Beginning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or any martial arts can be challenging, especially when it comes to choosing gear. As a beginner, you might feel that you need to have the latest equipment or be familiar in all the terminology – but nothing could be further from the truth. To start, all you need to know is that there are two primary alternatives for BJJ clothing – Gi or Nogi. Nogi is often only a t-shirt/rash guard and shorts, while gi is the traditional uniform, which consists of a jacket, pants, and belt. Making an informed choice regarding what to wear to your first BJJ lesson can be made easier if you are aware of the distinctions between the two.
What to Wear for Gi Class?
If you plan to attend a Gi Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class, then you are going to need a gi. The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gi is one of the most recognizable icons of the sport. The BJJ Gi is made up of a belt, gi pants, and a jacket. The Gi is meant to resist the rigors of grappling and grappling methods and is usually composed of sturdy cotton or a cotton blend.
In BJJ, the Gi is crucial for a number of reasons. First off, it gives you the ability to grab and grip your opponent during practice. Second, it is seen as an integral component of the sport and a symbol of tradition and respect in the BJJ community. Finally, since everyone who competes wears the same uniform, it creates a level playing field for competitiveness.
Other Things to Wear to Gi Class
While the Gi is most important, there are some other considerations to make before going to your first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class. For one, what to wear under the Gi. My personal preference is to wear a rash guard or t-shirt underneath my Gi. The more you cover your skin, the less likely to catch any nasty skin diseases such as ring worm. That being said, it is very common for people to go shirtless underneath their Gi top. If you are a woman, it is common to either wear a rash guard or a training bra underneath your gi.
Another thing you may want to bring to your first Gi class is a mouthguard. Depending on the school, they may allow you to spar on your first day. If you do choose to spar, be sure to bring a mouthguard to protect your teeth out there!
What to Wear for NoGi Class
Nogi BJJ is jiu jitsu without the fancy pajamas. Styling yourself for No gi bjj class is a lot simpler (and cheaper!) than the Gi bjj class. All you really need is a rash guard and spats or fighting shorts. Some people can get away with wearing a regular shirt to their first class of nogi Jiu Jitsu. I would highly recommend however if you plan to continue the sport to get a few rash guards as soon as possible.
Rash guards in the BJJ take inspiration from surfers who use them effectively to not get cut up by their boards and to prevent skin infections. A good rash guard will prevent you from getting mat burn (a scrape from rolling on a mat) and will also prevent infections like staph. If you are going to your first class and don’t have a rash guard already (which is understandable) a soccer jersey or a normal under armor (if it isnt too thick) would also work.
I would also recommend a pair of spats (leggings) over regular shorts or even fighter shorts. You are most likely going to get a few scraps and burns when you start BJJ, as your skin isn’t used to the movement. Long leggings will prevent a lot of those minor abrasions.
What if I Don’t Want to Wear Jiu Jitsu Gear to My First Class?
If you don’t want to wear a rash guard or traditional gear to your first class, I would highly recommend at least a t-shirt and athletic shorts.
Do I Need a Mouth Guard?
Mouth guards are highly recommended when training Jiu Jitsu, especially if you plan to spar. Since there is no striking in grappling martial arts, you may be wondering why you would need a mouth guard. Take it directly from me that a mouth guard has saved my teeth (and brain) more times in BJJ than in Muay Thai. Too many times during a roll will an opponent’s knee accidentally bang into my jaw or my lips. When getting thrown or taken down, a mouth guard will prevent concussions if you bite down as you take the impact. Mouth guards should be in Gi and no gi BJJ.
What Other Gear Do I Need?
A Gi, rash guard, mouth guard and maybe fight shorts/spats are really the main things you need when training Jiu Jitsu. Other grappling martial arts like wrestling require wrestling shoes, but those aren’t necessary in BJJ. Another common martial arts Gi that isn’t too common in jiu jitsu is a groin protector. Groin protection is generally not necessary since the chances of getting hit in those parts is low in BJJ.
One optional piece of gear could be knee pads – if you want to avoid mat burn or if you have a knee condition that would make being on your knees painful.
What Should I Avoid Wearing in BJJ?
Things you should most definitely not come/wear to your first BJJ class in include:
You should especially take off all jewelry and piercings as not only can those get ruined while training they can also pose a serious injury risk to your partners.
Can I Rent BJJ Gear as a Beginner?
For the most part, schools will loan you a BJJ Gi if your first few classes. Gyms usually have a bunch of extra Gis hanging around to loan out to new students, including giving you your white belt! They will lend you the jacket and pants and generally give you the white belt in hopes you want to continue training after your first class. One thing to watch out for is if you are bigger or smaller than the average person. Most Gis are A1 or A3 – fitting someone between 125 pounds up through 225 pounds. If you are bigger or smaller than that, the school where you are trying jiu jitsu may not have your size. So that is something to consider.
The story is a little different in a nogi class. A school may have some rash guards but I find that to be rare. For your first nogi class, as I mention above, would just recommend wearing a shirt or soccer jersey or under armor if you have one. If you have leggings either for winter or in general, would wear those too. If you decide to pursue the sport further, then you can buy your first rash guard and spats.
How Much Does Jiu Jitsu Gear Cost?
A BJJ GI isn’t expensive but it isn’t necessarily cheap either. You should expect to pay at least $60 for a low end Gi to start your BJJ career with. That includes both the jacket and pants (the BJJ belt should be provided by your gym). You will also likely want to buy at least one or two rash guards to either wear under the Gi or to wear to a NoGi class. Rash guards can be as cheap as $20 or as expensive as $60 for more durable ones from reputable companies such as Hayabusa. It should be noted that men and women’s gear is going to cost roughly the same. A Gi jacket for kids however will be a bit cheaper. Here are some examples of what your starting gear can cost:
|Type of Gear
|Links to Buy
|Super Basic/Beginner (Adult)
Rash guard: https://amzn.to/3Yn6pa3
|Super Basic/Beginner (Kids)
Rash guard: https://amzn.to/40nOS3v
When starting out (and seeing whether you like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu), I wouldn’t recommend investing in an expensive Gi to start. It is not really necessary. A beginner or starter Gi like I outline in the above section can last you throughout your first year of training. Some starter Gis I would recommend include:
Sanabul and Venum are very well regarded martial arts/jiu jitsu brands. If you feel confident that you will want to continue Jiu Jitsu for the foreseeable future, it may be worth paying a little bit extra to get a higher quality Gi than the first two cheaper options.