more than knee height). The granular material can include a progression through a mixture of black and green peas, BBs, gravel, marbles, iron filings, and ball bearings. I personally think the peas are good enough - they also seem to be easier on the skin leaving a "soapy-feeling" residue. (Avoid iron filings. Despite iron's association with the technique's name, filings really tear the skin up and slivers stick in, etc. Some fanatics even heat the iron. That isn't training - it's masochism!) The thrust is performed downwards with the wrist straight, the fingers together, and the thumb tucked alongside (somewhat like a karate nukite strike). After the strike the fingers are curled closed as a resistance exercise. At first the thrusts need not be full speed or powerful - slowly build up to it. Traditionally the technique is performed in a horse stance. (Just a tip. Sweep up afterwards. If the little peas, ball bearings, etc. get scattered about, they hurt like hell when stepped upon in bare feet.)

If you have access to dit da jow, use it according to instructions. The hype is that dit da jow, will soothe the skin, prevent or relieve bruises, relieve congestion, prevent blood clots, and even toughen and harden the skin, sinews, and bone. Maybe. To quote my sifu (who was also a herbalist), "Or you could use Absorbine Jr." One funky old book on iron palm I have recommends "sipping hog's blood on alternate days" during training and abstaining from all sex. Hmm....

I will defer discussion of the striking methods until later since they must be performed in conjunction with other aspects of the iron palm technique.

In the next installment I will discuss wrist snap.

Date: 1997/05/22

This is the third installment of a series presenting a simplified guide to the iron palm. In this installment I have added some additional material regarding hand conditioning and some thoughts on chi. I then discuss wrist snap for the iron palm. I will post additional installments as my time permits. I would be interested in comments, critiques, even flames :-)


I should add one item to the previous installment regarding hand conditioning. As thrusting training continues, separate the fingers a bit rather than keeping them in the nukite position. In fact, sometimes hyperextend the fingers when thrusting. This helps to strengthen the finger extensors, an often underdeveloped small muscle group. When doing this, some people find it helpful to think in terms of chi flowing from their fingertips. Finger extension or flowing chi - pick whatever explanation suits you. Try to think of chi only as an explanatory mechanism - not something esoteric and mystical. (As an aside, western physics required the "kinda mystical" ether as a propagation medium for electromagnetic waves before Einstein developed the distortion of space-time as an alternative explanation. The four differential equations of Maxwell for "electromagnetic propagation through the ether" still are very mainstream physics even today, as anyone who has designed a wave guide will tell you. Nowadays, such concepts of physics as "string theory" are far removed from everyday experience and are certainly not directly demonstrable. Accordingly, do not lightly discard concepts such as chi - evaluate such concepts instead by their ability to unify, explain, predict, and control a range of phenomena in a given domain. I recommend taking such an "operationalist" view of chi rather than characterizing it as true or untrue.)

Wrist snap movements form another component of the iron palm (and of other techniques from Chinese martial arts). These techniques may be unfamiliar to some martial artists, particularly those from schools that keep the wrist rigid and straight for most blows. There are three primary sets of complementary pairs of wrist snap techniques:

  1. flexion and extension
  2. ulnar and radial deviation
  3. overturning and its reverse

To perform flexion and extension of the wrist, first place your arm in front of you with the palm facing the floor and the wrist straight. Extend the wrist by bending the hand upwards; flex the wrist by bending the hand downwards. Now perform the exercise slightly differently. Extend your arm with the hand flat as before, but this time leave the fingertips and elbow relatively fixed in space and achieve the wrist bends of flexion and extension by alternatively moving the wrist up or down. Next perform the same wrist movements with a *snap* from fully flexed to fully extended and vice versa. The extension snap, in particular, is used for some types of iron palm. Both of these wrist snap movements are the basis of some blocks in various styles of kung fu including the "fish hand" alternate blocks in which the flexion/extension wrist snaps are performed side-to-side rather than up-and-down.

To perform radial and ulnar deviation of the wrist, first place your arm in front of you with the wrist straight and the hand flat in a vertical plane. Your thumb, if extended, would point straight up . Radial deviation of the wrist is performed by pointing the fingers somewhat upwards up with the hand still in a vertical plane, ulnar deviation by pointing the fingers somewhat downwards. Now perform this exercise again slightly differently. Extend your arm with the hand flat as before, but this time leave the fingertips and elbow relatively fixed in space and achieve the wrist bends of ulnar and radial deviation by alternatively moving the wrist up or down. Next perform the same wrist movements with a snap. Most people find getting good "deviation snaps" more difficult than for flexion and extension - it takes considerable practice. The radial deviation snap, in particular, is used for some types of iron palm as well as for the short punch . Both of these wrist snap movements are also the basis of some fairly uncommon blocks in various styles of kung fu, although the static, non-snapped wrist positions are widely used in Chinese blocks.

It is possible to combine these two types of wrist snap. The combination of wrist extension and radial deviation, especially, is the basis of some powerful strikes and blocks, including some iron palm strikes.

Now for wrist overturning. This is the "pie-in-the-face" technique. Stand in front of a fairly high bench or counter (roughly level with your navel). Place the back of your hand flat on the counter. Your elbow is comfortably bent. Turn your hand over in one smooth movement so that the palm is flat on the counter. Palm overturning is the key movement for several varieties of iron palm, including "big" iron palm. Now reverse the movement so that you return the back of your hand to the counter. This movement is the basis of the "backhand" iron palm. Practice the forward movement with some snap, but don't hit the counter too hard. When you snap your palm over, don't just turn it - imagine that you have a runny pie on top of your hand and you must flip it over without spilling it until it lands upside down. The reverse movement should not be performed with snap unless some type of padding is used. That will be discussed in the next installment on impact training methods.

Date: 1997/05/24

This is the fourth installment of a series presenting a simplified guide to the iron palm. In this installment I discuss the baseball throw and horizontal slapping. In the next installment I will discuss vertical slapping. I will post additional installments as my time permits. I would be interested in comments, critiques, even flames :-)


In this installment I will talk a little about the baseball throw movement and also discuss impact training by slapping horizontal bags.

Most people are familiar with the overhand throw of a fastball. I just want to make a few remarks on the mechanics of the movement. A fastball has great speed; a good pitcher can achieve hand speeds and therefore ball speeds of 40 metres per second (about 90 mph). The great speed of the ball and the hand comes from many sources:

  1. Weight shift to the rear leg and back to the front leg
  2. Torquing of the hips
  3. Stretching and subsequent contraction of the major and minor muscle groups involved in the throw
  4. Accelerating the hand over a long distance
  5. Whipping the arm
  6. Some degree of abdominal-crunch type snap (some pitchers do - some don't)
  7. Follow-through

The value of item 3 above is that the muscles are first dynamically stretched which results in their subsequent contraction being considerably stronger - the physiology and kinesiology of this phenomenon is well-established. It also ensures that the muscles contract through their full range, contributing their force for a longer distance.

Also contributing to the distance to accelerate the ball is item 4, because the hand is accelerated over virtually the entire perimeter of a large 360-degree circle.

Arm whip, item 5, causes the elbow to lead the throw, with the hand left behind and the wrist extended. Then the wrist and hand catch up and the wrist flexes.

How does follow-through, item 7, help speed? After all, the ball can't accelerate after it leaves the hand. Follow-through works by ensuring that no braking starts prematurely before the ball has left the hand. (In terms of baseball, we want to avoid actions like the batter's check-swing.)

Now let's move on to horizontal bag slapping. This is the main traditional Chinese exercise for developing the iron palm. For equipment, you will first need a very sturdy low table to support the slapping bag. The slapping bag should be made of canvas or other strong material (I like ballistic or cordura nylon because they are less abrasive to the skin). The bag should be at least 12 by 16 inches, in a pillow shape - a bit larger is better (up to, say, 16 by 24), but the problem is that it is amazing how much material it takes to fill a large bag to the required uniform thickness of about 3 inches. The bag can be filled with peas, BBs or other granular material. Peas are a good start; BBs are too hard for beginners and for any but experts when performing the backhand slap. Avoid any filling that will pack and become rigid - the bag should always have some "give." For the same reason don't overfill the bag. (By the way, some materials like peas break up and will eventually have to be replaced.) The top of the bag should be about level with your navel when you stand in a not-too-deep square horse. Also, make sure the table is supported on a solid floor - otherwise, for instance, the thumping of the bag will drive your neighbours crazy in the apartment below.

To perform the training, stand in front of the slapping bag in a shallow square horse. (You can also train in a one-foot-forward stance, switching leads for each hand. This involves slightly different body mechanics. The square horse is traditional. Start with it first, and try the other stance later if you wish.) Raise your hand in front of you with the hand and fingers hanging down relaxed (almost, but not quite, limp) and the wrist flexed. The back of your wrist is about level with your forehead, your elbow is bent a little, and your thumbnail is about 12 inches or so in front of your nose.

Slap down onto the bag. The shoulder drops a little, the elbow starts down, and the hand is left behind with the wrist going into extension (passively from the acceleration, not from deliberate muscle contraction.) At the end of the movement, the entire palm and fingers land flat on the bag, with the wrist in extension. As you do it, the legs dip a little and there is the explosive abdominal contraction just as the hand is landing. The feeling is very much of "throwing" your hand onto the bag, as if someone asked you to throw a rock as deeply as possible into the mud at your feet. It should not have a tense, muscular feel like pounding your fist on a table. Do not "muscle" the slap - think in terms of a baseball whip, not a shot-put thrust. Also, let the bag stop your hand - do not decelerate in a misguided attempt at "focus."

When you start, perform the movements at slower speed and increase speed in steps once you have gotten the feel of the movement (To continue the baseball analogy, do a lazy warmup throw, not your best fastball.) The other reason for building up slowly is that your hand will sting a lot after a fast slap.

As you progress, experiment with slightly different methods of landing the palm. Besides the all-at-once flat palm, you can slightly "roll" the palm on as it lands from wrist to fingertips or vice-versa. The difference is subtle, not exaggerated. You can also experiment with slight "cupping" of the palm, fingers together or slightly spread, etc. Don't be afraid to make adjustments in order to personalize and tailor the technique so it works best for you.

There are other methods of striking with the palm which may also be trained on the slapping bag, including the full palm-heel, the part of the palm heel in line with the little finger, and a shuto-style chop (except with wrist snap, not a rigid wrist). The main points about each of these methods compared to the slap method described above, is the alignment of the hand on impact (various degrees of extension and radial deviation) and the fact that the wrist snap is now deliberately performed rather than just a passive result of acceleration. Although there is an explosive muscular toggling of the wrist from flexion to extension, the rest of the movement still includes the whip of the arm and the throwing of the hand. Don't perform the techniques like a focussed karate shuto (which is a perfectly good technique, but isn't iron palm).

The backhand slap is performed by throwing the back of the hand onto the bag. It is usually trained as a followup after a palm slap. The hand is lifted up from the bag (just a few inches in the beginning, eventually building up to head height), the hand is turned over and the back of the hand is "flopped" onto the bag. (It's a whipping "power" flop, though.) The movement is done with a relaxed wrist, although there is a little tensing on impact. The problem is that the back of the hand is less padded than the palm and the metacarpal bones and other structures can be easily injured if training is too aggressive. Take a long time (if ever) to build up to full reverse slaps that rise to head height before heading back down. Be sure to perform any reverse slap by moving the hand in an elliptical loop (it isn't really a circle), rather than up and down in a linear fashion.

Last, and IMHO, definitely least, are the "dotting" methods of iron palm. I almost never do these, so I will only discuss them in passing for the sake of completeness. In the dotting method the blow lands on the bag with the fingertips strongly curled, and with the wrist fully extended. The position is essentially that of the tiger claw of many kung fu styles. I think this is a wonderful way to break fingers unless the blow is focussed rather than thrown onto the bag. I also find that strong forearm contractions inhibit developing the relaxed whipping motion of true iron palm. It is claimed that those who train this method can deliver it as a tiger claw, a nukite (spear-hand thrust), or a "kinda, sorta" power biljee. I can't.

Date: 1997/05/28

This is the fifth installment of a series presenting a simplified guide to the iron palm. In this installment I discuss training on the heavy bag as well as some variants on delivery methods for the iron palm. In the next installment I will discuss some fighting applications of iron palm. I will post additional installments as my time permits. I would be interested in comments, critiques, even flames :-)


In this installment I will talk about training the iron palm on the heavy bag. The heavy bag permits delivering several types of iron palm on a vertical surface. This facilitates incorporating the full baseball whip of the arm. It also allows more realistic simulation of delivering the blow against an opponent. Lastly, it permits practicing the iron palm in combination with other blows, such as standard punches. Traditional Chinese methods of training iron palm usually under-emphasize striking vertical bags, although they are not entirely neglected..

We'll begin with the slap version of the "big" full-circle iron palm. Adopt a one-foot-forward stance in front of the bag. The exact foot position will vary depending on your style of martial arts and personal preference. Deliver a slap against the bag using a full 360-degree baseball type whipping motion. The hand strikes the bag with the wrist fully flexed and the fingers pointing roughly upwards. The hand lands a bit higher than your shoulder (although it can be varied from head to solar plexus height). The elbow is slightly bent. Keep the elbow and shoulder down. This movement uses arm whip and hip rotation.

Next add some body drop movement just as the blow lands. You will find that this causes your hand to drop several inches on impact. The effect is like throwing a pie in someone's face and then "smearing" it in by moving your hand downwards. These actions cause just the right amount of tensing so that the palm lands with something between "focus" and pure momentum. With sufficient practice, the amount of tensing can be used to "tune" the "penetrating power" of the blow. The closest western physical explanation I can find is "impedance matching."

When you combine these mechanisms together properly, the palm will land with an explosive bang on the bag (and not just from trapped air causing a sharp slapping sound). When you don't, it will be a much more mushy hit. The iron palm is a culmination technique and incorporates many other subsidiary techniques. Getting them integrated, timed, and sequenced just right takes practice. When you don't get it right, it's like firing the third stage of a rocket before the second stage.

You will find that even more power can be generated by moving your forward foot (say, the left) a bit forward diagonally to the eleven o'clock position as your hand starts to move forward.

Now although big-circle iron palm is extremely powerful, a horrible truth may be beginning to dawn on you. You are never going to be able to land this blow frontally on any opponent whose reflexes are even marginally faster than those of a three-toed sloth. It is the ultimate telegraphed technique (here's the's the pitch). The opponent can roll a "J," write his mother, and still have time to stop-hit you. You should mostly use the big-circle version only in training to develop maximum power.

We will examine using the iron palm in actual fighting in the next installment. For now, let's look at less extreme versions of the technique. These mainly use the approach of making the circle smaller or using only a portion of the circle. There are, however, some subtle changes in the technique because of this.

Practice the medium-circle as if you had to throw a baseball without your hand ever travelling below your waist. Next add the additional restriction of moving the circle forward, as if there were a rule that your hand couldn't go behind your shoulder during the movement. With practice the medium-circle iron palm will still generate considerable power. Learning how to develop power over less than a 360-degree arc is best learnt with small-circle iron palm and then retroactively applied to medium-circle iron palm. However, you can try it now by starting the palm from a position near your right ear. Just be sure to keep the "feel" of an arc and the whip; don't let it become a palm-thrust type of move.

The small-circle iron palm uses a lot of "pie-throw" movement - hand overturning. Put your hand in front of you palm up, fingers almost touching the bag. Your elbow is down and fairly strongly bent, about 90 degrees. Now "throw the pie" onto the bag and smear it down using body drop. You will probably find that you use more body drop and not as much hip torquing. At close range you will also find that your body drop puts you a bit beside the bag rather than purely in front of it and your palm is hitting off-centre (compared to you, not the bag). This is correct. The other thing that will happen is that you may find a lot of shoulder roll or snap coming into the movement. That, too, is OK. In the ultimate small circle, the hand never loses contact with the bag during the palm overturning.

With all sizes of the circle you may find that the windup portion becomes less apparent with practice, and becomes only a vestigial remnant or disappears altogether when you use the technique in actual combat. Different people use different proportions of whip, body drop, hip torque, etc. depending not only on the size of the technique but also body type and personal preference. For instance, heavy powerful men often use a lot of body drop; lighter men a lot of arm whip. I should also point out that most martial artists only practice iron palm on one side of their body. There are many hokey explanations for this (e.g., fear of "accidentally" killing someone) but I think the main reason is lack of sufficient coordination on the non-dominant side. How well can you throw a baseball left-handed?

I will have a little to say later about the wrist-snap rather than slap types of iron palm. For now, I want to mention the other delivery techniques of sidearm and underarm iron palm, as well as backhand slapping.
The side-arm variant is performed with the type of arm whip you would use to skip a stone over the water. The slap is delivered to one side of you with the fingers roughly horizontal. It can be performed with the arm nearly fully extended or more strongly bent. This method favours using a lot of hip torquing and little or no body drop.

The underarm palm is delivered using an arm motion similar to the softball throw. The striking surface is usually the palm to the groin or lower belly, but the back of the hand can be used instead. Lots of hip torque, no body drop.

The backhand iron palm can be delivered with a motion similar to most backfist strikes. Instead of focussing, keep it loose and whippy. There is a rotary vertical backfist that is a specialty of Choy Li Fut, which is often combined with trapping, etc. This version works extremely well in combination with the iron palm backhand.

Date: 1997/05/31

This is the sixth and last installment of a series presenting a simplified guide to the iron palm. In this installment I discuss using iron palm is sparring and combat and speculate on how it works. I would be interested in comments, critiques, even flames.

Good luck with your training

Gerald Moffatt.


In this last installment I will talk about using the iron palm in sparring and combat. I will concentrate on the "slap" versions or iron palm because they are the purest forms and also because they are somewhat more difficult to apply. I also want to briefly discuss the "snap" versions, including their use as blocks as well as blows.

First, I will say a little about targets and speculate on why iron palm works. The primary targets for slapping iron palm are discontinuities in tissue density within the opponent's body. These discontinuities are most pronounced for hollow body organs. The best targets are the lungs (especially the upper lobes, but I'm not sure why), but also the kidneys, heart, and bladder. For some reason, the stomach does not seem especially susceptible. These targets have been empirically confirmed as best, albeit incidentally, from practitioners' experience using slapping iron palm.

You may be wondering why a slap that makes contact over a large area on the opponent's body does not spread and dissipate its force and have little effect. The following explanation is suggestive and metaphorical, not definitive, but I think the reasoning is not entirely specious. The slap seems to propagate a hydrodynamic wave within the opponent's body with energy dissipated at points of reflection of the energy. (Yes, I know that the hand velocities are far below the threshold to initiate true shock waves; even most handgun bullets are too slow.) What I think probably happens is that a displacement wave travels through the opponent's body and internal tissues are overextended and ruptured near the internal density discontinuity where propagation velocity changes and tissues are less supported on one side. By way of analogy, compare this to a chunk of glass spalling off a window on the **opposite** side of a hit from a BB rifle. The tissue damage would happen over an internal area comparable to the "palm imprint." The ability to "couple" the energy of the palm strike to the opponent's body is dependent on the force-displacement curves for both the deceleration of the blow and the corresponding "sponginess" of the opponent's tissues. Producing this match over a hollow organ would require a fairly large area of contact. This is derived from the concept of impedance matching. The snap versions of iron palm have a much more focussed (high force - short distance) deceleration pattern and are better used against strong but rigid body parts, such as collar bones. In this case, impedance matching requires that snap versions of iron palm use a much smaller contact area, such as the base of the palm on the little finger side. This also produces a stress concentration effect. For these reasons snapping iron palm has less "penetrating power" than slapping iron palm.

Turning to applications of iron palm, I have already said that landing the large-circle slap version frontally is very difficult. I suppose it could be used a finishing blow against a dazed opponent. The main way of using the big-circle slap is "pull and step in." If both you and your opponent are standing in a left-foot-forward stance, you would first grab the opponent's left wrist with your left hand. You could initiate this or it might, for instance, occur in response to an opponent's jab. The Chinese name for the grab is "lop sau." You pull the opponent's arm forward, down and diagonally across his body (using "jing"), while using the pull to assist making a full step in with your right leg to the outside of the opponent. You generally must twist into a square horse (i.e. if you were originally facing "north" you are now facing "west" in a square horse).. The opponent is usually somewhat bent over from the pull. Deliver the slapping iron palm to a preferred target on the opponent's back (generally lungs or kidneys). This is a finishing blow. Nothing will happen for a few seconds and then the opponent will drop like a stone. If the lungs were targeted, he may cough up some blood. (If you aren't sure you nailed him, you can follow up with uppercuts, etc. or go to his back, throw him down, choke him out, etc.). BTW, there are escapes from this (indeed, from any) attack.

Instead of attempting an exhaustive list of sequences for the small-circle and medium-circle iron palm, I will instead give a key rule and a few examples. The key rule (it's more than just a rule of thumb) in applying medium and small circle slapping iron palm is that contact must be made with the opponent prior to launching the blow. (Once you get good enough you can violate this principle on occasion. As Bertrand Russell observed, "All generalizations are false, including this one.")

At the lower level, this is similar to the boxing adage of never leading with your right. The iron palm can be used after an introductory blow such as a left jab, or a block with the off hand (your block and blow are usually simultaneous, not sequential, in accordance with Chinese boxing precepts).

The higher level (with probably wider applicability) is to launch the iron palm after a block or blow with the same hand. This is analogous to hooking off the jab, and there are a large number of iron palm combinations built on this. For example, you land a right vertical fist to your opponent's chest or floating ribs. Withdraw your hand and relaunch it using a medium or small circle to deliver a slapping iron palm over the upper lobe of the opponent's left lung. This move (and variations) is one of my favorite close-in techniques. I will list a few variations and comments:

  • note the similarity to the Wing Chun running punch or the Choy Li Fut rolling backfist
  • the same-hand strikes can be sustained (in principle, indefinitely) by continuing after the first slap as a sequence of backhand slapping (perhaps to the right side of the opponent's neck) followed by the palm to his upper left lung.
  • the sequence can be embedded in a larger combination. For instance it could have started with your left jab. Then the right punch and right slap. There might be an right elbow strike after the slap. The elbow strike could be followed with right backhand iron palm, etc. Long single-arm sequences can be developed, although, of course, only subsections would be used in a real fight. For recovery after an elbow strike, the backhand slap (delivered like a near-vertical backfist) is a very handy alternative to using a blow with the opposite arm to recentre yourself.
  • Instead of starting with a vertical punch, you might have used a same-hand palm-up block (taun-sao), then the slap. This version gets a lot of "pie-in-the-face" overturning into the slap.
  • a popular followup to the slap is a push with the same hand. This can get you back to longer range or it can become a tai-chi type of uprooting.
  • The punch, slap, push from the same hand can be a progressive entry or closing-the-distance maneuver. One use of this particular progressive entry sequence is to make a full right step across your opponent's body, ending with osoto-gari or the roughly equivalent shuai-chiao move.
  • it is clearly possible to insert checking and trapping into the sequences.
  • the initial contact with the opponent can be very brief. The hand can be used during the fight (amongst other purposes) like a probing feeler or antenna. If it touches the opponent it instantly recoils (as if it touched a hot iron) and then strikes (this is best performed as small-circle slap).

It is possible to substitute the snapping versions of the iron palm into the combinations. The snapping versions tend to be a bit more linear and less flowing, but, say, a snapping palm heel to the neck or collar-bone is a good alternative to the slap over the heart/lung.

There are also sequences that can be developed off the sidearm or underarm slap. The side-arm slap lends itself well to tai-chi uprooting or to transitioning to waist-encircling movements (clinches) that lead to grappling continuations. The snap version of the bent-elbow sidearm delivered just over the xiphisternum or solar plexus is very powerful also. (The best short-snap version conforms to the "contact before strike" rule - the fingertips touch the opponent and linger there from milliseconds to several seconds. Then the wrist suddenly toggles and snaps. The blow can even be repeatedly pumped. This is a wonderfully low-profile low-visibility blow for dropping aggressive drunks. Beware - they may "power puke.")

Two examples of followups after the underhand iron palm to the groin:

  • rotate off the elbow to iron palm to the chest. This is big-circle iron palm. It also regains fighting position.
  • go for a single-leg wrestling pickup.

Lastly, I want to talk about snapping iron palm as an adjunct to some blocks. Try the following drill to develop them. Put both hands loosely-open in front of your chest. Your elbow is bent a bit more than 90 degrees. For now, stand with feet shoulder-width apart and knees straight.

Perform a snapping iron palm with your right hand ending diagonally just in front of your left hip. Your hand is roughly horizontal, palm down, with your fingers pointing to the side (and a bit up), not forward. The striking surface is the palm heel on the pinky side (or the full palm heel).

If you next perform the technique adding body drop (especially the knee-dip, but little or no ab crunch) and a bit of twisting of the torso, you will find that the end point is at a level just below your crotch. By slightly exaggerating the move, the base of your thumb could touch your knee on the opposite side. This block can be lightning fast yet very punishing against low-line strikes to your torso (including kicks) without overcommiting yourself. Recover your hand to fighting position instantly after landing the block. When you stand in a one-foot-forward stance, perform this block mainly with the rear hand. This avoids exposing your upper line by moving your forward hand to block (although it can punch simultaneously with the rear hand block, if required).


  • Posted to Usenet's newsgroup rec.martial-arts. Archived with kind permission.
  • Posted 10/16/13 as of  4/11/02 mirroring
  • There were 7,620 pageviews of this entry on my old archives site

Please check out 2 other articles by Gerald Moffatt:

  1. Headbutts or How to be a Nutter by Gerald Moffatt
  2. Mobility and the Snap Front Kick by Gerald Moffatt


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