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What Do You Wear to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? Essential Attire for the Mat

If you’re thinking about trying out Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ) you may be wondering what you should wear for your first class…

Brazilian jiu jitsu classes are split into two types: gi and no gi.
For gi classes you wear a gi which is a heavy cotton jacket with drawstring pants and colored belt representing your rank.
For no gi classes you wear a rashguard and athletic shorts.

However, some bjj gyms have specific apparel requirements so its best to always check with them directly.

Key Takeaways

  • BJJ is split into two types of classes Gi classes and No Gi class
    • Gi classes: you wear a traditional kimono known as a Gi and generally a rashguard underneath along with undergarments.
    • No Gi Classes: you wear a tight fitting shirt or rashguard and shorts or spats (leggings)

The Basics of BJJ Attire

When beginning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), the appropriate attire is both a matter of respect and functionality Again, there are two types of bjj classes:

For Gi Classes: Traditionally, a participant wears a gi, which is a martial arts uniform consisting of a jacket, pants, and a belt that signifies the practitioner’s rank. It’s recommended to select a gi that is specifically made for BJJ as it’s designed to withstand the rigorous grappling and pulling that is common in the sport.

In No Gi training, bjj students do not wear the Gi but instead wear a combination of rash guards, board shorts, and spats.

For No-Gi Classes: On days where the training is no-gi, practitioners should choose athletic wear that is close-fitting to avoid it getting in the way of training:

Men should consider:

  • A rash guard or tight-fitting athletic shirt
  • Compression shorts or boxer briefs
  • Board shorts or athletic shorts without pockets or hard loops

Women should consider:

  • A rash guard or sports bra coupled with a tight-fitting athletic top
  • Spats or compression leggings
  • Athletic shorts if preferred over leggings

Footwear: Participants usually train barefoot on the mats. However, footwear like flip-flops or slides should be worn when off the mat to maintain hygiene.

Jewelry and Accessories: To prevent injury, all jewelry, including rings, earrings, and piercings, should be removed before practicing.

Gi Requirements

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a practitioner wears a gi that adheres to specific standards regarding fabric, color, and fit. These regulations ensure fairness and safety during training and competition.

Fabric and Weave Types

The gi must be constructed from a woven fabric, providing the necessary durability and resistance for grappling. Single weave gis are lighter and suitable for hot climates, whereas double weave gis offer more thickness and strength. Some competition gis include EVA foam in the collar, which adds rigidity but must conform to the rules regarding thickness.

Gi Colors and Competition Standards

For competition, the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) permits gis in white, blue, or black. Other organizations may have different requirements, but these three colors are widely accepted. The gi’s collar and skirt should not contain any patches or embroidery that extend beyond the allowed areas as dictated by the official regulations.

Proper Gi Fit

A well-fitted gi is essential for both performance and compliance with competition regulations. Sleeves must reach the athlete’s wrist with a maximum of 5 cm allowance when the arm is extended straight parallel to the ground. Pants length should not pass more than 5 cm above the ankle bone. Gis should not be too loose, as this may provide an unfair advantage or pose a safety risk during a match.

No-Gi Apparel

Rash Guards

Rash guards are form-fitting athletic shirts made of polyester, spandex, or a blend, which help reduce friction on the mat and prevent skin abrasions. They are designed to wick moisture away from the body, keeping the practitioner cool during intense training sessions.

  • Materials:
    • Polyester
    • Spandex
  • Properties:
    • Moisture-wicking
    • Friction-reducing

Board Shorts

Board shorts for No-Gi BJJ are specialized shorts that extend to the knee and are made without pockets. This design prevents fingers and toes from getting caught during training. The waistbands are typically non-elastic and secured with a drawstring, Velcro, or hook-and-loop closures to ensure a snug fit.

  • Length: Knee-length
  • Features:
    • No pockets
    • Secure closures


Spats are tight-fitting stretchable pants that can be worn under shorts or on their own. They provide muscle compression and support, which can improve blood circulation and reduce muscle fatigue. Spats also offer an additional layer of protection against mat burns and skin infections.

  • Benefits:
    • Muscle compression
    • Improved circulation
  • Usage:
    • Under shorts or alone

Protective Gear to Be Aware Of

These are all optional but are all generally allowed during training:

Ear Guards

In BJJ, a common injury athletes aim to prevent is “cauliflower ear,” which occurs when the ear suffers blunt trauma and swells. Ear guards, also known as headgear, are designed to protect the ears from impact and friction. They typically feature:

  • Adjustable straps for a secure fit
  • Soft padding around the ear to absorb shock
  • Ventilation to prevent overheating and allow sound to enter

Mouth Guards

Mouth guards are a critical piece of protective equipment in BJJ as they safeguard the teeth, gums, and jaw during rolls and sparring. They should be:

  • Custom-fitted for optimal comfort and protection
  • Durable, made from sturdy materials that can absorb impact
  • Easy to clean and maintain to ensure hygiene

Practitioners should not overlook the importance of these protective elements as they are fundamental to a safe and effective training regimen in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Other Training Accessories

When practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, practitioners enhance their training experience and safety with several key accessories. Two of the most common accessories are finger tape and knee pads, both serving to protect against common injuries.

Finger Tape

Finger tape is crucial for grapplers to support their joints and prevent finger injuries, which are common due to the gripping nature of BJJ. Athletes should look for a tape that is:

  • Adhesive: It must stick well to the skin even when perspiration is present.
  • Flexible: The tape should allow full range of motion of the fingers.

Knee Pads

Knee pads provide much-needed cushioning and protection during practice, helping to prevent bruises and more serious injuries like meniscus tears. Effective knee pads should have:

  • Padding: Adequate cushioning to absorb impacts.
  • Fit: A snug fit that maintains position without restricting movement.

Considerations for Women

When it comes to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, apparel choices for women should prioritize comfort, mobility, and safety. Apparel should also be form-fitting to prevent any accidental catching or pulling during grappling.

Sports Bras

A well-fitting sports bra is crucial for women practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The sports bra should provide ample support and be made of moisture-wicking material to keep the practitioner dry and comfortable. It is recommended that the sports bra is:

  • Snug, yet not restrictive
  • Made from breathable fabrics to manage sweat

Additional Support Gear

Women may also consider additional gear for support and protection. This can include:

  • Compression shorts or spats: To wear underneath gi pants or alone in no-gi sessions for muscle support and to prevent skin abrasions.
  • Rash guards: Often worn under the gi or as a top in no-gi, which can prevent mat burns and skin irritation while providing additional support.

Hygiene and Maintenance

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, maintaining hygiene is crucial both for an individual’s health and for the respect of fellow practitioners. Effective care for one’s gear and attire prevents the spread of infections and odors.

Pre-Laundering Gi Care

Before washing a gi, practitioners should remove any debris and hang the gi to air out if they cannot wash it immediately. This practice minimizes odor formation and fabric deterioration. It’s advised to check the manufacturer’s guidelines for specific care instructions, such as temperature settings, to maintain the gi’s quality.

  • Empty Pockets: Ensure no objects are inside the gi.
  • Pre-Treat Stains: Apply stain remover to spots before washing.

Post-Training Attire Management

After training, athletes should handle their attire with the presumption that it has come into contact with bacteria and sweat. A timely wash is paramount.

  • Shower Immediately: This limits bacteria transfer from the attire to the skin.
  • Wash Thoroughly: Attire, belt, and any protective gear should be washed after every session using a disinfectant or appropriate detergent.
  • Transport in Ventilated Bags: Store used attire in a bag with ventilation to prevent bacterial growth until laundering.
  • Dry Completely: Air-dry attire fully to inhibit bacterial proliferation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What attire is appropriate for a male attending a BJJ class?

Men should wear a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gi, which includes a jacket, pants, and a belt that represents their rank. For no-gi classes, men can wear rash guards or compression shirts paired with board shorts or fight shorts that don’t have pockets or hard loops.

What options are available for women’s attire in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

Women can wear a gi designed for a snugger fit to improve comfort and safety during training. In no-gi classes, women often wear rash guards or compression tops with spats, leggings, or fight shorts over fitted athletic shorts for additional coverage.

Is there a specific dress code for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu during hot weather?

While some academies may be more lenient during hot conditions, the standard gi is still commonly worn. For no-gi, breathable, moisture-wicking materials are ideal. Participants should ensure their clothing is not too loose to prevent accidental entanglement.

For no-gi Jiu Jitsu, what kind of clothing is recommended?

No-gi Jiu Jitsu practitioners typically wear rash guards and fight shorts. Rash guards protect the skin and prevent the spread of germs, while fight shorts provide flexibility without excess fabric that could impede movement or pose a safety hazard.

What is the proper undergarment etiquette for training in a gi, especially for women?

Undergarments should provide support and coverage without compromising mobility. Women may opt for a sports bra under their rash guard or gi top. All practitioners should choose undergarments that remain secure throughout rigorous activity.

What should a newcomer wear on the first day of Jiu Jitsu training?

Newcomers can wear a t-shirt and athletic shorts for their first few classes if they do not have a gi yet. Often a gym will let you borrow or rent a gi for your first class or two. For no gi classes they can wear a tight fitting short or rashguard and athletic shorts.