Updated: Feb 7
I´m a BJJ NoGi grappler from Germany. After training different martial arts my whole life, such as MMA, Sambo and full contact Karate (Kyokushinkai), I was finally introduced to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and fell in love with submission grappling (NoGi Jiu-Jitsu).
While training Jiu-Jitsu for some years now new members often ask me about why they should wear spats at all, so I decided to write an article about that topic.
Why do you wear spats? Do I really need them?
There are several reasons for wearing spats in training and on the competition mats. So they can be very beneficial for no gi jiu-jitsu athletes. Those reasons you can be divided into 4 categories: functional, hygienic, protective and competitive.
A study from 2016 shows that by wearing compression clothing you may improve a bit variables related to endurance performance (i.e., time to exhaustion). They should also benefit from reduced inflammation, muscle pain and damage. But there was no statistically significant mean effects on the performance itself. So.. yes, there are functional benefits. But to be honest you won´t feel any difference because the effect is very small.
They say "the ground is my ocean". What they really mean by that is the sea of sweat during your everyday porrada training sessions. Sweat and even more sweat everywhere. You just can´t do any move without slipping. You´re going for your favourite passing sequence, constantly switching directions, slip and land in your opponents triangle. That´s ok, that´s kinda part of the game. But when the 250 pounds brown belt forces you to turtle, get´s both hooks in and just flattens you out into back mount, your face gets waterboarded on the mat. Having your face pressed into soaking wet mats sucks. Your elbows, knees, shins and forearms are constantly get pressed against the sweaty mat during training. Bacterial or fungal infections are on it´s way into your body causing very bad diseases like staph infection or ring worm. Wearing a rashguard and #spats reduce the chance of getting some of those gross things a lot. At least if you wash them after training.
Remember Gordon Ryan vs Nicky Rod at EBI? Fighting someone topless or just very slippery can be very hard. It feels like turkish oil wrestling, or trying to catch a slippery fish out of the sea. Think about every position which uses the legs for control - closed guard, single leg x, triangles, armbars etc. - if you don´t have any fabric between it will be way easier to escape by just slipping out. It´s simple physics, or more specific: It´s basic tribology.
With wearing spats you´ll have a small tactical benefit. Spats will wick away the sweat from you and your opponent and they add more friction. More friction, more control. Especially for leg entanglements it´s essential to have a strong bite on the leg. Same goes for arm bars and triangles of course. So adding a bit more friction to your leg entanglements and submission holds will help you a lot for keeping control and work through the finish.
Last but not least there´re some more benefits for wearing spats. My first gym in 2013 had those lovely red-green puzzle mats. One thing was getting taken down by a double leg on those very slim hard mats. The other thing was drilling knee slides as a beginner and slowly grind my skin off my knees and elbows. Yes, I´m talking about mat burn (shout out to Team Mattenbrand I really love that name). It hurts and heals very slow, especially if you train the next day and rip it off again. There are mats and mat-covers which increase the chance of getting mat burn (like those puzzle mats) but by wearing rashguards and spats your skin pretty safe.
So.. do yourself a favor and get some spats. They are beneficial for your training and competition. LE Movement has the best fitting spats / tights with outstanding designs.