Mixed Martial Arts Being exceptionally tall has several advantages, but what about when it comes to sporting endeavour, specifically when it comes to combat sports. So just what are the plus and minus points of height in terms of boxing, wrestling, mma etc. How can a competitor use extra height to gain a competitive advantage over a rival who has a different physical make up.
sanshou Let's look at the key attributes of the taller sports person. First and foremost is the capacity 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 lots of sports, but in particular combat sports. In many fight type sports a chance to strike your opponent rather than get hit is the key to winning. Using a superior reach is regarded as the common way to do this. If for instance in boxing, the taller boxer has the capacity to keep the fight at cross country i.e. both boxers will always be separated by a distance that allows the taller boxer to land his punches, but 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 would have been a classic example of a comparatively small boxer who regularly defeated opponents much taller than him. Tyson, in his younger days, had enough strength and power to close the distance to his opponents, by stepping inside and quite often through punches, to land their own punches, usually with devastating effect. Thomas Hearns would be a classic case of a tall boxer, usually fighting 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 strategies by all those fights, but he was against among the best middle weights of the generation.
A sport such as Wrestling (Olympic, not the staged WW whatever events) is a typical case of being tall not being such a big advantage. In fact shorter levers, a more compact powerful physique and excellent balance is probably more advantageous on this sport. Similarly with Ju-Jitsu and all those grappling type combat sports, being taller than your opponent is not a significant advantage at all. The recent popularity of Ufc events such as UFC demonstrates the advantage the taller combatant has once the fight is in a standing and striking mode. However this advantage is usually negated when the contest develops into 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.