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Why are Muay Thai fighters short?

Why are Muay Thai fighters short?

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If you've watched a lot of Muay Thai fights then you'll have probably noticed that more often than not the fighters are short. Muay Thai fighters are short due to the fact that the majority of them come from Thailand where the average height is 170cm, compared to the average in England and the United States where the average is 175cm.

Although the majority of the fighters you may see doing Muay Thai are short, there are also many extremely successful tall fighters, with height offering a huge advantage in many aspects of Muay Thai.

Is Muay Thai better for shorter people?

The reality is that height does not matter massively in Muay Thai, both shorter and taller fighters advantages have their own advantages. The most important thing in regards to height in Muay Thai is to ensure that you adapt your game plan to face a taller, or shorter opponent.

As a shorter fighter, you'll want to ensure that you close the gap on taller opponents to prevent them from kicking and punching from a range in which you can't reach them.

As a taller fighter, you'll want to stay on the outside, using you roundhouse kicks and push kicks to score lots of points without suffering too much damage in return. You'll also have an advantage of throwing head kicks against a smaller opponent.

The advantages of being smaller in Muay Thai

It can be difficult to fight a taller opponent in Muay Thai. Muay Thai allows taller opponents to use their longer legs to control the distance and score well from the outside and when in close, taller fighters have an advantage in the clinch with it being easier for taller people to gain a dominant position in the clinch.

The majority of fighters who are smaller will have more power than a taller opponent. This is due to smaller fighters generally being bulkier and carrying more muscle mass.

The main advantages of being smaller in Muay Thai are:

  • Shorter fighters are more compact and have less of a target area than taller fighters do, making it easier to effectively guard and cover up when being attacked.

  • Taller fighters are open to hooks and overhand rights due to their chins being higher in the air, allowing shorter fighters an advantage to land extremely powerful knockout punches.

  • Taller fighters will generally have to cut a lot of weight if they are facing smaller opponents, this can leave them drained and not at peak performance.

  • Balance is a huge advantage in Muay Thai with fighters with poor balance often being scored down by the judges. Smaller fighters often have better balance than taller fighters.

If you are a smaller fighter who is coming up against a taller opponent, use your many advantages and try and focus on remaining aggressive, staying inside and landing fast and powerful strikes.

The advantages of being taller in Muay Thai

Being the taller of the two fighters in Muay Thai has many advantages. The main advantage is that you'll be able to use your height to keep your opponent at a distance and score with kicks and knees without being hit.

The main advantages of being taller in Muay Thai are:

  • Taller fighters have a longer range than shorter fighters, they'll be able to punch and kick from a range that their opponent can't reach them.

  • Head kicks are much easier to land when you are taller than your opponent. As you aren't needing to over-stretch to reach your opponent, you'll be able to throw your head kick quicker and with more power.

  • Taller fighters have an advantage in the clinch. Being taller in the clinch means that you can find a much more dominant position a lot easier, as well as being able to lean on and wear down a shorter opponent.

If you are a taller fighter who is coming up against a smaller opponent, use your height advantages to land shots from distance and if the fight closes distance gain a dominant position in the clinch and score high with big powerful knees.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Muay Thai fighters fit?

Muay Thai fighters are extremely fit. Muay Thai is a high intensity sport which will boost your cardiovascular system. Muay Thai fighters will also run often to help ensure that they are boosting their fitness to improve their performance when they fight.

Will Muay Thai make me bulky?

Muay Thai is a very competitive sport, its training makes it one of the most intense and engaging workouts there is. Muay Thai combines strength and conditioning as well as cardiovascular endurance in their training, which makes it a great workout to remove excess fat and gain leaner muscle mass.

A person would typically burn 1000 calories in a training session, which would typically last for an hour or two. This means that Muay Thai should not make you bulky, but should help to loose weight and gain lean muscle.

Can you learn Muay Thai in 6 months?

The speed that you'll be able to progress your Muay Thai skills does depend on the commitment that you show to the sport. If you are consistently missing classes, not listening to your trainers and only being half committed to your training then you'll likely progress slowly and never really get good at Muay Thai.

Within 6-months of training you should have built a good foundation of skills however you will still be extremely early in your Muay Thai journey.

Is flexibility important for Muay Thai?

Flexibility is a major part of Muay Thai, improved flexibility will help you to kick quicker and more powerful. It'll also benefit you when your throwing head kicks.

How much weight should I cut during fight week?

During your fight week weight cut, you shouldn't look to cut anymore than 10% of your body weight. To ensure your safety when cutting weight, we recommend not cutting anymore than 8% during fight week.

Ensure that you train hard and watch your diet during your fight camp to ensure that you don't leave too much weight to cut during fight week.


In boxing, it's often the larger fighters who gain the biggest attraction as people love to watch heavyweights fight. In Muay Thai this isn't the case, due to the high skill level and intensity of the sport it's often smaller fighters who are heaped the most praise.

There are also many more fighters in Muay Thai who fight in the smaller weight classes with heavyweight Muay Thai fighters being few and far between.

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