Height that important?

You have to be careful while body clinching someone. The referee is VERY likely to step in and seperate the fighters because technically speaking, you should not clinch around the lower body. You have to still keep your hands/arms high. Keep your hands up around the rib cage, not the lower back.

Also, I forgot to mention, using push kicks to the lead leg is a GREAT way to keep your taller opponent off balance!

Khun Kao

For what my opinion is worth, it's not really the height as much as it is the reach. Actually being taller without the reach would probably be problematic as you'd have to reach down to attack your opponent. Going to the inside is almost always adivsable against a larger opponent. I say almost cause at least in TKD, where the inside game is very limited, punches are pretty much all you have. And if you fight someone like my instructor's step son who just came back and is 6'4" (while I am only 5'10"), sparring with him is kind of a nightmare cause not only can I not play the reach game with him and he is stronger than me, but because he was much smaller when he was younger and competed he has much better punches and an inside game than me. It's not to say I have no tools to use against him, but he does present a lot of unique problems. And to anyone who thinks there's no good punching in TKD I wish you could see him. That said, I really hopes he comes back on a permanent basis, as I think he has some of the right tools to really do exceptionally well in higher level competition, even at HW.

Absolutely. You can approach a taller fighter in the same way you would approach someone who is likely to shoot in on you, ala MMA/NHB style fights. Constantly circle towards his 'weak' side, kicking to the inside of his lead leg.

When you kick to the inside of the leg, make sure to step across DEEP! This gets you out of his centerline path making it hard for him to counter you (shooting in for a takedown OR striking).

I say 'weak' side because typically, Boxers and Kickboxers fight with their strong side to the rear, but not always! Be careful for a fighter who has switched up on you.

Khun Kao

I hear what you're saying. Let's throw this whole 'weak' side phrase out of the equation because it is, in truth, a misnomer.

In most cases, I advocate moving in at an angle to your opponent. For arguments sake, let's use the scenario where both fighters are in an Orthodox stance (left lead). The fighter trying to move in should not step straight into his opponent, but rather step in at an angle that places them to the outside of the lead leg.

You and I both know that this is easier said than done. Sure, moving in using that method in and of itself is easy, but actually creating an angle or opening that way? Doesn't always work.

In the case of a fighter (TKD or not) who switches stances, the liklihood of this being successful is even further diminished as the stance switch places you right back in your opponents center line of attack.

The trick is to set it up first. In Phase 1, you distract your opponent with an attack or combo to occupy him and put him on the defensive. Your initial attack should include the movement at an angle so that mid-attack, you are in the position sought, at an angle to the outside of your opponents lead. A very simple example of a Phase 1 Attack is a simple double jab while moving at an angle.

Now, you have to flow from your initial Phase 1 setup attack or combo to another attack that takes advantage of your new attack angle. Phase 2 attacks are limitless. But a simple one would be a lead (left) hook to the jaw or a rear (right) roundhouse kick to the inside of the lead leg or across the torso.

When you have finished the Phase 2 attack, you need to finish by moving at an angle AGAIN! (Phase 3) to further confuse your opponent, and possibly create yet another angle of attack.

Now, all of this is simple in theory, but pulling it off successfully? I wish it were that simple! I'd be champ of the world if it were that simple! Fighters that can comfortably switch or transition between stances using different leads really complicate this scenario.

If you are the fighter who likes to switch stances, you can nullify Phase 1 attacks by switching stances and immediately counter-attacking.

The fighter who is trying to create angles needs to be patient and wait for his opponent to miss a switch-up, or catch them flat-footed. Or, one can even start a Phase 1 attack TO MAKE your opponent switch stances, with a PHASE 2 attack that is intended to take advantage of the new position.

The bottom line is that we are talking the difference between theory and reality here. In theory, switching your stance can nullify a lot, if not most attacks. In reality, its boils down to a physical and mental "chess match" between opponents. Its all about who is better prepared and on top of their game.

Khun Kao

I'm simply saying from the perspective of circling to a weak side that it doesn't work. I'm not implying that circling, side stepping, and non-lateral motion aren't tremendously useful, I just haven't see it be really the way to move in. Maybe to incorporate it the best thing would be to circle towards the outside (past the front leg) and force them to switch step and then try to catch that opening. I tend to see stepping out to the side as better for stepping out after attacking though rather than leading into it. That way by leaving at an odd angle for them in slows their ability to counter by forcing them to adjust.


I'm not sure whether or not I agree with that last statement regarding circling not working. I do agree that TKD players have EXCELLENT and deceptive footwork!

I suspect that it would work, but in a limited fashion. The fighter who is circling will have to pay very close attention to the TKD fighters switch-ups, and adjust accordingly. In theory, this should be very difficult, but in practice...? You have to bear in mind that when you spar, you are sparring a person, not a fighting style.

Its been a long time since I've sparred a TKD guy or gal though.

Khun Kao

Oh, and forgot to gripe that the circling strategy would never work in TKD since everyone trains both sides.

Khun Kao ,
Thanks for replying. I should of stated Muay Thai since that's what I'm interested in , but I'm now glad I didn't and got to see your response for kickboxing in general.
Thanks again!

Great info for us shorter stockier people.

I am definately going to try the body clinch idea.

Any other tips?

Being rather short myself (5'5") i was wondering if it's that much of a disadvantage against a taller fighter in the same weight division.

biggest con would be shorter reach , but a pro to being shorter would mean being a little more "stockier" then slim jim over there , and maybe having a little more power behind his kicks / punches...

What do you guys think?

Also , what's everyones height , and does it work for our against you?


To mime our friend Ercan, "You didn't mention which discipline..."

Though in some of the other discussions where he has asked this question I didn't feel it was necessarily that important, it is a HUGE factor in this discussion.

In American Kickboxing, or Leg-Kick-Rules Kickboxing, being shorter can work to your advantage... IF you know how to evade your opponents attack to gain the inside position. Getting inside your opponent effective range puts you EXACTLY where you want to be!

I also feel that a shorter fighter will often have the advantage in San Shou/San Da matches. With Judo-style throws being allowed, a fighter who is able to gain the inside AND has a naturally lower center of gravity will have a definate advantage.

The operative/key phrase here is "able to gain the inside position". In the above mentioned kickboxing styles, or any fighting art for that matter, gaining the inside position is easier said than done!

In Muay Thai, however, the taller fighter is an imposing force to be reckoned with. Case in point, Diesel Noi, arguably one of the best Muay Thai fighters in history. Diesel Noi was close to 6 feet tall!!! AND, he was a Master Technician in the Clinch! If you could get past his long arms and legs, he would still EASILY gain clinch control and carve his opponents apart with his knee strikes. He was forced into early retirement because no one was willing to fight him anymore.

In Muay Thai, I believe a shorter fighter (especially significantly shorter fighters) would be best served by working low-line kicks (below the knee to both legs) and boxing. If the clinch is initiated, the shorter fighter should shy away from fighting for neck control and should grasp his opponent around the body to knee the thighs and hips.

Good Luck!

Khun Kao