What gear do I need for BJJ?
When you start jiu jitsu, it’s difficult to know which gear and equipment you need to train.
We got you covered.
Let’s breakdown everything you need to buy when starting BJJ as a beginner.
Gear for Jiu Jitsu in the Gi
Training in the gi requires a few essentials: a kimono and a belt.
A Good Bjj GI/Kimono
The gi (or kimono) is the most iconic gear in Brazilian jiu jitsu. It’s probably the most important too. The number of brands and styles has exploded in recent years. Finding a good gi can be a challenge.
If you are a beginner, stick to a quality bjj gi that fits well. For your first gi go with a normal weight gi. These are built better and last longer than a lightweight travel gi. Usually a beginner gi can be had for less $100 or less.
In jiujitsu your belt shows your rank. you will need a belt if you are practicing in the gi. Fortunately, most entry level gis include a white belt. If you don’t have a belt (maybe you lost yours) you can usually buy one at your gym or borrow one from a more advanced belt. BJJ belts can also be bought online.
Once you hit blue belt, you might look to upgrade the quality of your belt. While a BJJ belt might “just” hold up your pants, it’s important that it be well constructed. Once you reach black belt, you can look to custom embroidery with your name or other special message.
Gear for No-gi Jiu Jitsu
The gear needed for no-gi jiu jitsu is a little different. Obviously, there is no gi and belts are usually not worn. Instead, you need a rash guard, plus grappling shorts or pants.
A rash guard is a fitted top made out a synthetic material that acts as a barrier to rashes and cuts. They also help wick sweat to keep you cool. BJJ rash guards are also great to wear even when practicing jiujitsu in the gi.
We recommend using a rash guard instead of ruining white t-shirts, which tear easily and keep sweat. A rash guard will last longer and you will feel less grimy after practice.
Check out our rash guard guide to learn more about the quality and build you should look for.
Grappling shorts or MMA shorts are great for no-gi because unlike normal athletic shorts the stay on during your workout and offer more flexibility because of their seam structure. They also offer an inner pull string and/or velcro strap at the waist. Since they have no pockets, they are also safer to grapple in.
Find a pair that is sturdy and durable. Look at the length of the pant leg so that it’s not too long or short on you.
These are our top 3 choices for BJJ shorts.
Instead of wearing regular shorts, you can now look like a superhero when grappling! Spats are more recent trend in grappling.
These are tights that offer compression and hygiene benefits similar to a rash guard. Like rash guards, BJJ spats come in many styles and designs.
These are our top 3 BJJ pants:
Protective Gear for BJJ
Stay safe on the mats. Avoid injuries with knee pads, a mouth guard, athletic tape and headgear.
BJJ will destroy your knees. Kneepads will help save them. The major downside to kneepads is the sweat they generate. The benefit of intact knees will be worth it.
Avoid pads with thin material or holes cut in the knee. The simplest pads have polyurethane in the pad. These may have a short shelf life. Neoprene pads offer better comfort and quality. Lycra is also a great material. In a pinch, basic wrestling knee pads will work just fine in jiu jitsu.
A knee brace is also another option. The brace will keep your knee very secure to help avoid injury.
A BJJ mouth guard is important to protect your teeth from injury during practice or a tournament. While they might seem inconvenient to wear, they are an inexpensive way to prevent serious injury.
Stay away from the inexpensive mouth guards. Instead, look for quality, custom fit mouth guards. These will last and will be a better long-term purchase.
A Cup/Groin Protector
Wearing a cup in jiu jitsu is controversial. Some do. Some don’t.
If you wear a cup, make sure it is strong enough to protect you. You must also have flexibility. A cup will protect you from techniques in the open guard or that weird injury that happens because of all the flapping around in BJJ.
The downside to a cup is that it can dig into your groin, especially when you are on your back. It’s also possible, but rare, that the cup will hurt your training partner.
You should also use a groin protector with your cup. Get one that has a functional cup sleeve so that you can easily add or remove the cup.
Athletic tape is underrated and underutilized. Use it to prevent injuries to your poor fingers. More importantly, learn to properly wrap your fingers with the tape.
Headgear primarily helps prevent cauliflower ear which can develop while grappling. Some BJJ players goes years without developing cauliflower ear while for others it’s a major problem.
Headgear will help protect your ears, but it offers relatively other protection to your head. Remember, it is not a helmet.
Equipment for BJJ
There are more training tools in BJJ than one might expect. When you are not at the gym, your home equipment can help keep your game up.
Mats are great for practicing at home (or even if you are traveling). We recommend staying away from thin interlocking bjj mats. Instead, look for mats from reputable brands such as Dollamur, Zebra, or FUJI.
Make sure the mat is at least one inch of thickness. This will protect your back and allow you to roll in comfort. Two inch mats are even nicer, but are not essential since you typically will not practice throws in your basement.
When you lack a training partner a BJJ grappling dummy can be a good way to practice. It is no substitute for a real person, but it’s better than nothing.
Grappling dummies can be expensive, so you might consider making your own like BJJ Mat Rat did in the video below.
Grip trainers are simple tools that will improve your drip strength. Be a beast when you grab someone’s lapel.
A training band is a long rubber cord or rope that will help you with your throws and stamina. These are commonly using in Judo and they have the same application in BJJ. If you don’t want to spend the money, just use old inner tubing from bicycles. These work great and are basically free.
Miscellaneous gear/stuff for BJJ
There is more to jiu jitsu gear than just gis, belts and rash guards. Below are some “extras” that you might want to check off.
Jiu Jitsu bags are the latest trend. Brands have been developing more BJJ bags and backpacks. You no longer need to carry your stuff in that old gym bag from high school.
BJJ bags come as either a duffel bag or backpack. The backpacks are good for a gi and a water bottle. The duffel bags have a larger carrying capacity. A good bag will have good aeration.
These are our top BJJ gear bags selections.
Taking notes in BJJ class can be key to your success. Good old-fashioned pen and paper will do. By paper we mean a notebook. These days there are even BJJ notebooks and BJJ journal apps you can use.
In our opinion, the Jiu-Jitsu Planner is one of the best BJJ journals on the market..
The following are great BJJ Journal Apps:
Coming up with study habits for BJJ is a great way to improve. Writing down your lessons and practice regime will help you retain your knowledge and identify problem areas to fix.
BJJ DVDs have become big business in the jiujitsu world. From fundamentals to advanced “Z-Guard” you can learn just about any aspect of the ground game by video instruction. The quality of instructional video has improve dramatically in the last 10 years. Stephan Kesting, BJJ Fanatics, and Digitsu have led the way. Our advice is to find a DVD that meets your needs and review it fully a few times before you keep buying more.
Books are essential for learning any activity and jiujitsu is no different. BJJ books will improve what your coach is teaching you, or you can use them to learn something new. Alternatively, sometimes its nice to just read about jiujitsu instead of doing it (especially when you back is messed up!)
Patches are popular in the jits scene. You can represent your team, sponsor or causes. Usually your gym will have for sale and then can also be purchased online. Patches can either be sewn on or ironed on. A properly sewn patch will last much longer.