Do Rash Guards Matter in BJJ?

There are many clothing options in BJJ that are acceptable for both wearing under a gi and wearing to a no-gi jiu-jitsu class. One optional item of clothing that causes confusion is rash guards. Beginners can often wonder if rash guards are required, optional, or optimal and if the color of the rash guard matters. 

Choosing to wear a rash guard in BJJ is a good idea. They protect your skin against minor abrasions and can reduce the chances of mat disease. Rash Guards can be worn both underneath your gi or alone in no-gi BJJ to prevent friction burns and direct exposure to microbes. 

Keep reading for some of the ways rash guards are helpful in BJJ as well as to get an overall view on whether or not specific rash guard choices like color are important in the context of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Does the Color of the Rash Guard for BJJ Matter?

In most BJJ schools, the color of the rash guard is simply a stylistic choice for the student. If your school sells rash guards with their logo, buying and wearing one can be a great way to show support for your school, especially in competition settings.

I recently recorded a video on this topic and you can find it on my YouTube channel below if you prefer video content and what to know how I handle rash guard colors for my own jiu-jitsu training.

Some schools enforce uniform rules in order to have more uniformity in their training environment, and this can extend to rash guard colors.

The color of the rash guard does not matter for BJJ in most schools. In some schools, rash guard colors will indicate belt ranking in a similar way that belt colors indicate rank in a gi. Ask your school owner or instructor how they handle it to know for sure.

Different BJJ schools adopt different rules for their students to follow. For people that are visiting other schools because they travel for work or like to visit other gyms, picking out a rash guard that indicates your belt rank is often the best policy.

This rash guard that is available on Amazon is by far the most comfortable and versatile rash guard I have picked up and is my favorite one to wear when I am visiting other Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu schools.

Does Color of Rash Guard in BJJ Indicate Rank?

In martial arts, color is used to indicate various pieces of information, including how experienced a student is and what martial art they are practicing. This is typically shown through belt coloring in most martial arts. This begs the question: is the color of your rash guard indicative of your experience level in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? 

The color of rash guards does not usually indicate rank in BJJ. However, in certain schools, rank-specific rash guards are used. If your school follows these rules, you’ll need to buy rash guards that match your rank. For example, wear white rash guards if you’re a white belt. 

Rank-orientated rash guards are essential in certain BJJ schools. If possible, check with the instructor or school owner before you attend a class if you want to know if the color of your rash guard matters. Contact the school and inquire about their uniform rules and norms.

Most of the time, the color of your gi doesn’t indicate rank either. For more information on this topic check out my post Do Gi Colors Matter in BJJ?

The only part of your BJJ gear that always indicates rank is your belt when worn with a gi.

Are Rash Guards Necessary for BJJ?

For most people getting started in BJJ, the idea of wearing a rash guard is a little bit foreign and you’ll likely be wondering if you need them for training or if there are benefits to using them. Are rash guards an absolute necessity when practicing BJJ? 

Rash guards are not required for BJJ. T-shirts are usually acceptable in place of a rash guard, but rash guards help cut down friction and wick away sweat so they can be more comfortable. They can also be anti-microbial due to the fabric used and provide coverage that lowers risks of mat disease.

Rash guards prevent abrasive injuries to your skin. Mat burns and scratches are reduced in the areas covered by rash guards and spats or leggings that are commonly worn with rash guards. For this reason, it’s better to wear rash guards since avoiding scratches, cuts, and mat burn decreases your overall exposure to mat diseases, which are easier to get when the skin has been compromised.

Wearing a long-sleeve rash guard can help to keep you safe and healthy. Some schools encourage wearing rash guards for this reason. 

What Do You Wear With a Rash Guard for No Gi BJJ?

Wearing a rash guard with your BJJ gi is simple since it mostly functions as an undershirt with the gi. If you are training no-gi and using a rash guard, what are you supposed to wear alongside your rash guard in no-gi BJJ training? 

In BJJ, you wear spats, leggings, fight shorts, or board shorts with your rash guard. Board shorts and fight shorts are pocketless shorts that allow movement and are unlikely to catch during grappling. Spats and leggings are similar and offer the best coverage and protection during no-gi BJJ.

Some basic things to keep in mind are that you need to avoid metal components like zippers because they can damage your mats as well as yourself and your training partners.

Other things to keep in mind are that you should not wear anything that has pockets because the presence of pockets can lead to fingers and toes getting caught and causing additional injuries for no reason.

For most people wearing spats or leggings is the optimal solution. If you are concerned about wearing spats in terms of feeling exposes you can always wear fight shorts or board shorts over top.

For the most part, I like to wear basic spats that can match a variety of rash guards. These spats, available on Amazon, are high-quality, affordable, and come in enough color variety to wear with my growing collection of rash guards.

If you want to know details that can help you to decide what to wear in no-gi BJJ classes check out What Should I Wear for No-Gi BJJ Class?

How Tight Should BJJ Spats Be?

BJJ spats should be skin tight, but not tight enough that it cuts off circulation or does not stay in place because it is too small. Loose spats will lose their protective qualities against friction and are more likely to catch when grappling.

Ensuring that your spats fit you right is crucial. If your spats are too tight or loose, they may be uncomfortable and less effective.

Spats are made of stretchy material, so sizing is relatively easy to get right. The fit between brands can vary slightly but is usually fairly consistent.

What Color of Rash Guards Are Allowed at BJJ Tournaments?

BJJ schools can vary about norms for rash guards, especially in terms of color standards if they are a school that likes to use rash guard colors to indicate rank. However, rules can be different when competing in certain tournament organizations. So what do these standards look like when competing in a BJJ tournament

The colors of rash guards allowed at BJJ tournaments are white, black, a combination of both, or white/black mixed with at least 10% of the color of the fighter’s belt rank. Rash guards that are entirely the same color as your belt rank are also permitted to wear in tournaments, according to IBJJF. 

Make sure you use a permissible rash guard for the BJJ tournament you are competing in to ensure that you do not get disqualified for such a preventable reason. In terms of other gear for a no-gi tournament environment, it is usually fairly similar to what you wear in training. Wearing spats or leggings is ideal, but you can also wear board shorts or fight shorts that do not have pockets.

BJJ tournaments in the gi have separate rules. In BJJ tournaments in a gi, male fighters are not allowed to wear rash guards or anything else under their gi jackets. Female fighters are required to wear a tight shirt, rash guard, or sports bra underneath the gi. The color of the rash guard is unimportant in gi tournaments that allow wearing a rash guard underneath. 

Final Thoughts

Rash guards are not everyday wear for people outside of surfing and modern combat sports like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Understanding all of the norms involved in wearing rash guards at your specific school is fairly easy with some due diligence and there are significant differences between schools, so confirming what the norms are when visiting or choosing a school is a good idea.

If you are competing in a tournament make sure you understand the uniform rules before packing up the gear you are going to use there.

For more check out What Should I Expect in My First BJJ Class?


Hi, I'm Andre and I am the author of this website. I currently train primarily in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu but supplement with other grappling martial arts as well as help to coach my kid's blended grappling program.

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