Arts that Suit Body Style?

stonewall1350

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I have been noticing that the Kung Fu class in my gym seems to be geared towards more guys of a certain size and shape (5'8 160-180). It got me thinking. Are certain arts geared more towards certain body types? Sumo...BJJ...karate...judo...boxing...Kali...any of them. Do you think certain arts are more practical for a bigger/smaller guy? Just curious how people see body types in martial arts.


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mber

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Yes, to an extent. Think about the places where various martial arts were developed -- for instance, northern vs southern Chinese martial arts. Northern Chinese tend to be taller, and the martial arts emphasize this, employing a lot of leg work, deep, wide movements, etc -- things that fit taller people. Southern styles often use short, hard movements, better suited to smaller stock.

This applies across all areas. Of course in modern times so many styles have changed so much and crossed over with one another so this kind of regional purity is largely gone, but different styles will still fit you better based on the body type of the people who developed them.

Just my two cents.
 

Bill Mattocks

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Within very large parameters, yes, I think so. I am older and larger. No desire, and not enough flexibility to do the kinds of high kicks seen in some arts. Yes, if I really dedicated myself to learning, I might be able to do some of it, but why? I am quite fond of the art I currently study; and I find it well-suited to my body type. Whether that is by design or happy accident, I do not know. But it works well for me. No kicks above the waist, no extraneous movement, lots of power.
 

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Roughly, striking arts fit better people with long limbs (ex: Jon Jones) and grappling arts suits better heavy people (ex: Brock Lesnar). Roughly.
 

JowGaWolf

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I don't think the style represents the size as much as the techniques do. I think all styles are a good fit for all body types, but within that system there will be techniques that will work better for someone when sizes aren't the same.
The reason I think this is because the same assumptions can't be made about sizes and style when both fighters are the same size.
 

jks9199

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That's a yes/no/sometimes/maybe/maybe-not question...

An art reflects the history of the region it developed in, the topography and environments encountered by the people, and their cultural beliefs. Of course, it's going to reflect the common body types, to some extent, but even more so, the body types of the people who developed it. Even so -- that certainly doesn't mean a given art can't be learned by someone with a different body type. Probably clear as mud, huh? A martial art that's built around functional fighting reflects how the people in that area answer the simple question of "how do I survive a fight?" Built into that question is "what are my physical resources" -- so a place dominated by tall, lean, long-limbed folks is going to answer that question a bit differently than a place dominated by short, thick, muscular folks But don't overthink that... really. Because they're also looking at the surfaces they're likely to fight on -- sand, rock, jungle, swamp... each will develop different sorts of stepping and stance patterns. An art developed around wearing armor will move differently than an art built around wearing a loincloth. Then there are cultural beliefs... if the people don't believe (whether religion or philosophy or sociology) that it's right to take a life, you'll see systems developed to avoid fatal targets. And so on...

So... making my roundabout way back to the question... Some people, due to their body type, will find that some arts suit them better. Someone with shorter legs may find judo easier (because of their relatively lower center of gravity) than someone with long legs. Someone who's got a bulkier, heavier body may have hard time doing the acrobatics of capoeira, and that lithe, limber person who excels at capoeira may have harder time generating equal power in a striking style that really focuses on generating power through muscle and mass. But, in the end, it's still going to end up being about how much the person likes the style, and wants to learn it. If the art is built around a willingness to absorb some damage to get close enough to return the favor -- yeah, a skinny, thin-boned sort probably won't want to use those tactics the same way a thick-boned, heavy person can. Look at other sports -- basketball is for tall guys, right? Ask Spud Webb...
 

Ironbear24

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I'm 200 pounds and can strike well and grapple well, nothing on the floor cause I don't train that right now, but Judo techniques are something I really enjoy. My weight means I have more to put behind punches and kicks as well as tachi waza, the trick is becoming better and better at putting my weight behind it all.

I don't think they're are martial arts that are better suited for larger or smaller people. It is up to you to learn how to make them work for you.
 

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I have been noticing that the Kung Fu class in my gym seems to be geared towards more guys of a certain size and shape (5'8 160-180). It got me thinking. Are certain arts geared more towards certain body types? Sumo...BJJ...karate...judo...boxing...Kali...any of them. Do you think certain arts are more practical for a bigger/smaller guy? Just curious how people see body types in martial arts.


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Nope any size can do any style. I mean you include boxing. Do you only see big boxers or little boxers no you see boxers of all different weights and sizes
 

Transk53

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I have been noticing that the Kung Fu class in my gym seems to be geared towards more guys of a certain size and shape (5'8 160-180). It got me thinking. Are certain arts geared more towards certain body types? Sumo...BJJ...karate...judo...boxing...Kali...any of them. Do you think certain arts are more practical for a bigger/smaller guy? Just curious how people see body types in martial arts.


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Even more so for some of us. In my experience smaller guys just seem quicker. The point just seems so. But body types have weakness and strength, irrespective of art, so yeah, I see and agree with what you say. Why not pidgeon hole that, is does make sense in this context.
 

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I have been noticing that the Kung Fu class in my gym seems to be geared towards more guys of a certain size and shape (5'8 160-180). It got me thinking. Are certain arts geared more towards certain body types? Sumo...BJJ...karate...judo...boxing...Kali...any of them. Do you think certain arts are more practical for a bigger/smaller guy? Just curious how people see body types in martial arts.


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In his autobiography, Gichin Funakoshi refered to this as being the differentiator between the original two styles of Okinawate/Karate. I've forgotten the name (and am apparently too lazy today to look them up in the copy of the book laying 3 feet away), but he said one was better suited to larger men and the other better suited to smaller men.
 

Gerry Seymour

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Nope any size can do any style. I mean you include boxing. Do you only see big boxers or little boxers no you see boxers of all different weights and sizes
I think that's mostly true of boxing only because of weight classes. If you eliminated those and people were always training against everyone (like you'd see in a BJJ class, for instance), people with shorter reach would be at a distinct disadvantage. With weight classes, if someone has longer reach, then the other person probably has more power.
 

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I have been noticing that the Kung Fu class in my gym seems to be geared towards more guys of a certain size and shape (5'8 160-180). It got me thinking. Are certain arts geared more towards certain body types? Sumo...BJJ...karate...judo...boxing...Kali...any of them. Do you think certain arts are more practical for a bigger/smaller guy? Just curious how people see body types in martial arts.


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To some extent, yes. This has been minimized as arts matured. With so many different instructors (some with experience in multiple arts) teaching so many different people, arts have learned to adjust to the student, to suit more body types. So, today, the advantage by body type may be more in the instructor than in the art. If an instructor teaches coming over the top in grappling because he is 6' 4" and has pretty much always been able to do that, his teaching will weaken the style for someone who is 5' 2" and needs to work by breaking the balance over themselves more often.
 

JowGaWolf

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I think that's mostly true of boxing only because of weight classes. If you eliminated those and people were always training against everyone (like you'd see in a BJJ class, for instance), people with shorter reach would be at a distinct disadvantage. With weight classes, if someone has longer reach, then the other person probably has more power.
Tyson was shorter than some of his opponent and the only disadvantage he had was fighting from the outside, so he didn't. He fought where he had an advantage and his opponent had a disadvantage. It was still boxing he just used techniques in that system that work best against a taller opponent. He didn't throw many jabs in comparison to his other punches.
 

Bill Mattocks

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In his autobiography, Gichin Funakoshi refered to this as being the differentiator between the original two styles of Okinawate/Karate. I've forgotten the name (and am apparently too lazy today to look them up in the copy of the book laying 3 feet away), but he said one was better suited to larger men and the other better suited to smaller men.

Shuri-te and Naha-te? just curious.
 

Gerry Seymour

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Tyson was shorter than some of his opponent and the only disadvantage he had was fighting from the outside, so he didn't. He fought where he had an advantage and his opponent had a disadvantage. It was still boxing he just used techniques in that system that work best against a taller opponent. He didn't throw many jabs in comparison to his other punches.
Yes, but if his opponents were taller and weighed about the same, he was likely the stronger, which gave him an inherent advantage of his own. That's how weight classes even the odds even when heights are different. Imagine two people who are of similar build, but one is 3-4 inches taller. That's a much more significant difference, but they'd also likely end up in different weight classes.

That said, there are and always will be people who excel in spite of the logical advantages. That's what skill is for.
 

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I think that's mostly true of boxing only because of weight classes. If you eliminated those and people were always training against everyone (like you'd see in a BJJ class, for instance), people with shorter reach would be at a distinct disadvantage. With weight classes, if someone has longer reach, then the other person probably has more power.

Weight classes should be the comparison though. If you are basically bigger, more mass, longer reach. Then you will generally do better.
 

Gerry Seymour

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Weight classes should be the comparison though. If you are basically bigger, more mass, longer reach. Then you will generally do better.
Agreed. Bigger is an advantage, all else being equal. Arts like BJJ demonstrate how much that advantage can be eliminated by the right kind of skill.
 

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Agreed. Bigger is an advantage, all else being equal. Arts like BJJ demonstrate how much that advantage can be eliminated by the right kind of skill.

It not only depends on that, which in my opinion things can always be worked around. Anyway though arts like bojutsu and kendo have zero meaning on the size of the opponent, same with point sparring, the length of the limbs is what matters there more than weight.

Now if we are getting into full contact karate or any other type of full contact art then weight will mean a lot more.
 

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It not only depends on that, which in my opinion things can always be worked around. Anyway though arts like bojutsu and kendo have zero meaning on the size of the opponent, same with point sparring, the length of the limbs is what matters there more than weight.

Now if we are getting into full contact karate or any other type of full contact art then weight will mean a lot more.
That's a good point. If power doesn't matter, then height (and mobility) are the key factors.
 

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