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Why Do People Wear Spats for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

Brazilian jiu jitsu practitioners will sometimes wear spats (leggings) in training to help protect against skin infections, mat burn, or just to avoid excessive skin contact.

Wearing spats for bjj comes down to personal preference and is not a requirement for training.

Key Takeaways

  • Often people will wear spats:
    • during no gi training under shorts (we don’t recommend wearing spats without shorts for men*)
    • under their gi pants during gi training
  • Some practitioners prefer to wear spats to help prevent against skin infections, mat burn, or if they train in a colder climate
  • However, spats provide added friction which can provide more control for either you or your training partner during takedowns, scrambles, submissions, and leg exchanges
  • Lastly, spats are not allowed to be worn during gi or no gi IBJJF competitions for men.

Benefits of Spats for BJJ

1. Protection and Injury Prevention

Wearing spats in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can help provides protection against common injuries encountered on the mats, ranging from surface abrasions to skin infections.

Mat Burns and Abrasions

Spats are designed to create a barrier between the skin and the rough surfaces of the mats, preventing mat burns and scrapes which are pretty common in bjj.

During the beginning of my bjj journey, I noticed I was getting quite a bit of mat burn, but wearing leggings definitely helped prevent it.

Infection Prevention

By covering much of the skin which would otherwise be exposed, spats reduce the risk of skin infections such as ringworm or staph, which are more likely to be contracted from the mat. Plus, the material used generally has sweat-wicking properties, helping to keep the skin dry and less susceptible to bacterial growth.

Joint and Muscle Support

The compression feature of spats may enhance joint stability and possibly aid in muscle recovery. This is due to the improvement in blood circulation that compression wear facilitates, which is beneficial in reducing the risk of muscle soreness and strain injuries.

2. Performance Enhancement

In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, spats can possibly enhance the athlete’s performance by improving grip on the mats, managing perspiration, and maintaining optimal muscle temperature.

Grip and Friction

BJJ spats are designed to increase grip on the mat, which can be helpful for executing submissions like triangles, omoplatas, and arm bars. The material of the spats provides a small level of friction that makes it harder for an opponent to slip out of holds, leading to a tighter guard and more effective grappling.

However, this also means when defending leg attacks your opponent can use that same friction against you to better control your legs.

Moisture Control

An athlete wearing BJJ spats benefits from moisture-wicking technology, which transports sweat away from the skin. This can reduces slippage during training or competition, allowing for better control and less interference from excess moisture.

Thermoregulation

The compression fabric used in spats facilitates blood flow and provides a form of thermoregulation.

This can help keep muscles at an ideal temperature, cooling them down when too hot and maintaining warmth when it is cold, reducing the risk of muscle strain and increasing comfort during training sessions.

Why You May Not Want to Wear Spats for Training

The main reasons that you may not want to wear spats are if you don’t want to give your opponent the added control from friction or if you train in a hotter climate.

As we mentioned, during leg attacks wearing spats can offer slightly more control as opposed to skin on skin.

For me personally,since I train in a hotter climate (San Diego), I prefer to train in just shorts since I am one of the sweatier guys on the mat.

When Are Spats Usually Worn in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

Fundamentals of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Attire

In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), the foundational garments include the Gi or Kimono for traditional training and a rash guard, spats, and shorts for No-Gi classes.

For Gi practice, attire generally consists of:

  • A jacket typically made from a sturdy cotton weave
  • Reinforced pants that can withstand the rigors of grappling
  • A belt reflecting the practitioner’s rank

Underneath the Gi, one can wear a rash guard or a simple t-shirt. The choice of what to wear under a Gi top, such as a rash guard, spats, or shorts, is based on personal preference and gym guidelines.


Contrastingly, No-Gi attire replaces the traditional Gi with a sleeker and more fitted ensemble:

  • Rash guard: Utilitarian in design, rash guards help reduce friction and minimize skin abrasions.
  • Spats: These form-fitting leggings protect the skin and reduce the slippage that can occur with sweat, aiding in the effectiveness of positional control and submissions.
  • BJJ shorts: Specifically designed without pockets or zips to prevent fingers and toes from getting caught, enhancing safety for all participants.

The choice of clothing in BJJ is not merely for tradition or aesthetics — it serves significant functional purposes, from maintaining hygiene to optimizing performance and safety on the mats.

Rules and Regulations in BJJ Gear

Organizations that hold Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitions like the IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation) enforce specific attire rules

Are Spats Allowed in IBJJF Competitions?

No, for both gi and no gi competitions spats are not allowed for IBJJF competitions.

Types of Spats and Materials

Spats come in different fabrics – plus they may have some high quality features to keep an eye out for.

Fabric Choices

The primary materials used for spats are polyester and spandex. Polyester is favored for its durability and moisture-wicking capabilities, enabling fighters to stay dry during intense sessions. Spandex provides stretchability, which grants a full range of motion essential for grappling sports. Often, a blend of both materials is used to create the ideal mix of flexibility and form retention.

Design and Style Variations

Spats come in two main lengths:

  • full-length, extending to the ankle
  • 3/4 length, which ends mid-calves

High Quality Features to Look Out For

Some spats will have some nice added features like:

  • Drawstring waistband
  • Rubber lined or reinforced leg openings
  • Flat lock stitching (to help reinforce seams)
  • Aerated fabrics to help with breathability
  • Standout designs

Some my own personal annoyances with wearing spats are them either sliding down the waist or riding up on the leg for this reason drawstring waistband and rubber enforced openings are some much appreciated features.

Care and Maintenance of BJJ Spats

Washing and Drying

Washing BJJ spats should be done after every training session. They should be turned inside out and washed on a gentle cycle using cold water to preserve the fabric’s elasticity and color. It’s advisable to use a mild detergent and avoid the use of fabric softeners, as they can degrade the material’s wicking properties.

For drying, it’s best to air dry spats by laying them flat or hanging them out of direct sunlight. However, most modern spats can be put in the dryer on low heat.

Personally, I put all my rash guards and spats in the dryer and have never had a problem.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are spats considered essential for some Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners?

Spats are deemed essential by some practitioners for their ability to protect against friction burns and skin infections, acting as a barrier between the skin and the mat.

What are the benefits of wearing spats instead of shorts for BJJ training?

Compared to shorts, spats offer a snug fit that can prevent material from snagging during training, and they may enhance muscle compression and support.

How do spats provide an advantage during no-gi Brazilian Jiu Jitsu sessions?

In no-gi BJJ, spats provide extra grip on the legs, which can aid in executing submissions and maintaining control over an opponent without the gi material. However, they can also provide your opponent with more control via the added friction in scrambles, takedowns, or leg attacks.

Are there specific features to look for in high-quality BJJ spats for optimal performance?

Premium BJJ spats often contain features like moisture-wicking fabric, antimicrobial properties, drawstring waistband, reinforced rubber lined openings, and flatlock stitching to minimize discomfort and maximize longevity and performance.

Can wearing spats during BJJ practice improve hygiene and safety for martial artists?

Yes, spats can improve hygiene and safety by minimizing direct skin contact with the mat, reducing the risk of skin infections, and helping to manage the spread of mat-borne diseases.