ivy league mma and muay thai kickboxing classes
March 4, 2014

    I got an email from one of our best students, CAP Platinum Member Laith Hyali. In that email he asked my a good question.

    “How to deal with taller fighters and their range during Muay Thai/MMA sparring sessions?”

    Since I’m in a good writing mood I thought we’d dive right into this subject.

    If you’re a shorter fighter then a big part of your early training will consist of learning how to deal with a taller fighter. This is a normal area of struggle for most newer students of both Muay Thai Kickboxing and MMA.

    Here at Ivey League, we’ve got a ton of good tall fighters. One of our new students, Anthony Barrett, is 6’6 and weighs 199 pounds. That’s a tall dude right there!

    So if you end if sparring someone like Anthony you’d better be able to deal with a tall fighter. If not you’re going to have a hard time landing any strikes at all. Read on….

    3 Tips For Success With Taller Fighters

    Tip #1 – Footwork. Footwork is key. In the end, the goal in a fight should be to control the range. You do this by utilizing good footwork. Good footwork will keep you outside of the taller fighters striking range. By range I mean the place where the taller fighter would have the best angle to attack you and with the most force.

    The last place you want to be is at the end of any fighters punch. This is where he’d have that “snap” at the end of his strikes. This is a dangerous place to be. Your footwork should keep you out of this area more often then not. It all starts with the footwork.

    Tip #2 – Movement! This Sort of falls in line with tip #1. It’s important to use lots of movement to deal with the lanky fighter. Get in, get out, that’s a good goal to shoot for. Movement comes from footwork.

    You’ll want to dart in and out that dangerous range I just talked about. You do this by “Darting”, as we call it. Darting pretty much means driving off your feet quickly to move closer or further away from your opponent.

    Tip #3 – Cut off the ring. Aside from footwork and overall movement, another key ingredient is cutting off the ring/cage. The idea is If you can back a taller fighter into a corner, it’s going to be much harder for he’she to use their long arms and legs effectively. Cutting off the ring will come again from good footwork and movement. Be sure to always be focusing on your FOOTWORK!

    Tip #4 – Move Your Head. Good head movement is a must. Remember it’s much harder to hit a moving target compared to one standing still. Slipping, ducking, fainting and fading are all good things to focus on. Combine those with catching, parrying, blocking and shielding and you’re well on your way to countering taller fighters.

    Use head movement to get to the outside of those troublesome straight punches like the jab and cross. Getting to the outside will give you a better angle to attack from and better defense.

    Examples to go by…

    The best example I can think of if you wanted to see a shorter fighter clobbering a taller one is my Muay Thai Coach, Kru Jose Villarisco. Kru’s not tall or big. Nope Kru stands at 5’3 (of course he claims 5’5…) and weighs 130 pounds.

    ivy league muay thai kickboxing classes
    This is a fellow not to be messed with! Kru Jose Villarisco might be a smaller fighter but that doesn’t mean he can’t pack your lunch.

    That being said, I’ve seen him toy with fighters as tall as 6’5. No joke, I’m a witness. He’s able to do this through the use of the above tips and tactics. Controlling the range, staying outside of major attacks and backing tall fighters into a corner.

    If it works for Kru Jose then by god it’ll work for you too 🙂

    Just remember those three tips. They won’t be easy to master, that’s for sure. Put your time in and results will come. I’m sure Kru Jose would tell you the same thing.

    For today’s video study I’ve included some must watch Kru Jose Villarisco stuff. 3 videos of different but very valuable striking skills. These skills work for self defense, Thai Boxing, Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Check ’em out!

    muay thai kickboxing in arnold maryland
    Kru Jose seen here teaching the students of Ivey League Mixed Martial Arts during a workshop back in 2010
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