T Nation

I Can Never Close the Gap

I just don’t get it. I’ve been boxing for years, and I’m pretty good at it. I can easily run circles around people my own height. But I’m 5’6" and 175lbs, so I tend to be paired with taller guys. Ok, I can work with that. It’s really hard to though, I usually end up chasing the person around, but occasionally I’ll find an opening and slip in and land a few devastating hits.

Now I’ve been doing Muay Thai for awhile, and I just can’t close the gap for the life of me. I try to bob and weave, and slip my way in but I end up eating a knee or taking a roundhouse to the face. So I keep my stance upright and just prey on them around the ring.

They aren’t dumb enough to come to me, so I end up just following them around the whole time, and taking a few jabs to the face every once in awhile. Sometimes I just get fed up with it and I’ll go in head hunting and I’ll take a beating getting in but I’ll throw them a beating to, but at the end of the exchange I’ll be dead tired.

I’m not a bad fighter by any means, I’m just having a hell of a time getting in close on these taller fighters. I usually go for a peek a boo stance, and my defense is usually really good. I’m very good a evading checking kicks.

Can you guys give me any advice for how I can overcome this horrible problem??

I box, so I can’t help you much with Muay Thai, but when I spar against taller opponents, I counter-punch alot more. I’ll jab out and then I’ll wait for them to throw a jab or a 1-2, and I’ll dodge it and throw a quick right hand, then crash into them and rip them up the guts. Seems to work well so far, as when they eat the right, alot of taller people have the tendency to lean back while covering their face which leaves this beautiful opening in their midsection.

[quote]Aussie Davo wrote:
I box, so I can’t help you much with Muay Thai, but when I spar against taller opponents, I counter-punch alot more. I’ll jab out and then I’ll wait for them to throw a jab or a 1-2, and I’ll dodge it and throw a quick right hand, then crash into them and rip them up the guts. Seems to work well so far, as when they eat the right, alot of taller people have the tendency to lean back while covering their face which leaves this beautiful opening in their midsection.[/quote]

Yeah, a lot of tall fighters have shall we say “less than stellar” footwork, and tend to like to lean/move their head rather than move their feet. So, going for the head first generally winds up in them “snapping back” and then returning with a jab of their own (using their superior reach). Generally going to the body and then the head works better.

OP, you’ve got to first figure out their preferred method of defense, are they a counter striker, a blocker or a “runner”. You also can’t really figure this out if you initiate your attack when they are in a strong defensive position, you’ve got to use your footwork to draw them out of position and then initiate your attack (or mock attack) to draw their “instinctive” method of defense.

What I mean is that if we’re both standing in a strong defensive position (good balance, hands up, have each other in our “line of fire”, and have our mental composure) and one of use throws a jab at the other, then either of us can “choose” which type of method of defense we use. One time we might cuff it and return with a jab. Next time we might just throw a “cross” over the incoming jab. Next time we might just step back and make the punch miss by maintaining range.

But, if I draw you out of that strong defensive position (either by use of fakes or footwork) and then throw a jab at you while you are transitioning. Now you are likely just going to revert back to the method of defense that comes most naturally to you, since you were mentally (and physically) unprepared.

Once you figure that out, then you can use the appropriate method of attack and proceed from there (check out Joe Lewis’s material if you want to learn more about strategy, footwork, and set-ups). You also must close the gap as explosively as you can as soon as the opportunity presents itself. You mentioned that you like to use the “peek-a-boo” defense which can be great for smothering the opponent’s attacks. But you can’t just “wade” in like Foreman used to, you’ve got to be on your opponent fast, before he knows what hit him and can use his footwork to maintain distance and continue hitting you as you come in.

Do you move laterally and try to cut off the ring? I don’t know what else to tell you being as I’ve never really dealt with kicks, but closing in on your opponent is a lot different in a sport that you can use elbows and kicks.

OP,

First of all, take my advice with a grain of salt because I am still a beginner. However, that might be able to help you because I am working on the same thing. I am 6’3" and when I first started out, I sparred against mostly shorter guys. However, recently I have been sparring against a couple of taller guys including a friend who is 6’8". Needless to say, it is very difficult to close the gap against a dude who played center for a D1 basketball team!

What I have been successful with is to work angles. It is difficult to go to the body coming in when fighting MT because, as you mentioned, if you drop low to deliver your body shot, you will eat a knee and if you stay higher and punch down you leave your face open to get seriously tagged. What I try to do is use foootwork to make him move and then look for the round kick as my opportunity to come in.

For somebody fighting orthodox, they usually won’t be able to follow up a back-leg round kick with much of a right hand, so you can circle to their left a little, then when they throw the back-leg round kick, you can step into it, block (while keeping the right hand high and tight to defend against the left hook) and then you are usually in range to go to work.

Of course, this relies on my footwork and blocking being good enough which is still kind of dicey. From a footwork standpoint, I feel better fighting a taller fighter with an opposing stance (ie, switching to southpaw when he is orthodox) but my hands are a little more awkward from the southpaw stance so that is something to work on.

Sento,

That was very helpful; I never really thought about it like that, but, looking back, I have definitely experienced being on both sides of what you described. I will certainly be trying to put this concept to use.

You’re fighting with a massive physical disadvantage against people who are probably more experienced than you(at muai thai that is). I mean, shit, I’m 5’10, I fight at about the same weight as you and I’m small for my category.

Unfortunately, you are going to have to be a lot better than your opponents before you start knocking them around. That or your going to have to become a master at “take two give one” :wink:

EDIT: I’m coming from a boxing backround, and assuming that a lot of the same rules apply.

[quote]Genocide_General wrote:
I just don’t get it. I’ve been boxing for years, and I’m pretty good at it. I can easily run circles around people my own height. But I’m 5’6" and 175lbs, so I tend to be paired with taller guys. Ok, I can work with that. It’s really hard to though, I usually end up chasing the person around, but occasionally I’ll find an opening and slip in and land a few devastating hits.

Now I’ve been doing Muay Thai for awhile, and I just can’t close the gap for the life of me. I try to bob and weave, and slip my way in but I end up eating a knee or taking a roundhouse to the face. So I keep my stance upright and just prey on them around the ring.

They aren’t dumb enough to come to me, so I end up just following them around the whole time, and taking a few jabs to the face every once in awhile. Sometimes I just get fed up with it and I’ll go in head hunting and I’ll take a beating getting in but I’ll throw them a beating to, but at the end of the exchange I’ll be dead tired.

I’m not a bad fighter by any means, I’m just having a hell of a time getting in close on these taller fighters. I usually go for a peek a boo stance, and my defense is usually really good. I’m very good a evading checking kicks.

Can you guys give me any advice for how I can overcome this horrible problem??[/quote]

How much of you is muscle and how much is fat?

^ Not much. I haven’t had a proper BMI reading or anything. I do want to get down to a fighting weight of maybe 160lbs. I know if I dropped that 15lbs I would be freakishly ripped, lol.

So thanks for all the good responses. I’ve been working a lot on footwork and really speeding it up. I’ve been getting more comfortable in the ring and my boxing skillset is really transitioning nicely. Just over the last week I’ve seriously made huge improvements.

I’ve been hitting combinations on people with all the kicks and punches, closing the gap with really quick footwork and just taking people apart. Basically I think my whole problem was in footwork. I wasn’t being light on my feet. I was used to just barging in and planting down and trading blows until I knock the other guy out. Now I’m taking a whole new approach and it’s working great.

I’ve been watching a lot of Mike Zambidis fights too. My style very closely resembles his, which is a good thing because he’s a great fighter. :slight_smile:

Thanks again for the really good replies I got. Maybe other people with a problem similar to mine will see this thread and find it useful. I’ve been coming in at angles a lot more and cutting them off. I’ve also mastered the “take two give one” lol.

Fighters that are a lot taller than me I like to make them come to me.

[quote]Genocide_General wrote:
^ Not much. I haven’t had a proper BMI reading or anything. I do want to get down to a fighting weight of maybe 160lbs. I know if I dropped that 15lbs I would be freakishly ripped, lol.

So thanks for all the good responses. I’ve been working a lot on footwork and really speeding it up. I’ve been getting more comfortable in the ring and my boxing skillset is really transitioning nicely. Just over the last week I’ve seriously made huge improvements.

I’ve been hitting combinations on people with all the kicks and punches, closing the gap with really quick footwork and just taking people apart. Basically I think my whole problem was in footwork. I wasn’t being light on my feet. I was used to just barging in and planting down and trading blows until I knock the other guy out. Now I’m taking a whole new approach and it’s working great.

I’ve been watching a lot of Mike Zambidis fights too. My style very closely resembles his, which is a good thing because he’s a great fighter. :slight_smile:

Thanks again for the really good replies I got. Maybe other people with a problem similar to mine will see this thread and find it useful. I’ve been coming in at angles a lot more and cutting them off. I’ve also mastered the “take two give one” lol. [/quote]

There are many characteristics that make up a fighter.
His reach, his power, his endurance/stamina, his cleverness and so forth.
Taller people have you beat on reach, so focus on the other things.
I’d never be able to properly kick a 6 foot guy in the head. I could probably touch his head but i’d be incredibly exposed, over extended and off balance.

So what i do is i train my low and mid low kicks. I don’t worry about trying to kick them in the head, arms or upper ribs. I focus entirely my kicks on their hips and legs. So now that is my power spot. When i fight a tall guy, i take his legs out. The knock out kick would be cool, but it’s an unnecessary risk.
Fighting a taller guy, get in closer and throw a few punches to his face. Then, while you’re doing that, throw a light, slow jab to his face and allow him to lean back.
Anticipate this and punch him as hard as you can in the chest or stomach or go for a really hard kick to the stomach or legs.
Basically a 1-2. 1 is light jab to the head, and 2 is hard punch to the stomach.
Then after you hit once, keep going.
Overwhelm them.
When the head comes back as they lean forward from the punch you just gave them, give them a nice shot to the chin.

Good luck.

I’m 5’7’’ 180…so nearly everyone I ever fought ( I fought MT, Bando, and kickboxed for close to 17 years… I fought at least 5 times a year…) was taller than me. You have to learn to love being inside, be comfortable there, dont panic, and learn to stay in the pocket.

As for getting there… Speed, timing, and control of the distance. One of my favorite techinques was to wait for my foe to throw a shin or roundhouse kick and just slide forward… get inside the power curve of that kick or block it your shin or take it on the elbow. You’re leading with the knee as if you’re throwing a knee strike. Your center of gravity should be lower, so once you do this you’ve got some options. I would often just push (which was illegal but rarely called) the guy off balance and then throw hands. Once you’re inside you have to make him pay. Headmove moment is critical.