Q&A: No

Can you make a post about size in a fight? People like to argue in the comments. And usually when they go on and on about how size DOES matter in a fight, they usually use a woman as an example of a smaller opponent.

I’ll be honest, the people you’re talking about in the comments are misogynistic pricks who aren’t worth my time. They’re not worth yours either. You can tell they’re either chauvinists or misogynists because their worldview doesn’t allow for the existence of tall women, or a woman who is six feet tall. If you point out that the woman might be taller of the two in the scenario, you can watch them combust as they try to move the goal posts. (That happened about four months ago, or so.)

On the professional side, “How to Fight Write” now has 40,000 followers and we lend them more legitimacy by responding to them directly than we do just letting them stew in the comments. Besides, we’ve talked about the realities of size and its (rather negligible) effects on combat before and at length. They read this blog. Their complaints aren’t an honest attempt at discussion, they’re just bait to stir the pot.

The issue of size is one that will come up again and again because it’s culturally enshrined as “common sense” wisdom. The theory supports a broad narrative based in what “everybody knows” and is used to de legitimize those wanting to break with the status quo. This concept has no basis in reality and there’s plenty of evidence everywhere that will tell you human beings come in all shapes and sizes, and learning to deal with that is just a fact of life.

The real conversation happening here is not about size. Size is just the verbage used to keep themselves from being called out as misogynistic pricks. They’re talking about women, and about men being better than women because their worldview, their self-image, and need to be relevant demand it. We could go over what we’ve gone over already, but I don’t feel like it.

Instead, I’m going to talk to you about size from the perspective of someone who has done martial arts since they were five years old.

I’ve told the story in the past about how when I was eleven a girl in my class tried to physically intimidate me. We were in sixth grade, and she was class bully. She had a little tag along friend who stuck close to her side, whom she was the protector of. She reached her growth faster than the rest of us, and she felt much larger and taller than me then than Starke (who is a very large, broad, and physically intimidating 6″) ever has. Having spent most of her young life being taller (and more filled out) than everyone else, including the boys, she was used to using her size for intimidation. I got cross ways of her over a class role-play we did on the Greek Gods. We had a debate. I won. So, after it was over, she came up to me, leaned down over me, with her arms crossed over her chest, and told me to never do that again or else. I think she may also have told me to meet her behind the gym. And I… didn’t notice.

I was confused by her behavior. It took a couple days of contemplation to realize she’d been threatening me with physical violence if I didn’t acquiesce to her demands, and expected me to back down because she was five to six inches taller. However, I’d been doing martial arts for about five years by that point, and if there’s one thing about being a kid in a martial arts program it’s that you get used to working with people of all shapes and sizes. I trained with people who were taller than me all the time and because I grew up in the company of friendly giants, I’ve never found large people intimidating.

So, that day I biked home like always did instead of meeting her behind the gym (because why?) and a few days later she wrote “bitch” in pencil on my desk.

This girl was used to getting her way not because of her size, but because of the intimidation factor her size gave her. It probably worked on both girls and boys who got in her way, and she expected size intimidation to work on me because I was small, mousey, and wore glasses.

As most self-defense experts will tell you, the battle is played out in the mind rather than the body. If you decide you’ve lost, you will. That’s why the advantage game is worthless. If you treat this someone’s physical attributes as a definitive sign that they’re better than you, then you will lose because how can you beat someone who is better than you? There’s a lot more that goes into combat than a few yes or no check boxes, and all the DnD stats in the world won’t translate over. Someone being large doesn’t mean they’re strong, big doesn’t equal slow, and tall doesn’t translate to an automatic advantage outside of it giving the tall person a false sense of confidence like the girl who tried to bully me.

Trust me, all it takes is seeing the biggest guy in the class struggle with a technique which came incredibly easy to the smallest person for the myth about size to be dispelled right quick.

When I was five and a little white belt I did my first “sparring” with Alan, a second degree black belt who was a young, very leggy African-American man in his early twenties. The reality was a bunch of little five and six year olds tumbling at him like excitable puppies while he lightly tapped (our fully protected/fully geared) little chests lightly with a roundhouse kick as we tried to get close. Talk about impossible odds… I definitely couldn’t win against him, my head couldn’t reach his waist!

And, yes, that’s small children.

With adults, you’re not dealing with such a monumental size difference and women, despite what some people in the comments might think, aren’t children. A man’s arm is not double or triple the length of theirs. At most, it’s a few centimeters, maybe a few inches, and you reach full extension on impact so you drive the force into your opponent rather than just stretching your arm out full length. Size in people is not the first thing I look for when I’m sizing them up. Stance, foot and shoulder placement, hand placement, eyes, and their ability to project their presence are what I pay attention to. Someone who can project their presence and who knows how to stand will always be intimidating, no matter how large or small they are.

My brother is five inches taller than me and, honestly, when it comes down to sparring I feel like we’re the same height.

Starke told me when we first met that people were usually intimidated by him, and my response was, “why?”

The answer is because he’s big, broad and tall, usually wears black jeans, biker boots, a black leather jacket, has a mile long stare, and long hair.

That’s it. That’s the only reason.

I, however, have broken bricks with my palm. Two in a single strike. I’ve also broken a brick with my elbow. I did that at eighteen which is about the same age or younger than most of you reading this blog. (I know the truth, I see your Google Analytics.)

Now, the same ninnies in the comments will tell you that it doesn’t count unless you’ve been in a real fight. You can hear the “but, but, but, but” from here, that is their only means of invalidating opinions they don’t like, or experiences which disagree with their worldview.

And I never said brick breaking was, but if you had to pick let me ask you, if all you knew about me and Starke was that Starke was an imposing 6″ who liked to wear black leather and that I can project enough force through my fist into a single target to break multiple bricks in a single shot, which would you think was more dangerous?

Obviously, the taller human.

You can always tell someone doesn’t respect violence when they talk about real fights as the barometer for valid experience, and that lack of a respect is the sign you’re dealing with an amateur. The irony here is that the more training you have the less likely you are to engage in violence. You have a better understanding of the dangers, the cost, and consequences.

-Michi

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