When I bought my BJJ gi, I was wondering what I need to wear under it. I noticed that some people wear weird T-shirts while others are shirtless. So I didn’t know what was the best option. I assume you are wondering the same thing since you are here. In this article, I’m going to answer this question by giving you all the information you need.
What to wear under your BJJ Gi? The best thing to wear under your Gi is a rashguard. Rashguards are used in No-Gi BJJ because they are durable, breathable and protect your skin. In Gi BJJ, aside from that, they also protect your Gi from your sweat which increases its longevity by almost 50%. Under your Gi pants, you can wear shorts or spats (spats are used in No-Gi).
If you are a woman, you can wear women’s rashguard, sports bra, under the Gi top and spats under the Gi pants.
In case you are practicing mostly in a Gi, you can wear short sleeves rashguard. The rashguard I recommend is the Venum Contender Compression T-shirt. I remember that the price was very good but you can check the current one on Amazon.com.
If you do No-gi BJJ as well as Gi, you might want a long sleeve Rashguard to protect the skin of your arms while rolling. One of the best ones for man is the Hayabusa Metaru Long Sleeve Jiu-Jitsu Rashguard (click here to see it on Amazon.com). And for women, I recommend Fuji Women’s Kimono Rash Guard (it was in the $40-50 price range last time I checked, but you can see the current price on Amazon.com here.
When it comes to spats there are also male and female products. For men, I recommend this one (link to Amazon.com). And for women this one. The women spats I recommend (Pressure Grappling Women’s Premium Grappling Spats) are little prices but women who use them say that they are thick, durable and fit very well. However, if you don’t want to pay $50 for BJJ spats, you can go with your regular workout tights/shorts.
In case you don’t shop online, you can buy a rashguard and spats from your academy or from the nearest sports gear shop.
What else can you wear?
I said rashguard and shorts/spats are the best things to wear under your BJJ gi but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other options. For example, you can wear a standard T-shirt or even go shirtless (if you’re male). Even though I don’t recommend that in case you have a hairy chest, it really sucks rolling with such people so you won’t make many friends in the gym.
Actually, the first few months when I started BJJ, I was shirtless under my Gi jacket and wasn’t wearing shorts or spats. That’s completely ok in most cases if you are just starting and don’t train as much as the more experienced people.
For example, I was doing BJJ 3 times a week (Gi and No-Gi) so my skin wasn’t exposed every day to the microorganisms on the mat and sparring partners’ Gis. But if you train more often than that, there’s a high risk of getting staph infection if you go shirtless every time.
For No-Gi I was wearing the T-shirts I wear in the fitness gym (nothing fancy) and some cheap shorts. I haven’t much money back then so I bought just the most necessary things – Gi and monthly membership.
Can you work out that way if you don’t do BJJ more than 3 times a week? – Yes. Is the best way? – Definitely no.
In the rest of the article, I’ll talk about the pro and cons of wearing a rashguard, wearing a shirt and being shirtless under the Gi. Also, I’ll share some tips regarding your BJJ clothing.
Ringworm is one of the biggest threats if you don’t observe personal hygiene while rolling. Aside from the basics – showering before each session, washing your gi (and whatever you wear under it) before each session cutting your nails regularly, etc, clothing plays a big role when it comes to hygiene in the gym. We’ll talk about that in more detail in a minute.
However, there are some things you can’t control. For example, the personal hygiene of your training partner or the overall hygiene in the gym. You should avoid rolling with people that don’t do a very good job cleaning themselves.
Also if you notice that there’s mold on the walls in your gym or that people are stepping on the matt with shoes or walking barefoot outside the matt consider going somewhere else to train. You don’t want to be forced to deal with skin infections.
Pros and Cons
Let’s talk about all the pros and cons of wearing a Rashguard, T-shirt or being shirtless under your Gi.
As I mentioned, rashguard can be short sleeve or long sleeve. Your arms aren’t in such a danger (the most exposed part of your body when rolling with a GI is your chest) so for Gi BJJ you are fine with a short-sleeve rashguard.
- Skin protection – BJJ rashguards protect your skin from your opponent’s sweat and microorganisms from the mat or from his Gi.
- Protects your Gi – the liquids (mostly sweat, sometimes a little blood) both from the outside and inside makes your gi deteriorate more quickly. You can’t stop the liquids from the outside but the rashguard helps you protect your gi from your own sweat which can increase its longevity by 50%.
- Prevents abrasions – The material of which BJJ rashguards are made of lowers the friction between your skin and the mat which prevents abrasions. For Gi, that’s not a big deal because your Gi does that too but I wanted to mention it because it’s very important for No-gi. You need a long sleeve rashguard for no-gi to protect mostly the skin on your elbows from abrasions (they happen there most often).
- Protects your body from developing a rash – This is where the name comes from. The friction between the mat and your body can often lead to mat burn which can get infected with MRSA or other bacteria. Again, in Gi BJJ, your arms and legs are protected but sometimes your chest can get exposed while rolling.
- Not heavily socked with sweat – Rashguards are very breathable
- Easy transition from Gi to No-Gi – In case you want to do some No-gi rolling after the session, wearing a rashguard and spats/shorts makes that pretty easy. There were often such situations whenever there was a No-Gi competition coming up and the guys need some sparring partners. So whoever was wearing rashguard and spats guys took off his/her Gi and started rolling No-gi.
- Can be uncomfortable – some rashguards can feel restrictive on your neck and upper arms. In other cases, they can feel loose on your chest, neck, etc. It depends on your body type and the rashguard you wear.
- Pricy – a good rashguard can cost $35-60
A basic T-shirt you wear when going to the fitness gym can work too. But it has some major drawbacks.
- Cheap – you won’t need to spend a dollar on such a T-shirt because you probably have at least 5 of those.
- Not breathable – wearing a T-shirt under the Gi can make you feel like you are in hell. Especially if it’s during the summer.
- Not very durable – you probably don’t want to roll with your favorite T-shirts because they’ll get destroyed pretty quickly by your sweat and the constant tension.
Being shirtless under your gi is by far the easiest and the cheapest way to go. However…
- Very comfortable
- No protection of the skin
- Sweating on the Gi – making it deteriorate quicker
- Sweating on the sparring partner – That usually happens when you are in a fast pace roll and your Gi is all over the place and your chest/belly are exposed. Also, please don’t go shirtless if you have a hairy chest. Once I rolled with that guy and I had to tap because he was in side-control pressuring my head and his chest hair was in my mouth while I had nowhere to go. I avoided rolling with him after that.
If you are a man, you can go shirtless but that’s definitely not the case with women. So a rashguard is a must. Another problem is that your gi pants will slide down no matter how good you tie them up. That means you also 100% need to wear spats or just shorts.
I have a quick tip that isn’t related exactly to clothing for the ladies that read this article. Please remove any make-up before sessions. Also, cut your nails and don’t use bobby pins in your hair. Nobody likes stains from make-up on their Gi or to be scratched by long finger/toes nails or a sharp metal item (like bobby pin).
Before going to a competition it’s a good idea to check the rules. In some competitions wearing a rashguard (or anything besides underwear) under your Gi might be forbidden. In other’s that might be completely ok. Rules can vary from tournament to tournament (the same goes for wearing a steel cup).
Unlike men, women are always allowed to wear rashguards under their Gis in competition for understandable reasons.