Can I Wear Shoes In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? (Etiquette Explained)

Are you new to the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and want to know if you can wear shoes during training and competitions?

Perhaps you have heard some people wear shoes during BJJ and want to know if that is allowed or not? No matter the question that brought you here today, we have the answer for you! 

Can I Wear Shoes In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has become increasingly popular these days, with more and more of us signing up for classes.

But when we sign up for our first class, panic sets in as we start to wonder what we need to bring. So we head online to get ourselves a checklist but fall at one of the first hurdles: shoes. 

Are they to be worn? Are they to be removed? It can be tricky to find this answer out and you quickly find yourself stressed and anxious, worried about being wrong on your first day. 

Well, no more! Today we are here with the answers that you need. Just keep reading to find out if you can wear shoes in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and everything else that you need to know!

What Is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

Before we get into today’s article, let’s have a quick recap for those in the room that need it. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, BJJ< is a martial art that focuses on ground fighting and submission holds.

The goal is to get your opponent on the ground and dominate them. Usually, this is done by joint locks, chokeholds, or other techniques that make it difficult for them to free themselves and win the fight. 

Originating in Japan, the combat sport later moved to South America, before evolving in the early 1900s into the sport that we know and love today!

People now train and compete in BJJ competitions across the globe, often in sold-out stadiums and arenas too! Not only is it hugely popular, but it is a fantastic way to stay fit and healthy and to learn some self-defense! 

Now that we have briefly established what BJJ is, let’s move on and find out if you can wear shoes or not during BJJ.  

Can I Wear Shoes In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

Let’s get straight into it! No, typically you cannot wear shoes in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Almost all classes and competitions are taught and fought completely barefoot, with shoes frowned upon when you are on the mat!

In your BJJ classes or gym, you are likely to find that people wear shoes to the class, but will remove their shoes and socks before stepping onto the mats, and you will be expected to do the same. 

Of course, if there is a medical reason why you need to wear shoes on the mat, then some instructors will allow you to wear wrestling shoes.

However, it is unlikely that you would be allowed to wear these in a competition as they can be seen as an advantage.

The shoes would give you more grip on the mat, making it harder for your opponent to take you down to the ground.

So in the interest of fairness, shoes of any kind are not allowed during BJJ competitions. 

If you have an injury like a sprained ankle, a fracture that is not fully recovered, or a toenail infection that you don’t want to spread to others, speak to your instructor.

In most cases, they will allow wrestling shoes or socks to be worn to protect your feet. You can also use athletic tape to provide some additional support to your injuries. 

It is quite common to see BJJ students and fighters barefoot on the mat with tape on their feet. It can offer the support that you need, without causing any additional pain to the injury.

If you have never used athletic tape before, we recommend heading online and watching some strapping tutorials on YouTube.

There are plenty out there, and even some specifically for BJJ, so you can be sure that your foot is cared for in the best way possible! 

Remember, if you are in pain or are advised not to exercise with your injury, it is best to avoid training.

There is no point putting yourself through more pain or slowing the healing process down, so take some time to rest up! 

Why Is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Barefoot?

Why Is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Barefoot?

Now that we have established that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is done barefoot, you might be wondering why? So let’s take a quick look at the reasons why you train and compete barefoot. 

The first reason is that barefoot training in martial arts and combat sports is part of their tradition! BJJ training often took place outdoors on soft grass, where it was easier to train barefoot than in shoes and socks.

And although the sport has evolved over the years, the tradition of practicing BJJ barefoot has remained! 

Hygiene is another reason why BJJ is done barefoot. By training barefoot, instructors can keep the mats clean.

You wouldn’t want to be grappling on a dirty or muddy mat, would you?

You are expected to remove any shoes before stepping onto the mat with clean feet, and to keep any muddy or dirty shoes far away from the mat! This helps ensure that everyone is training on clean and hygienic mats! 

Finally, there is the matter of safety! It hurts far more getting hit with a shoe than a barefoot, and shoes can cause more damage too! So to keep you and other BJJ fighters safe, the shoes come off! 

Final Thoughts 

And there you have it! Shoes are not typically worn in BJJ to ensure that the mats are kept clean and that other fighters and students are safe.

In some cases, those with injuries can wear soft training shoes, but this needs to be approved by your instructor before you step onto their mats.

Christopher Anderson
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