How to Throw a One-Two Punch Combination

January 22, 2010 January 22, 2010 by Johnny N Boxing Basics, How to Box 28 Comments

How To Throw A One-Two Punch Combination

The simple guide on how to throw the jab-straight right hand combination. A must-read for all beginner boxers and taught from day one.

Many old-timers will tell you that the jab is the can-opener and the right hand is the spoon. I can tell you after all these years that they are definitely right. At the beginner level, you can pretty much win any fight just by masterfully throwing the good’ole 1-2 over and over again. If you master it well enough, you actually might be able to win a world title just by throwing the simple jab-right hand combination. (Other names for this combinations are jab-right cross, jab-cross, etc.)

Read each step and practice them slowly and individually so that each step is executed separately from the next step. Only after you have mastered each step individually do you then begin to practice them all together as a fluid movement. The one-two combination has 3 simple steps. Read carefully and practice in front of a mirror.


1. Jab-Step – Throw a sharp jab as your step forward slightly with your front foot.

2. Slide-the-Backfoot – Slide your back foot forward slightly to bring your entire body forward closer towards your opponent. Your jab arm is pulling back to recover quickly at the same time.

3. Right-Hand – Throw the right hand straight forward as you rotate your shoulders, hips, and back foot. Recover the right hand quickly after punching.

Beginner Tips

  • Keep your eyes on target, don’t look at the ground.
  • Bend your knees when you throw the right hand; this puts your body into the punch. It’s common to hear trainers say, “Drop the right hand on him!”.
  • Swing the right heel, your right foot will pivot as you swing the heel up and as your calf to push into the punch. The foot was pivot as though you’re crushing peanuts. (Turning the heel, adds power to the punch by rotating your hips and allowing your calf to push. The hip rotation alone is what adds the most to the power.)

Advanced Tips

  • Always keep yourself in position for the one-two every time you throw the jab. When you see the slightest opening, deliver that right hand. Over time, you want to learn how to do some fast decision making between steps 2 & 3 to decide whether or not to throw the right hand. Learning how to make decisions on the fly is far better than just throwing a rehearsed 1-2 combo every time.
  • Fake the jab before you throw the one-two.
  • Throw the jab, throw another jab, and THEN throw the right hand. (jab-jab-right)
  • Throw the jab, fake the right hand, and THEN throw the right hand.


Now that you learned the 1-2 combination, make sure you practice it often. It’s easy to learn but hard to master. Ideally, you should practice it until you are no longer afraid of throwing it whenever you want.

Related Guides: How to counter 1-2

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Oscar March 17, 2010 at 6:46 am

This some neat shyt …………


Louis Gascoigne April 9, 2010 at 2:59 am

Stepping forward on the jab.
I was told that you should not punch and move at the same time on the jab, that it’s actually two movements with as small of a time as possible between stopping and the punch coming out. The same trainer told me your other tips on the cross (move forward and drop the hand).

He also said that instead of throwing the jab as its own punch you want to, “meet the jab”. So instead of pulling it back completely and then throwing the cross you throw the cross while your hand is coming back.

Any comments on this advice?


Johnny N April 10, 2010 at 9:55 am

throwing a one two punch combination
hi louis,

It’s a real tough call. if you step first, your jab may have more power (because of the grounded feet) AND you will have the option of not throwing the jab and feinting it instead. At the same time, you’re slightly telegraphing to your opponent that you’re coming in and he might just run away the moment you close the distance.

From what I learned… they call it “jab your way in” or “step in with the jab” because your jab should hit the target the moment your front foot hits the floor.

About “meeting the jab”, that’s definitely true. Your back hand comes out as your pulling back your jabbing hand.

I’ll definitely give your way a try and see how I feel after a few tryout sessions.


tarajiledbetter May 10, 2010 at 2:12 pm

southpaw 1 2
ok i see this is for the righties what about us wrong handed people


Johnny N May 11, 2010 at 8:32 am

southpaw 1-2 combination
Hi tarajiledbetter,

The instructions for southpaw are the same… just reverse the LEFT & RIGHT. I hope this will do.


Travis August 16, 2010 at 2:34 pm

I’m having trouble with my range with the jab cross and just my range in general. I know that takes years and many many hours of sparring but I was wondering if there was any good tips to find your range or anything to look for when finding your range. I’m a taller lanky fighter. I’ve heard that you are at the right range if you can touch your oppounts glove with your out stretched hand. Is that true or is there any other tips you can give on range and finding you range. Thanks


Johnny N August 17, 2010 at 4:05 pm

finding your range
Hello Travis,

Typically, when you are moving around your opponent, you want to keep your opponent at the very end of your punch. So hold up your arm and stick it straight out to see how long it is. When you are not punching, you want your opponent to be 3-6 inches out of your reach. When you are ready to punch, you jab your way in and begin to throw punches. Many experienced fighters will tell you to practice hitting your opponent at the last 3 inches of your punching reach. Of course, this long distance means you are never close enough to throw the hooks. Hooks are generally used when the opponent comes to close or after you slipping an opponent’s punch and find yourself within mid-range.

My suggestion is to practice your range on a heavy bag. When you hit the bag, keep a constant distance from it. Keep that bag 3-6 inches outside your range when you’re not punching. If it backs away, you chase it but don’t get too close. When it comes to you, you move away but don’t run away too far. Work on lighter, faster, long punches instead of short powerful shots.


Reginald Pepper December 1, 2010 at 12:27 am

Hey Louis,

amazing site, great practical info and tips – perfect. One q: started recently on the heavy bag and after filming my straight right technique I’ve noted that in an effort to get more power I’m raising my elbow really high, with the result that my punch is curving up and then down before connecting with the bag, increasing the chance me jarring my wrist. I’m aware i’m doing it, but can’t seem shake off this poor technique – any tips to iron this out???

Thanks again for a great site – Reg.


Johnny N December 1, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Overhand right
In reality, there are dozens of ways and attitudes to use when you throw that right hand. As long as your straight doesn’t look like an ugly dive-bomb-right-hand and doesn’t actually hurt your wrist, you should be fine.

Here are some suggestions if you want to try things differently:

– focus on hitting with the two top knuckles (index & middle), not the bottom 2 knuckles (ring and pinky)
– don’t over-rotate the fist so that your palm is facing outwards to the side at the end of the punch
– throw the punch straight from your jaw
– aim the punch a little higher than eye level and then bend into your knees a little to compensate
– make sure your feet are on the toe-heel-alignment line so that your right hand isn’t crossing too much across you or shooting too straight forward
– allow your right shoulder to come forward when you throw the punch and rotate your upper torso into the punch


Travis December 8, 2010 at 5:45 pm

This question is more about footwork. When you are striking, do you want to punch as you are stepping and slidding in or do you want to shuffle and step into range then throw your punches? I feel like if you really try to step and slide in really hard as you punch you run the risk of getting hit on the way in. Which do you do with like an example jab cross? Do punch as you step and slide in do do you step or shuffle into range then throw the punches in a more stationary position? Thanks


Johnny N December 9, 2010 at 4:43 pm

punching while moving

If you want to have power, you should definitely plant before you throw the punch. If you want to have mobility, feel free to do both at the same time. The general consensus is that your back foot should definitely planted for you to have the hard cross at your disposal. Your front foot can move if you’re jabbing your way in. Likewise, the front foot should definitely plant if you’re throwing a front hook.

In my opinion, (on every punch other than the jab) learn how to move swiftly and plant your feet right before you throw the punch. Much more power that way and very clean crisp punches.


Reginald Pepper December 21, 2010 at 1:21 am

Many thanks
Hi Johnny,

Thanks a lot for the earlier tips, I found them very useful and I’m slowly ironing out the errors in my technique through continued repetition. I think I speak for everyone whose asked questions here in saying that it’s great you’re taking valuable time out to help people through answering their boxing q’s and giving great, straight forward, sensible advice, so a big thank you sir! excellent site.



Johnny N May 2, 2011 at 8:52 am

Thanks, Reg!


curtis c October 14, 2012 at 5:34 am

how do i throw power punches like a hook a uppercut or a right hand while moving?


Johnny N October 16, 2012 at 2:10 pm

It depends, this is a complicated question. Basically you are punching and pushing off one foot while the other foot is moving (which in turn, moves you).


unexperience fighter July 21, 2013 at 7:41 am

thanks for early tips jonny. Please give some jab cross spparring drills


Johnny N December 13, 2013 at 6:59 pm

Try sparring using the jab only. And then try sparring using only 1-2’s. Make it a rule that you can’t only throw jabs or 1-2’s and that you can’t throw more than 3 punches per combination. To make it easier, you can also make it so that only one fighter throws at a time while the other one defends. So they take turns throwing and blocking instead of exchanging punches.


hajime no ippo December 12, 2013 at 4:07 am

Hi Johnny..

I’m a nerd by your description (as you say in the article of “nerds & brawlers). And theese days thinking about the 1-2 and 1-1-2 combinations, doing them by getting in&out.

I’m mostly confused about the right cross. Throwing it, if we pause for a while at the end of cross. Must body be rotated completely? For example: While training right cross at mirror, must my left shoulder be completely out of sight behind the right shoulder?

All boxers say the body rotation is the essence of the last finishing punch of the combinations, so I train body rotation front of the mirros, keeping arms behind of my body to focus on rotating my hips and shoulders. İst this the right way to train body rotation?



Johnny N December 13, 2013 at 7:00 pm

There are many varying ranges of the right cross. Sometimes you get a full rotation, sometimes you don’t. Forget about what part of the body goes first or last, move your entire body at once.


hajime no ippo April 15, 2014 at 3:26 am

Nice day sir.

Being an orthodox, I have an effective jab; good speed, timing, and aiming (I don’t know how I made it but it ‘s good somehow) but my right hand is so slow and far from being agile. Can you show a way to improve right cross? You have many articles about jab, cross, uppercut an so on, are you going to write one about cross punches 🙂


Johnny N July 14, 2014 at 9:15 am

Check out my videos on youtube regarding the right cross and straight right.


nguyendoantung July 29, 2014 at 4:31 am

Hi Johnny
I am really appreciate for such a meticulous article. However, i would like to ask about keeping balance when throwing the 1-2 combo. In sparring and hitting mits, after throw the jab, I aim to through a big cross to the chin, but if my partner step back rapidly, My cross often try to reach him (or try to hit the mits) that i am off balance. Many time I think about the technique and I just throw a cross, pivot the foot, bent my knee and it shrink my range as well as makes me slower. Is there any tips for me to have the longest reach without losing balance when my partner try to step back to escape from my cross?


Johnny N October 15, 2014 at 5:05 pm

Let him get closer and INTO your range. If you chase him, then you’re going forward. And if your body is going forward while your feet are in the same place, then it’s only natural that you come off balance.


griffzilla August 18, 2014 at 5:39 pm

What about stepping in with the back foot as opposed to sliding it? Is there a real difference? I notice some people do one or the other.


Johnny N October 15, 2014 at 5:06 pm

There isn’t much difference if it’s only in the foot. But if it changes the way your hips move, then yes, you might experience vastly different results.


Jan M January 21, 2015 at 5:55 am

Johnny thanks for your excellent tips and videos, I am a beginner boxer with very little time to go to the gym, so am having to work out a lot on my known and your help is very valuable.

I’m not sure I understand the footwork on the 1,2 you have described in three stages above. After your jab/step in, are you throwing the right hand at the same time as your right foot is sliding forwrds, or do you wait to plant the right foot before throwing the cross? The former is a faster combo but the latter makes your cross more powerful. Is there a “right” way, or is it just that each way has an advantage and a disadvantage?


Jayesh April 21, 2015 at 4:17 am

Throwing 1-2 puts me slightly off balance. Any tips


Johnny N April 21, 2015 at 9:56 am

You gotta change your punching technique a little bit. Don’t pop up off the ground. Don’t throw yourself forward with each punch. Practice in shadowboxing, not only the heavy bag. Read my other guides on punching technique.


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