Women in Jiu Jitsu: The things they don’t tell you

After practicing Jiu Jitsu for going on  year and a half, I’ve ran into so many issues that my training partners, nor the interwebs, have answers for. Especially as a thick woman in a sport dominated by slim/athletic men and women (and husky dudes), I’ve had some trial and error finding gis that fit and nogi clothes that don’t flash the gym. Let me depart some knowledge so that, on the off change someone else is scouring the internet looking for tips, it might help.

1.) I have big hips. And calves. “Big” might be an understatement. My stomach is relatively flat, and I have a larger chest. Gis were not made for my body. A3s are too long in the jacket, but A2s restrict my hip mobility (not to mention I’m terrified they’ll rip – no thnx.) It took me awhile, but a year ago, I found Gi separates being sold at rollmore.com. They were the 93Brand Hooks 2.0 – I decided to try out the A2 jacket and A3 bottoms. Magic happened. Then I ordered another set. Perfect solution, except now they don’t sell separates anymore. However, there are several Gi companies that do sell separates. It’s sad to pass up all the beautiful bjjhq.com gi deals, but fit is way more important than having that sexy ass Gotham 93Brand gi that makes your thighs feel like sausages. :,(

Because of this, I had issues with my gi pants sitting low on my hips and I was close to flashing the gym at every hip escape. I wore spats under but it was too hot. Then – I discovered high-waisted dance shorts. Specifically *these shorts*  . They don’t ride up, they’re light weight, and they keep everything covered. They were a game changer.

2.) Nogi is equally challenging. Spats – every pair I’ve ever bought (and returned – minus these Manto voodoo spats) – are completely see through. And they ride down like crazy. This might be principally a body type issue, given that other women in my gym are able to wear standard midrise exercise tights and haven’t had issues with them riding down. I’ve settled on the high waisted leggings from Old Navy ( they don’t ride down and they’re not too see through.) Under them, I wear black boyshort-type underwear to help neutralize the risqué nature of spats. I still scope out BJJ-specific spats because I think they wear better on the mats, but I’m waiting for 93Brand’s new line of opaque women’s spats to come out in a size that can handle all o’ dis.

Along these lines for rash guards, I find the fits within brands and across brands extremely varied. I have an XL Manto rashguard that is extremely loose in the torso, but uncomfortably tight in the hips. And I have another XL Manto rashguard I acquired recently that fits great in the hips and stomach (it has much more of a soft stretch.) However, my favorite rashguards are the men’s Standard Issue 93 Brand. They’re thick, tight, stretchy, and long enough to not constantly ride up my waist when rolling.


[pictured: fave rashguard + gi bottoms. Obvs a 93B fan.]

3. The smell. so… rancid. The one time you go out to dinner after gi class and forget you have a jacket soaked in 30 peoples’ sweat and blood fermenting in your backpack. You keep having your mindless bullshit banter. You walk home, chillin’, reeling from the brutal training and subsequent reward of top-notch Astoria souvlaki. Then, you walk into your room and it hits you – this thing has been baking in there for two hours. You hurry, try to hang it, spray it down with alcohol mist. The next day, you room smells rank with the beautiful fusion of body odor and rotten eggs. You wash it 5 times, but the smell always lingers in the lapels and patches. You think you finally got it out, you wear it to class and the moment you start sweating – BAM – the smell comes billowing out of the gi and you take the cake for Smelly Gi Guy.

It’s a struggle living in New York City because the lack of in-building laundry facilities. I always do laundry Saturday night or Sunday morning, but that means a week of training clothes that have been sitting in filth. I started using the Febreze  Odor Defense Tide Pods on all my training gear, plus I’ve started bringing a small bottle of vinegar to put in the detergent trap during the wash. Combined, I’ve noticed some decrease in gi and nogi gear odor. But I think I waited too long to salvage some of it. I think I’ll need a new set of rashguards. OH NO. 🙂


4.) HAIR. Hair…. hair. I still haven’t figured this out. I’ve tried pony tail to braid, pony tail, doubly pony to double tied bun, low bun, high bun. I even cut my hair because, at one point, I though the issue was that my hair was too long. Now I realize the longer it is, the more control you have over it. I’ve settled with double-pony-to-double-bun [also pictured above.] I use those painful rubber hair ties, too, which make a big difference. At a price. 😐 But this one is still a work in progress.


#protips for some ladies doing BJJ or thinking of starting.



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