When it comes to sparring in Muay Thai, you might think that shorter individuals would be at a disadvantage.
In reality, however, if you use your height properly, you’ll make yourself a more formidable sparring partner for even the tallest member of your class.
With that in mind, here are five ways to take your Muay Thai game to another level no matter your height – and even use it to your advantage.
Choose The Right Striking Range
Perhaps your favorite ONE Super Series athlete likes to stay on the outside and throw kicks, only closing the distance when absolutely necessary, kind of like Tawanchai PK.Saenchai Muaythaigym.
This strategy is all well and good for a bantamweight of his stature, but if you happen to be a few inches shy of Tawanchai’s height – like his teammate Pongsiri PK.Saenchai Muaythaigym – you are better off finding a fighting range where you can comfortably attack and evade without absorbing too much punishment.
If you can’t get out of the way in time, however, that’s when you’ll need to dig your feet into the canvas and weather the storm.
Use Your Low Center Of Gravity
Staying level is crucial in Muay Thai. Bouts in Thailand are partially won based on how well one fighter controls the other’s balance, whether inside the clinch or with kicks from the outside.
It’s much easier to unbalance a taller Muay Thai athlete than to offset a smaller one. That means you should drop your weight down so that your sparring partner’s kicks and sweeps have little effect.
By doing this, you’ll make them work twice as hard to put you off-balance.
Evade Instead Of Absorb
It’s always easier said than done in the heat of sparring, but if you can evade your partner’s attacks instead of taking them full-on, you’ll be much less sore after training.
Plus, by evading kicks and punches, you’ll discover where you need to be in order to counter and land. For example, if you avoid a high kick but step back with your rear foot too much, you won’t be in range to land.
Only by practicing how to evade effectively can you then practice the follow-up to that defense – counter-striking.
Learn To Counter-Strike
You’ll notice many of the greatest “short” fighters are counter-strikers – that is, they love to let their opponents initiate an exchange and then counter before or after that opponent attacks.
If you choose to counter your sparring partner’s attack before they land, it’ll give you the chance to connect first and then step out of range. If you choose to counter after your partner attacks, a swift counter will make him or her think twice about throwing that technique again.
With all that said, there’s one more thing you can do to improve your Muay Thai game as a shorter student – pay attention to the stars.
Watch The Greats
From Samson Issan in the late 1980s to modern athletes like ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon, many short, stocky fighters have gone down as some of the best competitors in the sport.
If you study how the superstars compete – even those who aren’t blessed with great height – it’ll raise your level in the gym during sparring sessions.
And to give you another leg up, ONE Championship offers a video library full of footage featuring shorter athletes like Rodtang that you can watch and then apply to your own game the next time you strap on the gloves and shin pads.