As with a lot of sports, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) requires its practitioners to wear certain clothes. Some things are quite obvious, like a Gi/Kimono, while others are less obvious, like tight underwear or a mouthguard. Thus, before you can start properly training BJJ, you (unfortunately) need to own certain gear in order to protect yourself and your training partners.
This is gear that you should generally own, no matter if you train in the Gi or No-Gi.
1. Tight Underwear
Something every Jiu Jitsu practitioner needs is tight underwear. Gi jackets will open up, Gi pants might get pulled down, and so on. Do yourself and everyone else the favour to wear tight underwear. Furthermore, it will protect your body parts from getting hit… At least to some degree. Men should wear tight under shorts and women should wear a sports bra.
Additionally, it’s generally advisable for men and women alike to either wear Vale Tudo/Compression Shorts or Spats/Leggings under the Gi (look at the Mendes brothers, they do it all the time and if they do it…).
2. Mouth Guard
Even though Jiu Jitsu is called ‘the gentle art’, it is a full-contact Martial Art. Obviously, you probably won’t get hit or kicked in the face, at least not on purpose, but you might get thrown onto the mats rather roughly or get cross-faced in side-control or… The list of things that might happen to your teeth when training Jiu Jitsu is endless. Teeth are expensive, a mouth guard is not (at least not as expensive as your teeth). Buy one and protect your teeth!
(3. Ear Guard)
Some people are proud of their cauliflower ears, others fear getting them. If you fall into the latter category and feel the need to protect your ears, at least buy a soft ear guard so that you don’t injure your training partners.
Keep in mind though that you cannot wear an ear guard in most competitions and that wearing one has obvious downsides like the ear guard moving on your head (possibly in front of your eyes) or making your head getting stuck (i.e. in a Guillotine) more easily.
(4. Groin Guard)
First of all, groin guards are not allowed in most Jiu Jitsu competitions… Tight underwear will usually get the job done, unless you get kicked right in the groin but that normally doesn’t happen.
Wearing a groin guard while grappling can be uncomfortable for you, as well as for your training partners. Furthermore, techniques like armbars come on more quickly and you might end up injuring your training partners. Generally, there’s no need to wear a groin guard when doing Jiu Jitsu. However, if you have to wear one, keep the mentioned aspects in mind and be careful.
(5. If necessary: Something to Tie Your Hair Together)
Hair can be really annoying when doing Jiu Jitsu. It will probably be all over the place at the end of a training session. So, if you have long(ish) hair, you should always bring at least two scrunchies to tie it together. That’s better for you and better for your training partners. I, usually, have one scrunchy in my hair and a second one around one end of my belt, just in case… Having one around your wrist is not advisable as there is the chance of your training partners’ fingers getting caught in it and ultimately injured.
Training in the Gi/Kimono
Well, these are the items you need if you want to practice Jiu Jitsu in the Gi.
Probably the most important piece of gear a Jiu Jitsu practitioner needs is a Gi (or Kimono). You can grab the Gi to control or move your opponent, you can do techniques like chokes with it and it looks pretty damn cool (in my humble opinion). Jiu Jitsu Gis are usually rather expensive, however the price of your Gi doesn’t affect how well you do Jiu Jitsu. However, it is advisable to get a Gi that is good enough (quality wise) to survive many years of training Jiu Jitsu. Furthermore, you might need to get a second one if you’re training multiple times per week.
Keep in mind that some Jiu Jitsu schools don’t allow Gis with colours other than white or white and blue. Make sure to check your school’s policy before buying a Gi!
You need something to hold your Gi jacket together… It really is that simple. Furthermore, your belt reflects your rank in Jiu Jitsu, which roughly translates to the time you spent on the mats and/or your proficiency of the gentle art.
In case you didn’t know, you cannot randomly choose the colour of your belt. You start as a white belt and your coach will do the rest.
Some Jiu Jitsu schools require you to wear a rashguard (or generally a tight t-shirt) under your Gi – others don’t. However it may be, it is advisable in any way to own a rasguard.
Of course, if you’re only training in the Gi, you don’t need to worry about these items.
If you’re training without the Gi, so No-Gi, you should wear a rashguard or any other form of tight t-shirt. It’s probably more comfortable for you and for your training partners. Furthermore, you can get rashguards with really fancy designs. Whatever you wear, make sure it’s tight so that fingers (or other limbs) cannot get stuck in it.
Jiu Jitsu is a sport with the ability to easily rip clothes. That’s why it’s advisable to wear gear that is specifically made for Jiu Jitsu. Furthermore, you should wear gear that has no pockets or strings so that limbs cannot get stuck while training.
You need gear that is capable of surviving Jiu Jitsu so that you don’t have to buy new gear every other week. Additionally, you need gear that doesn’t have parts that might injure yourself or your training partners.
Basically, you need fightshorts.