Do you wear socks in class? What about wrestling shoes? Have you heard of Grapple Socks? Have you seen someone at your school wearing them? Why would you were anything?
I wear your typical white cotton socks. I wear them because when I get home I see what the mat has done to them instead of my feet. I wear them because I don’t want to have them in some one’s face even if I just showered before I came. I wear them because I don’t want to pick up ringworm. The mats are cleaned regularly but walking around in bear feet after a few practices is a invitation for trouble in my opinion. So why cotton socks? Why not Grapple Socks or wrestling shoes? I decided not to use wrestling shoes because they give to much grip and I don’t want to turn a ankle. I also have had a few nasty tears on my feet because of someone using wrestling shoes stepping on my feet during take downs. So what about Grapple Socks? Some of the new styles look good. We have a guy at our school that wears them and likes them. He gets teased for it but it hasn’t stopped him. It has in fact made him stand out because he laughs and doesn’t take it personal. They seem to have less grip then the wrestler shoes and more then my cotton socks. I guess I need to try a set. As for why I wear cotton socks, well they are in my sock drawer in abundance.
A while back West Side Jiu Jitsu, where I practice, ran a promotion offering four classes for free instead of the customary one. They also included a free month for referrals. We had a good number of potential new students come that month. I don’t remember to much about most of them that didn’t stay but I will never forget one particular guy. He was very proud of the fact that he had purchased his gi off of eBay for only $35. It was a white starter gi and I thought it wasn’t a bad investment. Its probably good he didn’t last longer then the free classes. Towards the end, maybe his third class or so, I was sitting out and watching the guys roll. I then discovered why the gi was $35. I noticed that at some point someone had lost bowl control in that gi. No washing had been able to remove it. It wasn’t noticeable when the guy was standing but when he was bent over in guard it was beacon. Your eye was drawn right to it. It occurred to me that others might sell gis that had ringworm. I will never buy a used gi. Getting what I think is a good deal would never be worth ruining my BJJ time or reputation.
Sprawl wins hands down and here is why. I bought both the Sprawl Rash Guard long sleeve shirt and the Under Armour HeatGear compression long sleeve shirt for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I found that the Under Armor shirt was thin and tended to ride up. Because it is a compression top it just stayed up. I also felt like a sausage. Whats worse is when I was in a crunch or being smothered having any constriction around my chest didn’t help. I didn’t notice that much change when it came to “moisture transport” as I wear a heavy cotton gi. Also the “bolstering of muscle support” didn’t seem to matter. It did provide good abrasion-resistant. That was its one redeeming quality. Sprawl Rash Guard was thicker and I feel would last longer especially with its double stitching. It has a loose fit and falls down if it gets pushed or rolled up. It has a very pleasant silky feeling and doesn’t compress your already struggling lungs in a good match. It provide the same level of abrasion-resistant as the Under Armour did. I knew I’d be staying with the Sprawl Rash Guard when I realized it hadn’t been washed from my last practice and I would have to wear the Under Armour HeatGear shirt. Sprawl’s Rash Guard taps out Under Armour which really was never made for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
What’s a rash guard? It is a shirt or leggings that are made of a spandex type of slick material. They are used to reduce skin abrasion and bruises in grappling. I started like most beginners in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (a.k.a. BJJ) with just a t-shirt and sweats. I came home each time bruised like a Dalmatian. I soon got my Gi, the traditional uniform in most martial arts. As anyone who works with their hands knows a good pair of work gloves keeps you from getting blisters. When it come to BJJ, a Gi is the equivalent of work gloves. But I found I was still getting some bruises. I noticed that some of the others had shinny shirts. That is how I found out about Rash Guards. When you wear a rash guard it gives you added protection by decreasing the friction between you and what ever comes in contact with you. With my new rash guard I stopped being bruised. Yes, some of the bruising was due to inexperience in grappling but after I got the Gi and rash guard my bruises all but went away. It also helps protect you again the dreaded ring worm that come from grappling the “unclean”. A rash guard in my opinion is a must.
What brand of rash guard is best? I stared with Under Armour. Their Heat Gear line is what is sold all over the web in MMA, Mixed Martial Art, sites. I use a compression long sleeve top. I understand that a loser fitting shirt can be better as the compression tops tend to roll up in grappling. I am waiting on a lose fitting long sleeve top from Sprawl to see if it works any better. I also have ordered a pair of their shorts to see if their claims at being the best are true.