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I'm a 16 year old beginner in taekwondo.

As you can tell I'm taller than most people, I'm actually 193 cm. I weigh around 80 kilos so that isn't that heavy for my height.

I'm wondering if I'm in the wrong sport; don't get me wrong I love taekwondo.

I'm worried I won't be able to progress beyond a certain point of skill because of my height, thanks.

  • Jon Jones is 6'4" and the greatest fighter in the entire world, and possibly of all time. You're fine. – coinbird Mar 5 at 20:39
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You are certainly not too tall, I might actually argue that you might be overweight for elite TKD competition. Steven Lopez (2 time Olympic champion) is approximately your same height (6'3" for our US folks), and he fought in the 68 kilo weight class for his first medal, 80 kg for his second.

In any martial art that depends on reach for sparring/scoring, you are going to be at an advantage, provided that you have the flexibility to take advantage of your height. If you don't have that flexibility, the height won't hinder, but it won't necessarily help either.

So go ahead and train TKD, you actually have a very desirable body shape/style for the sport.

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As with everything in life, size matters :-D ... all jokes aside.

For ranged styles like taekwondo being big is beneficial, because of the longer attack distance/range.

For close-in fighting and throwing/clinching styles, shorter arms/legs are better, because of the better leverage effect.

I see no reason why you should not train taekwondo.

Also there really is no martial art that is "wrong"; all of them are designed from human beings for human beings.

So just train what you love and everything will be fine. Wish you all the best!

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I agree with the others that having long legs can be an advantage in TKD. The extra reach will allow you to score from the long range while your opponents will be too far away to score on you.

What this means is that your opponents will have to use a strategy whereby they will use off-beat rhythm to time their attacks relative to yours. That will cause you to have to recalculate what you're doing mid-way into whatever your attack is. That will buy them the time needed to get in on you.

So as part of your training, you must work on your mobility, combinations, speed, and non-telegraphing. They're counting on you being slower because of your extra mass and longer reach. And they're going to be looking for openings which they can predict ahead of time based on your habits and repetitive movements. You'll have to be spontaneous and try not to do the same things over and over again. You need to be fast and use non-repetitive combinations to keep them guessing.

As for aesthetics, the longer your legs, the worse you will look in TKD. The reason is that the longer legs will require a very low stance in order to make it conform to the standard.

For example, a front stance will require your front leg to be parallel with the ground. To do that, you'll be very far out, almost lunging forward. That causes a lot of strain on your quad muscles. Your hip will also be strained due to lack of flexibility. It's going to feel very awkward and will hurt your mobility.

Shorter people have a much easier time of this. People with long legs tend to have shorter looking / more upright stances compared with shorter people.

This means you'll probably never feel fully comfortable conforming to the standard shape of any of the stances. You certainly won't be sparring that low to the ground. But when you do forms or drills in class, you might find that your instructor continuously criticizes you for not being low enough. They simply don't understand what it feels like to have long legs. It is much harder.

I don't think this is an insurmountable problem, but it will cause some friction in your training.

As for sparring, like I said, you're probably going to be better off having longer legs.

Hope that helps.

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I'm a bit taller than you (and used to weigh as little as you). I'm a second dan, ITF. The answer above about flexibility is spot-on - everything is so much easier (and more fun) when you're flexible, and, for me, at least, can outweigh other factors.

Anyway, my opinions:

I don't think height will negatively affect your style or aptitude for doing things right.

I suppose that with longer legs, jump spin heel kicks might not look as "perfect" as someone of more average height... but who cares? Do the best you can in whichever discipline you follow.

For me, lack of killer instinct and lack of ability to do much thinking "on my feet" or respond all that well instinctively to my sparring opponents' moves, has always been my main limiting factor, far outweighing any disadvantages of having my shorter-limbed opponent in "too close".

One advantage is that you have a longer time to see kicks coming up to your head... but don't let that lull you into a false sense of security.

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I'm curious about what you mean by "taekwondo". As a beginner, you might not be aware that there are 3 main disciplines within Taekwondo. They are sparring, forms, and breaking.

Your height matters in each discipline.

In sparring, height can give you advantage of reach, but only if you are otherwise strong. Longer legs will require different body mechanics than short legs: just ask anyone who is proficient at golf. A 9-iron is significantly shorter than a 3-iron, and the difference is that when the body moves at the same speed when swinging either club, the speed of the club head is very different (as is the angle of the club's face). This has effect on the height, speed, and distance of the ball's trajectory.

It is the same with Taekwondo, specifically kicking. A smaller person can probably kick faster with less effort due to the less weight of the leg/foot having to be moved, compared to you. Also, you have to be careful about conditioning your muscles for better control. On one hand, with inexperience, you are significantly disadvantaged in terms of speed, strength, and reach. But with experience and proper conditioning, you become more advantaged. The caveat is that you have to work at it.

As to forms (poomsae, or hyung, we call them; or kata as the Japanese refer to them). In Taekwondo, it is required to judge a competitor's skill in terms of body positioning, among many other criteria. A forward step/stance, for example, in some styles should be 1.5 shoulder-widths apart from front foot's heel to rear foot's toe. This stance looks very different between two people who perform this movement as prescribed, but the taller person will appear as not looking correct. Tall people have always made this complaint. Their front stances can look like a shorter person's walking stance. Thus, they are judged more critically. I know, I'm a judge, and I see this all the time.

When we factor out the competition of a form, and replace it with the utility of applying what we're taught in forms to self-defense, we are much more free to adapt the concepts taught in the form. So a tall person's front stance need not be so rigid at 1.5 shoulder-widths apart, and rather, what is more comfortable for the person to use the stance and not be easily unbalanced by its use.

And then there's breaking, the other main discipline. The issues here are similar in sparring. Longer legs means more distance to travel, and therefore, you are more susceptible to minor under- or over-corrections or minute performance in technique. A shorter person might get away with lifting the knee but not come to a full chamber for a side kick, the taller person can't always get away with that as they need the proper chamber to provide the potential energy to throw the same kick. The shorter person can't hope to garner power with poor technique, but with lesser boards, that's not a problem. A taller person can persevere later when technique is more mature. Spin kicks deliver faster foot-speeds, and axe kicks are more able to convert potential energy into kinetic energy. And then there's jumping. A shorter person generally has to work much harder to jump higher than a taller person, but the taller person has a harder landing.

So there pros and cons to being tall and short. It's up to you to capitalize on your physique and make the best of it. You can't change your physique, you can only work with it.

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