T Nation

Best Style for Tall Lanky People?


I am 6.4 ft tall and am interested in learning some type of fighting style. Currently just bodybuilding at the moment but would like to use my muscle strength gains towards a fighting style for self defense.


It depends: are you looking for self-defense, competition, a workout, or some combination of the above?


that's kind of a loaded question....

anyway, judo seems to be a good base, as it teaches throws and joint locks, and due to it's sporting nature, you'll get used to going full speed with people. boxing is also great, as it teaches basic pucnhes, but also really important stuff like head movement, footwork, etc...

MMA is not great for some things, but combines a lot of systems and tehcniques....

there are a lot of things out there, but a lot of factors on what you're looking for. also, how much time and energy you're willing to invest...


If you are talking unarmed self defense: I'd say go with Muay Thai.
It is a great bang for you buck style, and it favors strength and reach. Look for a school with lots of clinch work, and emphasis on the inside game (knees, elbows, posture control). Add in some seminars and classes on threat assessment, and conflict deescalation and you'll have a good base.

If you are talking about armed self defense: You can't go wrong with one of the Filipino arts, or their derivatives. I favor styles that emphasize a classic "wound from the outside, and close to kill" or "Largo y Corto" style like Arnis Kali, but Pekiti Tirsia, Sayok, the Natural Spirit derivative of Arnis, and James Keating's ComTech are all top notch, and those I've worked with are good people to boot.



i thought about this afterwards, and think these are some questions you need to ask yourself when looking at a style to train, and need to say yes to all these, if you're really interested in self-defnese (IMO):

  1. is it practical as self defense in your primary environment (for me, i have a lot of experience in kicking/MT, but i have never, ever kicked someone in a fight on the street. i normally wear jeans/work boots, or if i'm at work i've got boots, gun-belt, etc. also, if you live in a northern state, snow/ice can have an impact too. as a tall, lanky person you have range/reach, which is an advantage in striking arts. however, if you're also strong and muscular from BBing, you might excell in a grappling style)

  2. do they spar (if they don't spar or do "reality drills," then you won't have much of an idea how your style will work)

  3. will you enjoy training there consistently (you need to train consistenly to develop the muscle memory to depend on skills in real life situations. if you're not willing to train 2+ times a week, i wouldn't expect a realistic gain in technique/skill)

  4. are you willing to learn local/state use of force laws (you need to know what you can do and what you can't do, and when)

  5. are you willing to carry weapons, i.e lethal/non-lethal (if you're genuinley worried about self-defense, then things like a pocket knife and pepper spray aare pretty simple, but extremely useful things. guns are also great, but require more money, training, etc)

maybe that'll help you look at each art more objectively, as far as what you need....


Shorter guys tend to have advantages with grappling.
Taller guys tend to have advantages with striking.

If I were you I'd do some muay thai or something.
Your reach can be a huge avantage.


Your goals are the most important factor, and it also depends on the gyms/instructors in your area. I don't want to cause any arguments among styles, but suppose Art A is generally more effective than Art B. However, quality instruction in B might do you more good than shit instruction in A, you know?


Blaze, I would disagree with you.

Striking (being a short guy myself) Mike Mcdonald, Pat Barry (short heavyweight), Mike Tyson, Mike Zambidis, etc.

Grappling tall guys, The Diaz brothers, Carlos Condit ... triangle chokes out the wazoo.

Its how you use your body type to your advantage.

I will also echo Melvin, you want a quality instructor more than anything. If I have to choose between a muay thai school run by someone who has never fought professionally and a judo school run by someone who was multiple time national team etc... I know where I would go. Credentials, Credentials, Credentials.


I have to agree. Tae Kwon Do is generally regarded as McDojo fodder in the US, but in Australia you can find some former RoK Marines who will teach their no-BS hardcore version. This would be infinitely better than some former high school wrestling assistant coach who sets up an 'Ultimate Fighting ZOMG!!!!!!111!eleventy!!1" gym.

For someone who's not going to go hardcore, I would say the first concerns are: 1) what is available from a quality instructor near you and 2) what will you do on a regular basis?

After that, your goals also are important. If you want to sport fight for example, Krav Maga is not for you, but Judo could still help your self defense and allow you to compete. There are too many factors involved for me to recommend a specific art to a specific person based on so little information.


If you want muscle strength gains and you want to learn to fight forget bodybuilding. Go for strength training/hybrid type 3 muscle training. Best style for tall lanky dudes? Outfighting. Use your reach to keep shorter opponent away and harass him with fast left jabs. Same theory applies to kick boxing but if you're going to do MMA learn to grapple or you're finished.


The guy said he was looking for self defense, so I'd say boxing regardless of height. It's the best, hands down, but it's very difficult to get big while taking the sport seriously.

It's easy to learn the basics though, so he might dig it.


It's not the best hands down.
A bigger arsenal alone is a fantastic thing.

I still have to see a non-heavyweight boxer (who only boxes) I can't utterly demoralize with one nice lowkick.


Yea... in the ring.

This guy was talking about for self defense purposes- where simple is better. It don't get more simple than boxing- hitting without gettting hit.


So why won't a kick work in a street fight?


They can, but to throw a kick a lot of times you need room to throw it. A lot of the places fights tend to happen are very cramped spaces. On top of that, real fights start in much different fashion, often with a sucker punch or a sneak attack with some kind of setup coming first. Time to actually throw a kick is a luxury in those situations.

Also, I don't like throwing kicks because they put you off balance. You slip on some beer that was spilled, you get pushed by one of the guy's friends, you had too much to drink and your balance ain't great to begin with... There's a lot of complications that come with it.

I haven't seen a kick thrown in a real fight since I was in grade school, and they didn't work then either.

I realize people are going to have different opinions and I don't want this to turn into a style vs. style thing, but boxing is simple and effective... and most importantly, it teaches you how to slip punches and hit back immediately- something that most other arts are sorely lacking in. It becomes reflexive to do these things.


I think that you are underestimating the efficacy of a kick, but you do have some good points and we really don't need another style v style thread.


I have to agree with Irish, the only times I would recommend kicking in a real fight would be against a grounded opponent, and even then a good stomp is usually what's called for (it's also deadly force, btw, insert standard don't try this at home disclaimer here).

In some very rare instances I could see a leg kick working, but in almost all of those instances I can see other options that don't involve standing on one leg. Let's face it, if you have the space and time to set up a leg kick, you can probably disengage, which is generally the better option. You can try to square off with a guy like you're playing Street Fighter if you want, but I've never been in or seen a fight outside of a ring go down like that, and if you have the time and space to do it you're probably looking at a night in a drunk tank for disorderly conduct, or a much longer time in jail and court for aggravated assault.


dude just bulk up nobody would mess with arnold or sergio oliva, they would be frightened to death.


I was thinking more judo and wrestling.
Stay the fuck away from BJJ for self defense.


I've had guys I outweighed by at least 20kg give me shit.

Kids do stupid shit when they're drunk. Not picking up any bitches in the clubz? Start some shit to get your high.

Usually, a group of 3-4 will try something with 1-2. Size matters less when you're outgunned. I can honestly say the grappling I've done over the last two years, despite not being standup focused, has allowed me to take next to no damage in these situations, unless marks on your shirt from failed front kicks count.
(edit: never had a knife pulled on me, never been glassed. I'm a lucky fella).

Though I'm a BJJ guy, I agree with Irish. Boxing and Judo is really all you need to 'handle yourself', though personally I'd recommend doing Judo first to 'get your base set'.