Although the jab isn’t a forceful strike, meant to deal heavy damage, it is fast and disruptive to your plan. As Mike Tyson once said, “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” Indeed. While the jab, in and of itself, won’t take you out of the fight, it will distract you enough to follow with potentially fight-ending blows. There are a few different methods for dealing with the jab, like slipping it, but today we’ll discuss the parry.
Why Parry the Jab?
The jab is common in fighting sports like boxing and MMA for its speed and effectiveness. It gets its speed from its straightforward application. Much like a snake strike, it shoots straight out of the guard without projecting, giving little to no warning. However, it is not intended to do a lot of damage. Instead, it targets the face to open up your opponent’s defense so you can rain down blows like hail fire.
Due to its fast, linear nature, dealing with the jab requires a fast, linear response. For this reason, the parry offers a direct and equal counter. Whereas parrying the jab adds a level of difficulty over the simple slip (we’ll discuss that in a future article), it offers additional benefits. Particularly, if your opponent over-commits his jab, your parry can take him off balance, by redirecting his energy unexpectedly. Additionally, while you still take damage with a block, the parry takes little effort, and you receive no damage.
Learn How to Parry the Jab
To begin with, in the standing guard position, your opponent throws a jab. Then, using the hand on the same side as the jab, you perform an almost slapping motion to redirect the jab to your opposite side. If he throws his jab with his left, you use your right to parry it left. By doing this, you force his arm across his own body, redirecting his defense and opening him up.
While performing the parry, you don’t want to target his hand, because it’s a smaller target, and you can miss. Not to mention, certain arts, like Muay Tai, will just immediately collapse the arm and follow with the elbow. The farther up the arm you target, the easier it is to achieve and the more effective it will be.
Also worth noting, while the parry is effective against the jab, it is not really effective against the cross or hook. There are three reasons for this. First, the curvature of the arm during the cross or hook creates a difficult angle to intersect with a parry. Second, if you try to cross parry, it will be a force-on-force block, as opposed to a redirection. Third, cross parrying breaks down your defense and leaves you open to a strike. When it comes to the cross or hook, the safest defense is the cover.
As you first learn to utilize the parry, maintain a tight guard, and keep your head down and inside. However, as you progress, you can begin to learn to slip the jab and add some footwork as an added precaution. Once you start adding the footwork, you open up a whole new world of offensive defense.
Keep it real and stay safe.