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What Kit and Equipment Will You Need for BJJ

As with most sports and martial arts, you must invest in some kit and equipment to get the most out of your training. Choosing what you will buy is highly personalised; however, some items are essential. We outline everything you need to know in this article.
What Kit and Equipment Will You Need for BJJ

by JJB Admin

A month ago

As with most sports and martial arts, you must invest in some kit and equipment to get the most out of your training. Choosing what you will buy is highly personalised; however, some items are essential.

We have categorised these items into three groups:

  • The essentials
  • No-gi training gear
  • Protective equipment

The Essentials

There are only two items that are absolutely essential at all jiu jitsu academies:

  • Gi
  • Belt

To train jiu jitsu you will definitely need a ‘gi’. Although there are now lots of ‘no-gi’ only submission grappling academies, Brazilian jiu jitsu is traditionally practiced wearing a gi. The word ‘gi’ is derived from the Japanese term ‘keikogi’ Roughly translated ‘keiko’ means ‘to practice’ and ‘gi’ means ‘clothing’. Sometimes the term ‘dōgi’ is used in Japan, which roughly translates as ‘clothes of the way’. You will also sometimes hear it referred to as a ‘kimono’ which is the term most commonly used in Brazil.

The gi is the traditional uniform worn in Japanese martial arts and was originally developed in the late 19th century by the founder of Judo, Jigoro Kano. Jiu jitsu gis are sturdy and hardwearing. They are similar to the gis worn in Judo, but with a tighter fit and less baggy sleeves and pants.

There are many different styles, colours, weights, weaves and cuts of gi available, and buying your first gi can be a daunting experience. The weight of the gi is referred to in grams per square metre, or ‘GSM’. The higher the number, the heavier the gi will be. 450 GSM is probably the most commonly used weight. The heavier the gi, the thicker and more difficult it will be for your opponent to grip your lapels and sleeves and the longer the gi will last. The main drawback of a very heavyweight gi is that they can be a little cumbersome and more tiring to wear, particularly in hot weather. If you train in a warm climate, you may want to consider investing in a lightweight gi, which will have a GSM of 350 or lower.

The weave is the way in which the threads of material making up the gi are woven together. This determines the weight of the gi. A single weave gi is the lightest weave and double weave is the heaviest. The most common weave used on gis is the pearl weave, which lies somewhere between the two.

There is no standard gi ‘cut’ and this can vary a lot between different manufacturers. The cut will determine how loose or baggy a gi is and how it fits around the chest, shoulders, waist etc. With time, you will develop your own favourite cut that fits your body shape and style of jiu jitsu the best.

The sizing is usually denoted by letters and numbers – A0, A1, A2, A3 etc. The bigger the number the larger the gi. Some manufactures also have L and H variations, for example an A2L gi would be suitable for a taller thinner person and an A2H gi would be suitable for a shorter stockier build, with both individuals weighing roughly the same. The sizing can also vary a little between different manufacturers, so make sure you pay careful attention to the size chart when buying.


To train jiu jitsu, you will definitely need a ‘gi’

The other essential item you will need is a belt. The jiu jitsu belt signifies your level of technical knowledge and skill and should be worn with pride. At the start of your jiu jitsu journey, you will have to wear a white belt. As you improve your skills, you will progress through blue, purple and brown belt, before finally reaching the level of black belt.

Grading in jiu jitsu is a slow process for most people, and each belt will remain with you for long periods. For this reason, it is worthwhile to invest in a high-quality heavyweight belt that will only wear out slowly. The belt you buy should also have a black bar at one end, as most jiu jitsu academies award stripes throughout each belt level as recognition of your progress towards the next belt level and these stripes will be attached to this bar.

The belt should be long enough to wrap around your waist twice and still have a little excess length once tied. This will usually be the same size as your gi, e,g A2, A3 etc., but not always, so make sure your check the sizing before purchasing.



It is worthwhile to invest in a high-quality heavyweight belt that won’t wear out quickly

No-gi training gear

If you are also planning on training no-gi, then there are three further items that you should consider getting

  • Rashguard
  • Grappling shorts
  • Spats

Rashguards could be included in the essential section, as many academies make it compulsory that they are worn under the gi for hygiene purposes, but this is not always the case. When training in the gi, using a rashguard helps to draw moisture away from your body and prevent skin burns caused by contact with the rough gi material. Rashguards can also help limit the spread of skin infections, such as ringworm and staph.

While they are only sometimes essential when training in the gi, you really should invest in one for training no-gi. Wearing a t-shirt is not advisable as it will soak through with sweat quickly and become heavy and uncomfortable. T-shirt material will also stretch or rip easily, get caught up on fingers and toes, and be dangerous.


You really should invest in a rashguard for training no-gi

Grappling shorts are also essential for no-gi training. It might seem like you can wear any old pair of shorts you have available, but this is not practical for several reasons. Firstly, cargo or board shorts tend to have pockets, loops, zips and other dangerous parts on them. Fingers and toes can easily get caught and injured, and cuts and scratches can occur due to any metal parts.

Aside from safety, grappling shorts tend to offer flex and movement in the correct areas, preventing your movements from being restricted in certain positions. They also are less likely to roll up or down. The last thing you want when grappling is to constantly have to adjust your shorts, pulling them up or moving them around, and it can be very embarrassing if they get pulled down inadvertently. Another added advantage of fight shorts is that they tend to be made of a very durable lycra material, which doesn't tend to rip or have its shape distorted due to the strain they are put under when rolling.

Grappling shorts are also essential for no-gi training

The final piece of no-gi equipment you should consider investing in is a pair of spats. Spats are durable compression stockings that many grapplers like to wear. They serve to prevent chafing and soreness on the legs but also have hygiene benefits, similar to rashguards, helping to prevent skin infections.

Protective equipment

Wearing protective equipment when training jiu jitsu is optional, and exactly what and how much to use is very individualised. It can also change depending on your current health and injury status. Commonly used items of protective equipment include the following:

  • Mouthguard
  • Ear guards
  • Groin protector
  • Knee pads

A mouthguard, which is also commonly referred to as a gum shield, is probably the most commonly used item of protective equipment in jiu jitsu. It is an appliance that covers the teeth and surrounding soft tissues with the aim of protecting the teeth, gums, lips and jaw. They may also play a role in preventing and reducing concussion by absorbing impact forces that would otherwise be transmitted through the base of the skull to the brain. Getting accidentally hit in the mouth or jaw is always possible in jiu jitsu, and mouthguards can be a valuable addition to your kit bag.

There are three types of mouthguards available:

  • Stock mouthguards – these are made ready to use and provide the least protection
  • 'Boil and bite' mouthguards – these are heated in hot water, placed in the mouth and moulded to the teeth
  • Custom-made mouthguards – these are professionally moulded by a dentist and are expensive but provide the most protection

The primary aim of ear guards is the prevention of cauliflower ear, which occurs when the outer portion of the ear (the pinna or auricle) is struck, causing the dense connective tissue within the ear (the perichondrium) to separate from the underlying cartilage. Small blood vessels are situated in this area, and these proceed to bleed, causing the area to swell and become deformed. If left untreated, a large blood clot will form, called an auricular haematoma. This haematoma stimulates the production of new cartilage, and it is only once this deformed cartilage has developed that the injury is referred to as a cauliflower ear. There are several different types of ear guards now available, but it is best to look for the softer neoprene type, which are safer and more comfortable to wear.

Groin protectors are worn by some people but are much less commonly used. Their purpose is self-explanatory. It is important to note that they can make joint locks such as armbars go on more quickly, which can be a little more dangerous at beginner level. They are illegal in competition too, so you probably should avoid wearing them if you compete.

Knee pads can help to reduce knee soreness after training. They are the sort of item that people wear if they have an injury but don't necessarily wear to every class. Some people swear by them and wear them all the time; others never bother.


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