How Can I Win When I'm So Small?

Just because you're smaller, doesn't mean you're out of the fight. Here are ways to defend yourself where size doesn't matter.
Valley Self-Defense
July 23, 2023
How Can I Win When I'm So Small?

“Well, I could win against you, but I couldn’t fight a big guy like that.”

I’ve heard this often. I’m 5 ’5 and 165 lbs and a relatively small human. The “big guy” they’re referring to is my friend and co-owner, Peter, a 6 '3 and 250 lb man who was a college football quarterback. That’s when we pull out the picture from when I broke Peter’s nose.

Krav Maga and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, two of the things that we teach at Valley Self-Defense, are designed specifically for a smaller person to win using your natural reactions, leverage, and the things you have that are naturally stronger (think using your legs for women). And there are a lot of different ways that a smaller person can win against a larger opponent. Here's how:

Use leverage: 

In BJJ, leverage is everything. Smaller opponents can use leverage to their advantage by using techniques that focus on joint locks and chokes. By using the right leverage, a smaller person can easily overpower larger opponents. For example, in a rear naked choke, the smaller person can use their legs to wrap around the larger opponent's torso and use their arms to apply pressure to the opponent's neck. This will allow the smaller opponent to use their entire body weight to choke the larger opponent. Now, obviously you're already in a vulnerable position if you're here. This is ground work and ground work can be scary.

Use speed and agility: 

In Krav Maga, speed and agility can be helpful when fighting larger opponents. If you're smaller, you can focus on quick movements and getting in and out of the opponent's range quickly. Now, we talk about this a lot in sparring. In a one-on-one fight, this is one of the best ways you can move - a quick hit to the body and run. But this can be intimidating, especially when you're first learning.

In the grand scheme of things, men are headhunters - they have been taught to aim for the head since they were children. As a smaller person, think fast kicks to the groin and running away. It may require

Use technique: 

In both BJJ and Krav Maga, technique is key. Smaller opponents should focus on mastering techniques that are designed to take down larger opponents. For example, in BJJ, smaller opponents can use techniques like the butterfly guard, which allows them to use their legs to control the larger opponent's movements. In Krav Maga, smaller opponents can use techniques like the low leg kick, which is designed to take down larger opponents by attacking their legs.

Use distractions and common objects: 

For women, I've found distractions and common objects to be some of the most beneficial things we can do and they look somewhat similar in . Distractions look vastly different for different situations. When my training partner has knocked me to the ground and I can't move, I've done things such as look at the door, say hello to a person who isn't there, or spit in his face. All of these things have helped me get him off balance or distract him so that I can take advantage of the moment.

We also use common objects as weapons and really, common objects can be just about anything. Have a cup of coffee? Take the lid off and throw it in your opponents face. Are your keys on a lanyard? You now have a weapon that you can swing to keep someone away and back.

Target vulnerable areas:

Look. No groin, no Krav Maga. In Krav Maga, we're all about aiming for places that are vulnerable: eyes, nose, throat, testicles, toes. There is no fair fight in Krav Maga because it's only goal is getting you home. So bite, scratch, spit - be as feral as you need to be.

BJJ also uses vulnerable targets in a fight. You're always targeting joints and the neck, two body parts very vulnerable to pressure.

Train with larger opponents:

One of the best things I ever did was find a larger opponent that I feel comfortable working with. He pushes me when we train, but we have a safe word for when it feels too intense and I trust him completely when we fight. It's completely changed my confidence when it comes to fighting larger opponents and what I can really do in a fight. It's gone a huge way in preparing me for real-world self-defense situations. I 100% want to note that there is a great deal of trust in this relationship and that takes time to find and grow, but I wouldn't change it for the world. Having a training partner in my life that you can trust will change how you train.

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Krav Maga near me? There is! If you're looking for a Krav Maga class near you, Valley Self-Defense is a proud member of the International Krav Maga Federation with schools located across the United States. To find a school near you, visit the IKMF USA website.

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