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Home Muay Thai Kick Boxing How to Kickbox A Taller Opponent: The Strategy and Tips to Takedown

How to Kickbox A Taller Opponent: The Strategy and Tips to Takedown

For fighters in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, it is made within the system. The reason behind the creation of this branch was to give a chance for the smaller guy to take out a taller fighter flawlessly. However, if you are fighting a taller opponent boxing, sparring with someone taller or you just need to know how to beat a taller and bigger opponent in a street fight, kickboxing might not be your outlet. However, there are ways to do it.
Especially if you are generally a lot shorter than many other people and fighters out there, it’s pretty inevitable that you’ll head face-to-face with someone much larger than you and you’ll need to know how to fight a taller person.
Fortunately, I’ve offered this guide here to give you a few tips for success when you are pinned up against someone much taller than you and actually will introduce you to some advantages of being short in a fight that you may have.
Although you may think that being shorter than your opponent might be already starting at a disadvantage there are strategic things that you can implement in your fighting game that can put you not only even with your opponent but even at an advantage over our opponent.
Whether you are simply just used to fighting only in your weight class or are used to getting an opponent much taller than you, it’s bound to happen that you’ll be in this situation at some point in your kickboxing career or at your school or gym (unless you are a 6’ 7“ fighting machine). Therefore, it’s best to get all the knowledge you can about the situation before you head into the ring as David about to face Goliath.
Just like the legendary fight, there is a way to win this fight. Even if others may think all is lost, if you approach the fight or sparring match strategically and with an open mind, you’ve already won half the battle. Now you’re about to learn the other half with this guide.
To first get started in learning how to kickbox a taller opponent, here are the first few tips:
taller opponent

Move Around

Since you are inherently smaller than your opponent, you need to think of that quick, annoying yipping dog you always see. Its important to move around a lot, out of reach and in reach, sort of teasing your opponent. Get in and out. Especially since the taller the fighter is, the more lanky he or she is so itll be harder to reach you.

Darting in and out of a dangerous range will tease the opposing fighter so they’ll be engaged and wanting to compete but also losing energy and concentration.

Get Your Footwork Down

Since you’ll be moving around a lot, having control of the range and footwork go hand in hand. Your footwork will be your bread and butter when it comes to going in and out of the striking range of your opponent. If you don’t have control of it or you aren’t fast enough, you’ll have a limited chance. Footwork, regardless of your size is key.

The advantage you have here is that you are closer to the ground than he or she is, which makes you a lot more agile and quicker.

Position Yourself

Strategically speaking, learning how to box a bigger opponent, means that you have to learn how to cut the ring off. If you can back this taller fighter into a corner, you should be cutting off his or her angles. No angles for them means that you will be cutting off their most valuable assets, which is their long reach for punches and kicks.

Being able to position yourself means that you have to always have your footwork on point. Which reiterates my second point.

Bob and Weave

Since your head is definitely in their target range with an easy reach, you should be able to move your head around easily. If you are bobbing and weaving around the ring, your opponent will find it much harder to hit you.

While you’re fighting, use these techniques, like slipping, fainting, fading, and ducking to be able to get outside his or her punch range and minimize their attack.

Those were the first few tips to be able to kickbox a taller opponent. Just to give you a taste of what’s to come.
Although you may think that this is general knowledge, keeping these tips in mind and engraining them into your move when you’re out there in the ring might just be the life-saving “basic” strategy tips that will keep you from going down. Even better, implementing these techniques or moves might be the strategic element of surprise that might get you a win in the fight. Either way, especially if you are of shorter stature, it’s important that you prepare mentally as best as you can to be ready to face a taller opponent.
The longer list of tips and strategic advice is just around the corner. Here are our top 10 tips on how to kickbox a taller opponent:

Stay out of their Strike Zone

Even though you won’t be able to reach your opponent here, your opponent also won’t be able to reach you. So, although it’s not really a win-win, it’s a good place to start out.

At this point, you should jab at them, just to draw a reaction out from them, which makes them come towards you so that you have the advantage

Just like Rousey, you can then jab your way into the clinch. If Rousey isn’t your girl, you can follow Bruce Lee’s advice and use this strike zone to combine single strike and combination attacks, an indirect attack, an attack by drawing, and a hand immobilization attack.

Using all these different strategic options when fighting an opponent taller than you will keep yourself unpredictable and will give you a good long-run game. Your opponent should be getting frustrated.

Unless you are specializing in the clinch game, you should try and stay out of their clinch range as much as possible. However, if that’s your strong-game, you can use that to your advantage by reeling them in slowly and then going at it. Your muay thai clinch against taller opponent can make a difference in a fight.

This is also great to “create a false range”.

Mix In a Few Feints

Instead of just playing defense, set up an attack for him or her to fall for. To do this, you can and should throw various feints. Doing this is simple when you change up your rhythm to your footwork or moving about, Twitch your shoulders and always move your head around, making your movements and your fighting almost impossible to predict.

The key here is to keep the other fighter guessing your next move — and getting it wrong. Since they are also a good fighter, they’ll be reading your moves which makes it easier to fake them out since they use settle clues for defense.

Watch Yourself

Literally. Record yourself sparring allows you to see your weaknesses or bad habits from a third person point of view, allowing you to easily correct them. This gets you prepared to fight against your taller opponent.

There’s a lot to remember—I know—but just remembering a few of these things can really make the difference when you’re walking into that ring and facing Goliath with just your small pebble.
To get into the technicalities of kickboxing, specifying strategy and technical advice, there might be still a lot of you to learn. It’s important in kickboxing, just as it is in any martial arts to be humble with every fight or training session you may have. That way, especially if you are physically humbled with height in nature, you can be prepared to keep a cool head about the situation and be able to take down your opponent mentally beforehand and then physically, when it counts on the mat or in the ring.
Whether you are competing in kickboxing just for fun to keep in shape and may face a taller opponent for an in-house sparring match to put everything you just learned into practice or if you are looking to continue or begin a professional career in kickboxing, this guide is loaded with tips for you to keep in mind when you’re fighting.
For some instructions on technique when you’re kickboxing that your coach might not mention or that you may have already forgotten—especially when you’re under pressure in the ring, I’ve outlined a few tips to get your back when you’re under fire.
Here are a few tips that can help your game.

Instructions for Technique


Get in Close

As a smaller fighter, you should try your best to get as close as possible to your opponent so that you can neutralize the advantage he or she has since they are taller than you. It neutralizes the fact that they have the reach advantage— meaning they can cover more distance than you can. For example, you can be far enough so that they are out of your reach range but you will still be in their reach range. If you get close enough, you can take this advantage away by making them come in for the clinch. If you are better at clinching and are experienced in martial arts like Muay Thai, you can easily take them down.

Here is a video on how to close off the distance: View Video

Predict their Movement

Regardless if you are trying to stay away from their range, make certain that you are aware of the fact that they might expect this (especially if they are also reading this article!). They know that keeping a wide range can be to their advantage because of their long reach. Their strategy here is usually to stay out of your range but still stay in theirs (they’ll know better than you where that is) and then surprise you with a long jab landing or a round house kick that they are capable of throwing without being hit by you —the shorter fighter.

Make your Movements Fast and Quick

Use your hard-trained footwork to your advantage here. To be able to get the one-up on a taller opponent, you’ll need to move as quick as possible so that they cant evade you with just one step. Use your lower center of gravity to the ground than them to your advantage and make quick snaps at your opponent.

Use your speed to also quickly and strategically move them exactly where you want them. This means cornering them in the corner of the ring if you have to. The whole point behind using quick movements and speed in the ring is to be able to strategically move around so that you can make them move how and where you want them.

Keep Moving, No Matter What

As I mentioned before, being a smaller fighter, you have the advantage of speed and quickness in the ring rather than the lanky fighter standing opposite of you. Use that to your advantage.

Since I already told you that you should be moving in and hoping for the clinch while messing up their range of reach to hit at you, I should also let you know that you shouldn’t simply be moving in any old way.

As you’re making your move, you should duck and weave accordingly, also keeping your chin and your head protected from incoming blows. Its like youre trying to get from point A to point B without getting hit, so act like there are land mines hidden underneath you and bullets coming at your head. Bob and weave but simultaneously have good footwork.

Be Weary of the Uppercut

Since that fighter definitely has the height advantage on you, they might try and get you with the uppercut. At this angle, this can cause major damage, which might mess you up and your strategic game up to a hole new level.

If the taller fighter is experienced, especially experienced with fighting shorter fighters, they might expect you and be waiting for you to try and get close. Be ready to predict that uppercut punch as you move into range. The uppercut is deadly when hit just right, so not only should you be bobbing and weaving but also protecting your chin.

Use Short as a Strength

Just like you are, use those shortpunches, like short-range strikes to your advantage. The whole key to winning a fight against a taller fighter is to be able to get the in on striking. Therefore once you get in, get to hitting and keep hitting, until they get you into a clinch.

Since the clinch is what you want if you are particularly trained in it, then you should be happy with the result. However, especially if you are not good with clinching, this might put you in a bad position. A fighter that is typically longer, taller, and stronger than you can easily beat you with a clinch, so to avoid it, focus on your strikes.

To do that, you have to be within a good enough range. These short-range strikes include, but are not limited to: hook punches, knee strikes and elbow strikes. Depending on what is allowed in your type of martial arts training or what you have learned in training, you should be able to throw as many of these as you can.

Here is a video showing some clinching techniques for kickboxing: view video

Take them Down

Especially if you are well-trained in other martial arts branches that involve grappling, you can use that to your advantage.

Think about it. If your opponent fighter is bigger, longer, taller, and stronger than you, having him or her on their feet and capable of throwing a punch or kick your way (especially in circumstances where you think you’re out of range and their strikes can still reach you) is highly dangerous enough.

Therefore, if you can play to your strengths and one of those is grappling, then take them down as quickly as you possibly can—and keep them there.

Try to use the various take down techniques that you’ve developed, like the Single Leg Takedown (as seen here on this video: view video) so that you can neutralize their strength on two feet.

All this is about is neutralizing strengths and getting you and your opponent on even playing ground. They might have the advantage of being taller or stronger than you are but if you are good with grappling, you can bring them to your playing field.

Doing this also neutralizes the advantage they have with their punching and kicking.

Neutralize The Reach Advantage

Ultimately, all you have to do when facing a taller opponent is find a way to neutralize one of the only advantages they have over you — which is the reach advantage. in other words, they can reach much further out than you can. Which is fine, until you are trying to stay out of range and actually are within theirs, which means a big surprise for you.

Use these techniques to be able to neutralize the reach advantage in general, and you will have your way with them.

Put all the Techniques into Place

When in doubt, make sure you have a recap of your game strategy while you’re fighting and trying to take on a taller opponent. As a checklist, you should be looking over these last-minute tips to make sure to cover as much ground as possible to have a shot at taking them down:

  • Sometimes, you can’t get rewarded without a little risk. Therefore, just in case nothing else is working out for you, you might have to take higher risk techniques to get the results you need to win the fight or be able to land the punches or kicks that you want to.

  • Work towards your strength. Strategically speaking, you should know as a taller opponent that they have a longer reach than you do. Before you head into the fight, remember what your strengths are. Especially if you are good at grappling, try and play to your strengths. The only way to win the fight is to be able be smart about it. If it was just a street fist fight, obviously the one who is stronger will win. However, fortunately, this isn’t a fist fight and you’re smarter than that.

  • You know that, especially since they are much taller than you, they’ll try to jab and jab often. This is because they have a long-reach with their punch. Don’t just sit there or simply dodge the entire fight. You will get tired and there’s no counter. Without a counter, you can’t win. You can have the best defense there is, but without trying to make contact, you won’t be able to take him or her down. Therefore, you need to counter his or her jab with an action. For this particular fight, try a spinning back fist.

  • Use your height to your advantage. Just like they’re using theirs, you should use yours. Since you are much shorter than them, it’s easy to use this to your advantage and reach angles and parts of their body that they can’t easily protect. Since you can reach it, shoot for the low single or ankle pick to really frustrate them and nail them where and when it counts. As I mentioned before, it’s not meant for you to just keep moving around without countering. You need to be able to try and hit them back too, or you’ll never get a chance to take them down and win.

  • Geometrically speaking, you have an advantage when it comes to angles. Use that to your advantage. Since the fighter is much taller than you, they will try and stoop down to your level and hit you where it hurts. The problem is, they’re still pretty high up and the angle they have when they’re kicking you isn’t such a great one — for them. Use this angle to your advantage. Try your best to predict when and where they’re going to target their low kick and grab them before or when they make contact. That puts you back in control and literally have the upper hand. Also, since you have a lower center of gravity than they do, you can use that to your advantage in this situation.

  • As I mentioned earlier, you should bob and weave. Since you are quick, you can usually get away from their attempts at hitting you. Their long lanky arms and legs are no match to someone who is quick and low to

the ground, making it easy for you to evade hits. However, not only should you be bobbing and weaving as much as possible, you should be doing it at an extremely high pace with speed.

  • Resort to kicks when your opponent engages you while in the fight. For example, if your opponent comes at you when you’re least expecting it, you have the advantage of your angles and low gravity to be able to throw the side kick or oblique kick to the knee. Having the target as the knee of your opponent is not only doable because of your stature but also is effective because a kick to the knee will give you the time you need for another combination or for your opponent to back off.

  • Always have a back-up plan. Kickboxing isn’t a calculated game but is a match filled with moves and counter-moves that can happen at the snap of your fingers. There’s no way to predict each and every move that is about to go down but to try and best prepare for every scenario is something that you can do to mentally get your game right and be able to take your opponent down, no matter what their size is relatively to you.

Although your taller opponent might be trying to might be preparing by searching “how to fight someone shorter than you”, the bottom line is that now you are ahead of the game and have the tools to take them on, no matter what their size is.
Although this guide specifies for kickboxing, you can take any of these tips and try and implement them to your game, no matter what your martial arts branch specialization is.
I hope that this guide has helped you mentally prepare for your kickboxing sparring match or real match, no matter at what height your opponent may be.


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