What is the Best Martial Art For a Small Person?

You might be considering taking up martial arts as a hobby. This is a great idea as martial arts teaches you a lot of things that can be transferred into your day to day life. Maybe you want to enroll your kids into martial arts classes. If you are an adult who isn’t tall or big, is there a “best” martial art for you? If your kid is small, what is the best martial art for them?

Any martial art that focuses more on grappling than striking is best for shorter people. So, the best martial art for small people, in my experience, is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and catch wrestling. For kids, if you are certain they will be smaller adults, this is your best option.

With that being said, just because you are on the smaller side, it does not mean that you are restricted to any one form of martial art. This article should be seen as more of a guideline than an instruction. Below, I will go into detail as to why these martial arts are best for smaller people, so, for everything you need to know, keep reading.

Does size matter in martial arts?

I can only assume that the reason why you are researching what martial art is best based on your size is that you don’t want to be at a disadvantage because of your size. Look, in truth, being taller and leaner does have its advantages in martial arts. Does that mean that you shouldn’t go for it?

Size does not matter in martial arts. Think about this for a second; martial arts teaches you techniques, you then perfect these techniques. In the process of perfecting a technique, you do so according to your height, weight, frame, and stance. While someone might have a height advantage on you, all you need is a good technique that is suited to you.

Because technique is more important than size, you should not be discouraged from any form of martial art due to your size. Anyway, the chances of you constantly going up against someone who is much bigger than you is rare.

I also want you to think about MMA (mixed martial arts) fights. I am going to use Connor Mcgreggor for this because of his popularity. Connor is 175cm ( 5’9) in height, that is not big at all. Does his height matter? Clearly not. Let us take this even further.

Connor is 175cm, Nate Diaz is 183cm, which is over 6ft. The height difference between the two is pretty significant. No, not really. They fought each other twice, Diaz won the first fight, and Connor won the second.

What martial art gets you in the best shape?

I feel that it is important to note, when people are concerned about size, it is not always height. Some people are not as muscular and as well built like others, and they feel like this is a huge disadvantage. If this sounds like you, do not worry, I have you covered in this section.

The martial art that is best for getting people in good shape has to be Muay Thay. Because of the intensive combat style of Muay Thai, you are constantly sweating, and your heart is always beating at a faster pace. The focus on standing combat and intensity helps burn fat and build lean muscle.

Is Muay Thai a good martial art for a small person?

Because Muay Thai is a strike focused sport that is mostly done standing up, height can be an advantage. The thing is, Muay Thai competitions have weight divisions. Because it has these weight divisions, the chances of you fighting someone much bigger than you is rare.

I would never discourage someone from trying the sport just because they are worried about their size.

What is the best martial art for a beginner?

In this section, I am not just going to discuss the best for a beginner, while taking into account a person’s size. So this small list is aimed at beginners who are smaller.

  1. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
  2. Catch Wrestling
  3. Karate.

The reasoning for my list is, If you are a smaller person and you are concerned about it, martial arts that focus on grappling will be better for you. As I said before, tall people will almost always have a height advantage, whether its grappling or striking. The advantage is not as big when it comes to grappling.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

BJJ is focused mostly on grapples, throws, and then ground fighting. There is also a heavy emphasis on submission holds. Because of this style of combat, size does not play as heavy a roll as in other martial arts.

That being said, arm and leg locks can benefit from having longer limbs, but at the same time, they can be a disadvantage. If your opponent has longer arms, it might make it easier for him to initiate a grapple. At the same time, if you get him into an armlock, his long arms will make it easier for you to apply pressure.

Catch Wrestling

Catch Wrestling is a mixture of strike combat and grappling. The sport was developed in England by John Graham Chambers in 1870. Catch wrestling has a strong emphasis on ground fighting and submission holds.

You can take up any form of wrestling. For smaller people, though, I recommend they focus their training and techniques around catch wrestling.


While Karate isn’t focused on ground fighting or submissions, it does have standing grappling techniques.

People with longer limbs might have a slight advantage in initiating a grapple, but the advantage is minor and should not concern you too much. In terms of the striking aspect of Karate, taller people might have a reach advantage.

Are shorter people better fighters?

If I am completely honest, you cannot give an accurate answer to this question. Everyone is different. What we can do is look at the main advantages of tall and short fighters.

It is thought that people who are on the shorter side have more power in their punches. Shorter people are often quicker than taller people, which allows them to move in and out of situations a lot quicker. This speed is one of the main reasons that grappling-focused martial arts is better for smaller people.

Being taller has one main advantage, and that is reach. That is why striking focused martial arts is more suited to taller people.


This article should be seen as more of a guideline than anything else. While some martial art forms are better for smaller people, it does not mean that you shouldn’t try anyone you want. You should do whichever you like the most.

Most martial arts have weight classes that prevent people from being mismatched in terms of weight and size in competitions.

Choosing a martial art for your kids should not be done based on their height.

Being small often means you are quick, so you could focus on grappling martial arts like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Being quick will allow you to use bursts of energy to initiate grapples, bring your opponent down and look for submission holds.

Muay Thai is a great martial art for anyone who wants to do high intensity standing combat. Muay Thai is also great for anyone who wants to get into good shape.

Whichever martial arts you choose to do, remember to choose whatever will make you happy as opposed to choosing something based on your size.

Other articles in this series:

Best martial art for tall people.
Best martial art for skinny people.
Best martial art for big guys.
Best martial art for overweight people.
Best martial art for bodyguards.
Best martial art for women to learn.
Best combination of martial arts for MMA.

More from author

Related posts

Latest posts

Advantages And Disadvantages Of 6 Pack Abs

Most people secretly wish they could have a set of six-pack abs. However, only 2% of the world's population can boast of having great...

Kettlebell Gloves Or Chalk?

Many opinions exist regarding exercise, including the tools needed to maximize a workout. One such debate revolves around the use of kettlebell gloves vs....

Can You Be Fit Without Abs?

When it comes to fitness, men often start and finish with the same picture of their eventual goal: glorious abs telling everyone they are...

Want to stay up to date with the latest news?

We would love to hear from you! Please fill in your details and we will stay in touch. It's that simple!