Judo: Is there a height (dis)advantage?
One question that I've had for a long time has to do with the height and size of a person in martial arts, and in the case of the art I would like to study, Judo (please respond with examples from other MAs as well), I thought it was a good time to ask. I am 6'4" and we'll say 250lbs, am I going to have a disadvantage in Judo (or any MA for that matter)?
I've always heard that the size of a person doesn't matter, but that statement is usually in regard to telling a smaller person that they do not have to worry about the size of a bigger individual, so what about the reverse? Are shorter people going to have an initial leverage advantage over my towering frame-will their lower center of gravity manhandle my higher center of gravity? I think BJJ was created in mind for helping smaller persons better handle larger people...well, what about us big fellas (and gals I would include)? I know there is a reach advantage in striking arts, but does it help in grappling arts, or is it a disadvantage?
I know that with training I will learn how to better apply the techniques for different situations, so this questions is more out of curiosity than concern, but I figured there would be someone here who is either about my height who has experience with this, or someone who knows a taller person who has seen this. Then again, it might be nothing at all, but I thought I would ask.
Thanks in advance
I you're up against shorter people, you just base deeper, or if you aren't based deep before they grab you, you then base deep and just stuff'em under you.
Certain throws work better for short people, some work better for taller folks. Being taller, you'll need to watch out for shorter people getting in on you with their center of gravity lower. Cracky's suggestion applies here.
I'm 6'2, 230 and sometimes play with shorter but more experienced folks. What they tend to catch me with most often are drop seioe, hip throw, Tomoe nage, and footsweeps. If I catch them, it'll most likely be an Osoto Gari, Uchimata, lateral drop, Tani Otoshi, Hikikomi Gaeshi, or various Ashi. I find that if I can get an over the back grip, or a two on one against most shorter people, it helps a lot.
I find it difficult to get my hips low enough to do many of the low to high lifting throws against substantially smaller people. It's unusual for me to pull of an Ogoshi, and I don't think I've ever gotten a fireman's carry on a shorty. I tend to do much better with larger reaping motions like Osoto and Uchimata. Sweeps work quite well too if you've got long legs.
I can second that. In this case, I'm built like the stereotypical fire hydrant and the tall guys have great difficulty getting low enough for hip throws even in practice. Reaps and sweeps however are a different thing altogether, its the tall guy's world there. In ne waza, it doesn't make too much difference in my opinion.
Originally Posted by Ryno
Thanks for the input so far. It's reassuring to know that there are good strategies of techniques to use in these situations. I figure there were and that I will learn them eventually, but there is no harm in asking in advance. And yes, I have fairly long legs so sweeps sound like a very good thing.
Craw, if you are just starting out, yeah you are going to have trouble, but then again so does everybody else. Tall people tend to have trouble with shorter people in judo until they get a bit of experience and skill under their belt, it is just going to take you a while to learn how to use what you have. Don't let it dissuade you, get in there and give it a go.
Another thing to watch out for when doing standing is to maintain proper posture. I was getting Seioe'd and Tomoe'd consistently, until I realized that when I fought shorties, I was leaning too far forward. I worked on keeping my back straighter, and my butt lower, and it helped tremendously. It is a good policy to just bring your opponent to your level. If he's taller, bring him down. If he's shorter, keep him up on his toes.
As far as newaza goes, smaller folks will be able to shrimp and adjust in less space, but being bigger can make some hold downs easier. Some chokes seem easier with longer arms and legs. Just be aware that those big arms also make for nice long levers for arm bars.
The best thing about Judo is that you have to find a style that fits your body. No body type is right or wrong for Judo, it's what you do with the body you have been giving that really sums it up. I think it's also important that you find an instructor that can lead you in the right direction in regards to using your size to your advantage.
During training you may run into different body types, that at first will be confusing but as you develop a game you will be able to fill in the blanks. In Competition However, if you choose to Compete the Opponents will be more your size and weight and give you more or less of a challenge that you desire.
Good Luck in whatever you choose.
Train Hard, Stay Safe,
Combat Judo Academy
I know it's of very little relevance in judo - however over the years, I have found that shorter oponents tend to have a slight advantage in striking.... as they don't have to duck as far to get past/under a strike and land you an unfortuate one on the chin.... which has occured more than once.
Also, my freind's Judo istructor was at least a foot shorter than I (seriously... he was a bit under 5').
I would most certainly say after being allowed to watching one class... his size made no difference to his ablilty to get people to kiss mat in a very short space of time.
And yes - as others have observed, there were some throws that the instructor favoured more than others.
Here, here. I'm a little bigger than you, craw, and it all works out once you get used to your size and what works for you. You just figure out that things like getting a high grip and Osoto-Guruma are your friends.