T Nation

How Important is Reach?

I’m not a fighter myself (yet!) but as a lanky bastard I was wondering how much of an advantage reach is in the different combat sports? I read on a boxing site that being tall is only a real advantage at heavyweight, and that at all lower weights a more compact fighter is at an advantage, but this seems counter-intuitive to me. I have also read that in judo small and compact is better than tall and rangy, but in grappling its all about different tactics for different people. The only sports that seem to say reach is a definite advantage are those that use kicks. is this right, or do you think reach can be an advantage elsewhere?

It comes down to tactics. Sean Sherk felt the lack of reach vs. BJ Penn striking, as did Wanderlei vs. Chuck. In many cases though a more compact guy puts on more muscle for the same poundage, less bone etc…

Taller guys have longer limbs making it easier to submit.

Taller guys have longer limbs making their guard game really dangerous.

Taller guys have longer limbs making their jabs power powerful.

Taller guys tend to be thinner and less dense, making them somewhat weaker than shorter guys in a same weight class.

All of the above statements are true.

Fighting is complicated like that.

in boxing, it matters a ton and is nearly always a positive

in bjj, it has pros and cons

Taller lanky grapplers/wrestlers can be extremely difficult to take down.
I am 5’6"now I was under 5 feet through most of HS
and about 5’2" in college. competing at about 130.
I have wrestled kids 6’ fun.
In retrospect I might have been one of the shorte, stockier guys
at that weight only buy comparison

Yes the limbs provide a great target, but a saavy skinny lanky bastard , can make things entertaining.
Its difficult to out hip someone who’s hips are higher then your own, you have to get creative

In Judo- there is much more clinch/grip fighting while standing
neutralizing some of the size.

for the straight wrestling- You have to think more of coercing them to the matt or condensing their frame and out positioning their levers.

kmc

Take it from a short guy, 5’2’’, it can be very important. Much more so in the striking range than in grappling.

There is the idea that if a short person with less reach enters a tall guy’s space he can punch very easily at his best range while the other person with longer arms has to step back if he wants the space to strike optimally.

So basically tall people would do best keeping short people away while short people would do best keeping tall people up close.

Every time a boxing match starts or a clinch is broken up fighters are set a decent distance away from each other favoring the tall person but since most of the resetting of range happens because clinching and getting up close is just so easy the short person has an advantage too.

I think being short/average and being tall basically are balanced in boxing. If people lose because they can’t get close enough a lot of them should just try to be more aggressive and charge in either swinging or covered up. I think a shorter person just needs to explosive like Mike Tyson because if you can push forward well enough you can keep anyone off balance regardless of height.

[quote]Roundhead wrote:
I’m not a fighter myself (yet!) but as a lanky bastard I was wondering how much of an advantage reach is in the different combat sports? I read on a boxing site that being tall is only a real advantage at heavyweight, and that at all lower weights a more compact fighter is at an advantage, but this seems counter-intuitive to me. I have also read that in judo small and compact is better than tall and rangy, but in grappling its all about different tactics for different people. The only sports that seem to say reach is a definite advantage are those that use kicks. is this right, or do you think reach can be an advantage elsewhere?[/quote]

if you got reach and you dont use it, its useless.
tall guys use the excuse that short and compact guys have the advantage but i beg to differ. taller guys have the leverage because of better weight distribution. a short compact guy might be good for wrestling, but longer limbs help you reach and lock holds from various angles. jiu jitsu guys know what i mean.

In stand up, if you’re fighting a shorter guy and he’s good at getting in and neutralizing your range… I hope you’re good at keeping people at your optimal range, otherwise you might be in trouble.

Judo competition is all about throws and being shorter than the guy you’re throwing means you have better leverage…a tall guy has to get UNDER a short guy to get the same leverage.

Only as important as what you can do with it.

How do they measure reach? I used to think it was neck to knuckles, but thats nearly impossible, concidering Tim Sylvia has an 84" reach. Is it arm span?

[quote]ProfessorCHAOS96 wrote:
How do they measure reach? I used to think it was neck to knuckles, but thats nearly impossible, concidering Tim Sylvia has an 84" reach. Is it arm span?[/quote]

Yes, it’s finger tip to finger tip/arm span.

Reach is just one of many advantages that one can have. Some others include speed, aggressiveness, experience, size/strength, technical proficiency/superiority, etc…

The important thing, as someone mentioned above, isn’t what advantages each person has, but rather who is best able to utilize their advantages while neutralizing their opponent’s advantages.

It is all about what you got and how you use it. Example I train with a guy who has very long legs and because of it he has spent alot of time working on triangles and now he is ridiculous at them.

Changes the game a lot.
But also keep in mind despite being “weaker” because of less potential muscle mass. If they keep you in their striking range the length of their limbs gives them more time to generate force.

so this often negates the supposed strength advantage that shorter fighters have.

I just have a knack for fighting taller guys because i’m really really fast… and it usually ends up looking a lot like how faber was considerably speedier than pulver.

with the right footwork and staying busy you can completely throw a tall guy off their game

The question is would you rather have a better reach or not? Pretty much everyone would say they would want the reach, so yes it helps. That being said its such a small thing when it comes to the whole picture. The longer reach will not determine the winner of a fight.

Reach is something you can’t control.

“Distance control” with your opponent is WAY MORE IMPORTANT and something most fighters, even really good ones, never grasp. Most “Elite” fighters have “elite” distance control.

A similar concept to that, if not practically the same thing, is positioning. Getting yourself in position to use your technique(s) is what it’s all about…and WAY MORE IMPORTANT than the technique itself. Training to put yourself in the proper position is where most of your time should be spent (once a fundamental foundation is in place). The technique(s) will come. Practice creating the opportunity.

If you recall Rob Emmerson vs Corey Hill from TUF5 you’ll see a bit of this reach argument in action.
I’d say Emmerson was easily the better fighter between the two but Hill’s lanky frame and extendo limbs had him frustrated the whole fight and lost him the match.

That’s the only thing I can think of. Of course I doubt most fights end up that lopsided on the question of reach.

If you got the reach and the footwork your good to go. And it depends on who your fighting and how.

If your a shorter (and faster fighter) and fall in the habit of “jumping” into your punches to get the clinch (or just to get contact), it can work against a taller fight. But if that taller fighter has good footwork and realizes your rushing in he can make you pay with some good lateral movement.

Also since fights are based in weight class, rarely will you get someone MUCH taller then you. So the reach will not be a huge factor. Usually if he is very tall and in your weight class he will have some weakness like much less stronger, or bad footwork-common with taller guys-.

Of course it wont be as fair of a fight, being a 5’5 featherweight vs a 6’4 heavyweight.

[quote]Olympic Failure wrote:
Reach is something you can’t control.

“Distance control” with your opponent is WAY MORE IMPORTANT and something most fighters, even really good ones, never grasp. Most “Elite” fighters have “elite” distance control.

A similar concept to that, if not practically the same thing, is positioning. Getting yourself in position to use your technique(s) is what it’s all about…and WAY MORE IMPORTANT than the technique itself. Training to put yourself in the proper position is where most of your time should be spent (once a fundamental foundation is in place). The technique(s) will come. Practice creating the opportunity. [/quote]

Right on.

Tyson jabbed. He once said, I believe, that your reach didn’t matter, as long as you timed it right.

For an example of this, watch his early fights. For an example of what happens when you can’t time it right, watch the Lewis-Tyson fight.

Your jab is the most important punch- it sets up everything. Your reach has nothing to do with the effectiveness of your jab- its how you time it, when you throw it, and what you follow it up with. If you’ve got good head movement, and good combos, and know when to close and when not to, reach is eliminated.