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Advantages of Being Tall in Combat Sports


Mixed Martial Arts
Being exceptionally tall has many advantages, but what about in terms of sporting endeavour, in particular when it comes to combat sports. Now what exactly are the plus and minus points of height with regards to boxing, wrestling, mma etc. How can a competitor use extra height to get a competitive advantage over an adversary who has a different physical make up.

Lama Pai Kungfu
Let's look at the key attributes of the taller athlete. First and foremost is the capability to reach and step further. Being taller implies longer legs and arms, in turn meaning longer reach ability and longer stride ability. This can be a tremendous advantage in several sports, but in particular combat sports. In many fight type sports the opportunity to strike your opponent and never get hit is the key to winning. Utilizing a superior reach is easily the most common way to do this. If as an example in boxing, the taller boxer has the capacity to keep the fight at cross country i.e. both boxers are always separated by a distance which allows the taller boxer to land his punches, however the smaller boxer keeps falling just short along with his punches, the taller boxer must win. This really is easier said than done. Mike Tyson will be a classic example of a somewhat small boxer who regularly defeated opponents much taller than him. Tyson, in the younger days, had enough strength and power to close the distance to his opponents, by stepping inside and quite often through punches, to land his or her own punches, usually with devastating effect. Thomas Hearns will be a classic case of a tall boxer, usually fighting much smaller men. His fights against Hagler, Hearns and Duran during the eighties are classic tall fighter versus smaller fighter being compatible. Things didn't always go his way in all those fights, but he was against some of the best middle weights associated with a generation.

A sport for example Wrestling (Olympic, not the staged WW whatever events) is really a typical case of being tall not such a big advantage. Actually shorter levers, a more compact powerful physique and ideal balance is probably more advantageous on this sport. Similarly with Ju-Jitsu and all those grappling type combat sports, being taller than the opponent is not a significant advantage at all. The recent popularity of Mixed Martial Arts events such as UFC demonstrates the advantage the taller combatant has once the fight is in a standing and striking mode. But this advantage is usually negated once the contest develops in to a grappling style fight, on the ground.

Author, Educator, Combat Sports Coach, and Martial Arts Master, Sifu David A. Ross has spent close to three decades helping the public have a better understanding of real martial arts and helping thousands of individuals achieve their goals and live their dreams.

Martial arts, Mixed Martial Arts, Chinese martial arts, Muay Thai, Jiujitsu, MMA

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