When I started BJJ, I was on a budget and only wanted to buy the things I really needed for training. If you’re just starting out in BJJ and want to know too, then here’s what you’ll need.
For BJJ you will need a Gi (Kimono), however, if you’re doing No-Gi training, you’ll need a rash guard and BJJ shorts. In general, you’ll be required to have footwear for off of the mats too, either your normal shoes or sliders. Some BJJ schools will ask you to wear a mouth guard for protection too.
Let’s look at each one a little closer to see why you need them and which ones are best to buy.
BJJ: What You Need & Why
There are lots of things you may think you need when you’re just starting out in BJJ. But most of it, you don’t actually need, and some of it you will not even be allowed to use in BJJ.
So, please don’t waste your money. I put together an entire article about what you can and can’t wear in BJJ, so be sure to also check that out to avoid buying something you can’t use.
But first, let’s have a look at the basics and the things you will definitely want to invest in below. In truth, there are only 6 things you’ll really need for BJJ training.
1. Gi (Kimono)
For most BJJ classes, you will likely be wearing a BJJ Gi, sometimes also known as a Kimono, which is the traditional white uniform worn in martial arts.
Unless you are at a mostly No-Gi school, or even an MMA school, in which case you’ll spend most of your training in a rash guard and shorts (see 2 and 3 below).
Most Gi’s will come with a white belt too, so you don’t need to worry about buying a belt separately. However, just to be sure, it is always worth double-checking that the Gi you’re buying is supplied with a belt.
As you progress in training and begin to get promoted to higher belt colors, your instructor will present you with your new belt, meaning you don’t need to buy a new one.
There are loads of Gi colors and patterns available on the market today and, in general, you can wear whatever Gi you want. However, some schools do have restrictions on what Gi you can and can’t wear. To avoid buying a Gi you won’t be allowed to wear, check out my article about Gi colors.
The reason you will need to buy a BJJ Gi is that it’s the norm for basically all BJJ schools around the world, and you will be required to wear one.
For a great choice of Gi which is built for both BJJ beginners and seasoned Black Belts, check out the reviews on this Sanabul Gi with my Amazon link.
2. Rash Guard
A rash guard is a protective base layer made out of a fabric mix of polyester and spandex. Rash guards are worn for both No-Gi and under the Gi.
You will need to buy a rash guard for BJJ because they help to compress your muscles which are said to increase your blood flow during training.
But more importantly, rash guards protect your skin from mat burn, chafing, and abrasions which, if left exposed, could become infected from all the sweat on the mats during training.
3. BJJ Fight Shorts
BJJ fight shorts are an essential part of any grappler’s gym bag, and that’s for a whole host of good reasons. Let’s take a look at the 2 main reasons to get yourself a good pair of fight shorts, they are:
- Improved movement
When it comes to fight shorts for BJJ, they need to provide you with enough movement so they don’t restrict you in your grappling.
Not only that, but if they aren’t flexible or durable enough to withstand the training, then they could split open and leave you hanging out for all to see… not what anyone wants.
Thankfully, fight shorts are made up out of a blend of fabrics (usually spandex and polyester) which allow for both stretch, and durability in order to allow for free movement to land those takedowns and submissions.
And finally, fight shorts don’t (and shouldn’t) have zippers or pockets on them. This is to help protect you and your training partners from potential injuries.
Zippers can cause cuts and abrasions which can lead to skin infections, and pockets are perfect for catching fingers and toes in them during training, causing them to bend back and get injured. Another reason why a good pair of BJJ fight shorts are essential.
Although a mouthguard isn’t mandatory in some BJJ gyms, they are commonly used by BJJ practitioners during training. At the end of the day, BJJ is a contact sport, so therefore there is always the possibility of getting caught with a stray knee or elbow.
For the sake of a relatively cheap piece of equipment, a mouthguard is well worth getting for BJJ to protect your teeth. But not all mouthguards are suitable, to avoid buying the wrong type of mouthguard check out my article on mouthguards for BJJ.
5. Slider Sandals/ Slippers (Footwear)
In nearly every single BJJ school you walk into, you will see a line of slider sandals stacked alongside the mats. Some schools are laid back about it, others say footwear is mandatory for off the mats and don’t allow you to walk around barefoot… and this is for good reason.
Footwear is needed for off the mats to 1) help protect the mats from dirt and damage 2) help you avoid injury while barefoot and 3) help keep the mats and gym floor hygienic and stop sweat (maybe even blood) being walked around everywhere.
6. Gym bag
And finally, one of the most useful additions to any grappler’s arsenal is a gym bag to store all of your fightwear and equipment in.
The benefits of a proper gym bag are:
- Hygiene (to separate your sweaty Jiu-Jitsu gear from your clean daily stuff)
- Avoid bacteria growth (and smell in your normal bag)
- Convenience (just grab and go)
And let’s be honest, it’s not fun trying to cram in all your training gear next to your school or work stuff… we’ve all been there. A suitable gym bag will be your best friend when you come to pack all your new BJJ gear away and head out the door.
“Top Tip: Having your BJJ gear packed and ready to go each night makes it easier to grab and go in the morning and to stay consistent on your Jiu-Jitsu journey”