10 Key BJJ Equipment Related Questions…….Answered!

When starting out a new hobby it is natural to have many questions which you often feel a bit silly asking your coach or teammates. Not to worry we will answer some of the typical questions new BJJ practitioners have relating to BJJ equipment.

Why Do BJJ Gis Have Patches?

BJJ Gis have patches because it is a way for athletes to advertise their sponsors, their gym and it is a way for BJJ Gi brands to advertise their Gis. The patches have remained in BJJ because competition organisers allow them to be worn during matches and gym owners allow students to wear them during training. 

Early professional BJJ athletes such as Wallid Ismail and Enson Inoue wore Gis covered in sponsorship patches. They were trendsetters in this regard. Other athletes realised they could make money this way and followed suit. BJJ Gi brands also took note and saw patches as a great way to advertise their products and attach their brands to the star power of BJJ athletes.

You do not see heavily patched Gis in Judo because coaches and competition organisers do not allow athletes to wear such Gis. The International Judo Federation states, ” It is not permitted to cover up/patch any part of the judogi or belt with tape, stickers or other material such as a sewn patch except under particular circumstances agreed by the IJF Executive Committee”.

Can I Wear Headgear In BJJ?

Yes, you can wear headgear in BJJ. A headgear will protect your ears from cauliflower ear while training BJJ. Due to the prolonged head to head contact in BJJ it is best to wear a soft headgear to avoid hurting your training partner’s face. No one wants a hard plastic headgear rubbed against their face when they are trapped in mount or side control.

I recommend the Cliff Keen signature headgear. It is comfortable, fits snuggly and has soft padding so it won’t hurt your training partners. It is not the prettiest headgear but it does the job.

I recommend only wearing headgear in BJJ when your ears are irritated and sore. If you do that your chance of wearing of developing cauliflower ear are pretty low. Headgears are uncomfortable to train BJJ in so ideally you don’t have to wear them.

Should I Wear A Mouthguard In BJJ?

Yes, you should wear a mouthguard in BJJ. Accidental and violent contact to the face and mouth does occur in BJJ. It is rare but it only takes one occasion to cause a serious injury to your teeth which could have been prevented by wearing a mouthguard. Mouthguards are a little annoying to wear but remember they can save your pretty teeth, you potentially thousands of dollars and keep you training BJJ.

In BJJ people often get hit in the face by their partner’s elbow, shoulder, head and knee in a dynamic situation such as a scramble or a guardpass. Usually accidental contact to the face is minor but it doesn’t require much force from an elbow or knee to damage your teeth. Mouthguards have been shown to reduce the risk of dental injuries by 2 times. So if you value your teeth and wallet you should wear a mouthguard in BJJ.

Should I Wear A Cup For BJJ?

You should not wear a cup for BJJ. Cups are banned in most BJJ competitions including the IBJJF because they can be used to apply increased leverage to your submissions. Cups can be uncomfortable while training BJJ, rubbing and pinching your genitals. The chance of being injured by a groin shot in BJJ is low.

I have been training BJJ for years and have only been hit hard enough in the balls that I needed to pause sparring a couple of times. On neither occasion did an injury occur and within 30 seconds I was fine. This is most people’s experience while training BJJ, the odd nut shot but nothing serious. This makes wearing a cup while training BJJ unnecessary.

If your goals is to compete then you should train under the same rules you will compete under. In most competitions this means no cups. It is best to train with no cup so you won’t feel any change that may throw you off when you compete.

Does Taping Fingers For BJJ Help?

Yes taping fingers for BJJ does help increase the strength of your tendons reducing the risk of sprains occurring. The gripping in BJJ places a large amount of stress on the fingers. Fingers do not have muscles only tendons. Tendon strength requires years and years of training to develop. Taping your fingers braces the pulley tendons creating resistance under tension, generating a compression force which reduces the risk of sprain and strain.

Can You Do BJJ With Bad Knees?

Yes, you can do BJJ with bad knees. The great thing about BJJ is that it can be adapted to suit anyone’s needs. If you have bad knees just let your coach know and they will be able to modify certain positions and techniques for you so you can train pain free. If you have bad knees you may have to limit your sparring in BJJ to avoid injury. You should also look into wearing a brace while training BJJ to protect and support your knees.

What Should I Wear For No-gi BJJ?

For No-gi BJJ most practitioners wear a rashguard with athletic shorts similar to boardshorts. You should wear tight fitting clothing and shorts without pockets to avoid your training partners’ fingers and toes getting caught in your clothing. To limit skin to skin contact and reduce the risk of skin infections many BJJ athletes wear compression leggings under their shorts.

If you don’t have a rashguard or BJJ specific shorts then it is fine to train in a tight fitting shirt and regular athletic or running shorts. Just try to avoid wearing overly baggy clothing as it can get entangled causing finger and toe sprains.

It is up for debate where the current No-gi BJJ uniform emerged from. One theory is the boardshort esque shorts and the rashguards came from BJJ’s Brazilian beach roots with many of the early BJJ athletes being keen surfers. However in the early days of No-gi athletes typically either trained shirtless or in normal t-shirts and then wore vale tudo shorts, which are much shorter and tighter than the current shorts worn today.

What Are Spats For BJJ?

Spats are compression leggings. Spats are worn by many BJJ practitioners particularly in No-gi. Spats are popular because they feel comfortable to train in, can help increase mobility and they limit skin to skin contact therefore reducing the risk of skin infections such as staph and ringworm. 

The difference between spats designed specifically for BJJ and standard compression pants is spats tend to be a bit thicker. However the difference is mostly marketing and a reason to charge more. Many BJJ athletes opt to train in standard compression leggings.

Can You Wear Spats Without Shorts In BJJ?

Yes, you can wear spats without shorts in BJJ. The question of whether you should comes down to personal preference. Spats can be pretty revealing so most BJJ athletes opt to wear shorts over their spats. Some of your training partners may not appreciate you wearing spats without any shorts however if your spats are thick enough and you wear underwear they should not be too revealing.

Does No-Gi Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) Have Belts?

No, No-gi Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) does not have a formalised belt system like Gi Jiu Jitsu. One hardly needs a belt when they are just wearing a T-shirt and shorts. However some BJJ gyms will promote students who only train BJJ but this depends on the gym you train at.

The functional purpose of a belt in BJJ is to hold the Gi in place. Without a Gi the belt has no functional purpose and therefore is not required in No-gi.

The belt system is used in BJJ to divide competitors into different tiers so similarly experienced athletes can compete against each other. No-gi uses a different system independent of the belt ranking structure, instead No-gi competitors are grouped based on the number of years they have been training. For example, 0-2 years, 2-4 years and 4+ years.

I hope this article has answered some of the questions you may have felt a bit too silly to ask. Good luck with your training.

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