BJJ: What To Wear (Complete Guide)

What To Wear For BJJ - Gi and No-Gi

Before you step onto the mats for a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) class, whether its Gi or No-Gi, it is important to first know what you can and can’t wear.

For your first BJJ class, wear a t-shirt and shorts with no zips and preferably no pockets; your instructor will likely have a Gi for you to wear. For No-Gi, you should wear a rash guard, spats, and Jiu-Jitsu shorts. Under your Gi, you can wear a rash guard, spats, or shorts; the same as in No-Gi.

Before you pull out your credit card and start mounting up those BJJ clothing costs, check out this complete guide on what to wear for BJJ, including:

  • What to wear & what not to wear for your first BJJ class
  • Gi Guide: What to wear in BJJ Gi training (plus frequently asked Gi questions)
  • What to wear under your Gi
  • What to wear for No-Gi BJJ (plus frequently asked No-Gi questions)
  • What accessories & footwear to wear for BJJ

Or, for a quick guide, check out my article: BJJ: 6 Things You Definitely Need & Why

Let’s jump straight into it.

What To Wear For BJJ: Complete Guide

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training is done in two different types of clothing or uniform.

  • Gi (also known as a Kimono)
  • No-Gi

Gi Training

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training is normally done in a Gi which is the traditional uniform for martial arts. Gi’s are available in many colors but the most common in BJJ is white or blue.

Don’t buy a Gi before you know what is and isn’t allowed with Gi colors; our other article covers it all here: BJJ About Gi Colors

Avoid cheap Gis! For a great Gi in multiple colors, check out the reviews for these Gis on Amazon. Perfect for both beginners and advanced belts, hit the link and check them out.

No-Gi Training

BJJ can also be done without wearing the traditional Gi uniform. Known as No-Gi training in which you wear Jiu-Jitsu shorts and a training t-shirt (known as a rash guard).

The growth of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) over the years, has meant No-Gi training has had a massive increase in popularity around the world.

What To Wear For Your First BJJ Class

When you walk into your first BJJ class you will not be expected to have all the correct gear with you.

So, what can you wear for your first BJJ class?

In your first Jiu-Jitsu class you can simply wear a t-shirt and gym shorts.

If you have sports wear that you usually wear to the gym or for running etc, then these will probably be okay to wear for your first couple of BJJ classes too.

If your first class is Gi training, then the instructor will more than likely have a spare Gi for you to wear on top of your shorts and t-shirt.

Most BJJ schools have spare Gis washed and ready to go for new students to borrow while they are just trying out the class.

Likewise, if your first class is No-Gi training, then you will be good to go with wearing just your shorts and t-shirt.

What Not To Wear For Your First BJJ Class

There are also a few things you should avoid wearing in BJJ training.

Things to avoid wearing for BJJ:

No Pockets

In Jiu-Jitsu, there is a risk that your training partner’s toes or fingers can get caught in the pockets during training and cause injuries.

Some schools are less strict on students wearing shorts with pockets, whereas others may not let you train with pockets in your shorts.

I personally experienced this in an MMA school in Sydney Australia when I went in for a trial BJJ class.

The instructor let me train but said I was dressed for tennis, not Jiu-Jitsu lol.

No Zips

When you’re grappling in close proximity with your training partner, zips can cause serious cuts or eye injuries.

Most BJJ schools are strict on this one, so if you’re heading in for your first class – avoid wearing shorts with zips.

No Belts or Belt Loops

For the same reasons as no pockets or zips, belts (not BJJ belts) and belt loops are hazards which can cause injuries to your training partner.

What To Wear for BJJ: Gi Guide

The Gi (also known as a Kimono) is the traditional uniform for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and is how most students start their Jiu-Jitsu journey wearing.

After a few lessons in BJJ, your first big purchase is likely to be a Gi.

With that being said, I’ve put together a Gi Guide to help you before you buy a BJJ Gi.

Check out the list below for all the answers to the frequently asked questions about Gi’s, including:

  1. What size Gi are you?
  2. How should a BJJ Gi fit?
  3. Do BJJ Gis & belts shrink?
  4. Can you tailor a BJJ Gi?
  5. Does BJJ Gi color matter?
  6. How many BJJ Gis do you need?

1. What Size BJJ Gi Are You?

Your BJJ Gi size will depend on your height, weight, gender, age and the brand you’re buying from.

Gi brands use these different factors to design their Gi size and fit.

Not all Gis fit the same.

Which is why it’s important to check the Gi size guide provided by the brand you’re buying from to ensure you’re buying the correct size.

There can be size differences between each brand – and even different sizes between Gi designs from the same brand.

Therefore, the best way to know your true Gi size before buying it is to check the size guide provided by the brand, and for the Gi design you’re buying.

2. How A BJJ Gi Should Fit

Your Gi sleeves and pant legs should be no more than 5cm (2 in) from your wrist/ ankle joints. The rest of your Gi jacket should cover your chest and stomach; with no part of your Gi jacket or pants feeling too tight or restricting your movement.

When you get your Gi home and try it on, check it meets all the requirements below.

If it does then it should be a good fit for you.

If not, you may need to exchange it for a new size.

Gi Sleeves

The end of your BJJ Gi sleeves should be no more than 5cm (2 in) from your wrist.

When your Gi is new and unwashed, your sleeves may just touch your wrists when you hold your arms out parallel in front of you.

This allows for any shrinkage when you wash your Gi – meaning when you wash your Gi, your sleeves will shrink into the 5cm from wrist range.

Gi Lapel/ Collar

The front of your Gi jacket should cover your chest and stomach with one side of your lapel/ collar overlapping the other.

If your Gi jacket is big enough to wrap all the way around to your back, it is too big and should be exchanged for a smaller size.

Bottom of Gi Jacket

The bottom of your Gi jacket should reach down below your pants/ trouser waist line and cover your glutes/ butt muscles.

When you have your belt tied around your waist, the bottom of your Gi jacket should be lower than your belt line.

You should be able to lift your arms all the way up, vertically above your head and your Gi jacket should stay below your belt line and not pop out from under your belt. 

Gi Pants/ Trousers

The bottom of your Gi pant/ trouser legs should be no more than 5cm (2 in) above your ankle.

To ensure your Gi does not restrict your leg movement and mobility during training it is important that the pants are not too tight.

Check you can easily and comfortably do a squat all the way to the ground with your knees high to your chest without any restriction from your Gi pants.

3. Do BJJ Gis & Belts Shrink?

Your BJJ Gi will shrink if you wash it on a high heat and tumble dry it. To reduce shrinkage, its best to wash your Gi on a low heat and to hang it out to air dry (avoid tumble drying your Gi).

Some brands of Gis will shrink more than others, and some Gi brands even sell their Gis pre-shrunk.

Not all Gis are made from the same fabric mix which is why some brands shrink more than others.

For example, one of my Gis is made out of 100% cotton – while another one of my Gis is 60% cotton/ 40% polyester, with the pants being 20% cotton/ 80% polyester.

For some people, shrinking a Gi is a good thing – for example, if you buy a Gi slightly too big and want to reduce its size to fit better.

To avoid shrinking your Gi:

  • Wash on a low heat (both your Gi and your belt)
  • Do not tumble dry
  • Hang your Gi out to air dry naturally

4. Can You Tailor A BJJ Gi?

You can have your BJJ Gi tailored if you need to alter it to fit you better, its important though that the tailor or seamstress uses appropriate stitching to keep your Gi strong and to maintain its durability in training.

It is not uncommon for people to have their Gis tailored to their ideal fit.

For example, if you have tried shrinking your Gi but still need to make improvements or to reduce the excess bagginess in the pants or jacket.

However, shrinking or tailoring your Gi is usually a last resort for most people.

Ideally, you want to get the correct Gi size from the start.

5. Does BJJ Gi Color Matter?

In BJJ, the color of your Gi does not matter and does not represent anything.

However, some BJJ schools have different requirements for Gi colors and branding.

To avoid buying a Gi which your school will not allow you to wear, check out our article: BJJ: About Gi Colors

6. How Many BJJ Gis Do You Need?

If you train more than 2-3 times per week, it is a good idea to have at least 2 Gis because then you can alternate between wearing one and washing one; meaning you always have a clean, dry, and fresh smelling Gi, ready for training.

You should wash your Gi and Gi belt after every training session.

This is to ensure your Gi is clean and hygienic to help prevent germs and bacteria which could lead to skin infects; for both you and your training partners.

Having more than one Gi means its easier for you to always have one Gi ready for training while the others are still in the wash or, more likely, still drying.

What To Wear Under Your BJJ Gi

Under your BJJ Gi you should wear a rash guard ( baselayer compression t-shirt) and appropriate underwear like sport boxer shorts, underwear or BJJ compression shorts.

Under your Gi you can wear either a long sleeve rash guard or a short sleeve one, which ever you prefer.

Likewise, under your Gi you can wear sport boxer shorts, underwear, BJJ branded compression shorts, or even long compression leggings known as spats.

Check out the next section below for full details on what rash guards and spats are in ‘What To Wear for No-Gi BJJ’.

“Under your Gi you can wear the same as you would for No-Gi training”

What To Wear for No-Gi BJJ

As the name suggests, No-Gi BJJ is done without the traditional Gi uniform.

In No-Gi BJJ, you can wear a rash guard, spats (or compression shorts), and Jiu-Jitsu shorts; as these are the standard outfit/ uniform which are worn all around the world.

Check out the list below for all the answers to the frequently asked questions about No-Gi clothing, including:

  1. What is a BJJ rash guard?
  2. How tight should a BJJ rash guard be?
  3. What are BJJ spats?
  4. Can you wear Gi pants/ trousers in No-Gi?
  5. Do you need to wear a rash guard and spats for BJJ?
  6. Are there belts in No-Gi & do you need to wear one?

1. What is a BJJ Rash Guard?

A rash guard is a baselayer compression t-shirt which is worn in both No-Gi training, and also under the Gi in traditional Gi training.

Rash guards are available in both long sleeve and short sleeve.

They are usually made out of a combination of fabrics including polyester and spandex.

The polyester/ spandex mix ensures that rash guards are tight fitting (close to the skin) while still flexible, stretchy, and durable enough to handle the rigors of training.

2. How Tight Should a BJJ Rash Guard Be?

A BJJ rash guard should fit tight enough to your body so that it is not loose fitting and flapping around, but not so tight that it restricts your movement.

When buying a rash guard, it is advised to first carefully read the size chart provided by the seller.

Because, it is common for rash guards to fit very tight and maybe even come up too small on you when you get it home and try it on.

For example, if you normally wear medium sized t-shirts, you may need to buy a large sized rash guard for it to fit you correctly.

But this also depends on your personal preference, some people like their rash guards skin tight, while others feel more comfortable with a looser fitting one.

When buying a rash guard, the best thing to do is:

  • First check the size chart provided by the seller
  • Read the reviews for any sizing issues
  • And then (if you need to) drop the seller an email and ask them about sizing recommendations or issues

3. What Are BJJ Spats?

In BJJ, spats are baselayer compression leggings – also known as tights –and are worn under Jiu-Jitsu shorts.

Spats are worn by both men and women – much like compression leggings are worn in other sports, like running for example.

Spats run down the length of your legs from your waist to your ankles but are also available in short form – known as compression shorts.

Spats and compression shorts are made out of a combination of fabrics including polyester and spandex to ensure a close fit, while still being flexible, stretchy, and durable.

4. Can You Wear Gi Pants/ Trousers in No-Gi?

Although Jiu-Jitsu shorts are normally worn during No-Gi training, most BJJ schools will also allow you to wear Gi pants/ trousers for No-Gi training too.

Which is helpful if you have already bought a Gi but haven’t yet bought No-Gi shorts.

However, if you or your training partner is wearing Gi pants during No-Gi training, you will still not be allowed to grab a hold of them like you can in Gi training.

But you may gain a slight advantage in certain positions and submissions by being less slippy and having more friction on your legs from the Gi fabric.

5. Do You Need To Wear a Rash Guard & Spats for BJJ?

Although rash guards and spats are not mandatory in all BJJ schools, they are still very popular because they compress your muscles to improve blood flow, to keep you warm, and to protect your skin against mat burn, chafing and abrasions.

Because of the latter reasons, protecting your skin from chafing and abrasions, some schools will require you to wear suitable baselayers such as a rash guard and spats.

All BJJ training is done in close proximity to others with regular body-to-body contact.

In this type of full-contact training, there is always the possibility of small abrasions to your skin.

Add in all the sweat from the high intensity workout Jiu-Jitsu provides – and you have a potential breeding ground for bacteria which could lead to infections if small wounds are left exposed.

Which is why the use of baselayers (rash guards and spats) and high cleaning standards are in place to ensure a clean, hygienic and safe training environment for everyone.

“Rash guards and spats help protect your skin against mat burn, chafing and abrasions”

When you’re just starting out, you’ll be okay wearing a normal cotton t-shirt and shorts – but after your first couple of lessons, you may be expected to buy a suitable rash guard.

Not all schools will make you wear spats under your shorts, but most will require you to buy a rash guard to be worn under your Gi.

And for No-Gi, it is usually expected for students to wear a rash guard – not a cotton t-shirt.

6. Are There Belts in BJJ No-Gi & Do You Need To Wear One?

Some BJJ schools will not promote you if you only train No-Gi, meaning they will require you to also train in the Gi to be eligible for belt promotions.

However, some BJJ schools will still promote their students if they only train No-Gi.

If you only ever train No-Gi (in a rash guard and shorts) – and never train in the Gi –it will be up to your instructor as to whether or not you will still be eligible for belt promotions.

This is because No-Gi training only makes up part of Jiu-Jitsu, and neglects a whole host of Gi techniques (like Gi chokes and grips) – which you’ll first need to learn before being promoted.

If you are training No-Gi, whether you’re wearing Jiu-Jitsu shorts or Gi pants, some instructors like their students to also wear their belts during No-Gi training.

But wearing a belt during No-Gi training is much less common – I’ve seen it in some schools, and not in others.

“Normally during No-Gi training, you will not be required to wear your BJJ belt.”

What Accessories & Footwear You Can Wear for BJJ

In BJJ there are only two accessories/ footwear which you need to have for training, with all others being optional; which are:

  • Sliders/ flip-flops for when you step off the mats
  • And a mouthguard (even this is can be optional though because not all schools require it – more info below)

Important: Some BJJ accessories are not allowed

Check out the list below for all the answers to the frequently asked questions about BJJ accessories, including:

  1. Do you need a mouthguard for BJJ?
  2. Can you wear a cup (groin protection) in BJJ?
  3. Can you wear headgear in BJJ?
  4. Can you wear kneepads in BJJ?
  5. Can you wear WHOOP fitness heart rate monitor in BJJ?
  6. Can you wear wrestling shoes in BJJ?
  7. Can you wear socks in BJJ?

1. Do You Need A Mouthguard for BJJ?

It is not mandatory to wear a mouthguard in BJJ. However, Jiu-Jitsu is a full-contact sport, meaning it has some risks involved, therefore it is very common to see students wearing a mouthguard in BJJ.

Do you want to wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth? For an in-depth look at the importance of a mouthguard in BJJ – check out our article: BJJ Mouthguard: Do You Need One?

In the article we cover:

  • Types of BJJ training (and their risk to your teeth)
  • How a mouthguard might affect your BJJ (including breathing and discomfort)
  • Ways to overcome mouthguard discomfort in BJJ
  • The different types of mouthguards for BJJ (and which to avoid)

You can find all that in our article here:  BJJ Mouthguard: Do You Need One?

2. Can You Wear A Cup in BJJ?

Cups (also known as groin protectors) are not commonly used in BJJ, and in a lot of schools and competitions are banned.

For example, under IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation) rules, the use of any groin protection is not allowed.

Cups are not allowed in BJJ because they are made out of hard plastic which can cause serious injury to your training partner in certain positions.

For example, rib injuries from top mount position, or spinal damage from back mount.

Each of these positions require the use of leverage and intense pressure to lock your opponent in place.

Discover the use of leverage in BJJ in our article: BJJ: What is Leverage?

Wearing a cup means this pressure forces the hard plastic cup into your opponent, potentially causing them injuries.

Other factors for not wearing a cup in BJJ are:

  • There are no strikes in BJJ (like kicks to the legs), so therefore you are less likely to get hit in the groin
  • Unlike in other sports, wearing a cup in BJJ can be more uncomfortable and painful for you as the one wearing it because of all the strange positions you’ll find yourself in
  • Many people think, if you can’t wear a cup in competition, then why get comfortable wearing one during training?

I personally have only ever witnessed two people get accidentally hit in the groin during Jiu-Jitsu training.

3. Can You Wear Headgear in BJJ?

In BJJ you can wear headgear during training, such as a hard or soft-shell ear guard, to help prevent you getting cauliflower ear.

However, headgear is much less commonly worn in BJJ than in wrestling because of a couple of reasons:

1. Headgear is not allowed under IBJJF rules.

Under IBJJF rules, the use of any protection made out of hard materials are banned because of the potential risk of injury they can cause to you and your training partner.

So, although you can wear headgear in training, most people in BJJ choose not to.

2. Headgear can actually restrict your training and give you a disadvantage.

In BJJ it is very common to find yourself in a position where you are trying to remove your head from your opponent’s grip or submission hold.

For example, pulling your head out of a headlock, or trying to slip out of a triangle choke.

Wearing headgear in these situations makes it much harder to pull your head out and therefore restricts your training and gives you a disadvantage.

4. Can You Wear Kneepads in BJJ?

In BJJ training you can wear kneepads if you feel you’d like to add some extra protection between your knees and the mats.

Even though Jiu-Jitsu mats do offer a fair amount of cushioning, kneepads give you an extra layer of padding to soften any impacts.

In Jiu-Jitsu, you will find that you’re on your knees for a lot of the time, so knee pads are a great optional extra if you feel you need them.

However, you may find that you’re not allowed to wear them in some competitions.

“The use of any protectors fashioned out of hard material that may cause harm to an opponent or the athlete him/herself are forbidden”

IBJJF Rules (International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation)

5. Can You Wear WHOOP Fitness Heart Rate Monitor in BJJ?

You can wear the WHOOP heart rate monitor in BJJ training if you want to get to know your body with 24/7 insights from WHOOP.

However, you will not be allowed to wear your WHOOP (or any other monitor) in BJJ competitions.

To get the best results and to ensure each of your Jiu-Jitsu rolls/ workouts are recorded correctly, you will need to get a WHOOP Upper Arm Sleeve and to wear it under your Gi and rash guard.

The Upper Arm Sleeve will help keep your WHOOP in place during your Jiu-Jitsu training.

If you can’t get an Upper Arm Sleeve, the WHOOP Bicep Band is your second-best option – but you may find it moves around more, and may even come off during training.

6. Can You Wear Wrestling Shoes in BJJ?

Wrestling shoes (or any other footwear) are not normally allowed to be worn in BJJ.

However, if you need to wear them for extra protection of a recovering foot or ankle injury, then your instructor will probably allow you to wear them if you ask.

Just be aware that most Jiu-Jitsu instructors will not be happy if you step onto the mats while wearing footwear without first asking them if it’s okay.

Walk into nearly any Jiu-Jitsu gym in the world, and you’re almost guaranteed to see one of their rules is – “no shoes on the mats

Likewise, most Jiu-Jitsu gyms don’t allow bare feet off the mats, which is why you see an army of sliders/ flip-flops lined up alongside the mats.

This is for health and safety reasons and to also ensure we’re not walking dirt and grit back onto the mats out of respect and cleanliness.

MMA gyms are more laid back with this rule than pure Jiu-Jitsu gyms, and therefore you’re more likely to see students wearing wrestling shoes during BJJ training.

7. Can You Wear Socks in BJJ?

You can wear socks in BJJ but barefoot is the traditional way to train and offers more traction on the mats, meaning you’re less likely to slip over during training.  

Because socks can be very slippy on the BJJ mats, some instructors may ask you not to wear them.

Discover more about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in our other articles:

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