If you’re curious about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or just getting into this martial art, you’ve probably seen someone training in a traditional garb called a gi. But there’s another clothing option many fighters choose instead: a BJJ rash guard. You can wear this garment in place of or underneath a gi, and they’re instrumental in ensuring you can train without worrying you might develop a rash or mat burn.
For newcomers to BJJ or those who want to transition to rash guards from a gi, knowing what to look for can be challenging. You can expect this guide to teach you about rash guards, why they’re so important, and how to find the perfect fit so you can train unencumbered and uninterrupted.
What is a Rash Guard?
It’s traditional for BJJ fighters to wear a gi, a traditional garment that protects their skin. But recently, many fighters have switched to rash guards instead of wearing a gi or combining the two for extra safety. This piece of clothing can help prevent rashes from grappling sessions by reducing the friction between yourself and the mat. If you get a mat burn or rash, the garment can act as a shield between your broken skin and possible germs on the floor, lowering your chances of getting an infection.
Jiu Jitsu shirts look similar to compression shirts, but they’re explicitly designed for high impact and are considerably more durable. A regular compression shirt isn’t always a good substitute because they aren’t made with the same concepts in mind, though it can be a quick and cheap alternative while you shop for a proper one.
Manufacturers often make BJJ rash guards from nylon, lycra, or spandex. These materials are flexible and phenomenal at wicking away moisture to keep you cool while training. They’re also comfortable and don’t hinder your mobility, so you won’t have to worry about the shirt getting in the way. You can buy short-sleeve rash guards, but long-sleeve options are preferable since they cover more of the body and follow the BJJ regulations.
The Perks of the BJJ Rash Guard
Wearing the gi alone won’t be the safest option if you want to practice Jiu-Jitsu. Your body will come into contact with the ground – a lot. Repeated rubbing on the skin’s surface leads to mat burns, which can be incredibly painful and even get infected. Ringworm or staph infections are common in the BJJ community, but rash guards can limit the spread of these infections and skin-borne diseases.
Even if mats are clean, broken skin is still susceptible to germs, including the ones already on your body. As you start to sweat, the moisture can get into your mat burn and cause pain and irritation. Wearing the guard, either with or without the gi, is a fantastic countermeasure to the unfortunate everyday reality of these skin problems.
Why Are Rash Guards So Tight?
BJJ rules say that rash guards must be skin-tight, covering your body from your torso to your pants. But why does such a strict rule exist in the first place? The main reason rash guards have to be skin-tight is that loose clothing offers little protection and can give you a rash on its own. It defeats the purpose of wearing one and can be distracting and painful for the wearer.
However, they shouldn’t be so tight that they are constricting. You should still be able to perform normally. A good-fitting rash garment should still feel tight without being too restrictive; you should be able to move freely, and the guard should feel almost like a second skin rather than a constricting piece of clothing.
Deciding on the Right BJJ Rash Guard
Once you start shopping you’ll notice numerous options. You can narrow your choices by ensuring you’re buying a rash guard explicitly made for BJJ. Surf rash guards might look similar but will tear after even light use, should you don them while training. It would help if you also aimed to purchase a garment with a rubber strip around the waistband. The strip will keep the shirt from riding up, making it a lot more comfortable to wear when you’re grappling.
You know you have a good fit if the fabric can stretch out about an inch from your body but will go right back in place when you let go of it. Try to move around in your BJJ rash guard when you try it on. While too loose-fitting rash guards can cause problems, incredibly tight fits can cause issues. You don’t want to wear anything that feels uncomfortable or like it’s cutting off your circulation. Test the collar by grabbing it and pulling; it should stretch, and if it doesn’t, it’s not the proper fit.
It’s wise also to consider your gender and what gender the make of the rash guard is for. Unisex options aren’t as suitable for gender-specific body types. You can still wear unisex rash guards if you prefer, but you should be conscious of the fit and opt for a gender-specific rash guard if you find them lacking.
Finding the Guard That Fits
You’re always better off trying on rash guards to ensure they feel more like an extension of your skin rather than a garment. The guard should be form-fitting so it doesn’t slide around while grappling but not so tight that you feel like your range of motion is hindered. You can even invest in high-quality rash guards with features like anti-bacterial fabric or moisture wicking to give yourself even more protection when practicing or during competitions.
They’re becoming more commonly paired with the gi, but because they are so beneficial, many choose to train in their rash guard alone. BJJ is embracing it for the health and safety asset that it is. So if you’re getting into Jiu-Jitsu or want a better experience when you’re on the mat, wearing a BJJ rash guard can be crucial to your skin and overall health – both on and off the mat.