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How to Fight A Taller Opponent in Muay Thai

Last Updated: 16.05.22



There are few sports in which the physical strength of an opponent can be fought with the help of proper techniques, and one of these sports is Muay Thai. Luckily, in this full-contact sport size doesn’t really matter but, since the protective clothing for martial arts can’t perform miracles to help you prevent all injuries, make sure to check out our tips and tricks to dominate your opponent and win the fight.


Stay calm

Take it from the inventors of this sport, the Thai people, who aren’t known for their threatening figures – height can be fought.

Chances are you’ll stumble across a taller opponent, so the first thing you need to do is avoid panicking and remain calm. Learn how to deal with stressful situations by knowing how to control your body and its reactions.

Control your breath and don’t think about the possibility of failure. Your opponent might be taller, but this doesn’t mean he or she is stronger too. You can easily overcome a bigger competitor by practicing more and improving your game and techniques.

Defend comfortably and try to execute your techniques with confidence, without worrying about the person in front of you.

Focus on footwork and constant movement

If you’re the smaller sparring partner this doesn’t mean you have to automatically lose the training session. On the contrary, by relying on constant leg movement you can manage to take down your opponent. Speeding up is one of the things you must do constantly if you want to keep your competitor off track and improve your game at the same time.

By applying a constant leg movement technique you will end up in good angles that will open up various opportunities to hit your opponent or block future moves. It may look like a risky dance from the outside, but it will help you strategically attack and even give you a fair chance of winning the game.


Lean back

This is considered one of the most effective techniques you can use when handling a taller partner, so make sure to practice it until you get it perfectly. The idea is to always anticipate your opponent’s kicks and lean back a few inches to avoid them.

People that are higher than you will automatically kick the upper parts of your body so you can block that by simply taking a few steps back. In addition, this technique will spare your arms from the pain and injuries caused by constantly blocking your opponent’s kicks.

And, since we are talking about one of the most popular methods in Muay Thai, there is no shortage of international players who use it to have an advantage over taller opponents. One quick search online and you’ll probably find dozens of Muay Thai professionals who rely on the leaning back technique, just like Saenchai.


Use feints before striking

“All is fair in love and war”, which means you may have to appeal to some unorthodox techniques to dominate your opponent. One of them is called feints and basically means to fake your next move to catch your competitor by surprise so that he won’t be able to anticipate your next move. This will grant you a significant advantage in the next minutes.

Faking will allow you to get closer to your opponent without being attacked and it will also give you plenty of time to think about the best move to kick. Most of the times, when you are faking an attack, your opponent will react with a block, which helps you identify his exposed parts and act accordingly. Therefore, the key is to be inventive if you don’t have height as an advantage.


Sparring makes perfect

You can read thousands of pages and watch hundreds of tutorials on how to take on bigger guys in your Muay Thai fights. The truth is that you’re only as good as your practice is.

Don’t expect to learn everything by heart by just watching other people fight or reading about it. Thus, don’t be afraid to take the manner into your own hands and start practicing.

If you decide to take a trip to Thailand in one of the traditional Muay Thai training camps you’ll be surprised to find out that almost all local fighters are of medium or short height. However, this doesn’t stop them from being strong and powerful and taking down bigger opponents. The key is practice.

The more you spar with people of different heights, the more you’ll learn about their weaknesses and how to transform them to your advantage.

Don’t underestimate your opponent

You may think your sparring sessions are all you need to turn into an unbeatable fighter, no matter the size of your competitor. However, being too confident or even arrogant won’t do you any good in an actual fight.

Learn more about your opponent before a big match and never underestimate him or the strength of his attacks. Treat him with the same respect as you treat any other partner you train with and don’t think that you will automatically win the fight if your techniques are better or you had more practice.


Change levels

If your opponent is taller than you, then his head will automatically be further away from you and, thus, harder to kick. Therefore, you should consider working your way through your competitor’s head by constantly changing the level of your attacks.

Try to work all areas of your opponent’s body and not aim for the head directly, even if you have strong and long arms. One trick is to aim for the legs and focus on the leading leg to unbalance your opponent and force him to lower his guard and his height at the same time. Once you’ve managed to bring your competitor to a similar height as yours, you can aim for the head.




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