Short vs. Long Sleeve BJJ Rashguards: Pros and Cons

Short Vs Long Sleeve Rashguard in BJJ

Rashguards are popular among the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) community. This protective clothing protects the skin from bacteria and fungi during grappling sessions, and the smooth fabric reduces friction, preventing scrapes and mat burns. People who are new to BJJ should understand the importance of rashguards, both short- and long-sleeved, and choose one that’s suitable for them.

Short sleeve BJJ rashguards don’t restrict movement and keep you cool. However, they provide less support and protection. On the other hand, long sleeve BJJ rashguards reduce skin contact, provide support, and protect you from abrasions. Unfortunately, they keep the body warm and are more expensive.

Some grapplers prefer to wear no rashguard at all under their gi, but rashguards are a must in no-gi grappling. So, when choosing a rashguard, should you go with short or long sleeves? In this guide, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of both to help you decide which type is best for you.

What Are BJJ Rashguards?

Because there’s a lot of movement on the mat and skin-to-skin contact during Jiu-Jitsu, the skin must be protected.

This is where rashguards come in, and they’re exactly what they sound like: a garment that guards against rashes. For BJJ fighters, rashguards protect the skin from mat burn and other abrasions. Additionally, they double as protection from germs, as they create a barrier between your skin and the mat and you and your opponent.

During BJJ grappling, you must wear the proper gear. For example, some fighters prefer short sleeve BJJ rashguards, whereas others swear by long sleeves. But which one is better? 

Let’s find out in the following sections as we look at the pros and cons of each.

Short-Sleeve BJJ Rashguards: An Overview

Short sleeve BJJ rashguards are popular because they’re more comfortable than long sleeves, and they provide more freedom of movement. However, they offer less protection and may put you at a disadvantage due to sweaty forearms.

Below, we’ll discuss some of the pros and cons of short sleeve rashguards for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Pros of Short Sleeve BJJ Rashguards

  • They don’t restrict movement. Short sleeve rash guards don’t inhibit movement of the arms during grappling sessions, which is important, as you’ll need to move around your opponent’s body, using your arms in the process. In addition, many grapplers find that short sleeves help them maintain the feel of their arms.
  • They keep you cooler. During the hotter months or warmer climates, many grapplers prefer short sleeves simply because they help you stay cool since the arms are exposed. Getting too hot during training sessions can have a significant effect on even the most basic technique, so in this case, short sleeve rash guards are an advantage.
  • They might help you out of your opponent’s grasp. Rashguards with short sleeves don’t wick sweat away from the forearms, so your arms and wrists may get sweaty. While many grapplers see this as a disadvantage, sweat makes arms slippery which could help you slip out of an opponent’s grasp.

Cons of Short Sleeve BJJ Rashguards

  • They provide less protection. The purpose of a rashguard is to provide protection. Short-sleeve rashguards don’t provide a barrier like long-sleeve rashguards, so when sliding across the mat or grappling, you’re more likely to experience scrapes, cuts, and mat burns because your arms are exposed.
  • There’s less support. Most rashguards provide some form of compression, but short-sleeve rashguards provide no compression at the elbows and forearms. Rashguards with compression can help reduce minor injuries. Arms take a beating in Jiu-Jitsu, but you’re not getting the benefit of added support without that compression.
  • Arms can get sweaty. As mentioned in the previous section, sweat can work to your advantage when sliding out of an opponent’s grasp. However, in some instances, it can cause problems. Sweat leads to slippage when grappling, which could put you at a disadvantage or make you lose your grip on your opponent.
  • You’re more susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections. With a short-sleeve rashguard, everything from your bicep to your wrist can come into contact with an opponent’s skin and the mat. More skin contact puts you at a higher risk of developing a fungal infection like ringworm or a bacterial infection like staphylococcus.

Long Sleeve BJJ Rashguards: An Overview

Long sleeve BJJ rashguards are recommended when participating in no-gi BJJ. Many people prefer long sleeve rashguards, as they provide more protection, but they tend to be pricier and keep the body warmer.

Below, we’ll look at the pros and cons of long sleeve BJJ rashguards.

Pros of Long SLeeve BJJ Rashguards

  • They minimize burns on your elbows, forearms, and biceps. Long sleeve rashguards prevent mat and gi burns on the entire arm. Friction scars take time to heal, which could put you at a disadvantage in future grappling sessions. While a gi provides a barrier between the mat and skin, it can also create friction from rolling, causing burns on the elbows. Wearing a long-sleeve rashguard underneath helps avoid that friction.
  • Long sleeve rashguards add a bit of friction. The more you roll in BJJ, the more sweat accumulates, which leads to slippery skin, and slick skin has very little friction. This is a serious disadvantage when trying to take advantage of an opponent in a submission such as Kimura. Long sleeve rashguards wick away sweat and give yourself more traction to get those submissions that people usually slip out of.
  • They provide reduced skin-to-skin contact. Reduced skin contact is extremely important in grappling. Bacteria and fungi on the mats and other opponents are less likely to cause issues when you’re wearing a long-sleeve rash guard.
  • They provide additional muscle and joint support. Most rashguards offer some compression, which speeds up healing. Jiu-Jitsu is a contact sport, so the arms take a lot of beating. Compression helps with arm soreness and fatigue, and you’re less likely to give out when finishing a submission when your muscles are in good health. Long sleeves prevent some soreness as it provides compression on elbows and forearms.

Cons of Long Sleeve BJJ Rashguards

  • They’re more expensive. Because more material is used to make long sleeve rashguards, they tend to be more expensive than short sleeve or tank rashguards.
  • Opponents may grab onto the sleeves. During grappling sessions, long-sleeves create traction, which an opponent may use to their advantage if they get a better grip on your wrist.

Which One Should You Choose?

Both short and long sleeve BJJ rashguards have their advantages and disadvantages. Most are situational advantages, such as sweat allowing for quickly slipping out of a submission, but there are also comfort and health advantages.

Since rashguards’ purpose is to protect the skin, long sleeve rashguards are highly recommended over short-sleeves. They provide more protection from abrasions and significantly reduce skin-to-skin contact. In fact, wearing rashguards is one of my top 7 tips to help prevent ringworm during BJJ.

Where To Get High-Quality Long and Short Sleeve Rashguards

Long Sleeve BJJ rash guard

First off I just want to give a full disclosure. That is I am sponsored by Level Black and wear their rashguards exclusively. That said, I truly love their products and would not be sponsored by them if didn’t think they made the best products.

Level Black has both long-sleeve and short-sleeve rashguards. So whichever one you choose to go with they got you covered. My personal opinion is why not have both? After all, you are gonna want at least a few high-quality rashguards.

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