Lead Hand Striking in MMA

May 20, 20141 Comment

Striking skills in MMA have reached a very high level. To me, the greatest indicator of those skills is proficiency with the lead hand. Jack Dempsey wrote that when two boxers face off, if neither is a “knockout specialist, the one who is more effective with the left jab and left hook probably will win”. I think an argument can be made that on a purely technical level, the lead jab and hook are the most important hand tools for any fighter.

I’ve put together a video showcasing lead hand punching in MMA by some of the top fighters in the sport. It’s well known how much success guys like Georges St-Pierre have had with the jab in MMA, but perhaps less known is just how dominant the lead hand has become in Mixed Martial Arts competition.

When we talk about the ‘jab’ there are a few variations to look for.

  1. Flicker Jab: Uses only the arm with ‘snap’ from the elbow. Light and fast.
  2. Speed Jab: Adds power from the shoulder along with the arm and snap from the elbow.
  3. Power Jab: Uses the hip, shoulder, and arm.

There are generally two types of hook punches with the lead hand, a long hook and a short hook. Both types can be seen used in this video with devastating effect.

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  • LouieB

    That’s an excellent video. The lead hand I learned in JKD is sometimes the only thing that saved me the last few years sparring with much younger, more experienced (number of fights,) and better conditioned boxers. It works. It’s like anything however, you have to be in shape, and work the heck out of that tool! Another thing is, you can’t be a one trick pony…the reason the lead hand was so effective for many of these mma fighters, was that they were so good in other areas of mma, which kept their opponents “honest.” For instance with GSP, he is an exceptional take down artist. His opponent was staying at the fighting measure it seemed because he feared the take down. So, if your other abilities are good, you can enhance the effectiveness of a tool like the lead hand. Same with Silva, he’s so good at everything, it just makes his lead hand that much more effective.

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