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Is a Rashguard the Same as a Compression Shirt for BJJ? Understanding the Difference

Maybe your looking to start Brazilian jiu jitsu (bjj) or have already signed up for your first class and the gym told you to wear a rashguard – so is a rashguard the same as a compression shirt?

Rashguards are specifically made for bjj training with added features like a reinforced neckline, aerated fabrics, flatlock stitching, sublimated graphics, waistband liner (to keep it from riding up), and generally, are made of thicker, more durable material.

Compression shirts are often thinner and overall just less durable, but do come at a more affordable price. However, yes, you can still train jiu jitsu in a compression shirt.

In this post we’ll take a look at some differences between a rashguard and compression shirt and answer related questions like what should you wear to jiu jitsu and how to choose the rashguard that’s best for you.

Rashguards are usually worn during No Gi Brazilian jiu jitsu training or worn under the Gi for Gi training

Key Takeaways

  • Rashguards and compression shirts are distinct in design and purpose, with rashguards offering tailored features for BJJ.
  • Yes, you can train bjj in a compression shirt (some gyms will even let your train in a T-shirt)
    • Compression shirts are often a decent choice for beginners or those who are just trying out bjj
  • Overall, rashguards are just more durable, with thicker material and features that make it better for jiu jitsu like reinforced stitching, waist band liner, aerated fabrics, and sublimated graphics.
FeatureRashguardCompression Shirt
MaterialMade with a blend of spandex and polyester or nylon, designed to withstand intensity of grappling.Often thinner then rashguards while typically made of similar materials
PriceGenerally more expesnive than compression shirtsMore affordable than rashguards
OpeningsReinforced neckline, sleeves, and sometimes include a rubber waistlinerOften don’t include any of these features
Moisture WickingOffers moisture wicking qualities (unlike a T shirt that retains moisture)Also is moisture wicking
DurabilityReinforced (flatlock) stitching to be more durable for bjjStitching may not be reinforced, leading to a higher chance of tearing and overall less durability
DesignMay feature your belt rank color, sublimated graphics, or other designsGenerally, come in standard colors with limited designs

Rashguards Basics

Purpose of Rashguards

Rashguards in BJJ serve three main purposes:

  • to not get in the way of training
  • to be moisture wicking
  • to denote your rank (if required by your gym or organized competitve event – like those held by the IBJJF)

A compression shirt can generally hit these (aside from denoting your rank) and can usually be worn for bjj without issue.

Materials Used in Rashguards

Under Armour Compression shirt: Made of 84% Polyester, 16% Elastane
Xmartial Rashguard: Made of 80% polyester and 20% spandex (a little thicker material)

The materials used in BJJ rashguards are typically synthetic blends, such as nylonspandex, and polyester.

These fabrics are chosen for their durability, elasticity, and ability to wick away moisture, keeping the athlete dry and comfortable. These materials also retain less odor and are easier to clean than natural fibers, making them pretty ideal for BJJ training and competition.

Design and Fit of Rashguards

A BJJ rashguard is distinct in its design and fit:

  • Design: The aesthetics often include BJJ-specific themes and are available in a variety of colors and patterns or your rank color and should be IBJJF legal if you are planning on competing in an IBJJF competition
  • Fit: They are tapered and feature reinforced stitching to ensure they stay in place during training. The fit is snug to prevent opponents from gripping the material, offering an advantage in no-gi grappling situations.

The proper fit is intended to offer compression and aid in blood flow while accommodating the flexibility needed for a wide range of movements within the sport.

Where Do Compression Shirts Fit In?

Function of Compression Shirts

Compression shirts serve a dual purpose: they are intended to improve athletic performance and facilitate recovery.

While not being made specifically for Brazilian jiu jitsu, they are made for a variety of physical activities and sports

The tight fit applies pressure to the body, which can promote blood circulation and increase oxygen delivery to the muscles during physical activities. They also help in reducing muscle fatigue and soreness by stabilizing the muscles, which can mitigate the risk of strain or injury.

Fabric and Construction

Compression shirts are predominantly made from a blend of high-stretch fabrics such as spandex, elastane, elastane, or lycra. These materials provide the necessary elasticity to create the compressive effect. The stitching in a compression shirt is typically durable (but less durable than a rashguard), but designed to withstand the constant strain placed on the garment during physical activities without tearing or stretching out.

  • Materials Commonly Used:
    • Spandex
    • Elastane
    • Lycra
  • Stitching Features:
    • Reinforced seams
    • Durable construction

How to Choose a Rashguard for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Factors to Consider

When choosing a BJJ rashguard, one should consider the following:

Some factors to consider when buying a rashguard are:

  1. Gym Requirements: does your gym require you to wear their rashguard or a specific brand or color (based on your belt rank)
  2. Fit: how well does it fit?
  3. Design: do you like the design of it?
  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: how affordable or how expensive is 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?
  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?


For practitioners looking for suitable BJJ gear:

  • Durability Over Cost: Opt for a BJJ-specific rashguard despite the price difference from regular compression shirts due to its enhanced durability.
  • Specialized Design: Choose designs and colors that reflect BJJ culture, but also meet any specific competition guidelines if you participate in tournaments.
  • Proper Fit: Always try on rashguards before purchase or consult sizing charts to ensure an adequate fit as sizes may vary between brands.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the distinctive benefits of wearing a rash guard for BJJ training?

A rash guard, specifically designed for BJJ, is made with reinforced stitching and often incorporates materials that are resistant to tearing. It fits snugly, reducing the risk of fabric catching during close contact and offers superior moisture management.

How does a compression shirt enhance performance in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

Compression shirts can improve blood circulation and muscle recovery. For BJJ athletes, this translates to a potential increase in endurance and performance, as well as shorter recovery times after intensive training sessions.

Can a regular compression shirt be substituted for a BJJ rash guard during training?

While compression shirts offer some benefits similar to rash guards, they typically lack the reinforced construction necessary for the demands of BJJ. This can lead to quicker wear and tear, making them less suitable as a substitute for dedicated BJJ rash guards.

However, yes, you can still wear a compression shirt as a substitute for a rashguardin BJJ.

What should you look for when selecting a high-quality BJJ rash guard?

One should look for rash guards with flatlock seams to prevent chafing, a durable stretch fabric that preserves shape and fit over time, and an extended cut that prevents the garment from riding up during grappling.

Are there specific features that differentiate specialized BJJ rash guards from general athletic compression wear?

Specialized BJJ rash guards usually feature longer hems, silicone waistbands to prevent rolling, and are constructed with multi-panel craftsmanship that enhances range of motion without compromising fabric integrity.

How do leading brands like Venum and RVCA tailor their rash guards to meet the needs of BJJ practitioners?

Brands such as Venum and RVCA design their rash guards with the input of professional BJJ athletes, incorporating features such as antimicrobial fabric, strategic reinforcement, and exclusive designs that align with the aesthetics of the BJJ community.

    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