Martial Arts Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students and teachers of all martial arts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I am a 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. I have a few tournaments coming up and I am training in my sparring techniques. I am 12 years old with 2 national sparring championships (and on the shorter side) I have moved up in age division so, I will be sparring guys almost 6-12 inches taller than me. I do kicking drills on the bags and practice sparring with other black belts, unfortunately, they are my size and younger. What techniques can I add to get faster, get my hits, while maximizing my reach? I do have a good flexibility but I think I may be to short and slow to get the kicks to the head for points. Thanks E..

share|improve this question
In competition when an opponent closes the distance on you, are elbow strikes to the head, head grab + knee, or throws allowed? – user421 May 1 '12 at 1:44
@Jason In many TKD competitions, they barely allow punching. I'm pretty sure that elbows, knees, grabbing, throws, and sweeps are all verboten. – Dave Liepmann May 1 '12 at 2:31
WTF or ITF-based discipline? WTF is very light on punching, but most ITF-based schools don't have the same stylistic issue with punching :) – rjstreet May 1 '12 at 13:28
Get close to your opponent so that their size becomes a liability. – Dan Madera Jul 27 '12 at 18:34
Loren Christian has some books and videos on speed training, might want to look into those. You need to move in, make contact, and get out again. – Wayne In Yak Jul 27 '12 at 19:49

I'm going to be very precise with my answer here. Your technique will remain the same, your kicks and punches should still be the same as when you practice them. What does change though is your approach to your opponent so that you can deliver that technique.

Because your opponent is taller, you will have more issues than it just being harder to reach their head and therefore harder to score points. They will also have a longer reach, making it more difficult for you to get close to them. This sort of thing can be easy to remedy or adapt to in real life situations, but because you are participating in tournament Tae Kwon Do you have rules to adhere to (and specific targets that must be hit).

For this particular tournament, change your strategy.

  • Kick to the body instead of going after the money shot to the head. It may be slower to earn points this way, but you cannot earn any points at all if you can't reach their head and only concentrate on that.
  • Move off your center line before delivering a technique, this means you are coming from a different angle and are forcing your opponent to also change their direction. It is much harder to defend (and counter-attack) when the angle of attack is changing (straight line attacks are comparatively easy to deal with).
  • Own the center of the mat, make your opponent do all the moving around.
  • Look for oppotunities to close the gap to your opponent, watch for them telegraphing a move. When they raise a knee or tilt/drop their hips for a kick, step in - it is harder for your opponent to deliver a clean kick when you are in punching range.
share|improve this answer
The body kick strategy was the main way I scored against substantially bigger opponents during the short time I practiced at a Tae Kwon Do club that did WTF sparring, and you can get an advantage out of your shorter stature in this by directing your kicks a bit upward to unroot your opponent. You'll need to be fairly well committed and you will want to work on your front kick and side kick mechanics to maximize your hitting power and speed of development, but it can be done. – dmckee Feb 19 '12 at 19:06
Even though I'm a taller guy, I have an aversion to attempting to kick to the head. I'd much rather bring the head down to my foot. Since in a TKD tournament, you can't use jujitsu, strikes to the body are the best bet. Also if you do strike to the head, use your hand techniques. Judges see the strikes to the head better--but don't be a one-trick pony. – Berin Loritsch Feb 21 '12 at 19:30

I'm a first dan black belt, and on the taller side. What really is effective on me is getting close, in other words, get past my legs so I can't kick. The problem is, if your tall opponent is fast, getting past is hard. I'd suggest (after having people do this to me numerous times) is let the tall person kick first, then 빠른 발, a kick that (I don't know the word in english) which means, "quick foot", and sounds like baumbai when pronounced in korean. 빠른 발 past there kick. 빠른 발 is basically, sliding over to your opponent, back foot touching front foot, lift your front knee up, and doing a turning kick/round house, what ever you want to call it. After that, follow up and keep kicking. NEVER give the opponent a chance to recover or he will be able to use his height to his advantage.

share|improve this answer
Second that, if you're shorter than your opponent you should move closer and trap him/her in as far as possible. Otherwise he or she will use their reach advantage and you won't be able to do much about that. – Pavel Feb 19 '12 at 7:06
Absolutely. That is how I spar taller people and they hate it. – Anon Feb 19 '12 at 14:31
6'2" and this is absolutely true - especially with the comment about not letting up once you're inside the guard. The only thing to watch out for is hooking techniques that end up hitting to the back of your head. – rjstreet May 1 '12 at 13:56
빠른 발 is normally called "fast kick" in English. This is also known in Korean as 발 붙여차기 or "foot pasting kick". That and 커트발 ("cut foot" or "cut kick") are the staples of modern Taekwondo sport competition. – Andy Jeffries Dec 1 '14 at 20:14

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.