How to Fight Someone Taller Than You

Опубликовал Admin
3-11-2017, 14:00
Staff Reviewed Fighting a larger opponent is always a challenge, especially if they’re both bigger and taller than you. If height differential alone is your major disadvantage, though, there are ways to turn their taller stature into a weakness. First and foremost, you must get in close to negate their reach advantage. From there, you must strike quickly, keep your defenses up, move around nimbly, and work from your lower level to “chop the tree down.” Of course, everyone will benefit if you can find a way to avoid fighting in the first place.

Fighting from Very Close Range

  1. Stay out of their primary strike zone as much as you can. A taller fighter’s longer arms are their primary advantage — they can hit you when you can’t reach them. You have to negate this advantage by fighting from close range so that they can’t extend their arms to hit you. But, when you’re not on the offensive, you need to move out beyond their range before quickly working your way back in.
    • Picture a ring around the opponent that approximates their ideal arm-extension zone. Never linger within this ring; fight from inside of it, and rest or regroup from the outside.
  2. Protect your head as you move in and out. As you traverse through their primary strike zone, you must be ready to deflect or absorb their punches. Keep your hands up and move your head and shoulders from side to side and up and down in a bobbing and weaving motion. Your opponent will fire away at your head out of habit — but will connect less often.
    • Keep your elbows in and against your ribs while bracing your hands against your jaw. If your elbows or hands drift away from your body, the effectiveness of your guard goes drastically down.
  3. Jab your way in close. A good jab is essential for any skilled fighter. You must set up your strikes by throwing out a solid jab. Each jab thrown requires a step forward with the lead foot. Use several jabs in succession with your step footwork in order to close in on your taller opponent and smother their long reach.
    • Get deep into their personal space by setting them up with the jab, and drop power shots to their ribs when they bring their defensive guard up to protect their face.
  4. Chop away at their “tree trunk” from close range. In many cases, you can quickly bring a taller opponent down to size by pummeling their midsection. Depending on your punching skills, use a flurry of hooks, crosses, and uppercuts to repeatedly strike their ribs and abdomen.
    • Especially if you’re more adept at kicking, hit their legs with kicks to slow them down and weaken their base. Go for the inner and outer thigh - avoiding the bonier knee or high shin. Only attack the knee if you intend to disable it (and your opponent).
    • And, unless it’s a sanctioned bout with rules, don’t worry about “fighting fair” — strike them in the groin with a punch or, even better, an uppercut knee.
  5. Use an overhand punch to hit them from above. A taller opponent naturally expects all of your strikes to come from below. However, by using a curving, sweeping, exaggerated punching motion, you can punch them with a somewhat downward motion them in the nose or jaw, or bat their ear with an open hand (which causes disorientation).
    • For an overhand punch, dip your off-hand shoulder and knee a bit more, bring your punching arm back, and unleash a swooping strike that curls in from the side and above.
    • Overhand punches take more time and leave you more exposed, however, so use them sparingly and when you are confident you can stun or knock down your opponent.
  6. Get back out of range only briefly, if needed. You can only attack for so long before you’ll tire and/or your opponent will begin landing blows on you. Right before exhaustion hits (or they start hitting you), step out of their reach — not just a step back — to regain your strength and stamina. DO NOT clutch or grab your opponent if they have a significant size or strength advantage. This will usually turn out badly for you.
    • The close-in attack approach is THE RULE for fighting taller opponents. You can wait for them to finish an attack (that you block/defend), or you can get them by (literally) beating them to the punch. Either way you must close the gap and get inside of their long reach to do damage.
  7. Get them on the ground. Your best bet for emerging from the fight relatively unscathed is to get the other person on the ground quickly, whether by punching, grappling, tripping, or whatever else it takes. From there, you can either escape or attempt to finish them off.
    • If you’re more adept at grappling than punching, you can use a tackle or clutch to get your opponent to the ground.
    • A good tactic is to ram them with your shoulder. In wrestling, this would be called a "spear.” Get low, ram your shoulder into the side of your opponent, wrap your arms around their legs if possible, and topple them.
    • Or, when bent over, rise upward quickly. Grab their shoulder, use your leg to trip them, and knock them off their feet for a getaway or to do even more damage.

Attacking Their Weaknesses

  1. Identify their shortcomings. Many taller people are unable to truly take advantage of their height in a fight. Quickly scan your opponent's face and eyes. Look at their stance (foot position), body language and distance away from you.
    • Is your opponent nervous? Angry? If you move in aggressively, does the opponent instinctively shift or move back and keep distance?
    • If they appear unsure, unprepared, and/or unsteady, they are probably unaware of how to maximize their height advantage. You can use this to give yourself a chance to take them by surprise.
    • If they are trained and prepared, you’ll have to focus even more on getting in close, staying low, and using quickness and leverage.
  2. Get down even lower. If you make yourself even shorter, they’ll have to reach down even further to strike you when you’re in close. This will affect their balance as they lower themselves, which in turn takes away their height advantage. Also, they will tend to lean forward. This will leave them open to uppercuts and affect their overall balance.
    • Keep a low stance for a low center of gravity. This will further utilize your lack of height, making you harder to hit, and tougher to take off your feet.
  3. Be the aggressor. In nearly any fight — but especially against a taller (and probably less nimble) opponent — you should try to draw “first blood.” Speed is essential here. One punch is good but more punches are better. A combination of attacks or quick strikes will do more damage than one single strike, and may convince a tentative opponent to “throw in the towel.”
    • As a surprise first blow, consider using an open-hand strike to either the throat or nose. Either target creates pain and disorientation in your opponent, and is less likely to hurt you than a punch to their jaw.
  4. Get back after your initial assault. Do not leave yourself open to a counter attack. Launch your fastest strike possible and immediately step back and return your hands to your face area for protection. While stepping back, circle around your opponent. Stay safely beyond their longer reach. Re-evaluate their condition (positioning, attitude, fighting spirit, etc.) and plan your next move.
  5. Counter-strike their attack patterns. When your opponent is setting you up for attacks and throwing their strikes, you may notice a few patterns that they keep repeating. These are important to look for, because you can use these patterns to hurt your opponent with a counter strike. For instance, if you recognize a recurring wild, winging power-punch coming from their right hand, you can duck it and throw a counter-punch combo of your own.
    • Or, let’s say your opponent is always throwing a long jab punch and then letting their hands drop down to their waist area before returning their fist to their facial area. You could wait until the timing is right on their next jab and, after you avoid it, throw a power punch right over the top of their outstretched arm (as it begins its drop to their waist) and hit them square in the nose.
  6. Work the angles to access their weak areas. In order to create opportunities to get inside of the range of your taller opponent, avoid fighting head-on the whole time. Instead, step at an angle to one side while coming in — so that you are facing your opponent but aren’t directly in front of them. As you do so, look for opportunities to hit areas of weakness in your opponent’s defenses from these angles.
    • You should preferably be working angles that position you away from their power. So, if your opponent is throwing hard right crosses and hooks, you should be working angles that position you towards their left hand — away from the power.
    • When you come in from an angle, your opponent’s instinctive indicators that we all use to judge a target will be slightly less effective.
  7. Move your head and body constantly. Taller fighters tend to be a bit slower. Use constant movement to capitalize on this. Changing the level of your head while feinting and dodging can allow you to get in close without throwing a punch too soon.
    • Circle around the opponent and never stop moving. You might be able to wear them down simply by keeping them off-guard with your ceaseless activity.
    • While you’re moving around, watch their hips and shoulders. These are great indicators of what they will do next.
    • Move in to strike quickly when you see the chance. As Muhammad Ali said, “Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.”

Avoiding the Fight

  1. Find ways not to fight. Both parties are likely to be injured no matter how the fight goes, so finding a way not to fight is the best way. Talking is a better way out, when possible. If not, consider running away — you’re probably faster than a taller opponent.
    • Fighting can have major legal consequences, and can lead to serious — even permanent — injuries for one or both parties.
  2. Try to defuse the situation at the last minute. Motion and/or say to the other fighter that you don't want any trouble — even if a fight seems imminent. Do this by slightly waving your hands up by your face, palms outward, while backing away slowly. Tell them you don't want any trouble — but regardless of what they say or do, prepare yourself for a fight by planning your first strike.
  3. Get help. If you’re being dragged into a fight you don’t want, call out for assistance. Ask friends or strangers to help directly, or to call the police or other authorities (teachers, etc.). If you have to fight, make sure it is the only option and not just for your ego — for example, due to name calling.
    • Do everything you can not to fight; but when you have no choice, strike fast and first with everything you’ve got.
    • Or, in even simpler terms: don’t start fights — finish them.


  • Get comfortable moving in very, very close on a taller fighter. You might be closer than you are comfortable with - but you WILL NOT defeat a taller opponent without wading in close. This jams up their reach and power. Self-defense or fighting classes are great for learning this skill.
  • Keep your eyes open. Often fighters close their eyes when attacked instinctively. Get yourself used to being hit with strikes while keeping your eyes open. Drills in an organized class are great for this.
  • Always remember, speed beats power. A swing with all your might behind it is useless if you can't land it. Your forte as the smaller opponent is getting in quick and hitting them where it hurts.


  • Taller opponents are a significant challenge, so get comfortable sparring and study a martial art before trying to take on a bigger or taller opponent.
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