The rash guard is a staple in no-gi grappling but it’s benefits of use with the gi is often debated. Someone people feel less restricted without a rash guard, and absolutely refuse to wear one while rolling in the gi. I am of the belief that the benefits of wearing a rash guard whenever you are rolling far out weigh the freedom you feel without it.
There are several reasons why I advocate the use of a rash guard under the gi.
Muscle Compression can help prevent injury. There have been several studies on how wearing a rash guard after rolling can speed up injury recovery due to the compression of the muscles. Just as there are compression braces that reduce injuries of the knees and ankles, rash guards may also reduce the occurrence of minor acute injuries.
Reduce the spread of bacteria. In the gi, it is common practice to open the gi in order to destabilize your opponent, setup for gi chokes, or to use as leverage for a pass. Additionally, during intense rolling, the gi will naturally open, exposing your opponent’s chest. This exposes as much as 40% more skin surface area and increases the change of bacteria exchange exponentially.
Wick away moisture for better grips. I find myself resetting my gi and tieing my belt every 10 minutes of rolling (or every other round). The more I roll, the more sweat accumulates, increasing the chances of me transferring that sweat to my hands in between rounds. Next thing I know, I try to take advantage of my opponent placing their palm on the ground, and as soon as I grab their wrist for the Kimura, they slip right out. Sure being sweaty can work to our benefit but we touch our bodies just as much as our opponent’s. Wearing a rash guard, will help to alleviate some of that sweat transfer.
Prevents mat burn. This is one of the original purposes of wearing a rash guard. When rolling no-gi, skin contact on your typical BJJ mat can cause friction scars. For people like myself, who has had several surgeries, the likely hood of mat burn is pretty high. Though the gi provides a barrier between the mat and your skin, it can worsen friction from rolling. The weave patterns on gi’s are designed to be strong and allow for griping, but it also creates a lot of friction. This is especially true for elbow passes or any other movements that require you to plant part of your arm on the mat. Wearing a rash guard can divert some of that friction to the rash guard, or even displace it all together, as it’s surface is a lot smoother than your skin.
Difference between a rashguard and a Compression shirt?
With that said, rash guards and compression shirts are not the same. In fact, all rash guards are not created equal. Typical compression shirts are made of 4 panels and are not designed for constant contact. As a result, the movements are restricted, and the shirt is more likely to ride up over your abdominal while rolling. Good rash guards are made from a minimum of 6 panels. The stitching is very durable and is built to resist sleeve pulls and stretching.
Unfortunately, IBJJF and Naga do not allow a rash guard under the gi for competitions.
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