The name itself gives you a bit of a clue... obviously, if you're training NoGi jiu jitsu, there will be "no gi" involved. Whoever coined the term was a veritable genius.
For those of you who wilt and suffocate under the weight of a heavy gi, this is fantastic news. You can still practice the gentle art, without having to deal with the insufferable kimono. But... what do you wear when training NoGi BJJ?
Back in the days, a t-shirt and/or speedo would suffice. Yeah, really. Spend enough time with some old-school Brazilian grapplers, and they'll regale you with stories of their speedo days. Today, that doesn't fly too well.
In the last decade, the NoGi uniform has professionalized. In replace of your everyday t-shirt - which tears easily and stretches when wet, creating bear traps for any unwitting toes or fingers - grapplers now wear lightweight rash guards, much like those used by surfers. Commonly made out of a durable, stretchy polyester and spandex mix fabric, rash guards are made to fit you like a second skin. Aside from the obvious - protecting you from rashes or mat burns while you're fighting to the death - they also protect you from mat-borne illnesses, such as ringworm, staph, and MRSA. Plus, because they're easily sublimated, rash guards have become a serious fashion statement on the mats, sporting anything from the academy logo, to superhero armor, to Chuck Norris, and everything imaginable in between. If you plan to become, or are, a competitor, several event promotions require you to wear a "ranked rashguard," which features your belt color... probably so you don't sneak into the black belt division and they have to carry your broken body off the mat.
The bottoms of your NoGi uniform will vary just a bit. If you're attending a very old-school Gracie academy, it's likely that you'll fight yourself right back into a pair of gi pants (with a rash guard). However, most NoGi grapplers prefer to wear a pair of grappling shorts and/or spats. Unlike your standard pair of board shorts or athletic shorts, grappling shorts have no pockets - again, to prevent your or your opponent's fingers and toes from getting caught and injured - and are made from a slightly stretchy (but not too stretchy, though) polyester material. Many grapplers - mostly women, but some men, too... we don't judge - opt to wear "spats" instead. These are basically athletic leggings, typically made from a spandex and polyester mix fabric, that were designed to withstand the rigors of jiu-jitsu training. Just like a rash guard, they provide full-length protection against mat burn and other skin infections. And then there are even those who opt to wear both spats and grappling shorts, combining the protection of the spats with the modesty (because spats can be a bit too skin tight for some) of the grappling shorts.
Whatever your style, remember to train safe and always, always wash your gear soon after use. Nobody likes to roll with the funky guy.
Train on... Oss.
Photo by: Blanca Marisa Garcia