Choosing the best BJJ and MMA shorts
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) continue their rapid increase in popularity around the world. More and more people are taking part in these activities for sports and self defence purposes. BJJ and MMA in general requires clothing with specific characteristics to meet the requirements of both striking and grappling practitioners. This guide covers the types of shorts available so you can make a more informed decision when buying BJJ and MMA shorts.
Martial arts clothing manufacturers now design their apparel using cutting edge technology and materials to maximise range of movement athletes. Choosing suitable shorts for BJJ and MMA can be challenging, especially for beginners due to the wide range of options. There are some essential features for all types of Jiu Jitsu and fight shorts which you should be aware of.
Shorts must be free of external pockets for the safety of your training partners fingers and toes. Additionally there should be no zips or buckles which can cause cuts, scratches or worse. Any draw string rope for the waist should be on the inside of the shorts.
Your BJJ / MMA fight shorts should also be the correct size. This will ensure that the shorts will stay in place especially while you are grappling.
Types of shorts for BJJ and MMA
As mentioned previously there are several types of shorts available to BJJ and MMA practitioners which you need to be aware of.
These shorts utilise a design to imitate traditional surfing style board shorts. They have a draw string inside the waist and a Velcro fastening over the top. Also they usually have an elasticated waist for added comfort. The legs will be looser than normal shorts to give you the room you need for applying grappling techniques.
There will also be split seams at the end of the thighs to support full range of movement, especially high kicks. Or in a grappling context, these style of fight shorts will support split squat passing or inversions (to name a couple of examples). BJJ and MMA board shorts are normally knee length but the measurements vary by manufacturer.
Best budget BJJ and MMA board shorts
Tatami Dweller Collection Shorts – Navy
Amongst my favourite grappling apparel brands is Tatami. They consistently deliver the goods when it comes to comfort, functionality and price. The Navy version of the Dweller Collection are priced at just £19.99 which is a steal in anyone’s book. Like all Tatami shorts they are built to last. I have had some pairs which I have worn for 3 or 4 years now, several times per week. They have a lot of room in the legs, and the drawstring / Velcro combination ensure they stay in place even during the toughest grappling sessions. Like i said,, a high quality pair of BJJ and MMA shorts for under £20 is an absolute bargain!
MMA Fight Shorts – Amazon
I’ll be very honest. I have no idea what brand these MMA fight shorts are. What I do know is that I have had a pair of these for 3 years covering at least 150 hours of no gi sessions. Considering they are currently £13.95 they have served me extremely well. These fight shorts have a thick draw string behind a Velcro waist band. They also have split seams which are longer than usual. This is useful for high kicking and also those ridiculous duck walks my gym forces us to endure in every warm up! Again £13.95 for a pair of MMA shorts which have lasted more than 3 years. What more do you need to know?
Best BJJ and MMA shorts for style
Tatami Shadow Collection BJJ Shorts
I really like the understated style of these Tatami Shadow shorts. They match up really well with the Tatami Shadow rashguard featured in my post on Best Rash Guards for BJJ and MMA. These shorts have four-way stretch breathable polyester fabric with non sublimated heat pressed logos. They will last a very long time if my collection of Tatami shorts are anything to go by. Just a note that the Tatami orders process and shipping are second to none. I have just ordered a tracksuit, hooded top and similar shorts in their recent sale. The order was processed over a weekend and I received all of my goods on Wednesday morning. This is super impressive during the Covid-19 lockdown landscape.
Tatami Thinker Monkey BJJ Shorts
These stylish shorts are the matching lower set to Tatami’s Thinker Monkey range. The rashguard can be sourced in my previous post on Best Rash Guards for BJJ and MMA. As an older (or ‘more mature’) grappler I tend to look for more modest designs. However, this Tatami set has been put together with the artistic talents of renowned artist and BJJ black belt Chris Burns. This set has been a popular talking point over the last couple of years. I’ve been asked countless times where I can get this set from as they are typically out of stock on the Tatami website. The fit and materials are typical of Tatami, they will last for a long time. The design will last even longer if you are lucky enough to be able to find a set.
Best shorter leg BJJ and MMA shorts
Progress Sportif MMA Shorts
As a Mancunian I have an affinity with the Progress JJ brand. They are a local company with global aspirations and sponsor some top athletes such as IBJJF and ADCC world champion Kaynan Duarte. These shorts have a rubberised grip on the waistband with an elasticated back and draw string enclosure. This ensures a comfortable and secure fit which won’t ride up (or down!) at the moments you least expect. The shorts are also IBJJF approved, so you do not have to suffer the penalty of sacrificing style for a pair of boring cookie-cutter shorts.
Vale Tudo Shorts
Vale Tudo shorts are similar to compression shorts in many ways. They are designed to allow you to fight or grapple with less friction. Therefore the assumption is that you will be able to move faster than wearing other types of fight shorts.
Vale Tudo shorts often leave very little to the imagination. It takes a brave or confident BJJ or MMA practitioner to be able to wear these kind of fight shorts. However, once you get over this hurdle they are the most comfortable shorts for BJJ or MMA. Some types of Vale Tudo shorts come with a built in or removable cup which can go some way to protect your modesty.
You will see these style of shorts in old Pride FC videos. You will also see the likes of Conor McGregor wear Vale Tudo shorts while fighting in the UFC
Best budget Vale Tudo shorts
RDX MMA Thermal Compression Shorts
These shorts are described as having ‘4-way stretch MMA Thermal Compression’, which reduces the risk of Sports injuries. they are also made with a fabric which wicks sweat and maintains body temperature. The compressed fit reduces muscle soreness during post workout recovery.
I have not tested any of my compression shorts to see if they aid recovery, like RDX claim. Mainly because I remove them as soon as I finish my session, for hygiene purposes. Eventually I will get around to wearing a spare pair following my training sessions to test this claim. As an older grappler post training soreness is always a huge issue. So I look forward to finding out if these shorts do reduce muscle soreness.
Best Vale Tudo shorts for comfort
Venum Devil Compression Shorts
The Venum Devil Vale Tudo Shorts offer compression technology which puts pressure on the muscles to improve blood circulation. This means that the muscles will receive a better supply of oxygen, which in turn aids recovery and boosts endurance. Improved recovery time is an important factor amongst BJJ and MMA athletes looking to gain a competitive edge. The breathable materials wick moisture to assist in keeping you dry during training sessions. These Vale Tudo shorts include an internal groin guard pocket (not included).
Best Premium Vale Tudo Shorts
Bad Boy Impact Vale Tudo shorts
These shorts are on the shorter side for an even greater freedom of movement. They contain a thicker material which helps keep everything in place. The materials also reduce the unwanted bulging in the groin area, and there is space on the inside for a protective cup. I have personally worn these a few times (in red) and they are the most comfortable shorts I have ever worn. Unfortunately as a slightly older grappler I do feel a bit self conscious in them. Therefore I usually go for board style shorts for my BJJ and MMA training.
Hybrid fight shorts combine features of Vale Tudo and board shorts, giving you the best of both worlds. These style of fight shorts provide a layer of compression underneath a typical BJJ / grappling shorts. Often hybrid shorts will be more expensive due to the additional materials requirements. Choosing a hybrid style of shorts for training can be a good option. Especially if you need the security of compression shorts but do not feel confident with the exposure that they offer.
Personally I have not tried these shorts and therefore will not recommend any. (Note: If any companies want to send me some for review, feel free to do so!) The main reason being my preference for the other types of shorts but also due to the cost factor. You can find some examples of hybrid fight shorts on the Scramble and Hyperfly websites.
Compression pants (Spats)
Compression pants are often referred to as spats. Spats are mostly used in training and cover the entire legs down to the ankles. It is worth mentioning that they are not legal for males in IBJJF organised BJJ competitions. They are also not legal in MMA, athletes must wear shorts above the knee. However, some local competitions outside of the IBJFF do allow them to be worn. Therefore I have included spats for BJJ in this guide.
Spats are typically constructed using a similar material as Vale Tudo shorts. This means that they can offer the same compression functionality through the legs. They also act as a protective layer for the skin to mitigate the risk of picking up a skin infection. They can take some getting used to. Especially if – like myself – you are prone to prickly heat or have hairy legs.
Best budget spats
Tatami Nova Compression spats
The Tatami Nova range has a simple and minimalist look and feel without sacrificing function or quality. These spats offer great value with a price point of lower than £25. Made from non sublimated material, these BJJ spats will not go see through when stretched. Additionally they will not bobble or Velcro. Therefore you can wear them underneath your favourite shorts for extra warmth, comfort and protection.
Best premium BJJ and MMA spats
Venum Gladiator 3.0 Compression spats
These spats offer the same compression technology as the previously mentioned Venum Devil Vale Tudo shorts. The distinctive design is sublimated into the material’s fibres for maximum durability. These spats have an elasticated waistband to ensure that they do not ride up (or down!). They also appear to have reinforced stitching of the seams. Like with most Venum gear, they are stylish (if you like this kind of thing) and will last quite some time.
This rounds up my guide on BJJ and MMA shorts. I hope that you find it useful. If you have any suggestions or have enjoyed success with certain products please let me know. I will add them to my guide.