Traditional Jiu-Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are different from each other, as the Brazilian form is carried out as a sport, not used for battling in real life.
A common question is that as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu focuses on movement and technique, can height be an advantage when taking up the sport?
In short, the answer is yes – and no! Taller people have longer limbs that can utilize different movements easier compared to someone shorter.
Despite this, there are instances where shorter individuals who are more experienced will have the advantage.
We’ll cover more about whether height is an advantage or not in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu below.
You’ll find out some of the pros and cons of being a taller fighter below, including some tips for shorter people who are interested in the sport.
Is Height A Big Factor In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a type of martial art in which fighters aim to take their opponent down to the floor.
Other types of martial arts may involve concentrating on kicks and punches, but in BJJ, technique and momentum are more important factors.
In this case, it’s easier for taller, and usually larger, fighters to grab hold and bring their opponent down.
However, while taller people may find it easier to reach, they may still struggle to keep the other fighter in place afterward.
As is the case with all types of martial arts, BJJ is very strategic when it comes to professional levels.
Individuals who can keep calm, are patient, and can focus on creating tactical movements are usually the ones who will defeat their opponent, or get a better score.
BJJ doesn’t concentrate on raw strength or power, but it uses fitness and tactical decisions.
When you think about these factors, you can see how shorter, and in some cases, weaker individuals can beat taller opponents.
Remember that other elements, like the fighters’ ages, experience levels, and understanding of the martial arts are important too.
Is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Suitable For Shorter People?
BJJ is suitable for a range of people, including shorter individuals.
If you are short, you can benefit from certain movements and techniques that can give you the upper hand on taller opponents.
Shorter competitors might do well concentrating on particular maneuvers.
For example, taller opponents may do well against joint locks, so the shorter person might choose to use chokes or compression locks instead.
Shorter individuals also have an advantage, as their center of gravity is lower, giving them a better balance.
Taller people might have a larger reach, but it’s easier to bring them down.
If you’re a shorter fighter, you need to become versed at toppling down your opponents quickly, giving you a better chance at the beginning.
Taking down a taller person quickly will eradicate their reach advantage so you have a better chance of winning.
Pros Of Being A Taller Fighter
Taller BJJ fighters usually have longer arms and legs.
If taller fighter locks in their hooks, it can be harder for shorter people to break free, particularly if done in a mounted stance.
Height is also an advantage if you are in a guard position. You’ll be able to handle your opponent easily and maintain a good distance away from them.
This makes it more difficult for the opposing fighter to get past, so you can spend more time preparing to carry out a move.
Taller people also do well with making sweeps from a guard position. Longer limbs can create armbars and triangles easily.
Longer legs let a competitor secure a triangle choke without lifting their hips too high. In this case, the opponent will struggle to get free.
Taller people should try and increase their flexibility to become better at BJJ.
If you are more flexible, you’ll be able to perform certain movements easily and trap opponents within your taller frame.
Cons Of Being A Taller Fighter
A big issue for taller fighters is that it can be difficult finding a Gi that fits correctly. BJJ Gi’s aren’t usually made with taller builds in mind.
You might be able to find Gi’s that are the right height but may be too wide and baggy on your frame.
Taller people may have a better reach, but a loose Gi isn’t ideal when fighting. This lets opponents grab you easily and take you down to the floor.
Taller people will naturally fight shorter opponents, so they will attempt to do all they can to avoid you using your reach advantages.
These fighters will try to keep you close by, grabbing you in different ways so you aren’t able to use your long limbs.
Another issue taller fighters may face is that they usually aren’t as strong as shorter opponents.
These individuals may be stockier and have more muscle on their frame.
As they are stronger, they might find it easier to bring you down, but you can fight this by working on your sprawl.
You should also understand what strategy shorter opponents will be trying to do.
They’ll be aiming to bring you down as fast as they can, keeping you near, then making you surrender.
Taller fighters should take on a lower stance, then concentrate on sweeping soon to obtain a mount.
The type of mount isn’t too much of an issue here, as long as it is carried out correctly.
The Bottom Line
Most people agree that taller fighters have the advantage in BJJ, specifically within their leverage and reach.
However, this doesn’t mean that shorter people cannot win against taller people.
Shorter fighters should aim to train with as many different body types as possible.
Training with taller competitors can help them practice particular movements that can help them get the upper hand.
All different heights have their pros and cons. Shorter people are usually stronger and have better balance.
Using these benefits can help them win against taller fighters, as long as they remain patient and tactical when doing so.
No matter what your body type is, try to identify your weaker areas, then use your stronger ones to get past them.
If you keep practicing BJJ and training with different people, you’ll find that you’ll make excellent progress, no matter how tall you are.