The tough guy mentality that usually accompanies martial arts is not absent in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. As much as we paint a picture of no ego and calm and respectful behavior, we all like to win. it is in our nature. BJJ, a sport in which we compete in a most primal way possible – by grappling, is particularly competitive. Throw the fact that Gi’s are made of very tough material that does not agree with the gentle tissues of the face and head and you have a recipe for disaster. One body part that really gets a beating during BJJ training and competition are the ears. While all grappling martial arts share this problem, the ground fighting aspect of Jiu-Jitsu, paired with the using a Gi make BJJ particularly uncomfortable on the ears That’s where the Best BJJ Headgear can help immensely.
Using BJJ headgear is often ridiculed in BJJ gyms. People see cauliflower ears as a badge of honor, which is beyond stupid. You do not see your mangled fingers or destroyed knees as such, do you? So, using the best BJJ headgear for your ears makes as much sense as using BJJ kneepads or finger tape. To be completely honest, developing cauliflower ears also has an individual aspect to it. Not everyone is equally susceptible to it. Some people (me included) spend years grappling with and without the Gi without any visible consequences on their ears. Others may just grappler for a couple of weeks and develop Randy Couture-like cauliflower. Using headgear is a foolproof way of completely removing the risk of never being able to use earbuds ever again. Seems more than worth it to me.
BJJ Headgear Essentials
As with everything else, going online and just getting the first ear guard you see is probably not a good idea. Chances are, you won’t run into the very best BJJ headgear products straight away. And, just like with buying Gis, rashguards or any other grappling equipment for that matter, you need to be aware of what you’re looking for in BJJ headgear.
The main qualities that qualify an ear guard among the best BJJ headgear are not that difficult to identify. First and foremost, it is all about protection, of course. The first thing to have in mind is how well they work for your particular needs. Most BJJ headgear also provides additional abrasion protection, and some even offer shock absorption. There’s another aspect of protection to consider, though – your partners. A fully plastic, hard ear guard is going to be real hell to grapple against and you’ll soon find yourself without partners in the gym.
Next up, we have comfort. Usually, BJJ headgear is made of Neoprene or Nylon, sometimes featuring plastic. In all cases, there’s also foam in the lining making the ear guards comfortable to wear. A big aspect of the material, besides comfort, is slippage. You want your headgear to stay in place during rolling, without the need to continually re-adjust the straps and position. In terms of straps, there are several variations, with different a number of straps, that work great. And then, there’s the price, of course.
Best BJJ Headgear
Below we have a selection of the ear guards we consider to be the best of the best BJJ headgear pieces you can find. Some are new products that are going to revolutionize your training in 2019. Some are mainstays of wrestling or Jiu-Jitsu, that just keep getting better as years go by. There is also a BJJ specific one there, made by a high-level BJJ black belt. And we also have a unisex ear guard, one that takes care of the needs of both sexes. All in all, we got you covered in every aspect: protection, comfort, design, size, and price. Read on!
To kick things off, we got the Matman Ultra Soft Wrestling Headgear. As far as the best BJJ Headgear available, this is one of the very best of all times. It features a simple design and an impressively tight fit.
The Matman Ultra Soft is one of the most durable pieces of headgear out there. After all, it has to be, in order to provide maximum protection. The material is unique, ultrasoft neoprene that’s tear resistant. It also features maximal breathability and is antimicrobial. A key trait of this piece of grappling gear is that it does not retain heat, so you won’t feel discomfort when wearing it for prolonged periods of time. Since this is mostly training gear, the material also makes it easy and soft for your training partners. The Matman has adjustable straps that allow you to find the perfect fit for you and retain it during rolling. Comes in 8 different colors and is a wrestling favorite. Perfect for BJJ training.
Of course, the ever-present Venum brand has a high-performance headgear on offer, along with everything else. So far, Venum products have proved themselves superior to most other similar pieces of grappling gear out there. This includes headgear, with their Kontact Evo Ear guard leading the way.
The Venum Kontact Evo attaches via silicone straps that are impossible to tear or give way. There are only two points where straps meet and lock-under the chin and behind the head. This makes placing and adjusting the headgear extremely easy, even by yourself. It has a very soft inside lining, specially designed to cradle the ears. The foam lining also guarantees maximum shock absorption, even in particularly high-velocity exchanges. Also protects from mat or Gi burns.
Here’s the surprise contender on our best BJJ headgear list. Adidas is not a brand that is often associated with grappling and BJJ in particular. However, this time, they have something to offer grapplers, and it comes in the form of the Adidas response headgear.
This ear guard is a very popular one among wrestlers. it features more stripes than previous models but is still easy to put on and use. And, the additional stripes provide more fitting options as well as prevent slipping. It has cups that house the ears, lined with soft foam for perfect protection. The chin straps feature a chin cup, which some people might find uncomfortable. Adidas’ solution to this is to also provide a chin pad that you can use instead of the cup. The ear guard comes in 13 different colors. Straps are lightweight yet really sturdy and will last for years without giving way. The only drawback has nothing to do with you – the hard shell might be uncomfortable for training partners.
A true champion even among the best of the best BJJ headgear representatives for 2019. This headgear offers the most protection, while also staying in place more securely than any other. It has a very practical set of straps that ensure a very tight and comfortable fit.
The straps have an on-the-fly power tab locking mechanism that makes them easy to lock and impossible to slip. Yet, at the same time, the power tab makes opening a real breeze, with just one push. The Cliff Keen Tornado offers a lot of ventilation as well, keeping air circulating so that heat is not a problem. This piece of headgear actually features a patented Air Vent System technology that’s in charge of air circulation. It comes in more than two dozens of different two or three color combinations. A great feature is also the ability to hear clearly with the headgear on, which is often a drawback of most other brands. The ear cups are ultra deep in order to ensure complete protection.
One of the best BJJ Headgear designs out there. The Brute Youth ear guard is minimalistic, black and offers the absolute best bang for your buck. Heavily used in wrestling, this headgear is perfect for BJJ as well, especially with the Gi, thanks to its design and material.
The Brute Youth headgear features more straps than any other ear guard on this list. While this may seem excessive, they do cover absolutely every side of your head. They also offer impressive adjustment options. The material is extremely soft, offering both great protection for you and no unpleasantness for your training partners. The entire ear guard is made of soft material, with no plastic whatsoever in any spot. Really great price for a really great BJJ ear guard. Perfect for training with the Gi.
This one is by a BJJ guy, made for BJJ people. As far as Jiu-Jitsu goes, this is the only one designed particularly for the sport. That, however, does not mean it won’t work for wrestling other grappling sports or MMA.
The Grapplearts Minimum Profile ear guard is a Stephen Kesting design, which means it’s absolutely tailor-made for Jiu-Jitsu. The materials are Nylon and plastic, with anti-microbial features. The ear guard attaches with the help of Velcro straps, that offer a huge variety in size. There’s also a chin strap that’s removable for complete customization. The ear guards have strategic holes allowing air flow and unobstructed hearing. The lining allows for maximal protection and cooling while rolling. Doesn’t annoy training partners, nor gets stuck when training with the Gi.
Cliff Keen seems to be an absolute winner in the best BJJ headgear category, with yet another amazing product featured in the list. It has low profile straps and double width on the ear guards. All in all, you can hardly get more protection than with this BJJ headgear.
The straps are made of Nylon, heavy-duty and virtually indestructible. There’s a soft chin pad that makes the headgear even more comfortable and easy to stay in place. Padded ear guards mean your ears are both protected and comfortable. There’s guaranteed protection against cauliflower ear formation and against mat/Gi burns. There are 4 straps in total, ensuring lots of adjustments at every possible angle. A lightweight design that comes in over 40 different color varieties, including various strap colors.
A Grappling Legacy: The Cauliflower Ear
So what’s the deal with this cauliflower ear anyway? Those that have it can confirm it is really painful before it becomes painless, yet permanently disfigured. Those that have taken care of it, know how painful draining it can be. In fact, you can hardly get rid of it with just one draining, so expect to have to repeat the procedure a few times each time you start getting the symptoms.
Cauliflower ear is an occurrence as old as grappling martial arts. There are even statues depicting grapplers of old who have clearly visible cauliflower ears. What happens is that the cartilage in your ears can’t take the pressure of grappling and starts breaking. Whenever that happens, the body takes care of any cracks and breaks by building scar tissue. The trouble with cartilage is that it is notoriously undersupplied with blood, making healing hard, and complete recovery impossible. That means a build-up of scar tissue each time you break the cartilage. The harder the break, the worse the buildup. Hence the appearance of cauliflower structure in the ears.
The reason we end up with an injury to the cartilage in the first place is friction. And, there’s no lack of it in BJJ, especially when you’re training with the Gi. Getting your head stuck in numerous positions, or breaking chokes apart are great ways to get yourself on the cauliflower train. And, believe me, unless you have the very best BJJ headgear you’ll develop them sooner or later. Your only hope is to go and drain all the blood and liquid straight away before everything hardens. Take a look at the draining procedure to decide if it’s worth taking that risk.