If you’ve attended your first no-gi BJJ class, you probably noticed many students wearing skintight leggings either underneath their shorts or as standalone lower body apparel.
When it comes to training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, there are a number of different apparel pieces that are must-haves for successful long term training.
We instinctively understand that shorts and rashguards are requirements for no-gi. However, BJJ spats, the skin tight stretchy leggings are worn by many male and female jiu-jitsu practitioners, are just as important when it comes to making sure your gear bag for BJJ has everything you need to train successfully.
In the following article, we break down what BJJ spats actually are. We then go over the reasons to wear BJJ spats during training and a few possible downsides to spats.
We list the considerations for buying spats as well as our top five picks for spats in 2020. Finally, we go over a few frequently asked questions that come up when discussing the best spats for BJJ
What are BJJ Spats?
Generally speaking, spats are pocketless skintight leggings designed to be worn under shorts or gi pants to provide additional protection and comfort during training.
The best BJJ spats are typically made from a combination of nylon, spandex, and polyester, which make them very stretchy and form-fitting to avoid bunching up or having areas of excess material.
Furthermore, the material offers many of the benefits associated with compression clothing.
Spats come in both plain and colorful, stylish designs, and are usually designed for either men or women, with slightly different patterns to fit the usual differences in hip and thigh anatomy between men and women.
BJJ spats can be worn in both gi and no-gi during training and competition.
The Benefits of BJJ Spats
There are a number of reasons why BJJ athletes wear spats. Most of the benefits are associated with comfort and protection, however, consideration for your training partners is a third, often overlooked benefit of wearing a pair of the best BJJ spats during training.
In terms of comfort, spats offer a number of benefits. Since spats cover your entire leg, they are great for eliminating chafing in the thighs and other areas that can become abraded and irritated leading to discomfort during training.
Additionally, protecting against irritations from abrasive or rough mats – aka “mat burn” – is another crucial comfort factor for wearing spats.
Mat burn is a serious annoyance, particularly on the knees, and a good pair of BJJ spats will help keep the discomfort of mat burn at bay on any exposed portion of your leg.
For male athletes with substantial leg hair, it’s incredibly common for hairs to be torn out against the friction of the mats or your partner’s skin or clothing during training.
The spats can protect against the discomfort of pulled hair on the exposed skin. Additionally, in terms of leg-hair, athletes who prefer to have shaved legs when wearing shorts, spats offer a covering if you do not have time to shave your legs every day.
The compression material of spats can offer many of the same benefits associated with other pieces of compressive apparel. Many athletes report improved blood flow, recovery, and reduced injury risks when wearing compression clothing. A good pair of BJJ spats can help you reap these benefits while remaining protected on the mats.
Spats also offer improved privacy and personal comfort for people uncomfortable with large amounts of exposed skin during training.
Let’s face it, many shorts on the market these days are incredibly short, and spats offer increased privacy for athletes who do not want the fabric bulk of long shorts but prefer to have their skin covered for personal privacy reasons.
The protective benefits of BJJ spats go far beyond simple comfort, anti-abrasion, and privacy concerns, and can protect from serious skin conditions that frequently plague grapplers.
Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee the absolute cleanliness of the mat training surfaces. Skin conditions affecting BJJ players range from being mild and irritating to very severe and potentially life-threatening.
While most good BJJ schools will and should be mopping after every class, even good disinfectant and consistent cleaning cannot guarantee there won’t be bacteria, viruses, and fungi hungry to infect exposed on the mat surfaces at your gym.
Ringworm is an incredibly common concern for grapplers. While ringworm is treatable with over-the-counter creams and is typically irritating but not life-threatening, it is still an incredible hassle to deal with and often requires you to take time off from training while it is being treated with ant-fungal cream or spray.
The skin protection from spats can reduce the exposure to any ringworm fungus present on the mats, and subsequently decrease your risk for picking up ringworm on your legs – an all-too-common infection area due the frequency and intensity of mat contact on your legs during grappling.
In terms of more serious skin conditions, staph infections and in particular MRSA are conditions that we want to avoid at all costs.
While varieties of staph live on our skin naturally and are generally harmless, the more dangerous antibiotic-resistant MRSA often lurks in the corners of the mats that may not get cleaned, and can easily make its way throughout a gym even with proper cleaning.
The spats provide a physical barrier between your skin and the bacteria, which drastically reduces your MRSA risks should there be any of the bacteria present on the mats.
Additionally, the protection from abrasion we previously mentioned will provide additional assistance in preventing MRSA from infecting your skin. MRSA likes to infect the layers in between your outer in inner skin, and as such, reducing abrasions to the outer skin drastically reduces the ability of MRSA to enter and infect your body.
Furthermore, the protection of any leg hair will prevent inflamed follicles and reduce ingrown hair occurrences due to abrasion. This is crucial given that staph and MRSA love to infect irritated follicles. With a good pair of regularly-washed spats, you can stop MRSA in its tracks and prevent the nasty complications that can happen with an infection.
Consideration for your training partner
The final benefit of spats is the consideration for your partner. While most trainees will not mind some exposure to bare skin – after all, it is grappling – some individuals may prefer less exposure to bare skin whilst training BJJ.
Particularly due to some of the positions in BJJ, an extra barrier between your partner and the skin on your inner thigh can reduce any discomfort with physical contact your partner may have.
Particularly when training with members of the opposite sex, the increased skin covering reduces any possible discomfort with bare skin contact near more personal areas of the body.
The Downsides of Spats for BJJ
Now that we’ve gone over the large upsides to wearing spats during BJJ training, we want to mention a few notable downsides that can occur with spat-wearing.
The first major downside is simply having another piece of gear to deal with. You’ve already got a mouthpiece, shorts, rashguard, and possibly headgear to deal with paying for, remembering to bring, remembering to wash, and having to change into before practice.
Spats do require the additional hassle of another piece of apparel, and while this is a very minor factor, it can be an annoyance given the gear already needed for BJJ.
The second issue is that some grapplers may simply prefer the feeling of bare skin when training. Some people are irritated by different materials and may have issues with spandex or even the sensation of any additional material covering the full length of their leg.
If this is the case, you might consider looking for spats with less spandex or with a better fit.
A final performance consideration for whether or not to wear spats is that they can increase the level of friction that occurs during live rolling.
With the rise of the leg-lock metagame in BJJ, being able to slide out of threatening entanglements can be the difference between winning or losing competitive BJJ matches.
While most spats should not restrict movement to the point where you cannot escape a leg entanglement, it’s worth noting that this may be an issue if you play a lot of leg locks.
Picking Your Pair of the Best BJJ Spats
When picking your BJJ spats, there are three main considerations: construction material, logo and brand design, and price.
Most modern BJJ spats are going to be constructed from a nylon-polyester-spandex blend. The majority of people will not have irritation from this blend, however if you do have an allergic reaction to spandex, it’s worth looking for a pair of BJJ spats with a lower percentage of spandex or a non-spandex waistband.
Logo and Brand Design
Depending on your inclinations toward self-expression, you may be looking for a flashy logo or print on your spats. There are many print design options for BJJ spats on the market.
Whether you are into anime, dragons, or looking for a sleek, streamlined logo, there will be spats available for you.
On the other hand, if you prefer black, white, or any other plain color, most major sports-apparel companies offer flat-color spats.
Pricing for spats ranges from incredibly affordable for basic designs, fit, and construction to higher prices for custom logos or specific form-fitting designs.
Depending on your needs, you may want to spend more or less on a pair of spats. Identifying your budget and then specific needs such as specialty-tailored spats or particular designs will aid you in finding the perfect pair of BJJ spats.
The Best BJJ Spats of 2020
While there are a large number of different spat options on the market, we’ve laid out our top picks for the best BJJ spats of 2020.
We’ve started with the most affordable at the top followed by our premium options towards the bottom. Whatever your needs and budget, you won’t go wrong with any of the best BJJ spats on our list.
Hawk Sports Compression Pants for Jiu Jitsu and MMA
For a great pair of spats on a tight budget, the Hawk Sports Compression Pants for Jiu Jitsu and MMA make the top of the list.
These spats are all-purpose for any martial art, combat sport, or even yoga and running, and are perfect for intense grappling training.
The ultra-lightweight material offers UPF 50+ sun protection and breathable, fast-dry compression for serious activity indoor or outdoor. The overlock-stitched reinforced seams include Lycra stretch panels to ensure a snug and comfortable fit from any position.
These spats come with a lifetime warranty and include free replacement should anything go wrong.
Sanabul Compression Base Layer Jiu Jitsu Spats
Next in line for our top BJJ spats are the Sanabul Compression Base Layer Jiu Jitsu Spats. Featuring a premium nylon-spandex-polyester blend that wicks away moisture and protects against bacteria buildup, these are a great budget option for your next BJJ spat purchase.
The 4-way stretch material ensures superior mobility in any combat sport activity from MMA to BJJ. 5-thread 2-needle stitching ensures no additional tears along the seams. The rubberized printing is peel-resistant and will not crumble over time.
These spats come in a sleek black color perfect for grapplers looking for a simple design
Gold BJJ Jiu Jitsu Spats
Increasingly known for their high-quality grappling gear, Gold BJJ has hit the mark again with the Gold BJJ Jiu Jitsu spats. These spats are the ultimate base layer for Jiu Jitsu and protect against mat burn while adding a touch of compression for comfort during rolls.
As with most BJJ spats, the base layers are 4-way stitched to ensure they remain lightweight, breathable, and flexible so they will not restrict any motion needed during BJJ. The durable fabric will keep you protected from bacteria, abrasions, and smelly training partners. Backed by the Gold BJJ guarantee, these spats will deliver on their promise as one of the best pairs of BJJ spats in 2020.
Fuji Baseline V2 Jiu Jitsu Spats
For our most premium BJJ spat option, we highly recommend the Fuji Baseline V2 Jiu Jitsu spats. Backed by the Fuji brand name, these spats deliver high quality and dependability through an 88% polyester, 12% spandex blend perfect for comfortable protection when training jiu jitsu.
The ultra-lightweight 4-way stretch performance fabric is not see-through when stretched, making this a great option for females looking for BJJ spats for women that won’t reveal anything regardless of the position during rolling.
The simple elegant design comes in black and is perfect for grapplers who prefer not to have a name brand or flashy image on their apparel.
Caring for Spats
Once you’ve invested in a pair or two of spats for BJJ, it’s crucial to properly care for them in order to maintain their longevity and avoid acquiring an embedded stink in the material.
Realistically, the most important tip for BJJ is to wash them every time you train in them as soon as possible following practice. If you can get them in the washer before the sweat, bacteria, and whatever else you picked up at practice can soak in, you will avoid the persistent nasty smell that workout clothes can sometimes acquire if not consistently washed.
Once you’ve run the spats through a standard wash cycle, we recommend an additional rinse cycle with either ¼ cup of vinegar or a commercial laundry sanitizer to fully destroy any remaining buildup and ensure even fresher spats once they come out of the dryer.
The biggest no-no is leaving wet, unclean spats in a gym bag. This will guarantee a nasty stink in your spats, stink up your gym bag, and potentially harbor even more bacteria.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I wear just spats?
You may occasionally have a training partner who shows up in just spats to train. While this may be acceptable for women, it’s generally recommended to wear a pair of shorts over your spats.
For guys, no one is trying to see your bulge or individual contours on your glutes, so please throw on a pair of shorts over your spats.
For girls, it may be more acceptable to wear just leggings, however we do recommend making sure that they are not see-through when in a deep squat position (the material will be maximally stretched and sometimes the weave becomes translucent in the hip area.
Do I need spats under my gi pants?
If you are training BJJ in a Gi, you can still benefit from wearing spats under your gi pants. Some gi material can get rough and abrasive, and the spats under the pants will help ensure you do not chafe against rough or worn-out cotton in the inseam-area.
That being said, depending on the temperature in your training facility, spats under your Gi pants may get a little hot. With the advanced moisture-wicking material in most modern spats, this may be less of an issue. Nevertheless, it’s worth experimenting to see if the protection under your gi pants is worth it.
Are spats allowed in competition?
In most no-gi competitions, spats are allowed. It’s always worth checking with the promoter or organization ahead of time to be sure of the uniform guidelines for competitors, but generally, you should be fine. Some BJJ tournaments may not allow spats when competing in gi.
As we mentioned before, if you play leg-locks, make sure you are familiar with escaping and engaging in leg entanglements while wearing spats, as the added friction may affect your ability to slide out of positions you are used to.
As a general rule, you should always have already trained in whatever gear you are competing with. If you plan to compete in spats, be sure to train in them and break them in beforehand, even if you have a pair of BJJ spats specifically for competitions.
Check out some of our articles on other BJJ equipment Here