In my view, the jab and cross should be the backbone of a functional striking arsenal. Actually, it’s not just my view; it’s the view of a lot of extremely knowledgeable people like Paul Sharp, Greg Jackson, Adam Singer, etc. These two strikes are high-percentage, robust moves that work under high stress.
So why isn’t it used more often and successfully by non-professionals? Well, there are three factors.
1) Poor Instruction – For some reason, finding proper instruction of how to properly throw these two punches is harder than finding a caring politician in Washington DC. The basic structure of both punches is very simple, but there are a ton of tiny details that are usually over looked. When an instructor who doesn’t know these details teaches it to someone else, that someone might then become a coach and starts a vicious cycle of ignorance. Early in my Martial Arts journey, I was shown how to do these moves more times then I care to think about. Almost everyone who was not an experienced boxer got it wrong and screwed me up. Do some research to make sure you are learning it correctly. A key to knowing if your coach has a clue is if he talks about the balance component, how important it is, and how to incorporate it into your performance.
2) Poor Performance – Even when the instruction has been good, it doesn’t always ensure success. A problem I see many times as a coach is even when people “know” the material, there is often a dichotomy between mind and body and the person doesn’t even realize that they are not doing what they think they are doing. They are positive they are doing all the steps correctly even when they are far off. This is where a coach needs to be creative in order to get the idea across. Also, sometimes just video-ing yourself then watching it, will do wonders for that physical understanding.
3) Poor Spatial Relationship – This is a big one. Even when the instruction is good and the mechanical performance is solid, the technique fails because the person does not understand the proper distance needed between the two opponents. Time after time I watch people be so close that they T-Rex their own arms, or be so far away that they lose balance as they desperately try to reach the target. It is an ongoing learning process that can only be understood through sparring, ideally under the eye of a coach who knows what to look for.
Hopefully, this gives some people some food for thought, as well as some guidelines.