Starting BJJ As A Female – Practical Tips

Previously, we offered some advice for females starting BJJ training. That article focused more on your mentality when starting your BJJ journey. So for this article, we will list some of the more practical tips for females starting BJJ.

Training BJJ during your period

Unfortunately getting your menstrual period is one of the most troublesome things for female athletes. Especially for BJJ where it is such a close contact sport. It is completely up to you whether you want to train during your period. But my advice would be to skip training if you are experiencing cramps or other related pains. It might also be a good idea to skip training during those first few days when the flow is heaviest. I personally feel very uncomfortable rolling then and worry about leaking accidents. Take this opportunity to rest!

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Nevertheless, don’t lose heart. There are still ways to help you train during your period if you wish to. Menstrual cups, tampons, liners, ultra-long and absorbent pads, menstrual underwear, black spats/tights and Gi pants, and an extra layer of bicycle shorts under your spats/Gi pants. You can mix and match any of these methods until you find the best combination that makes you feel secure (i.e. wearing a tampon, plus liner, plus bicycle shorts and then black Gi pants.)

Hair management

Having good hair management during BJJ training benefits not just you but also your partners. Keep your hair clean! Don’t put a ton of hair products (gel, hair spray, wax, etc.) as it will rub off on your partners.

If you have long hair, there are a number of easy hairstyles to keep your locks in place. Braids, high ponytails and buns are viable options. Use good quality elastic bands that are able to hold your hair tightly in place without snapping, as well as those that don’t pull off your hair when you try to remove it. Sometimes you might need to use two elastic bands to keep everything tight enough. Also, keep some spares in your gym bag. I don’t know why but these get lost all the time.

More importantly, don’t use elastic bands with any hard, protruding parts attached. Avoid using pins and clips too. You don’t want to poke anyone’s eyes out! To keep fringes out of the way, use small elastic bands to tie them back.

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I personally prefer the high ponytail secured with two elastic bands. I usually have to retie my hair quite often throughout a session, and braids are too complicated to redo quickly. As for buns, inversions are a big part of my game and buns get in the way!

When you first start BJJ, just try out different hairstyles to find the one that best suits your hair type and rolling style.

Try not to wear any makeup

Try not to wear makeup either – not even waterproof ones. There is a high chance that all your makeup will end up on your partners’ Gis. Not only does this defeat the purpose of you having makeup on and a waste of all that cosmetics, you will stain your partners’ gear! Gis are not cheap and makeup stains don’t come off that easily. No one appreciates having foundation, mascara and lip gloss smeared all over their gear.

No jewelry, no watches

This goes for everyone stepping on the mats. No jewellery, no watches, no ornaments of any kind. Even practitioners with spectacles will have to take them off during drilling and rolling. Cuts and abrasions are a very real risk if you roll with someone wearing such articles. You can also imagine what will happen if your earring gets caught in your opponent’s Gi during a roll…

Keep your fingernails and toenails short

For those of you who love long nails, this is a sacrifice you will have to make. With all that grabbing in BJJ, you will end up scratching your partners if you have long nails (real or falsies). There is also the painful risk of having your long nails bend backwards or rip off when gripping the Gi.

No footwear on the mat

Never step on the mats with footwear. The ground game is a huge part of BJJ and we probably spend about 90% of the time rolling about the mats. The mat is our home and there is a need to keep it as clean as possible. On the same note, don’t go to the toilets and locker rooms in your bare feet! Keep a pair of slippers by the mats so that you can easily change in and out of your footwear as necessary.

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Essential gear:

  1. Gi: Shrinking is a problem so don’t wash your Gis in hot water and try not to throw it in the dryer! Depending on the brand, it is also advisable to buy one size up.
  2. Belt: Some people might tell you that it’s not necessary to wash this – don’t listen to them!
  3. Rashguard: These come in short and long sleeve versions. My preference is for the latter as it reduces mat burn and I feel more clean overall. Avoid baggy tops as fingers and toes can get caught in them!
  4. Leggings/spats: Good quality spats look good and feel good. But those are expensive. Cheap $20 sports leggings have worked just as well for me. Similar to the above point, avoid baggy bottoms and those with pockets to prevent entangling your partners’ fingers and toes.
  5. High-impact sport bra: BJJ is a vigorous grappling sport so you will need high-impact sports bras for better support.
  6. Sports underwear: No lacy thongs, please!
  7. Extra hair ties: Hair ties get lost very easily so it’s always good to have some spares. Also, some of your fellow students might suddenly need a hair tie – as the new girl, score some brownie points by offering them!
  8. Plasters and antiseptic cream: Cuts and abrasions are not uncommon so have a good supply of plasters to protect your wounds. This is also to avoid getting blood on your partners and on the mats.
  9. Towel and wet wipes: BJJ is a high-intensity grappling sport so you can be sure there will be plenty of sweat and grime. Wet wipes are useful if you feel you need a quick wipe in between rolls or after class. These are all the more important if your gym does not have proper bathing facilities.
  10. Slippers: No footwear on the mat! Slippers are the most convenient for you to slip in and out of when stepping on and off the mats.
  11. Water bottle: With all that physical exertion and sweating, it’s crucial to stay hydrated.
  12. Nail clippers: Long nails are a no-no in BJJ. Keep a spare pair of nail clippers in your gym bag in case you forgot to clip your nails at home.