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Using Kicks to Counter the Jab with Benson Henderson & Thiago Alves!

Using Kicks to Counter the Jab with Benson Henderson & Thiago Alves!

The Jab is the number one strike thrown in many combat sports, ranging from Boxing, Kickboxing and Muay Thai to MMA. The Jab has multiple uses, it can be used to find range, it can be used defensively to maintain distance, it can be used offensively to set up following strikes or as a power jab to deal damage. 

So knowing how to position your body and counter the opponents jab is extremely important because you will be seeing it quite a lot in a fight regardless of the ruleset.  Here, Benson Henderson (former UFC and WEC Lightweight Champion and current Bellator fighter) and Thiago Alves (27 fight veterean of the UFC, current Striking coach at American Top Team and current Bare Knuckle Boxer) show their favorite way to counter the jab by using a roundhouse kick!


Benson Henderson begins by explaining that you must be the best at countering whatever it is you will see the most of in a fight, furthering his point by saying if your opponent throws 30 jabs in a round you must counter at least 10 of them, it is impossible to counter everything your opponent throws but you must counter a large percentage of them. The first counter Benson Henderson shows is to slip the jab and counter with a cross down the center. Notice Benson Henderson is in a Southpaw stance (meaning his right leg is in front) while his partner is in a Orthodox stance meaning his left leg is in front). So you can slip the jab to the outside and land your cross down the center, that is good, but Benson Henderson further demonstrates that you can follow that up with a rear leg head kick. 

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To land the head kick what Henderson wants to do is make the kick come directly after the punch, they are almost thrown simultaneously with only a split second separating the two techniques. If Benson waits too long to throw the head kick or say he throws his cross slip counter and reloads his body to throw the head kick, the opening will no longer be there and your kick might miss or be blocked. 

The next crucial detail that Benson Henderson explains is that the cross does not necessarily have to be very hard, if he throws a super heavy cross it may be hard to follow up with a good kick, so he throws his cross with the intention of following with the kick meaning his cross is just a disguise like a smokescreen to hide his real intention which is the head kick. To do that Benson leans hard to the outside slip giving his leg plenty of room so as to not jam himself against his opponent, this may mean not landing with the hardest cross you can throw but your head kick will have a much greater chance of meeting its target! 

Now let us look at how Thiago Alves likes to counter the Jab with an outside body kick!


To begin both fighters are in an Orthodox stance (meaning that both of them have their left leg in front). Thiago Alves begins by throwing his jab at his partner, when his partner parrys Thiago’s jab this opens up the ribs and back of the body to be hit with an outside body kick. Notice when Thiago’s partner does his parry, he is parrying to the outside, this means that he is parrying with the same side hand as his partner's punch, typically when you parry a jab or cross you want to do this type of outside parry so you do not walk yourself into your opponents other hand. 

Thiago explains that when you land this kick you really need to move your partner and displace their balance otherwise they may have a better chance of catching your kick if it is Muay Thai or MMA rules or they can just take the kick, absorb the impact and counter back with shots of their own. Thiago Alves then goes on to explain the difference between kicking in Muay Thai and MMA. In Muay Thai you can really land with your whole shin on the opponent and smash them with it, using your whole shin bone like a baseball bat to dig in and do damage, in MMA Thiago prefers to land with more of the top of his foot or lower shin to avoid the chance of having his kick caught and taken down from it. 

In Muay Thai if you get taken down you get stood back up, yes your opponent scores good points for taking you down but then you get to stand back up, in MMA though, if you get taken down you will not be stood back up unless your partner backs off of you so your chances of being ground and pounded are very high and not somewhere you want to be in a fight. 

Explosive Striking by Thiago Alves

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