The ancient Greeks used to calculate the perfect male athlete’s or fighter’s proportions from the wrist measurement, just where the wrist bends. From this they could calculate what the rest of the measurements of the ideal male body should be. However, although some come close, few men meet these ideal measurements but they are not always necessary for a successful fighter.
In the different disciplines of martial arts, different body proportions and strengths are favoured.
The Oriental martial arts usually require very hard, lean and lightning fast physical abilities, while wrestling requires bulk and strength rather than speed. The mixed martial arts need a bit of everything. Strength, speed, agility and superb fitness, as well as the ability to hit or kick hard and strategically. These combined assets are probably more important than superior height or leg or arm reach.
For instance, in boxing, it is generally supposed that long arms equals a long reach, and therefore gives a boxer a big advantage. However, experts say that you cannot measure from armpit to fist. Inevitably there is a sideways turn while hitting. So a man with short arms and broad shoulders may have the same reach as a man with long arms and narrower shoulders. As far as tallness and shortness go, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. A shorter boxer fighting against a taller one has the advantage of being able to punch up under the chin effectively, while the taller boxer may have difficulty in reaching down and getting his opponent squarely on the jaw if he keeps his chin nicely tucked away. The taller boxer with broad shoulders, on the other hand, does usually have a reach advantage. He tends to stay out of range and then times his punches as the shorter boxer steps forward, just before he can reach him. This doesn’t always work in MMA, as drawing the shorter fighter closer can make the danger of knee strikes and kicks too risky.
For the shorter fighter, probably observation and strategy are the most important assets he can develop. If you are proposing to fight a taller opponent, you have to watch carefully to learn exactly how the tall boxer fights, how he thinks and reacts in all sorts of situations and with all sorts of other fighters. Then you need to think out your own strategy.
The same strategy applies to kicking too. In MMA you may sometimes find that the really tall guys do not always have the longest legs. Sometimes tall fighters have really long bodies and quite short legs. Quite often a fairly short fighter has really long legs, and this is a decided advantage for kick boxing, and any of the Oriental martial arts that use legs and feet for defence.
Some people believe that if you have short arms and legs you have an advantage on the ground in sub defence, while others say that you have a definite disadvantage in reach if you do have shorter arms and legs. The sensible answer is that you need to know your body, strategise, and above all, develop your skills.