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24 May 2015
Mixed Martial Arts
Being exceptionally tall has numerous advantages, but what about with regards to sporting endeavour, particularly when it comes to combat sports. Now what exactly are the plus and minus points of height in terms of boxing, wrestling, mixed martial arts etc. How can a competitor use extra height to achieve a competitive advantage over a rival who has a different physical constitute.

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Let's look at the key parts of the taller sports person. First and foremost is the capability to reach and step further. Being taller implies longer arms and legs, in turn meaning longer reach ability and longer stride ability. It is a tremendous advantage in lots of sports, but in particular combat sports. In most fight type sports a chance to strike your opponent and never get hit is paramount to winning. Using a superior reach is the most common way to do this. If for instance in boxing, the taller boxer has the ability to keep the fight at long-distance i.e. both boxers will always be separated by a distance that enables the taller boxer to land his punches, but the smaller boxer keeps falling just short with his punches, the taller boxer must win. This can be easier said than done. Mike Tyson would be a classic example of a comparatively small boxer who regularly defeated opponents much taller than him. Tyson, as part of his younger days, had enough strength and power to close the distance to his opponents, by stepping inside and frequently 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 sized men. His fights against Hagler, Hearns and Duran during the eighties are classic tall fighter versus smaller fighter match ups. Things didn't always go his way in all those fights, but he was against 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 being such a big advantage. In reality shorter levers, a more compact powerful physique and ideal balance is probably more advantageous in this sport. Similarly with Ju-Jitsu and all sorts of those grappling type combat sports, being taller than your attacker is not a significant advantage whatsoever. The recent popularity of Ufc events such as UFC demonstrates the benefit the taller combatant has when the fight is in a standing and striking mode. But this advantage is usually negated if the contest develops into a grappling style fight, on a lawn.

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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