Are Rash Guards Necessary For BJJ?

You have probably seen BJJ athletes wearing funny looking ultra tight shirts that look better suited at the beach rather than on the mat. Now you want to know if they are necessary or a waste of money. We will cover all things rash guards so if you do decide to purchase one you will be making a well informed choice.

Are rash guards necessary for BJJ? Rash guards are not necessary for BJJ. When wearing a Gi you can choose to wear nothing underneath or simply a t-shirt. If you are training No-gi you can just wear a tight fitting t-shirt. Many people choose to wear rash guards as they are comfortable to train in, help reduce staph and prevent fingers or toes being caught but they are not necessary. 

What Are BJJ Rash Guards?

What are BJJ rash guards? BJJ rash guards are tight fitting shirts made of spandex and polyester similar to what surfers wear. Rash guards are often worn during BJJ training and competitions as they are comfortable to train in, prevent the spread of skin conditions and reduce the risk of toe and finger sprains which can occur when an athlete is wearing loose fitting clothing.

The early BJJ practitioners when training for MMA or No-gi would often train shirtless. However training shirtless makes you susceptible to mat burn, skin infections, cuts and it is generally unpleasant to train with someone who is shirtless due to odor and body hair. As many of the Gracies and the early BJJ practitioners were keen surfers they found that surf rash guards were well suited to training BJJ and could solve some of the issues of training shirtless.

BJJ students saw that high level BJJ athletes were training in rash guards so they copied their heroes. Before long rash guards became the unofficial uniform of No-gi. Companies started taking advantage of this trend by offering specialized BJJ rash guards with different themes aimed at MMA and combat sport practitioners.

What Is The Point Of A Rash Guard For BJJ?

What is the point of a rash guard for BJJ? A rash guard decreases the chance of toes and and fingers becoming entangled in clothing which is a common cause of sprains and dislocations. A rash guard reduces skin to skin contact which helps protect athletes against skin infections. Rash guards can increase mobility.

In No-gi BJJ you are not allowed to grab clothing however you are moving your hands and feet quickly around your opponent’s body to establish control. If your opponent is wearing loose and baggy clothing it is very easy to get your feet and and hands tangled in their t-shirt. When you are moving at speed and with force this can lead to some nasty dislocations. Rash guards help prevent this kind of injury because they are so tight you don’t have to worry about snagging your fingers on any loose material.

Skin infections particularly staph and ringworm are very common in BJJ. Skin infections are the 3rd most common injury in BJJ. Ringworm is highly contagious and needs skin to skin contact to spread. Staph can be spread due to skin to skin contact but also gets into your skin through cuts and abrasions. Rash guards cover the body with tight layer which does not move. This tight layer reduces skin to skin contact, reduces the chances of getting cuts and offers a protection against skin infections. Even though rash guards are not a guarantee protection against skin infections they can reduce your chance of catching one and who wants to miss precious training time because of an avoidable case of ringworm or staph.

A well fitting rash guard is very comfortable to wear. This comfort can enhance your training as it feels easier to move. The tight fit of the rash guard can also give some support to your arms and shoulders which can increase mobility making you more flexible. The increased mobility may be minor. However once you experience the comfort of training BJJ in a rash guard you will not want to go back to wearing an old t-shirt.

Do Rash Guards Prevent Staph?

Do rash guards prevent staph? Yes, rash guards do prevent staph. Rash guards reduce skin to skin contact which is one way that staph is spread. Rash guards also reduce the chance of getting cuts which is a major way staph gets into the blood and causes an infection. 

How Should A Rash Guard Fit BJJ?

How should a rash guard fit BJJ? A BJJ rash guard should fit snuggly but should still feel comfortable to move and breathe in. A rash guard needs to be tight but should still be easy to put on and take off. If your rash guard has areas which are baggy then it is too big. If your rash guard feels uncomfortable to wear it is too small.

Should A Rash Guard Be Tight For BJJ?

Should a rash guard be tight for BJJ? Yes a BJJ rash guard should be tight. A BJJ rash guard needs to be tight so it stays in place and does not ride and bunch. A rash guard needs to be tight to avoid otherwise you could injure your training partners’ fingers and toes. 

Do Rash Guards Stretch Out?

Do Rash Guards stretch out? Yes, unfortunately rash guards do stretch out after prolonged use. Polyester and elastane rash guards are less likely to stretch out compared to rash guards made of nylon and spandex. Washing a rash guard on a hot temperature can also cause it to stretch out.

Why Does Danaher Always Wear A Rashguard?

Why does Danaher always wear a rashguard? Danaher always wears a rashguard due to practicality. Danaher says rashgards are very comfortable, easy to wash and dry, easy to travel with (no wrinkles, easy to pack), comfortable to wear under a jacket, he receives them for free, a variety of designs which suit different occasions and they allow him to i demonstrate and teach BJJ at any time.  

John Danaher is often as why he always wears a rashguard. Danaher took to instagram to explain exactly why he opts for this quirky attire at all times of the day.“ Danaher says his wardrobe has nothing to with street fighting or self defense. He explained due to his debilitating knee and hip injuries that even a 5 year old could take him out with a swift kick to the knee. Danaher said he chooses to wear rashguards because they are so practical and versatile.

Danaher came up with 9 reasons why he chooses only to sport rashguards:

  1. Comfortable
  2. Easy to wash and dry
  3. Extremely low maintenance – wrinkle free and easy to pack for travel
  4. Great for wearing under a jacket as they are a low friction material
  5. Provide ability to comfortably demonstrate a technique in impromptu social situations to students.
  6. Adapt to many weather conditions – warm in cold weather,  cooling in hot summers due to wicking effects, and can dry quickly if they get wet from rain
  7. Proud to support his athletes – who are supported by BJJ brands which make rashgaurds
  8. Free – sponsors send him free rashguards
  9. Different designs – which suit different occasions from casual to formal

Danaher is a man who chooses comfort and utility over aesthetics (He is a New Zealander after all, flannel is considered high fashion there). His quest for the perfect blend of comfort, low maintenance and utility has led to Danaher choosing to rock track pants, sneakers, rash guard and fanny pack. The ever reasonable Danaher said if he finds something more comfortable than the aforementioned look he would be willing to change.

As he self describes himself as ugly and odd looking Danaher is not afraid of offending the fashion gods, saying if he had to rely on his looks to make a living he would have been a beggar a long time ago. However if you go back in time and pull up some old pictures of Danaher you will realize that even though now he may look like a sith lord back in the day he sported a full head of hair and was quite the lothario. His exploits with woman have been documented by people who trained at Renzo’s back in the day with a younger Danaher.

Danaher also wrote a funny anecdote which defends his choice of wearing a rashguard at all times. Danaher wanted to watch Jose Aldo fight against Uriah Faber. As Danaher did not own a TV he suggested his students come with him to a sports bar in Manhattan to catch the fight. As his students like to troll him they all dressed up in their finest trackpants rashguard combo with the matching fanny pack. The other patrons were mystified by this group of men wearing strange outfits. Danaher said to the frustration of the other male patrons of the bar all night women kept coming up to the group inquiring who they were and why they were wearing such odd outfits. He said his team except for him cleaned up and left with many numbers. Danaher provided this story as evidence for why you shouldn’t be so quick to judge a man in a rashguard.


Don’t worry you don’t have to shell out $100 for that overhyped BJJ rash guard. You won’t be stuck as a white belt forever if you keep training in your old Nike t-shirt. However if you don’t wear a rash guard just make sure you wear a tight fitting shirt, any compression does the trick otherwise you risk of injuring your training partners’ toes and fingers.

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