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Can You Wear a T Shirt to Jiu Jitsu? (Rashguard vs T Shirt for Training)

If you’re considering training BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) or maybe you have already signed up for your first class, you may be wondering can just wear a T-Shirt to jiu jitsu?


Depending on the type of class and bjj gym requirements you may be able to wear a T-shirt to jiu jitsu.

For Gi classes, you wear a gi, and you can wear a T-shirt or rashguard underneath it.
For No Gi classes you may be able to wear a T-shirt depeding on the gym’s rules.

However, for No Gi classes, it is strongly recommended to wear a tight fitting shirt like a rashguard for training.

You should always check with the gym directly to confirm before your first class.


While rashguards are always recommended and typically accepted at most jiu jitsu gyms some gyms require that you wear a specific rashguard or rashguard brand.

Gyms like Atos and Gracie Barra require you to wear their rashguard brand for No Gi training

My gym, 10th Planet San Diego, does allow you to wear a T shirt to their No Gi classes, but again, for comfort, a rashguard is preferred.

Key Takeaways

  • Some gyms may allow you to wear a T-shirt to their No Gi Classes (but a rashguard is always preferred)
  • For Gi classes, you would wear a Gi. Your gym may offer you a trial Gi or the chance to buy one prior to your first class
    • underneath your gi you can wear a T-shirt or rashguard
    • some people prefer to train without a shirt underneath their gi, but this is generally not recommended, and sometimes frowned upon by training partners

Table comparing rashguard vs T-shirt for training:

FeatureRashguardT-Shirt
MaterialSpandex-polyester blend, quick-dryingCotton or polyester, absorbs moisture
SafetySkin-tight, prevents entanglementCan get stretched, increasing risk
HygieneMicrobial properties, infection resistantLess protective against infections
ComfortSweat-wicking, stays in placeBreathable, but stays wet
For example, here is picture from a beginner’s class at my gym, and several students are wearing T-shirts

Jiu Jitsu Attire Basics

Traditionally, practitioners wear a Gi, which consists of a jacket, pants, and a belt that indicates rank. The Gi’s material is sturdy to withstand the rigorous grappling and pulling that occurs during training.

For No-Gi training the student may opt for a t-shirt for their initial session. However, it’s still recommedned to wear a rashguard or transition to one later on.

Here are the key differences between the two options:

  • T-shirt:
    • Made of cotton or blends, may become heavy with sweat
    • Can get stretched or snagged during grappling
  • Rashguard:
    • Constructed from polyester or other synthetic fabrics
    • Designed to wick moisture away from the body
    • Fits snugly to reduce the risk of snagging or interference

Below is a comparison chart:

FeatureT-shirtRashguard
MaterialCotton or blendsPolyester, spandex, or blends
FitLooseSnug and form-fitting
Moisture-WickingLimitedYes
DurabilityLower during grapplingHigher; designed for contact sports

As always check with the school or gym regarding their specific clothing policies.*

The Role of Rashguards in Jiu Jitsu

Rashguards serve a multifaceted role in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). Primarily, they provide protection: designed from stretchy and durable materials, rashguards shield the skin from friction burns, mat burns, and scrapes that can occur during training and grappling on the mats.

>Fit and comfort – a properly fitted rashguard will avoid hindrances during movement and will not shift excessively or entangle limbs, unlike loose clothing. This form-fitting nature also means that opponents cannot easily grab the material, which is especially vital during no-gi training sessions where grabbing clothing is not permitted.

>They also hold a hygienic purpose. Rashguards help reduce the risk of skin infections through their moisture-wicking properties, which keep the skin dry and less hospitable to bacteria and fungi. Compared to a regular t-shirt, a rashguard’s snug fit and specialized fabrics are less likely to trap heat and sweat, factors that contribute to bacterial growth.

>Lastly, rashguards have an aesthetic function in BJJ. They often come in various designs and are sometimes used to denote team affiliation or to make a stylistic statement.

FunctionBenefit
ProtectionShields skin from friction and impacts
HygienicReduces risk of infections
Comfort and FitEnhances mobility, prevents snags
Aesthetic AppealProvides a means for personal expression

Rashguards are an essential component of a BJJ practitioner’s gear for these reasons and have thus become ubiquitous in the sport.

How to Choose a Rash Guard

When choosing a rashguard we recommend considering the below factors:

  1. Gym Requirements: check to see if the gym requires you to wear their rashguard or a specific brand or color (based on your belt rank)
  2. Fit: Is it too tight or too loose?
  3. Design: do you like it aesthically speaking?
  4. Comfort: is it comfortable to train in day in and day out?
  5. Brand Reputation: is it from a trusted brand with easy to contact support and a clear return policy?
  6. Price: what does it cost and is it worth it?
  7. Material: what is it made of? Do you want a thinner breathable rashguard (with more polyester*) or a thicker one?
  8. Durability: if its more affordable will it last more than a month or two? If it’s more expensive will it last a long time?
  9. Sleeve Length: do you prefer short or long sleeves? Do you train in a hot climate? Are you prone to sweating a lot and getting hot very easily (like me*)?
  10. Ranked/IBJJF Legal: are you planning on competing in an IBJJF event? Is it ranked and legal for the IBJJF?

When You Might Wear T-Shirts in Jiu Jitsu

Beginner Practice Sessions (No Gi)

For those new to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), it’s common to wear a T-shirt to the first few training sessions. As beginners may not own a rashguard yet, academies often allow a plain T-shirt—that fits snugly to prevent fingers and toes from catching during practice.

Some bjj students will opt to tuck their shirt in to avoid it getting caught during training (I know many wrestlers who still opt for this look at my bjj gym).

Underneath a Gi

Most gyms allow you to wear a T-shirt underneath your Gi during Gi classes. Many don’t require you to wear a rashguard underneath your gi and some even allow you to go shirtless underneath your gi (even though this would likely not be preferred by your training partners).

Selecting the Right Gear for Jiu Jitsu

Choosing the correct attire for Jiu Jitsu promotes comfort, mobility, and adherence to training etiquette. One must consider the type of class—Gi or No-Gi—and the appropriate materials suitable for the sport’s rigorous physical demands.

Criteria for Choosing Jiu Jitsu Attire

Gi Classes:

  • Material: A durable cotton or a cotton-poly blend is ideal for Gis to withstand the pulling and grabbing.
  • Fit: Gis should fit snugly but allow full range of motion.
  • Reinforcements: Look for reinforced stitching at stress points.

No-Gi Classes:

  • Material: Rash guards are preferred, made of moisture-wicking synthetic fabrics.
  • Fit: A close fit to the body helps prevent snags during grappling.
  • Hygiene: Materials should be antimicrobial to reduce bacteria spread.

General Considerations:

  • Comfort: The clothing should not chafe or restrict movement.
  • Safety: Zippers and pockets are to be avoided as they can cause injury.

T-Shirts:

  • While T-shirts are sometimes permitted, they are less ideal due to:
    • Absorption of sweat, becoming heavy and uncomfortable.
    • Greater risk of being grabbed or causing finger entanglement.

Final Word – T-Shirts in BJJ

While some gyms allow T-Shirts to be worn in their No Gi classes, it is recommended to still go with a tight fitting rashguard or compression shirt.

For Gi classes, you would wear a Gi and can opt to wear a T-shirt, or rashguard underneath it.

Finally, always check with the gym directly when setting up your trial class since different gyms may have different policies.

    About the Author:

    Zack Nicholas

    Zack Nicholas:

    Zack is an avid jiu jitsu practitioner and weight lifting nerd. When not on the mats or in the gym, he can be found going for walks with his wife, attempting (and often failing) to train his dog, and frequently obsessing over a specific hobby only to forget about it a week later. He can be reached over his LinkedIn or at info@heavybjj.com