The history of the BJJ rash guard in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA

Surfing

Have you ever wondered how that BJJ rash guard you wear under your BJJ gi, or solo in the case of no gi grappling, came to be?

When did BJJ athletes start wearing them, and who invented such a practical and diverse athletic garment?

Well, the truth lies somewhere in the water. Before North Americans were introduced to BJJ in the early 90’s, surfers were wearing them as part of their gettup. They would wear them under their wetsuit to prevent chafing, or just by themselves, if the water was warm enough. They provided surfers with protection from the nasty sun, as well as jellyfish stings. They also prevented rashes that would occur when the wax from the surfboard mixed with sand from the beach, rubbing against the surfer’s chest as he paddled out to catch the break.

Rash guards are thought to have made their debut in Australia where they are referred to as “rashies”, prior to making their way across the pond. Surfing and BJJ in Rio De Janeiro (the birthplace of BJJ) have always had a very symbiotic relationship, and it would seem that people training BJJ started wearing their surf rash guards to class. It would appear the trend caught on!

The early BJJ rash guards weren’t overly colorful and flashy like the sublimated ones we see today, but were instead generally black and white, similar to the surf rash guards you still see in the market now, with simple designs, stitching, and silk screen printing that would rub off after a few months of rolling. Oh, how the BJJ rash guard has evolved over the years!

Chris Stepchuk

March 11, 2018

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