Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The King of Combinations for MMA, Boxing, and Self-Defense

image Also known as the Jab-Cross, or Jab-Straight Right, I believe that the 1-2 is the best single punching combination in the known universe for humans. Delivering maximum power at the optimum long punching range, it is the simplest setup and finish in orthodox Western Boxing. It's also common to almost everyone, even untrained fighters, and thus every fighter or martial artist should drill against it, even if it's not "traditional."

The best targets (with a fist):

Chin: There are probably more knockouts in boxing and MMA with a straight or cross to the point of the chin than almost all others combined. That's why one of the first lessons in Muay Thai, Boxing, or MMA, is to protect your chin by lowering it into your torso and keeping your hands up, and in the way.

Nose: It have less effect on a trained fighter, especially if he's had a broken nose before, but for self-defense, one of the easiest and best targets is the nose. Using the straight right, cross, or palm heel at the same angle, the nose being struck results in plenty of blood, mucus, and tears from the victim. It prevents him from seeing well, and invokes a nice feeling of nausea and dizziness in the best of us. My first boxing smoker was stopped because of getting hit in the nose, though I was giving my victim a beating (I also had a kickboxing match later that weekend). I've also been stunned by my kids jumping up to me as I reached down to give them hugs. I had to sit down and just suffer. Very effective.

Temple: Many a quick knockout has resulted from this punch. Often a glancing blow with a cross to the side of the head results in a KO.

Brachial Plexus: A collection of nerves on the side of the neck make this a great target for a stunning punch. Not for any situation but life-threatening self-defense situations, this target will take down almost everyone.

A few examples of the 1-2:


  1. In this first example, it's easy to see how critical distance is when delivering the 1-2, and how easy it may be to hit too hard in sparring. If the opponent tries to duck and his weight is going forward (all of a sudden), he can get knocked out. If the opponent is too close, it reduces the power of the punch, and sometimes the aim, plus the right can leave you vulnerable for a left hook.

  2. This is in the context of the MCMAP Program's Tan Belt curriculum. Watch the Jab, then Straight, then the 1-2.

  3. Back in the day, Mike Tyson was actually a very good fighter. Watch the first two KOs are of the 1-2 variety.

Tips for making the 1-2 effective:

  • Punch through the target (with the 2) - see below
  • Use the jab as a feeler slash range-finder. If you are making real good contact on a jab, you're too close, and your jab will probably knock your opponent out of range for a good straight. Instead, try to be at a range where you're barely making contact with the jab or just missing, then when your step in the right, full extension will be a few inches past the target for maximum damage.
  • Don't always do the same thing. If you habitually throw a 2 (cross or straight) after a 1 (jab), you're going to get countered in a bad way. Mix it up! Throw 1-1, 1-1-2. and sometimes lead with a 2. Use many of the other combination that work well. Use kicking and takedowns, too.
  • Use the 1-2 to set up the takedown as he shifts his weight back to defend.
  • Use the body punch, too. 1 high, then 2 low, and visa versa.

For more information:

TDA Proper form on a 1-2 combination
TDA Reliable boxing combinations
TDA Boxing Punch Numbering System
TDA One-One-Two Combination
National Geographic Fight Science Martial Artists' Moves Revealed in "Fight Science" Lab

Photo Credit: National Geographic Fight Science

2 comments:

John W. Zimmer said...

Great topic - the old one-two is often overlooked but as you stated, this combination sets up so many other moves. One of my favorite setups from this has always been a wheel kick to the head right after the cross/counter punch (the kick is partially obscured from view by the punch). As you mentioned, one has to mix up the attacks to be successful with this.

Another punching target that has always worked well for me has been an inverted lunging punch to the solar-plexus because few people try this. The wonderful thing about this punching target is everyone seems to favor head-shots - leaving prime real-estate open for attack. If you get a clean shot with plenty of torque in the bread-basket; that will end the match or self-defense situation.

John W. Zimmer
MySelfDefenseBlog.com

Nathan at TDA Training said...

Thanks John. I didn't want to delve too far from the original idea, but you're right, the 1-2 is a great start to more. The combination you describe was the bread and butter of one of the more proficient black belts at one of my schools. If you came forward, he nailed you with a 1-2. He would also lead with the 1-2, and if you moved straight back, he'd hit you with the rear roundhouse (wheel) kick.

It's also a staple of the Muay Thai style as well, with the rear Thai kick aimed at the legs, body, or side of the head.

Good point on the head hunting, too.

Thanks for the comment.