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Can You Wear Headgear in BJJ Competitions? IBJJF and Other Organization’s Rules Explained

For IBJJF competitions, you are not allowed to wear headgear or any other protection device that contains hard material. However, females are allowed to wear head coverings that cover their hair, ears, and neck that is tucked into their shirt leaving only their face exposed (like a wetsuit hood).

For ADCC events you are also not allowed to wear headgear.

For Grappling Industries competitions, you are allowed to wear head gear if it is for religious reasons.

Key Takeaways

  • Most bjj organizations do not allow you to wear headgear for competitions
    • however, you may be able to tape your ears if you find you need some protection
    • females are allowed to wear head coverings that meet their specifications
  • The IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation) specifically states that you are not allowed to wear headgear under code 8.3.7 in the IBJJF rule book

Headgear in BJJ: General Guidelines

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) competitions, the use of headgear is largely constrained. The International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF), which sets the benchmark for rules in many tournaments, strictly prohibits the use of headgear during official matches. They maintain this stance because headgear can create uncomfortable scenarios for both the wearer and the opponent during grappling exchanges.

Despite the potential benefits of added protection, especially for the ears, the restrictions in competition are in place for several reasons:

  • Headgear can obstruct certain movements, potentially affecting the flow of the match.
  • It might provide an extra grip point or cause accidental injury.
  • There’s a consensus that headgear can influence the outcomes of positions and techniques.

For practitioners concerned about injury during training sessions, headgear is more commonly accepted. Wearing this protective gear is typically at the discretion of the individual and their instructor. Headgear can be helpful to prevent common injuries like cauliflower ear, which results from repeated trauma.

Lastly, we recommend checking directly with the tournament rules before assuming headgear will be permitted.

IBJJF Regulations on Headgear

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitions under International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) rules, specific guidelines must be adhered to when it comes to attire and gear. Regarding headgear, the IBJJF is quite clear.

Rules are as follows:

  • The use of headgear is not permitted in IBJJF competitions.
  • This restriction encompasses any head coverings used for injury prevention or compression.
  • The rationale behind this rule ensures safety and fairness as headgear could potentially risk opponents or provide an unfair grip advantage.


That IBJJF states that female athletes are allowed to wear head coverings. The headgear must adhere to the following criteria:

  • The headgear should be securely fitted and constructed from elastic fabric, or it should have elastic edges, must not contain any hard components, should not have any logos, and should not contain any strings and can only be black
  • Lastly, females can wear a head covering that covers the head, hair, neck, and ears that is tucked into their shirt, leaving only the face exposed

The enforcement of these rules is consistent across all IBJJF sanctioned tournaments to maintain a standard for all competitors, emphasizing its commitment to uniformity in competition. Fighters looking to compete in these tournaments must adjust their gear and attire to comply with this standard, forgoing headgear during bouts.

For hygiene and safety reasons, competitors must also adhere to guidelines concerning personal grooming.

Athletes and coaches must consult the latest IBJJF rule book for any changes to headgear regulations or for additional details on approved competition attire. Compliance with these guidelines is critical for legitimacy and recognition in IBJJF sanctioned events.

Types of Headgear Allowed

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) competitions, headgear is primarily worn for the protection of ears and minimization of injuries such as cauliflower ear. However, the allowance of headgear varies by the rulesets of individual organizations.

The International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF), one of the most recognized bodies governing BJJ competitions, has specific regulations regarding protective equipment. It does not allow competitors to wear rigid headgear due to potential risks to both the wearer and the opponent. Soft headgear, designed to cover and protect the ears without hard components, is more commonly acceptable. Yet, athletes should verify the guidelines of particular tournaments.

Participants should look for headgear that:

  • Protects the ears without risks of entanglement
  • Fits snugly and comfortably underneath a BJJ gi
  • Complies with tournament regulations

Below is a quick reference guide for the types of headgear generally considered allowable:

MaterialSoft fabric or neoprene without rigid parts
DesignStreamlined to minimize grabbing or entanglement risks
FitAdjustable straps to ensure a secure fit
CoverageAdequate ear protection without excessive bulk

Frequently Asked Questions

What types of head protection are allowed in BJJ tournaments?

In most BJJ tournaments, head protection is generally not allowed. However, we always recommend speaking with a representative of the specific organization for confirmation.

Are there specific regulations regarding headgear in IBJJF-sanctioned events?

The IBJJF does not permit the use of headgear during competition, as it may interfere with the safety and fairness of the matches.

How does the IBJJF enforce compliance with uniform and safety gear standards?

The IBJJF strictly enforces uniform and safety gear standards through pre-competition inspections and ongoing monitoring during events to ensure that all competitors adhere to the established rules.

Are there any exceptions that permit additional headgear for medical reasons in BJJ contests?

While BJJ competitions typically do not allow headgear, most organizations may allow headgear for religious reasons. Additionally, women are allowed to wear head coverings that they can tuck into their rash guard.