I just joined a karate school. Their style is 'Isshinryu'. While using Google I found this. This is the excerpt from the article:

Recognize your physical limitations. If you are older or not very acrobatic, Wushu(China) probably isn't for you, but Tai Chi (China) might suit you nicely. Furthermore, recognize that striking martial arts like Karate or TaeKwonDo may or may not be well-suited for smaller physiques. The grappling styles of Judo, Aikido, or Jiu-Jutsu, while being close- combat styled martial arts, emphasize technique and leverage and therefore become more readily useful as you progress. Likewise the combative Chinese styles are all about technique and are less dependent on your being a particular height or weight to succeed

Does it really depend on the stature of your body while opting to learn some form of martial art?

my height : 5 feet 5 inches

weight : 58 kilograms

4 Answers 4


The practitioner's body type makes a difference in their experience of a given art, but generally doesn't need to play a significant role in choosing a martial art.

People with long limbs have certain advantages in striking arts and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Their longer reach makes them better able to execute a long-range striking strategy, and may make one's guard more dangerous. This does not stop short-limbed people from becoming fearsome boxers, karateka, or jiujitsieros. Those advantages also come with certain disadvantages: less leverage in the limbs, potential weakness in the clinch, a relative lack of strength and mass. People who are short and stocky have different advantages and disadvantages in each art.

This does not make them equal! A shorter boxer is absolutely at an objective disadvantage to a taller boxer, all things being equal. But all things need not be equal: the shorter boxer can train harder, have better technique, improve their strength and speed, and end up being the superior fighter.

Every art based in fighting has ways for people of a given body type to excel. Performance arts such as wushu or gymnastics might have less leeway, but all types of bodies can find a judo game that works for them. The same goes for taiji and all the rest. Certain body types might have an easier time, but that's not really a good reason to pick one art over another. It would be better to pick a martial art depending on your goals, the amount of sparring a school does, and the efficacy of the instructor.


Not at all, some of the best martial artists i have seen with judo have been very short. I have seen short people from china who are better boxers than my 6 foot tall friends who do boxing. also real tai chi is harder than wushu in terms at acrobatics, so who wrote that article seems badly informed.

For my wing chun class some of the younger students who are only just above 5 foot are better than some taller people. I used to do karate in school and i was very short, i never fell behind because of this

I say nobody is good when they start, but the things that matter like strength and flexibility come through training, your height may be a disadvantage at the very start but dedicated training will quickly overcome this


I can say from experience that your physique is probably the most important consideration when wanting to learn a martial art. For instance, I have fairly big legs, which makes my kicks hard, but slow, yet I was a Taekwondo-ka for many years. I was reasonably successful, even earning national colours, but I simply could not compete at international level because the emphasis is on speed and reach. I knocked the wind out of my opponents on frequent occasions, but in the end they would win on points because I simply couldn't match their speed and reach.

Mind you, your BMI suggests that you won't have the same problem I had. I am 2" taller than you, but weighed 85kg when I was at my peak. Something like Isshinryu should be well-suited to your physique. Just focus on developing your fast-twitch muscles and do some strength training too. The build you're looking for is "olympic sprinter" or "gymnast", rather than "body builder" or "marathon runner".

  • i have a doubt @Juann because you have said that but in the end they would win on points.Thats fine about getting points in a competition but what about when you come across a real fight where points won't matter.No body is looking for points in a street fight and you would win in those situations.:)
    – munish
    Jul 1, 2013 at 8:41

I will throw out a few things to consider.

First, if you find a style that uses a wide range of techniques it is easier to hone in on the ones that fit your body type the best. For example, boxing is about the hands, while Tae Kwon Do is about hands and feet, some would say mostly feet.

Second, as Dave says, if you have short arms, punching might get you in to trouble. But being shorter can actually help in a style that does a lot of throwing. Also, you might find that a style with a lot of ground fighting can equal out size, although not necessarily strength. Throwing is very dependent on getting your center of gravity under your opponent, something that is just physically easier if you are shorter than them.

Of course there are limits to this. An 8 year old isn't going to throw Andre the Giant.

So my advice is to find a style, like JanMuWon Hapkido, that has a range of techniques, including punching, kicking, twisting and throwing which at a minimum will allow you to find your strength. If you discover that you really want to focus on one of those broad areas, you could always move to a more specialized style. I don't know enough about Isshinryu to comment, but I would suggest that if it is your first style, you keep your question in mind and really decide if that style is a good fit for you.

  • I think you miss a few words in your last sentence.
    – THelper
    Jun 18, 2013 at 9:13
  • Thanks, i am not sure what happened there. I finished the sentence, although not in a very interesting way.
    – sasbury
    Jun 19, 2013 at 2:48

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