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When doing a close range jab, someone mentioned to keep your elbow more horizontal as it allows you to bend your elbow further back. Is it proper to do a short range jab like this? I usually keep it in the vertical position.

Elbow Horizontal:

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Elbow Vertical:

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2 Answers 2

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I think what you heard is based on a misunderstanding, putting the valid point of the different applications Huw described aside.

A jab is primarily a move of control. It controls/checks range, rhythm, and guard position.

Pulling your elbow further back only makes sense if you think that the additional space gives you more way for acceleration and hence more power. Now, this seems to be wrong in four senses:

  1. That's not what jabs are for in the first place, especially in short range.

  2. It opens your side to hooks, which is especially dangerous when you already are in short (= hook) range since they are fast and devastating there.

  3. Power isn't just about acceleration. You also need the structure behind your fist to transfer the power from your whole body into the punch. This is much better when your elbow is in front of your hip/body compared to an arm that hinges only at some pretty extended (and hence weak) shoulder muscles.

  4. It is slow. Opposing directions of movement, the need to build a proper pre-tension through your whole body, etc. And all this for a jab that because of stance can't be as powerful as a cross in the first place?

Thus, I would probably never raise my elbow in short range in the first place. In that range, if what you want is power, you do hooks. And even to set them up, a fast jab with elbow down makes much more sense. You basically do a hook move and waste all the potential power by molding it into some more or less linear move with elbow up.

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I'm not sure what is meant by 'a deep back flexion of the arm'. Which of the two positions you use should depend on what the best way to get through the opponent's guard is. The Japanese styles (karate etc.) tend to teach the elbow down. From what I have seen of boxing they tend to prefer a horizontal elbow (although I have seen vertical elbow used too). There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods.

Keeping the elbow down makes it harder to read that a punch is coming and harder to read the speed of the punch because the fist or glove can conceal the rest of the arm. This prevents monocular depth cues from working.

A Horizontal elbow creates a 'corkscrew' like motion instead of a true straight punch. This can help get past the opponent's guard. It's also a more natural movement.

In other words I would prefer the elbow down against low guards as it decreases the time the opponent has to react. If they are guarding their face already the horizontal elbow punch might get past that guard.

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  • deep back flexion, means you can bring your elbow further back
    – mattsmith5
    Jun 10 at 19:26
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    I don't think moving the elbow back is helpful...
    – Huw Evans
    Jun 10 at 19:48

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