Kitting yourself out for your first BJJ class can be an exciting and sometimes daunting task. Our beginners guide will help you choose the right gear, be it for Jiu Jitsu in the GI, No GI or both.
BJJ in the GI
To train BJJ in the GI (sometimes called a Kimono) you will need as a minimum a GI (Jacket and trousers) and a belt. Some people will also wear a rashguard under their GI top but this is optional at most clubs.
There are various types of GIs and most are suited for the rigours of daily training. Make sure to buy a GI that is made for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. GIs made for other martial arts will not be suitable. Thin GIs like those used for striking arts like Karate will be too thin and won’t last 5minutes in a BJJ class and thicker GIs like those used for Judo although strong enough will be too baggy for BJJ resulting in you being dominated with the grips during sparring. A GI designed specifically for BJJ will be strong enough for the rigours of daily training and have a fit that will minimise the chance of being dominated with the grips.
A BJJ GI comes as a set of jacket and trousers. In most cases the belt has to be bought separately (our Bravura comes with a free white belt).
One of the most common questions we get asked by is “what colour GIs can I train in”? Jiu jitsu GIs come in all sorts of colours including white, blue, black, navy, red, grey and camouflage. Most clubs will allow anyGI colour to be worn but some don’t so it’s best to speak to your instructor if you are in any doubt before buying your GI. As a rule of thumb most beginners tend to stick to white, black and blue as these are the traditional colours.
To confuse matters even more, there are different types of GI, materials and different cuts and or fit.
The belt to some is just a means to keep your jacket tied and to others it can mean a whole lot more. Like the time spent training and the blood sweat and tears it took to achieve the belt.
The sequence for belts in BJJ goes in the following order; white, blue, purple, brown and black.
You may notice that a BJJ belt looks a bit different to those used in other martial arts. Most noticeably is the black or red bar running along one end of the belt known as the rank tag. On white, blue, purple and brown belts the rank bar is black and on the black belts it is red.
Between belts some clubs give out what is known as stripes or tags. There is a maximum of 4 tags given for each belt (white to brown belt) and it’s these tags/stripes that are put on your rank bar. Some have them stitched on and others just use electrical tape.
Most belts are made from standard canvas cotton but some companies, us included also make them from GI material. Canvas cotton belts are generally cheaper and have a lighter or softer feel to them where as the GI material belts cost more and are normally heavier and thicker.
As a rule of thumb, you will need the same size belt as your GI. The belt might seem long at first but they are meant to be wrapped around your body twice and then tied at the front. There are many ways to tie your belt which we won’t go to in this guide but to learn more about tying your belt then see our other guide.
No GI BJJ
For training NO GI BJJ you will need a rashguard and a pair of BJJ Shorts. Some people also either wear spats (a type of leggings) under or instead of their shorts. Starting out in your first lesson a pair of shorts and t shirts will suffice but eventually you will want a proper pair of grappling shorts and rashguard as they are more durable allow a greater range of movement.
No GI Shorts
BJJ shorts sometimes known as grappling shorts are designed specifically for No GI BJJ and most will be made from a lightweight durable material that will stand up to the rough and tumble or being grappled with and gripped. Our shorts feature a 3-way waist fastening system that comprises of a rope waist tie and 2 point Velcro system which helps to keep them nice and secure. Most shorts also feature a stretchy crotch area which allows for greater movement when rolling.
Rashguards are important for Jiu Jitsu and grappling in general because they limit skin on skin contact with your partner when drilling and sparring. This is important for several reasons. The first reason is that no one wants someone else’s sweaty chest in their face when being mounted or in side control, Yuck! And the second and most important reason is that it limits the chances of mat born diseases like ring worm and staph.
Spats or leggings as they are sometimes known can be worn on their own or under a pair of shorts. They can also be worn under a GI which can be a life saver in the winter in your gym is as cold as ours is. They are made from the same material as rashguards and fit very tight/closely to the body.
Gum shields/groin guards
Some other items that you might need but are not 100%necessary are a Gum shield and groin guard. The reason that you need either of these items should be self-explanatory.
You will quickly learn the phrase no shoes on the mat! You roll around on the mat so the last thing you want is someone else walking on itin their shoes. Don’t be that guy. You are likely to get extra press ups or smashed by some of the higher belts for doing it. So with this in mind most people wear flip flops and leave them beside the mat.