Tips for sparring smaller opponents:

Fear not, big and talls… we haven’t forgotten about you! Here are a few tips for sparring smaller opponents. This requires a different approach and strategy than sparring with someone of similar or larger size. Here are some tips to keep in mind when sparring with smaller opponents:

  • ali jabUse your reach advantage: If you have a significant reach advantage over your opponent, use it to your advantage by keeping your distance and striking from a safe distance. Use your long range weapons like your Jab and Teep kicks. Be careful not to get too close, as your opponents will have an advantage once they get inside.


  • Don’t underestimate your opponent: Just because your opponent is smaller doesn’t mean they are less skilled or less experienced than you. Be respectful and take them seriously, as they may have some tricks up their sleeve that you’re not expecting. Expect them to try and close the distance and have a good plan for what you will do when they try.  


  • Move around and use footwork: Smaller opponents tend to be faster and more agile than larger opponents. Use your footwork to your advantage by moving around and circling your opponent, making it harder for them to strike you. When they attempt to close the distance, try not to take more than two or three steps back in a row. Instead, pivot out and cut an angle, forcing them to adjust and slowing their advance.  


  • tall vs short 2Focus on technique rather than power: Sparring with smaller opponents is an excellent opportunity to focus on improving your technique and precision rather than relying on brute force. Practice your accuracy and timing, and focus on landing clean strikes rather than hitting with power. Counterstriking and utilizing check hooks off of their advance is a great place start.  


  • Be patient: Smaller opponents tend to be more elusive and harder to hit. Don’t get frustrated if you’re not landing as many strikes as you would like. Be patient and wait for the right moment to strike. Don’t over commit on your strikes and make them work hard to close the distance.  


Remember that sparring is not about winning or losing; it’s about improving your skills and learning from your mistakes. Keep an open mind, be respectful, and have fun. If you live in the Portland area and are interested in starting or continuing your martial arts journey, give us a call at 503 235 3435 and come check out our community!