Sudsakorn Tall fighterIn our last article entitled, “Short vs Tall: Maximizing Height and Reach Advantages in Muay Thai,” we discussed some specific advantages that taller fighters have against shorter opponents. We came to the conclusion that the clinch is the best place to exploit a significant height advantage in a fight.

This article offers specific techniques that can be effective for taller fighters who have reach advantages against their opponents. If you happen to be a taller fighter,  these techniques can help you maximize some of that reach advantage that you have.

It is important to remember that a diverse offense is the best offense.

Just because you might have a few techniques that work well against shorter opponents, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use other Muay Thai weapons. Muay Thai is all about constantly evolving to ensure your opponent isn’t able to read your game plan.

Understanding the techniques that are particularly effective against shorter opponents can give you advantage if you are able to land them on your opponent. Continue to mix up your arsenal of attacks to ensure that you are not an easy person to read.

Note, this is the third article in our Short vs Tall series:

  1. How to Counter Reach and Height Advantages in Muay Thai
  2. Strategies for Maximizing Reach and Height Advantages
  3. Techniques that are Effective Against Shorter Opponents

Here is a list of 5 techniques that are effective against shorter opponents:

Knees (Clinch or Forward Knees)

Taller fighters have a natural advantage when it comes to landing knees on their opponents. Having a big reach advantage over shorter opponents allows taller fighters to land knees above an opponents defense and into their upper mid section. A good step forward knee you will cover the distance from your opponent and put you into a good clinch position.

This video demonstrates the specific advantages that taller fighters have when it comes to knees and elbows.

As you can see from this demonstration, taller fighters are better equipped to throw more effective elbows and knees against shorter opponents. Their reach is an advantage they should look to exploit in the ring. 

I remember watching a fight in Thailand with a taller fighter from France vs a shorter Thai fighter. The first minute of the fight the Thai toyed with the foreigner and landed heavy kicks and punches on him, showing off his superior technique and skill, over his taller opponent from France. The Thai fighter was making it look easy, until the foreigner locked him in the clinch. Once both fighters entered the clinch the taller foreigner was able to take advantage of his height advantage and end the fight with devastating knees to the body.

Knees are one of the most utilized techniques by taller fighters in Muay Thai. Anytime you see a tall fighter get into the ring, you can almost guarantee he is going to push the pace and look to land long knees.

Throwing knees to the head is another feat that can be easily done when you have the reach. Tall fighters who have a height advantage can throw high knees that can target the head of a shorter opponent or their upper body. Being able to change the level of your knees will make it unpredictable and more difficult for your opponent to counter you.

Remember that good knees take a lot of practice. Just because you are a tall fighter doesn’t mean you are going to be able to land knees at will. Sparring with knees is a great way to ensure that you can start to develop timing to set them up in a fight.

Here are a few examples of a taller fighter utilizing knees against his shorter opponents.

Knees are the biggest advantage that tall fighters have. Learning how to execute well timed forward knees will change a fight.

Getting into that knee range is an effective strategy


If you have a big height advantage over your opponent you should be making it rain elbows from above.

Elbow techniques are extremely effective for taller fighters who are fighting short opponents. The elbows can easily come down over the guard of your opponent, making it difficult for a shorter opponent to block them.

Big height and reach advantages are perfect for getting that extra amount of reach, that can be used to cut a shorter opponent in close range. Tall fighters should look to use elbows whenever they are in clinching range.

Note, sparring with elbows is something that should only be reserved for advanced guys and fighters. In Thailand, elbows are never used in sparring, only in fights. Elbow techniques are hard to control and if you use any power you can hurt your partner, even with elbow pads on. If you do spar with elbows, wear elbow pads and only go with people who have control.

Fighters who have a lot of natural height and reach over their opponents should try to master the different elbow techniques available.

When you are in close range elbows can be devastating to your opponents

Here’s another nice elbow in close range after the break away from the clinch

The Jab

The jab is one of the most important weapons in Muay Thai. It can be used for offense, defense, and to help get you into the clinch.

While every Muay Thai fighter should master the jab, fighters who have a big reach advantage will be able to land a lot of hard clean shots using their extended reach.

Having a big reach advantage means you should be utilizing your jab as much as possible. The jab is a safe attack that can allow you to attack your opponent without being out of position. A taller fighter with a long reach will easily be able to out jab a much shorter opponent.

If you happen to have a good jab, you should utilize it to keep your opponent at bay at control the distance against a shorter opponent. This video below showcases how effective the jab can be for taller fighters.

As you can see from this video, a good jab can help you control the range against shorter opponents. 

The jab is a great weapon that can be used to distract your opponent when you want to enter the clinch.  Jabbing your opponent will ensure you don’t walk into big punches as you try to enter clinch range. This is a great tool that can disrupt the offensive rhythm of your shorter opponent when they are coming forward.

Damien Alamos showcases effective use of the jab against his shorter opponent

Teep (Push Kick)

The teep is weapon that can allow you to control the stance against your opponent. This is another weapon that can help you control the pace in the fight and ensure you keep enough distance from your shorter opponent.

If you are fighting an aggressive fighter that is shorter than you will want to utilize your teep and jab to help keep them at bay. A strong teep will send a signal to your opponent that you are going to control the distance in the fight.

It is an excellent technique that you can use to get into clinch range. Use the teep to off balance your opponent and get into a position to safely enter the clinch.

Teeps can put your opponents off balance allowing you to walk into the clinch range safely.

Head Kicks in Close Range

One of the advantages to being a taller fighter is that you don’t need to be very flexible to land a head kick on are much shorter opponent. You can be in close range and reach the head of your opponent.

In order to throw an effective head kick you need to have a good sense of distance and timing. If you attempt a head kick too far from your opponent, they can easily lean back and make you miss. The ideal time to throw a head kick is in close proximity so they don’t see it coming. Following a combination of punches with a nicely placed headkick can be very difficult for an opponent to block.

Head kicks can be extremely effective from taller fighters because they have a better angle to come down on their kick. You will notice some of the best head kickers tend to be taller fighters.

Damien times the head kick perfectly as his opponent walks forward

Diversify Your Offense

Muay Thai is all about being diverse and using different weapons. These are just a handful of techniques that you can utilize against your opponents. Always ensure that you are constantly trying to throw different attacks at your opponent.

Just because elbows work great for taller fighters, doesn’t mean you have to walk forward and try to land that elbow cut the whole fight. Be patient and don’t ever try to force techniques if there isn’t an opening to land. Knowing that elbows and knees are extremely effective against shorter opponents, means you should look for opportunities to find those openings.

Remember, styles make fights. Just because you are tall doesn’t mean you should overlook what kind of fighter your opponent is. If you are fighting an aggresive fighter that comes forward with punches, walking forward with knees can often put you in vulnerable position. Always keep in mind, that your opponents style is something that should never be overlooked.

You should be prepared to fight any type of fighter that is in front of you. In order to improve you should be sparring tall guys, short guys, big guys and everything in between. Being able to master different Muay Thai weapons will ensure that you become a complete fighter.

Muay Thai Counters RESIZEDo you want to learn more?

If you enjoyed reading this article you should check out my Muay Thai Strategy bundle that includes over 18 chapters dedicated to countering different types of opponents. These books were written to teach you how to Counter every opponent you will face in the ring, including an expanded section on Short vs. Tall Counter tactics.

Whether you are a beginner or someone who is a fighter, there is a lot of information that you can learn from reading these books. If you want to learn more you can check them out here.