“What should I wear for no-gi BJJ?”
Perhaps you’ve been training in the Gi for a few weeks and you want to try your first no-gi class.
Or maybe you’ve signed up for your first jiu-jitsu class and it happens to be no-gi.
Either way, you’ll need some different gear.
No-gi BJJ is jiu-jitsu done without the traditional gi.
And it’s cheaper than training in the gi.
Instead, you wear athletic gear: a rash guard and shorts.
By the end of this article, you’ll have everything you’ll need to wear to crush (or get crushed) for your first no-gi BJJ class!
Let’s dive in.
Quick Links: What To Wear For No-GI BJJ
1. Rash guard
The first thing to wear for no-gi BJJ is a rash guard.
A rash guard is an athletic shirt. They’re made of spandex, nylon, or polyster.
They’re called “rash guards” because they protect you from getting rashes as you roll.
Unlike typical T-shirts, rash guards fit very snugly on your body.
This helps prevent fingers and toes from getting stuck as you drill and spar. That’s why rash guards are preferable to looser t-shirts for no-gi BJJ.
They create compression on your muscles which can help prevent sprains and strains.
Rash guards come in many different types:
- T-shirt rash guards
- Long sleeve rash guards
- Sleeveless rash guards
- 3/4 sleeve rash guards
Which type you choose depends on your personal preference.
I tend to prefer tight t-shirt rash guards in the summer (or when rolling outdoors), and long sleeve rash guards in the winter.
Rash guards also come in many different design styles, from funny BJJ rash guards:
Again, which style you choose depends on your personal preference.
Clothing is a way for us to express ourselves on the mats.
Pick up a few rash guards that match your unique personality and your style.
Or, just create your own rash guard if you’re so inclined!
The second thing to wear for no-gi BJJ is shorts.
Now, technically you don’t “need” shorts for no-gi BJJ.
You *could* just wear your gi pants.
But then you’ll get some new white belts grabbing your gi pants.
And in no-gi, you’re not supposed to grab your or your opponent’s clothing.
So, pick up some shorts — but not just any shorts.
For no-gi BJJ, it’s best to wear shorts without drawstrings or pockets.
That way, you avoid your or your partner’s fingers and toes getting stuck.
If our gear can help keep us and our partner safe, then we should wear said gear.
If your current shorts do have drawstrings and pockets, you can still wear them for no-gi bjj.
But if your opponent’s foot gets caught, pause the round. Allow them to take their foot out.
So, when purchasing new shorts for no-gi, look for shorts that have no drawstrings or pockets (or have zippable pockets).
I prefer shorter shorts with a 5″ or 7″ inseam.
But pick a size and length that is most comfortable for you.
The third item to wear for no-gi BJJ is a mouthguard.
If you want to keep your teeth, wear a mouthguard — just like you do when you wear a gi.
Wearing a mouthguard is absolutely mandatory.
However, you don’t have to wear one for drilling.
I wear my SISU mouthguard when I’m doing positional sparring and standard sparring rounds.
It’s a bit pricey, but it’s comfortable, durable, and minimal.
Plus, you can buy a color that matches your belt color!
If you do forget your mouthguard, I’d stick to drilling, light positional sparring, and flow rolling.
Missing one open mat isn’t worth losing a tooth (or five). Or maybe it is for you?
Bringing your mouthguard each day keeps the dentist away.
The fourth item to wear for no-gi BJJ is spats or compression pants.
Think of them as “leggings for men.”
You wear them under your shorts or gi pants.
Some people wear just spats with no shorts or gi pants for no-gi. But generally, this is frowned upon. Nobody wants your junk in their face.
(Unless it’s your partner?)
Like your rash guard, spats protect you from getting rashes and burns on your legs as you roll.
I like the feeling of compression that they give my legs. They keep my legs warm and ready to go. They keep your hair out of your opponent’s face. And they just look cool.
My legs are never sore after no-gi when I wear my spats.
Now, you don’t need to wear spats. I’d say about half of my no-gi class doesn’t wear them.
However, I’ve observed the upper belts (purple, brown, and black belts) almost always wear spats.
They also help keep your kneepads in place.
When I don’t wear spats, my kneepads slide all over the place. I have to constantly keep re-adjusting them, which gets annoying.
Get yourself a solid pair of black, white, and grey spats.
And then get yourself a fun pair with a zany design, like this:
Spats/compression pants are a fantastic, optional investment for no-gi BJJ.
The 5th and final item to wear for no-gi BJJ is kneepads.
Kneepads are optional for no-gi.
But, during no-gi, you’re scrambling and wrestling a bit more than in the gi.
You’re planting and pivoting on your knees more.
Kneepads will help cushion the blow and keep your knees protected from the mat and your opponent.
I started wearing Cliff Keen kneepads on my right knee after I broke my leg in July of 2021.
(I was going for a double-leg, my partner jumped for a guillotine and fell on my right leg. But that’s a story for another time…)
The kneepad helped keep my knee safe and secure as I returned to the mats.
I still wear it to this day. It makes my knee feel much better during and after class.
I only wear a kneepad on my “bad” knee, but I plan on grabbing another one for my left knee.
When I wear it, I’m more aggressive with my takedowns because my knees have a cushion between them and the mat.
And make sure you pick up some spats, which help keep your kneepads in place.
What To Wear For No-Gi BJJ: Conclusion
So there you have it: what to wear for no-gi BJJ.
Arm yourself with a quality rash guard, some shorts, and your mouthguard, and you’ll be good to go.
No-gi BJJ is a ton of fun. You get so many fun options to show off your style.
Now go out there and scramble!
And if you’ve made it this far, I have a question for you…
What do YOU wear for no-gi BJJ?
Do you have any particular rash guards, shorts, or spats that you like?
Leave a comment in the discussion box below — I’d love to hear what you’re sporting on the mats.
Tsavo is the founder of BJJ Equipment and BJJ blue belt who started training in 2019. He’s a passionate hobbyist and BJJ gear/equipment aficionado who wanted to share his favorite pickups with other jiujiteiros. He launched BJJ Equipment in 2022 to make it easy for jiu-jitsu practitioners to find the best BJJ gear so they look, feel, and perform at their best on the mats.
Hey, thanks for the thorough guide, appreciated!
Thanks Anon — happy rolling! 🤙
Hi Tsavo, thanks for nice guide – I am just starting out with BJJ and it really helped 🙂 Cheers!
You’re welcome, Jan — glad you found my article helpful. Happy rolling! 🤙