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[EXPLAINED] 5 Best Martial Arts For Tall Skinny Guys

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It can be quite intimidating being a tall lanky guy.

Speaking from experience going to my first jiu-jitsu class as a 6 foot tall, 65kg, 19-year-old.

You feel helpless due to your lack of upper body strength.

But martial arts is a great way to build confidence, learn self-defense and have some fun.

In this post, we’ll be looking at the five best martial arts for Tall Skinny Men.

5 Best Martial Arts For Tall Skinny Guys

The five best martial arts for tall skinny guys are:

  1. Taekwondo
  2. Brazlian Jiu Jitsu
  3. Boxing 
  4. Muay Thai
  5. Mixed Martial Arts

Learning martial arts will provide so many benefits, for a lanky guy.

If you’re on the fence about learning martial arts, I’ll give you a few reasons why you should consider doing it.

Why Tall Skinny Guys Should Learn Martial Arts

If you feel vulnerable due to your slender frame practicing martial arts is one of the best things you can do to build confidence in yourself.

Never underestimate how much good technique beats strength and size. 

There was a reason the Gracie family picked Royce to carry the touch for their family and martial art at UFC 1.

He was one of the least physically imposing members of the family.

He was 6ft 1 and weighed about 170lbs or 77kg.

He was taking on the likes of Ken Shamrock who was 220lbs and sub 10% body fat.

To the untrained eye in 1993, Shamrock looked to be the heavy favorite.

But we all know how that ended.

Here are my top 5 reasons you should consider learning a martial art:

  1. It helps promote a healthier lifestyle
  2. It teaches you self-discipline
  3. It builds confidence
  4. It teaches you self-defence
  5. It’s a great way to meet likeminded people and make new friends

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Credit: Insider

Taekwondo is a Korean-based striking martial art.

It was developed in the 1940s and 1950s.

Designed to provide the fastest and most powerful strikes possible.

The art allows punches to the body but it does prioritize kicking.

Meaning a tall long person will be better equipped to manage the distance.

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Why Taekwondo is great for Tall Skinny Guys.

Your long limbs and slender frame will mean you’re likely to be a lot taller than your opponents of similar weight.

So you’ll be able to control the range well with your leading leg.

Similar to how Stephen Thompson does in MMA.

Another problem lanky guys tend to deal with is back pain.

Due to excessively looking down and not having the muscles to properly support the spine.

Taekwondo requires so much mobility and flexibility because of all the kicks, it helps to develop strength in these weaker areas.

Doing lots of dynamic and static stretching to gain that mobility will do wonders for back pain.

A lot of lower back pain is due to tightness in the sciatic nerve which goes from the bottom of your spinal cord down the back of your leg, all the way to your foot. 

All that stretching will relieve tightness in your sciatic nerve.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has its origin from Japanese Judoka, Mitsuyo Maeda.

Maeda came to Brazil around the time of the First World War and fought in professional wrestling challenges hosted by the circus.

Where he later taught the art to the Gracies.

Over time, they refined the ground game of Judo known as Newaza.

Into what we know today as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

A style of grappling that primarily takes place on the ground.

With a heavy focus on control, strangles, and joint lock.

Similar to kickboxing and wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu has had a big impact on mixed martial arts.

Notable modern MMA fighters with a strong Jiu-Jitsu base are Rodolfo Vieira, Demian Maia, and current UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira.

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Why Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Is Great For Tall Skinny Guys

The great thing about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is that there’s no one body type that you need to be successful. 

There are short stocky guys like Rousimar Palhares, who is 5ft 8 and competed at 88kg or 194lbs.

As well as Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu, who is 5ft 11 and weighs over 220lbs. 

Then you have very lanky competitors like Ben Eddy who competes at 145lbs despite being 5ft 10.

Not to mention Keenan Cornelius who competed at 88kg in gi, despite being 6ft 2.

There are aspects of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that are effective for all body types.

Someone who has long limbs for their weight will find it very easy to be proficient at triangle choke.

Credit: Grapplearts

A choke that involves the legs going around your opponent’s neck and one of their shoulders.

This is because you won’t have to create many angles to get the strangulation.

Which is where most triangles are lost, in the creation of the necessary angle.

Another big factor in Jiu-Jitsu is the guard.

The guard is controlling your opponent with at least one part of your legs.

The top player needs to completely pass the bottom person’s legs so they can go into their most effective attack from the top.

Having longer legs mean you can manage distance better by pushing them away.

Also because there will be more of you to get around.


The martial sport of boxing needs no introduction.

This fast-paced combat skill uses various systemized methods of training fighters for both offense and defense.

Fighters learn to hone their skills using a variety of punching styles, combinations, and fast footwork.

Boxing is one of the oldest fighting sports and tests a fighter’s ability in various ways, including cardio.

Credit: USA Today Sports

ALSO READ: [EXPLAINED] 6 Ways Boxing Can Change Your Life

Why Boxing Is Great For Tall Skinny Guys

Being a taller guy will likely mean you have a very long reach for your weight.

If you’re a fan of the UFC you might know featherweight fighter, Sean Woodson.

He came from a boxing background and is very tall and skinny.

Standing 6ft 2 with a 78-inch reach, which is larger than half of the heavyweights.

But probably walking into the cage around 165lbs.

He’s successful because of his strong jab and great cardio.

Currently, he’s 3-1 in the UFC

If you’re a guy who’s tall and skinny, you’re more likely to be slow-twitch muscle fibre dominant, and do better in endurance sports.

I know I always found aerobic exercise came a lot easier than anaerobic.

Boxing has a lot more rounds and a longer time limit than other martial arts like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, with a lot of local competitions only doing 5-minute matches.

Boxing can have as many as twelve 3 minute rounds.

Those later rounds will favour someone who isn’t carrying very much muscle mass.

I bring it back to MMA where most fights are 15 minutes.

A prime example of a fast-twitch heavily muscled fighter struggling in the later round is middleweight Abdul-Razak Alhassan, where all of his wins are by 1st round knockout.

But struggles later on in the fight.

Once you get confident in boxing and can control your nerves, someone like you with a tall skinny frame can keep that same volume from the earlier rounds.

Maybe even increasing it when you get your second wind later in the fight.

Everybody has a unique physiological characteristic and they can make you successful in a given martial art.

As long as you use them to your advantage.

Muay Thai

Muay Thai, also known as The Art of Eight Limbs is a striking martial art using your hands, feet, knees, and elbows.

The art of Muay Thai came out of Thailand where it’s still a very popular sport in the country.

Credit: ONE FC

ALSO READ: [EXPLAINED] Boxing Vs Muay Thai | Which Style Is Better?

Why Muay Thai Is Great For Tall Skinny Guys

Similar to the other two striking sports, boxing and taekwondo, you can use your reach advantage against more compact fighters.

Another reason you’ll have success in Muay Thai is through the use of elbows and knees.

Being very boney as a tall and skinny person, you’ll likely have very sharp elbows and knees.

Having these sharp features will cut your opponents open far easier.

So if you’re interested in doing competitive Muay Thai, the ability to open up cuts would be a big advantage.

As you’ll either make the fight more difficult for your opponent, or you’ll get a stoppage victory from the cut.

Mixed Martial Arts

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a recent development in the martial arts world.

Popularised in the 1990s by UFC in the US, Pancrase in Japan and Vale Tudo in Brazil.

It quickly became one of the fasted growing sports in the world.

Going from a fringe, heavily looked down upon sport.

To being on the biggest sports networks in the world.

In just a matter of 15-20 years.

The sport is self-explanatory, it’s a mixing of the martial arts.

It has stand up where you can use everything but headbutts, groin strikes and eye pokes.

Clinch and cage work is quite unique to MMA, as it’s very different from clinching of other martial arts.

A ground game where all submissions are legal, and in some promotions in east Asia, kicks and knees to a grounded opponent are also legal.

Credit: UFC

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Why Mixed Martial Arts Is Great For Tall Skinny People

As previously mentioned, you can keep range well when standing due to longer limbs and extra height.

Something Dan Hardy brings up when taking down tall people on the fence.

It’s like trying to take down a table.

There’s always a limb or some sort of post making it awkward.

You might not have the same level of upper body strength of some of your opponents.

But your unique body type poses some unusual problems.

Like closing the distance, and dealing with unusual takedown defence.

Also in MMA, you’ll learn a bit of everything.

So from a self-defense perspective, you’ll be comfortable in all aspects of fighting.

Whether it’s stand up or on the ground.


If you’re a bit insecure, starting a martial art is a great way to build confidence and it’s great exercise as well.

You’ll also improve in many other parts of life, as martial arts tend to be a mental and emotional practice as much as it is physical.

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