As somebody who needs vision correction and loves doing martial arts, how to handle wearing glasses in practice for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was definitely a concern when I started. There are a few ways to handle vision correction in the context of BJJ training, but I wanted to know how to handle wearing glasses or if I needed to find another vision correction option when I first started training.
Wear normal vision correction glasses while executing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu techniques and rolling is not a good idea. Depending on the technique, it is possible to drill with glasses, but it is better to just put them on for technique explanations and take them off for drilling and live grappling.
Let’s take a look into how to handle vision correction when you are practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and some of the dynamics and options available to make sure you can train and see what you should do to get effective training.
When Vision Correction Is Needed During Jiu-Jitsu
Vision correction is only vital when you are watching a live demonstration of techniques and positions that you will be drilling that day. There are often a lot of details that go into techniques and transitions, and being able to see them is important so wear your glasses for this part of BJJ class.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a very touch-sensitive martial art that happens almost entirely in close quarters with one or more points of contact. Since there are a lot of physical connections going on, it is possible to feel your way through executing all types of techniques and movements without being able to see perfectly clearly.
Since Jiu-Jitsu is mainly about feeling weight distribution and shifts of body positioning, it is very achievable to do drills and live grappling without having good vision. In fact, even when I have my contacts in, it is relatively common for me to close my eyes to get into better tune with where my opponent is moving their balance for sweeps.
I actually recorded a YouTube video on this topic that concisely goes over vision correction in jiu-jitsu including how to handle glasses, contacts, and other vision correction options. Check it out below.
Vision correction during Jiu-Jitsu is required while watching demonstrations during class but is not necessary during sparring. It is important to catch details when the instructor demonstrates a move, but you should take off your glasses for both drilling and live grappling.
If you have contact lenses, it is completely fine to wear in all situations during Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu drilling, live training, and competitions.
Is It Safe To Wear Contact Lenses During BJJ?
Using soft contact lenses during BJJ training is relatively safe for most people who need vision correction. Other than occasionally losing a contact lens or having it slide around in rare circumstances in which pressure goes across your eyelids, there are basically no downsides to wearing contacts in jiu-jitsu.
Pretty much the only downsides I’ve experienced personally while wearing contacts during Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are sweat causing my contacts to get a bit blurry, and occasionally needing to readjust my contact lenses after they move around or get knocked out, but these are relatively rare circumstances for most jiu-jitsu athletes.
Cleaning Your Contacts
If you are wearing contacts, do your best to make sure that if they fall out that they get cleaned appropriately before putting them back into your eyes. I usually keep some saline solution in my gym bag so I can make sure that after washing my hands and cleaning my contacts, that I am not getting mat funk in my eyes.
Since I am concerned about mat diseases and keeping my skin clean, it only makes sense to try to do the same with your relatively more vulnerable areas like the eyes. You can also sidestep this issue by just using disposable lenses and keeping some on hand in case of these rare circumstances.
Are There Better Alternative Methods of Vision Correction?
Each person has their own unique vision concerns or issues; thus, it is essential to have an initial consultation with an optometrist to find the best method for you. Thanks to the modern advances in technology, there are many new and improved vision correction methods, such as corneal reshaping contacts, high-impact prescription glasses, lasers, and surgical procedures.
Corneal Reshaping Contacts
Orthokeratology is a process of fitting exceptional contact lenses to reform the cornea. It typically uses gas-permeable contacts, which should be worn overnight rather than during the daytime. I know several of my training partners prefer this over wearing contacts during training.
The lenses gradually reshape the cornea surface while the patient sleeps. After waking up, the patient removes the lenses gently, and they can see properly throughout most of the day without needing glasses or contacts.
High-Impact Prescription Glasses
Unfortunately, many Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu lovers with eyesight problems have trouble finding suitable eyewear. Luckily, some high-impact prescription glasses provide extra protection during sporting activities as they are more durable than standard glasses.
High-impact glasses are designed with different materials to provide optimum protection for your eyes. There are definitely safety concerns from wearing these types of glasses, but they could be used during specific drills and are generally a good idea if you are concerned about breaking your glasses in general.
How Are People With Impaired Vision Able To Compete in BJJ Competitions?
People with moderate to severe vision impairment can still compete in BJJ if they are wearing contacts or even if they simply take off their glasses. This is because jiu-jitsu is more touch sensitive and less vision reliant than most other combat sports disciplines. Even blind grapplers can compete.
You can excel in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitions if you are legally blind, short-sighted, or long-sighted because it is a close-contact sport. Thus, those who cannot see can feel their opponent and use their training to know what to do.
Most BJJ athletes just use contact lenses during both training and competitions, or bring glasses and take them on and off depending on the circumstances. Your muscle memories that you develop through training and rolling are not really that reliant on vision anyway, so having unclear vision is usually not a big issue in jiu-jitsu competitions.
Rules Against Goggles and Glasses
Glasses and goggles are not allowed during tournament fights as they can cause physical harm to the grapplers. Tournaments can have special rules for situations in which somebody has severely impaired vision or are blind. These athletes will need to contact the tournament directly to see if accommodations can be made.
What Is the Adjustment Within the Tournament Structure?
Specific rules have been adjusted for participants with bad eyesight during tournaments, but the big difference is how a fight starts. In these tournaments, those with bad eyesight are allowed to begin in a closer position, often closed guard or something with some points of contact.
Fighters do not really need to see each other from a distance for them to engage in the match effectively. In general, being near-sighted or otherwise vision-impaired does not make you less effective in BJJ matches.
People with glasses or other vision correction needs can easily participate in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Simply taking off glasses before training techniques and grappling is enough in the majority of cases. For people who tolerate wearing contacts, you can essentially wear them in all jiu-jitsu situations as long as you keep good hygiene while using them.
For people with legal blindness or severe vision deficiencies, there are options available to compete in tournaments if you contact the tournament directors and make arrangements.
For more check out Can You Do Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu With Dental Braces?