Sparring with taller opponent

Discussion in 'Standup Technique' started by AllanT, Dec 29, 2016.

  1. AllanT

    AllanT White Belt

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    Hi guys. New member here and first post.

    I'm looking for some advice on sparring, in particular sparring with taller opponents.

    I'm 5'6 140lb and my normal sparring partner is 6'4 and around 170lb. I can wrestle with him easily enough and when it goes to ground I can generally get the upper hand but during stand up striking I have real problems with his huge reach advantage. I know there are threads that cover techniques for getting on the inside and I'm trying to learn these techniques but I'm wondering if you guys think sparring this guy will be beneficial at all considering I'll never realistically face someone that height in my own weight class and I'll likely fight differently against people closer to my own height.
     
  2. j123

    j123 Pro Sherdogger 500-0-1

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    Will you be competing purely in MMA?

    Most coaches these days have their fighters compete in MT and BJJ tourneys before transitioning over to MMA. So its likely you'll take part in MT exhibitions, and sanctioned fights as well.

    In MT height is a dominant attribute, so the fighters will be taller compared to MMA. 6'4 @ 170 isn't too rare, its uncommon.

    Still, you should still know how to deal with taller fighters. Depending on where you are, if the demographics of the gyms you compete in happen to be more striker/MT than grapplers (MT gyms converted to MMA gyms), then it will be expected your opponents will be taller. Not 6'4, but probably 5'9 - 6'0 (at featherweight).
     
  3. AllanT

    AllanT White Belt

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    I'm planning on competing purely in MMA. It would be a good idea to compete in MT or BJJ comps before but in rural England there's not a lot of that going on so local MMA promotions seem to be the only place to compete and test yourself.

    Gyms near me tend to be more MT focused so as you say it would probably be good to know how to face the taller guys. Should also have mentioned I'm on my way down to bantamweight so that should bring the average height of my opponents down a bit (I hope).
     
  4. Noodles03

    Noodles03 Green Belt

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    J123, I'm not muay thai practitioner, so my knowledge is very limited. You mention that height is a dominant attribute and I can see why, however does having long legs exposes you more against leg kicks from a shorter Thai fighter?
     
  5. j123

    j123 Pro Sherdogger 500-0-1

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    It can, but at that range, you're also within reach from the taller fighter (hands, body kick, clinching if they're really tall)

    Being the taller fighter, you control 2/3 distances: kicking (teeps, body kicks), and clinching.

    Now controlling clinching might sound strange since when you hear clinch, you think close range, and would say the shorter will dominate there. Here's why:
    A taller fighter will be able to reach out and pull the shorter fighter in at a farther range. Also as a shorter guy, pummeling above is alot harder (and harder on your shoulders) than doing it at neutral or lower position. Not to mention a decent clincher will be using turns to throw their opponent/partner off balance as often as they can while hitting them when they're off balance.

    The taller person's straight knees (in the clinch) will also have more force behind it from being able to shoot his or her hips back further due to their height. A long knee from the outside will be longer as well. If they counter your cross with an outside knee, it will suck big time.

    So if TS muay thai spars with his main sparring partner, his partner might already be at his clinch range (outside knee range also) when TS is at the end of his reach with a full extended straight. A shorter guy's ideal range against a taller fighter striking-wise is the middle range with punching, but not right in clinch distance.

    Of course there are exceptions, and someone who is good at closing distance can do well, but usually its more difficult fighting against a taller opponent as they have natural advantages already.
     
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  6. j123

    j123 Pro Sherdogger 500-0-1

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    It might, but there will be some guys killing themselves to squeeze into a weight for the "height advantage" so it's expected. Its just a part of the sport. My main teammate before he joined our gym, his first fight was at 122lbs and his opponent that beat him was a lying sandbagging pos at 5'11.

    But from the sound of the OP, you're okay at closing distance, although it is very rare for new fighters to be decent at maintaining their distance in their first few events, if you can work on it and drill it to death, it might be fine.
    If rural England is similar to here (Canada) and that the major cities has all the action, I'm gonna guess that the fights there will be more scrappy than technical
     
  7. Ancalmai

    Ancalmai White Belt

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    I'm new here also this is my second post, I've only ever sparred 5 times in boxing not MMA and all of my opponents were taller (around 6ft I'm 5ft 8). Personally I found it helpful as it made me keep my defence up and taught me to move my head and keep my eyes on my opponent. I'm currently training with my uncle who's a kickboxing instructor and is two inches taller than me and it's not easier just different. Sparring someone taller is a challenge and a challenge is usually a good thing in most cases, I'd say keep doing it and analyse how much it's helping as you do.
     
  8. AllanT

    AllanT White Belt

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    Yea there's always going to be someone who's willing to put themselves through hell to get down to the weight, I'm hoping that by getting down to the weight without dehydrating or anything I'll be healthier and stronger than any opponent who does decide to do that.

    I do have trouble judging the distance, I underestimate my opponents reach quite a lot but I'm working out ways to get on the inside so I'll just keep working on it. You're probably right about scrappy fights, I've seen some of the videos from local events and sometimes it ends up as more of a brawl, if I work on my technique as much as possible then hopefully I'll stand a better chance.

    That's good to know, I'll keep doing what I'm doing and try to measure my progress, you're absolutely right about the challenge aspect, if it was easy it wouldn't be worth doing.
     
  9. Higus

    Higus Gold Belt

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    Before you get too in deep about tactics against taller opponents, it might help if you could explain what you would like to do. There are more ways to fight a taller opponent than to close the distance and fight close range.

    Would you say you have a style? If you were fighting someone your own size and the fight was going well, what would that look like?
     
  10. n.diazismylife1999

    n.diazismylife1999 Black Belt

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    Yes, there are more ways to fight taller opponents than closing the distance. You could youtube "Firas Zahabi fighting taller opponents" for his view on it.
     

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