Your Brazilian jiu-jitsu journey, no matter how long, involves regular searches for the best BJJ rash guards. Rash guards for BJJ come in so many different great creative styles; it is a struggle to choose just one.
The main thing to understand is why you should wear a rash guard, what to base your choices on and what to look for in your search.
Training in jiu jitsu will allow you to meet some amazing people. Picking cool BJJ rash guards will give you great style points but the main thing to earn respect is being committed. With that said, let’s take a look at the best rash guard options out there and why you should wear one at all.
Why You Should Wear a Rash Guard for BJJ?
Competitive jiu jitsu often features men battling it out topless but we can’t recommend wearing either a short or long sleeve rash guard enough. There are numerous reasons for this opinion.
Rash Guards Help Prevent Injury
A BJJ rash guard is more than just high quality fashion, it can help mitigate injury. Have you ever grazed your knee on a carpet? That feeling awaits if you don’t have some coverage as mat burn will get you.
Similarly, when training in the Gi you can easily encounter abrasion when you sweat if you go topless underneath it. The image I would liken it to is jogger’s nipple which is very uncomfortable as a feeling and an image. Either of these abrasions can also leave some scarring.
You also don’t want to be the person who causes an injury. A BJJ or MMA rash guard should be tight. If you wear loose fitting clothing over a well-made, form fitting rash guard, your partner can very easily catch their fingers while rolling, leading to bends and sprains which nobody wants. Both hands and feet can easily get trapped in loose clothing also and it seems so avoidable when it happens.
Lastly, rash guards have a surprising ability to improve muscle recovery times. Similar to an ankle or knee support, the compression of your shirt assists your muscles like a brace which is a fantastic benefit when the going gets tough.
Rash guards Reduce the Risk of Infection
Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a sweaty, full contact sport that invades your personal space. It may not be pretty to mention but infections may happen. Wearing your BJJ rash guard will help reduce your risk of ring worm, staph infection and cellulitis. Thankfully, many of the best jiu-jitsu and MMA rash guards also features anti-microbial fabric to lessen the risk.
Without it, you are also more susceptible to cuts and abrasions that are more likely to get infected while sweating it out on the mats with others.
Wearing a Rash Guard is Common Courtesy
Nobody has ever enjoyed being sweated on or have other people’s body hair on them. Being mounted by someone with a hairy chest in a roll is a revolting experience. You can prevent someone else experiencing that with you by donning a rash guard which shouldn’t be shocking news.
Being a good training partner is deeply important in jiu jitsu and your personal hygiene is just as important as training safely. If you’ve been caught in a north south position, just imagine what that is like when it is direct armpit to face contact. Enough for anyone to tap!
Rash Guards are Designed to Regulate Temperature
Jiu jitsu is such a wonderfully intense form of exercise and there is no choice but to sweat. It could be considered a crime to finish a class and not be soaked.
Technological advancements in the best BJJ rash guards now incorporate moisture-wicking. Where cotton absorbs moisture like a wet towel eventually causing abrasion, a lycra, polyester and spandex based rash guard will not.
Added to that, there is a case to be made for your rash guard’s ability to improve grip. Slipperiness can be a huge plus especially in NoGi Jiu-Jitsu. However, when you need the grip in your hands, it can often be a quick unnoticed adjustment of wiping your hands on your rash guard that makes the difference.
John Danaher is considered one of the best coaches in the world and he wears a rash guard all day every day for the versatility. One of his favorite things about them is that they are temperature sensitive. They help your body to stay neutral and adjusted to the conditions thanks to moisture control.
Aren’t Rash Guards for BJJ and Compression Shirts the Same?
The quick answer is no. Even the best BJJ rash guards are not made equal. There are technical differences that are specific to jiu jitsu. Compression shirts are a cheap option and can be used for BJJ but are not the most ideal for a number of reasons.
How They Perform
Both use a different number of panels. A compression top typically has 4 panels and rash guards use 6. The extra moving parts mean you are not limited in movement and have more stretch in the fabric.
Compression tops have an awkward habit of rising up over your stomach as you roll due to the movement. You don’t want to look like one of those ‘People of Walmart’ at the end of a good roll.
Allow me to paint a picture here. Imagine taking the typical wearer of a compression top from the gym or outdoors and dropping them into a BJJ class. They will survive and have their moments but they had no intention of being there. The same concept applies to the compression shirt. The level of abuse, wear and tear and stretching of BJJ rash guards is plainly different.
Jiu-jitsu rash guards are made for grappling. A good rash guard stands up to mat burns, arm drags and if you’re unlucky enough, a regular knee on belly. Special reinforced stitching is used everywhere to make sure of it. Most compression shirts will make it through a couple of months training before they start to wear down unlike the best BJJ rash guards.
Fit for Purpose
Compression shirts have some downfalls in their design as mentioned. They weren’t made for the purpose that bjj rash guards are. Most are typically designed for layering for the outdoors or the gym with a different level of thickness to keep you warm in colder conditions.
Rash Guards are Designed to Spec
Just in case you remain unconvinced, here are the nitty gritty details for you.
A great rash guard is designed to be tough, form fitting and as slick as possible. Flatlock stitching is used so there are no seams in the design. This minor detail can make a great difference when you are applying shoulder pressure or attempting to gain leverage for an arm drag.
IBJJF Requirements for Rash Guards
The International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation are one of the leading jiu-jitsu authorities and lay down quite specific rules that competitors are required to know.
IBJJF Gi Competition
Competition requirements for rash guards differ from Gi to No-Gi and also from women to men under the IBJJF rule set. A rash guard is prohibited for all men’s Gi competitions.
In women’s Gi jiu-jitsu, a womens BJJ rash guard is mandatory but doesn’t need to follow color requirements like in No-Gi.
IBJJF NoGi Competition
In the IBJJF No-Gi competitions, a skin tight rash guard made of elastic material is permitted in both the men’s and women’s categories. It must be long enough to cover your torso. It must extend to the waistband of the shorts with a short or long sleeve rash guard also deemed acceptable.
Color Scheme Requirements
Despite the best rash guards being wildly colorful, IBJJF reigns that in. Your rashguard must be black, white or black and white with at least 10% of your ranked belt color. So if you are a blue belt, you must have a rash guard that is at least 10% of that color and the same for each belt division. You are also allowed to wear shirts that are 100% your belt color.
Finally, for the black belt in your life, they are allowed to wear a black rash guard that has a small red area. The red must not be the main color or confuse the athlete’s ranking color.
How to Choose the Right BJJ Rash Guard
There are some insanely cool rash guards out there so choosing what is best for you can be tricky. Knowing what to look for is important. Balancing looking awesome with the function is also pretty important.
Short V Long Sleeve Rash Guards
Choosing your sleeves length is entirely personal preference. A long sleeve rash guard offers more hygienic protection as less skin is exposed. However, it also means there is more friction on your wrists for your opponents to hold on to. Most practitioners have a favored length but the best best jiu jitsu rash guard is the one that suits you.
A rash guard is intended to be form fitting and that is how it should be. They are skin tight which begs the question of what is too tight? It is best to verge on just about figure hugging rather than cutting off circulation. You will still need to be comfortable and have flexible unrestricted movement.
Some people will advise ordering one size up from your tee-shirt size but I would suggest trying on different sizes somewhere to get an understanding of how it is supposed to feel. You need to make sure it is loose enough to breath.
The easiest newbie mistake to make is to order what looks like a cool rash guard only to find out months later that it is intended for higher ranking belts. It is right around then that they wish they ordered the camo one. It is hard not to feel for the beginner and worth encouraging them to set about earning that belt.
So for the beginners out there, a rash guard may be specifically colored for the corresponding belt ranking.
Design Features and Material
Features to look for are described earlier in the compression vs rash guard section but let me reiterate. The best rash BJJ guard will typically have 6 panels with reinforced flatlock stitching. It will also be made from nylon and lycra or spandex for extra stretch.
As for the aesthetics, go as wild as you want. Sublimated graphics on a jiu-jitsu rash guard have taken things to a whole new level. You only need to look as far as the 2019 ADCC rash guard of Garry Tonon to understand. Go with high quality and a style you can back up is the best advice.
The Best Brands
Who makes the best BJJ rash guards is a hotly contested debate. As the sport grows, the brands will grow. There are certainly some notable ones including Anthem Athletics, Fuji, Gold BJJ, Hayabusa, RVCA, Venum, Sanabul, Scramble and Tatami to name just a few. Here's a quick run-down of our favorite BJJ brands and the best value below but you could easily swap a few out for others.
Any Anthem Athletics BJJ rash guard you get will be very well made. They are both awesome and underrated. As they don't spend money advertising with professional BJJ and MMA athletes, they may not be as visible but they provide a lot of fierce looking rash guard options.
The Helo series offers all the durability and functionality you want. They keep the graphics pretty simple and Captain America-esque. The colors they use are also IBJJF approved.
Fuji are a touch more adventurous with their styles and sublimated graphics. They still do everything you want your rash guard to do but with a little more flare. They provide clothing for all belt colors and one of the best rash guard features they offer is their anti-microbial fabric to reduce the chance of infection.
Hayabusa go all the way when it comes to style. Many regard them to make the best rash guards for jiu-jitsu and it is hard to disagree. They design their gear to regulate your temperature, support blood flow and stay in place while still looking beautiful. They really are the highest standard but more on that later.
For us...Tatami produces the best BJJ rash guards when it comes to graphics. They should make everything from posters to movie graphics because their designs and color options are incredible.
Tatami have probably supplied at least one Gi to everyone who has ever done jiu-jitsu. They are truly enmeshed in the sport. To really grasp the style, look at their sponsored pros JT Torres and Michele Nicolini who are up there with the best BJJ practitioners in the game.
The 6 Best BJJ Rash Guard Recommendations
Picking a favorite BJJ rash guard is tough. There are some stunning graphics. Martial arts, for some reason, seems to attract an underworld of savant designers. We genuinely think a special secret program for rash guard designers exists.
Tatami are an amazingly creative bunch. The long-sleeve Gorilla Smash top is one of our absolute favorite jiu jitsu rash guards. The sublimated graphics by Chris Burns are incredibly well done on both the front and the back.
Not just stylish, it is also durable with a virtual guarantee that it will never crack, peel or fade. As a standard it has the most up to date moisture wicking material and fits very comfortably. In our opinion, it is very close to being the best BJJ rash guard out there. You will always know that you are buying quality with Tatami.
As the Anthem Athletic company grow, they continue to deliver. Moisture wicking technology is a staple in their products but the design of the Helo-X Competition rash guard is next level.
Sitting on the slightly more expensive side, it is built to last with fully sublimated graphics that never crack or peel. It is clearly designed with the competitor in mind as they are the lightest weight rash guard without sacrificing performance.
You could not have a list of rash guard favorites without including something from Fuji. The pick of the bunch is the stylish IBJJF Freestyle rash guard with the awesome design of its namesake mountain on the front.
As standard it incorporates reinforced stitching and anti-microbial fabric. To satisfy all comers it is available in all competition colors and has long and short sleeve options.
Venum were unlucky to not make the favorite brands list and would easily substitute in. No doubt their sponsored athletes and two of the best BJJ practitioners in the UFC, Jose Aldo and Fabricio Werdum, would put them on it.
However, the Contender 4 rash guard is undeniable. The trademark snake logo is phenomenal as always and is matched by the strike-through graphics. Venum’s patented compression technology accelerates recovery and improves circulation. The reinforced seams and light weight keep it durable and functional.
Sanabul offer the best value and are very well made for the price. The great John Danaher is a big supporter which is enough testimony.
Sanabul Essentials actually use the same anti-microbial technology as Hayabusa and each rash guard is super resilient. The treated fabric helps lasts a long time and can be used for multiple different sports.
Also IBJJF legal, Sanabul Essentials underarm mesh is perfect to combat sweating.
Any Hayabusa rash guard tends to be a touch more expensive than the average but it’s hard to argue against how great they are. As sponsors of combat sports stars GSP, Carlos Machado and Neil Melanson, you start to understand the level of quality.
The Metaru Charged in our opinion is the best rash guard for BJJ. They have clearly put significant time into developing their products with their fighters in mind.
High quality graphics are dyed perfectly into the design. Their anti-microbial and AGTM technologies are built into the fabric to help prevent the spread infections and give extra comfort and flexibility. With a stitched rubber band to prevent it riding up, Hayabusa have really made a great rash guard.
The rash guard world is populated with beautiful graphics and extremely tough durable tops. Whether a beginner or long-time black belt, buying a new rash guard is a great occasion. In your search the main things to remember are to look out for durability, moisture wicking and unrestricted movement and you will certainly find the best BJJ rash guards. Best of luck! Oss!