How to Fight Someone Taller Than You

Fighting someone taller is not a problem. As what benefits them is also a weakness; they may want to use their height and reach to injure you but they must be close enough to make contact. Most taller opponents do not know how to use their height to their advantage.


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    If you are a lot smaller, realize that they have to reach downwards. This will affect their balance because they will have to lower themselves to the same height or close to it which takes away the height advantage. Also they will have an inclination to lean forward. This will leave them open to uppercuts and affect their overall balance.
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    Avoid fighting. Both parties are likely to be injured and it is not a good way to act, so finding a way not to fight is the best way. Talking is a better way out or making distance or space so it is harder for them to attack you is always better than using your fists.
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    If this is not an option and you are forced to protect yourself, use self defense or martial arts. You will need to have learned this in a class and have spent a lot of time doing it till you feel and understand that fighting someone bigger, smaller or taller doesn't matter; it is all just fear of being hurt or killed and this is normal.
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    First you must "size-up" your opponent. Most taller fighters are unable to really "fight tall", or truly take advantage of their height. 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 not they are probably unaware of how to use their height. You can use this to give yourself a chance to take them by surprise.
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    The goal in any street fight is survival first. You must motion to the other fighter that you don't want any trouble - even if a fight is imminent. Do this by holding your hands up by your face, palms outward, in a backing away motion - waving your hands slightly. This is the first set up to strike. Tell them you don't want any trouble - and regardless of what they say or do prepare yourself for a fight.
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    Strike first blood. In any street fight - especially against a larger or taller opponent you must get them first. The old adage "never swing first" does not apply. Use the open hand gesture above to launch a surprise first punch either to the throat or nose (never hit the jaw - this can be absorbed by most strong men and can hurt your hands). 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, so if you can hit your opponent with more hits, do so. However, 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.
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    HEAD MOVEMENT AND DEFENSIVE GUARD - After striking first, either your opponent is down and you can turn and run for safety (thus ending the fight), or they are now angrier (although perhaps more respectful of your ability to hurt them). If your opponent is still active you must make sure you keep your hands by your face at all times. This will allow you to use your hands, elbows, and shoulders to deflect punches and strikes from your opponent because they can launch strikes from a distance. Most fighters who are immature or inexperienced will try to hit the head area 90 per cent of the time. Use this to your advantage by keeping the hands up and moving your head and shoulders from side to side and up and down in a bobbing and weaving type motion. Your opponent will fire away at your head out of habit - but will connect on much less of his strikes. You will be harder to hit and confusing to defend when you launch strikes of your own. All the while you are ready to shuffle backwards, in a circle motion, on the feet to create space between you and your opponent while they advance.
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    THE BUM-RUSH - As your opponent throws strikes of their own you must be hard to hit, moving and dipping, and stepping in a circular pattern away from the attack. Your opponent will come at you with a combination or attack of some kind and once you avoid it, or block it, you will notice a moment when they pull back for an instant and regroup for another attack. As SOON AS your opponent has thrown the last of their strikes in a particular attack you must immediately step into their personal space - close to them - and attack viciously. You get close-in on them where their reach is negated. Using speed and a close-in attack will force them to retreat or back pedal. Throw with speed and ferocity - NOT PANIC - as many shots to their face and exposed areas as possible. Right before exhaustion you step out of their reach - not just a step back - but two or three steps back and regain your strength and stamina. DO NOT clutch or grab your opponent if they have a significant size or strength advantage. This will only turn out bad for you. This close-in attack approach is THE RULE for fighting taller guys. You can wait for them to finish an attack, as stated above, or you can get them by beating them to the punch when they come in. Either way you must close the gap and get inside of their long reach to do damage.
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    THE COUNTER STRIKE - When your opponent is setting you up for attacks and throwing their strikes you may notice a few patterns that they are doing over and over again. This is important to look for because you can use these patterns to hurt your opponent with a counter strike. 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 face. Or if you see a wild, winging power-punch coming from their right hand you could duck it and throw a counter-punch combo of your own. These counter strikes are lethal because they usually combine your power with the momentum of your opponents to hurt them extra bad!
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    WORK THE ANGLES - the easiest thing to do in order to create opportunities to get inside of the range of your taller opponent is to work angles. How do you do this? You simply step at an angle to one side while coming in - so you are facing your opponent, ready to attack - but you are not directly in front of them. You are at an angle - and therefore the usual instinctive indicators that we use to judge a target are slightly less effective here for your opponent. Also you will notice new opportunities to hit areas of weakness in your opponents defense from these angles. Also notice that 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.
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    USE YOUR JAB - a good jab is essential for any skilled fighter. You must set up your combos and 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 the face.


  • 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.
  • 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 or bigger opponent without wading in close. This jams up their reach and power - again 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.
  • A good tactic is to go back than ram them with your shoulder. In wrestling, this would be called a "spear"; charge at them with full speed; with your shoulder, ram it into the side of your opponent but beware: you must do this technique fast and strong, or else your opponent can sidestep you (which will be VERY bad for you).
  • When bent over, move up quickly. Grab their shoulder and knock them off their feet to get them on the ground for a getaway or to do even more damage.
  • Be careful when fighting because if you drop your guard your opponent will try to get you in a lock and then you'll be defenseless to do anything.
  • Move your head and body constantly. Taller fighters tend to be a bit slower. Use constant movement to capitalize on this. Changing the level your head is at 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. Also, watch their hips and shoulders. These are great indicators on what they will do next.
  • Chop down their trees. Hit their legs with kicks to slow them down and strike from a distance. Go for the inner and outer thigh - avoiding the knee or high shin which are bony.
  • Watch your face, keep hands up at all times.
  • Your defensive guard should ideally be - hands protecting face and elbow points protecting ribs. Keep your elbows in and against the ribs while bracing the hands against the jaw. If your elbows or hands drift away from the body the effectiveness of your guard goes drastically down.
  • 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.
  • If the persons is taller then you try punching down on their jaw this will weaken them but if you can..avoid conflict.
  • If you're going to roundhouse kick, do it when your opponent is stunned. Roundhouse kicks can take a bit of time and about 70% of the time, knockout moves such as the roundhouse kick miss if the opponent is not stunned.


  • Fighting will cause injuries to both parties, so everything must be done not to fight in first place: laws and the police are there to protect you. If you have to fight, make sure it was the only option and not just for your ego, for example name calling, etc.
  • 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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Categories: Self Defense