The BJJ headgear is used to protect your head and ears from damage. It is often worn by grappling athletes in Jiu-Jitsu and Wrestling.
In this guide we are going to cover the best BJJ headgear and the best BJJ ear guards on the market. We'll also explain why this protective gear is so important, weigh up the benefits and drawbacks, and what to look for when making the purchase.
Importance of BJJ Headgear
Before we explain why it's so important to wear headgear, it's important to understand what cauliflower ear is.
The Cauliflower Ear Myth
According to bro science, cauliflower ears are trophies for an athlete. They are gained from years of brutal practice in Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu, Wrestling, and MMA. If you encounter an individual with thick, blood-filled ears, who can't hear you from a 6 feet distance, better not mess with them.
Contrary to popular belief, cauliflower ears are kind of disgusting. No, they are not gained by years of rigorous practice and headbutting, you can actually get a cauliflower ear on the first day at the gym.
They are filled with pus and blood and can cause hearing loss (see study) if not treated with proper caution. You can't even put your earbuds in with that swollen ear. And you better hope you don't get punched in the ear because that is just going to make everyone else puke.
Will Headgear Help?
Now that we're done grossing you out, let us discuss a simple solution to avoid the cauliflower ear... BJJ headgear and ear guards. Now the ear guards may look a little funny at the start but you will get the hang of them.
The headgear/earguard is an acquired taste. A small investment can protect you and others from ever having to inject a syringe to drain that ear. Better to be safe than sorry.
What to look for in a BJJ Headgear
Before buying the best headgear for BJJ, make sure you know what qualities to look for. We're going to discuss the essentials that should be in your gear.
Choose headgear that offers you complete protection. Test the cushion on the headgear so it is adequate to absorb impacts and abrasions. It should be able to handle a good amount of punishment before it wears out.
Do not buy headgear that has a hard plastic shell on the outside. This will cause your partner problems and we do not want that. A good training partner is considerate.
The best ear guards for BJJ are made from a softshell. The thick cushion on the ear guard should cover your ear completely. Wrestling headgear and BJJ headgear are quite similar. However, a hard shell is not advised for BJJ.
The most obvious step. Comfort should be your priority while picking your BJJ headgear. You do not want something that is not in place, itchy, or too bulky.
There are some materials like neoprene and nylon that are lightweight. These can provide an adequate amount of comfort during training. If you need to go for extra comfort, try headgear that has an extra lining on the inside.
Headgear should fit you perfectly. It should not be too tight that it starts pressuring your head, nor too loose that you are constantly trying to hold on to it.
Ensure that your headgear properly sits on your ears and the chin strap locks completely. Each item is going to be different in terms of size and fit, so scrutinize your headgear before you buy it.
The headgear should not obstruct your vision. You must be able to see in all directions without the gear blocking your view. The headgear should not be flailing or getting out of place. To avoid this problem, choose the right fit.
Some guards on the market will cover your whole face. This is alright if you are a Boxer or a Mixed Martial Artist. But if you are a Jiu-Jitsu or Wrestling athlete you need something that is designed for grappling.
A guard that covers your whole face won't have audibility. You need to be able to hear your coach. Taking your gear off every time your coach yells at you is not advised. The best BJJ ear guard will have perforations on it to allow ventilation and hearing.
BJJ guards are not focused on ventilation which can cause sweat build-up. This is uncomfortable and can cause a bacteria build-up. If there is no ventilation provided the headgear will have an intense heat build-up inside which can be very uncomfortable
The best headgear for BJJ should have an anti-sweat fabric that wicks away the moisture build-up. It should also be perforated to allow airflow and ventilation.
You don't want to get on the mats looking like a goof. That being said, wearing a piece that makes you feel confident can give you a psychological edge. Style is a subjective matter, so choose whatever makes you feel good.
Whenever you invest in protective equipment, whether it is a mouthguard, shin/knee pads, or rash guards - always go for the quality. No matter the cost, high-quality headgear can last you longer and protect you better. So don't hesitate to invest more when buying something for yourself.
Types and Components of BJJ Headgear
BJJ headgear is made from different materials. There are two types of headgear available on the market.
Soft Shell Headgear
The softshell headgear is made of polymers or rubber to give a comfortable fit. It is the go-to gear for newbies and young jiu-jitsu practitioners. Some of the features of the soft shell headgear are:
Hard Shell Headgear
Hardshell headgears are made from durable plastic. They are lightweight and long-lasting. However, they are restricted in a lot of tournaments. For example, section 8.3.7 of the IBJJF rule book states that protective gear which of hard material is forbidden. You can check the most up to date rules here.
Hard Shell headgear are usually:
This is a small but crucial component of headgear. The strap will determine the fitting of the headgear. If the strap is of poor quality it will cause discomfort during practice.
The best strap for your headgear should be made of neoprene or spandex. This can help in keeping your beard and hair in place. Otherwise, small pulls and abrasions can be very painful.
The Pros and Cons of Wearing Headgear for BJJ
There are numerous benefits to wearing BJJ headgear. However, we must weigh in the pros and cons of wearing one.
The Best BJJ Headgear in 2021
There are a lot of options on the market for wrestling headgear, but not many for Jiu-Jitsu.
We have compiled a list of the best headgear for BJJ that you can choose from. Our list has strictly scrutinized each product concerning protection, fit, comfort, durability, style, and price.
Gold BJJ Headgear is specifically designed for Jiu-Jitsu practitioners. The Gold BJJ headgear has a minimalistic design that sits very comfortably on your head and ears. The gear stays snug on your face and does not put extra pressure on your head.
The headgear is padded adequately to protect the cauliflower ear. It is made from soft fabric that will not cause any discomfort to your partners. It is one of the best headgear for BJJ.
Do not wash this product in a washing machine as it may deteriorate the adhesive material on the chin strap. Hand wash the product and let it air dry for better durability.
The Matman Ultra Soft Headgear is one of the best headgears for BJJ. The Matman has a simplistic design that fits the head perfectly.
It is a durable headgear that provides maximum protection. Made from ultrasoft neoprene, the Matman Ultra Soft is tear-resistant. Listening in this headgear is easy due to the perforations on the ear guards. It also provides an antimicrobial surface which is a key trait of the Matman.
The Matman Headgear has a fully adjustable strap that allows you to fit on your head perfectly. The headgear is also partner-friendly and won't be a nuisance during rolling.
The velcro on the Matman can give you slight problems during rolling. Try and tape the velcro so it does not scratch your partner's skin or rashguard.
Venum is the leader in making combat sports gear and apparel. With everything else, Venum has created a wholesome headgear that suits both wrestlers and jiu-jitsu athletes.
The Venum Kontact Evo Ear Guard is an all-rounder made from neoprene material. The headgear provides complete protection to your ears and fits easily.
It has a soft lining which provides optimal cushion for the ears. The foam provides shock and impact absorption as well as protection from abrasions and burns.
If you live in a noisy area and can't get a good night's sleep. Use this earguard to stay uninterrupted all night.
Adapt Athletics Enhanced Headgear is a premium headgear for both BJJ and Wrestling.
The material used in the Adapt Athletics Headgear is antimicrobial. The fabric is tough and will survive brutal training sessions. One of the best features of this headgear is ventilation.
The headgear is comfortable and can fit most people easily.
If you have a child that has started wrestling or Brazilian jiu-jitsu, this is the perfect headgear for them. This is your go-to headgear for children and early teens.
The majority of the companies that make headgear and ear guards rely on fabric, plastic, and surface material to create their products.
ASICS, for the first time, has introduced gel-filled pads that protect your ears. The gel acts as a shock absorber and reduces the impact on the ears. The headgear is light, minimalistic, and fits great.
The headgear has 5 chin straps that will keep it in place during tough grappling sessions. Like all the ear guards mentioned here, the ASICS Unisex Gel Wrestling Ear Guard can be used for both Wrestling and BJJ.
The ASICS Unisex Gel Ear Guard is not advised for young children. The chin straps can provide problems in fitting and may slip during a match or training.
The Cliff Keen F5 Tornado Headgear is the flagship headgear from Cliff Keen. Generally made for wrestling athletes, it can also be used for BJJ.
The Cliff Keen F5 Tornado provides the best protection against cauliflower ears. The ultra-deep ear cups have an air vent system for moisture reduction and audibility.
The company claims that the F5 Tornado is based on NASA research. It is by far the most stylish and the strongest headgear on the list. The Cliff Keen has velcro straps that help it fit correctly on your head.
The Cliff Keen Tornado Headgear can have slight problems with the velcro. To prevent the chin strap from losing its grip, do not put it in the machine rather hand wash it and let it air dry.
If you are in a hurry, another option to clean your ear guard is to use some wet wipes and you are good to go. Also, if your velcro keeps giving you problems then we recommend taping it to prevent cuts and burns.
Our Top Pick
The Venum Kontact Evo Ear Guard is the best option for BJJ. It is an all-rounder that will protect your ears, give you comfort and last you for a very long time.
The Kontact Evo is so light that you will barely feel it on your head. The soft neoprene cushion on the ear cups will protect you against cauliflower ear.
This guard will be allowed in most gyms due to its softshell. Your training partners will not be bothered, scratched, or bruised with this headgear.
If you are a complete beginner then this guard is for you. A safe choice that is going to be worth the money.
For wrestling enthusiasts we recommend the Cliff Keen F5 Tornado, it is the second-best ear guard on our list that will prevent the dreaded cauliflower ear.
We hope that you enjoyed reading our detailed review of the best BJJ headgear on the market. Good luck choosing the best gear for you and your loved ones. May the grappling gods be with you.