The jab is simply a straight punch thrown with the lead hand and the arm fully extended. Since it is thrown with the lead hand, it is
pretty much the fastest punch and has the longest reach. The disadvantage is that, because it has very little hip torque, it's the weakest
of the punches. Although jabs can sometimes be thrown to the body, because of their lack of power, they are most often aimed to the face.
Still, because of its speed and reach, the jab is a very safe punch requiring very little commitment and is probably the most common punch
used, making it known as the "bread and butter punch." It is very effective in setting up combos or keeping the opponent at bay.
The cross, also known as a straight punch, is a very powerful punch thrown with the rear hand, normally one's dominant hand. It
utilizes the body's full hip rotation to achieve its powerful knockout effect. It can be thrown to the face or body. Normally, a cross has the
arm fully extended. However, a short cross can be used if fighting at close range. In this case, rather than extending the arm, the elbow is
kept bent at about a 90-degree angle.
The hook punch has many variations. It is usually thrown with the lead hand (usually left) but it can also be thrown with the rear hand
as well. It is a very powerful swinging punch that travels in an arc towards its target, being the head or body. The hook is the most versatile
punch regarding range. It can be thrown very close (short hook); it can be thrown at medium range with the elbow bent at about 90 degrees;
or a very long range swinging motion can be used (swinging hook) in which the elbow is bent very little. It all depends on the distance of the
opponent. Two popular variations of the hook punch are the shovel-hook (upper-hook) and the check-hook. The shovel-hook combines the
attributes of a hook punch and an uppercut, creating a punch that enters at a 45-degree angle, usually aimed at the body. A check-hook is a
defensive hook that combines a hook punch with a pivot step at the moment the opponent charges in, usually delivered to the opponent's
There is some debate regarding the hook whether to keep the fist horizontal or vertical. This is more of a personal choice, the idea
being to perform the punch with as little strain on the wrist as possible in order to avoid possible injury. Try them both and use the one that
hurts your wrist the least.
The uppercut is a fairly close range punch that can be delivered to the opponent's chin, face, or solar plexus. It's launched with a rising
arc-like motion, elbow bent and palm facing you. Uppercuts can be very powerful and they can be equally effective with either hand, be it a
lead uppercut or a rear uppercut. Usually, the main goal is to connect the uppercut to the opponent's chin, creating a whiplash effect and
knocking the opponent out.
The overhand punch, or overhand right since it is usually delivered with one's strong right hand, is basically the opposite of the
uppercut. It is thrown with a downward arc-like trajectory, coming from the top down, elbow higher than the fist. It is an extremely powerful
punch, which if it lands, is a fight finisher.
The spinning back-fist, or its spinning hammer-fist variation, is one of two hand techniques that occur in kickboxing but NEVER in
boxing. It is not a punching technique per se but rather a swinging strike performed with either the back of the fist or the bottom side of the
fist. It is a very powerful and tricky technique that uses the full spinning motion of the body and, as such, can only be performed with the
rear hand, again usually one's dominant hand. This technique is almost always delivered to the opponent's head.
The Superman punch is another technique not found in boxing. Gaining its popularity in Thai boxing, it is performed by first raising
the rear knee, almost as if to throw a front kick, and then thrusting the leg backwards while at the same time throwing a cross. A very
deceptive technique, the thrusting back of the rear leg serves to counterbalance the right cross making it more powerful. It can be used at a
close distance, in which the front leg doesn't move. Or it can be thrown from further away while hopping forward on the front leg,
simultaneous with the backwards thrusting of the leg.