BJJ Headgear – Benefits & Important Things That You Must Know

November 24, 2017

bjj headgear

Carrying headgear during BJJ or MMA sparring sessions have been a taboo topic until a few years ago. Especially when it comes to the comparison of MMA fighters. Have you seen how many of them have cauliflower ears? And not only that – there are so many head injuries, scratches, tears… Do you really need all of these in one place?

The safe training session is very important. One of the main goals is lengthening the career of your fighter. Huge money is in the game. There are many professional competitions where competitors may earn even up to 10.000 dollars. If too many injuries occur, fighters will give up sooner or later. Just take a look at BJJ legends who turned to be the MMA warriors – Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Demian Maia, Glover Texeira, Charles Oliveira… One thing is in common – cauliflower ear. Not to mention other health issues.

Grappling and BJJ are contact sports. Fighters constantly place hands and legs on each other. Despite it looks like a very simple art where you need to submit each other, it is a lot more than that. There are many ways to make your training sessions less dangerous and more enjoyable. Why would you risk an injury and look like you have just returned from war when there is no need for it? There is a difference between a competition and a training session!

This thread explains benefits of BJJ headgear. The most important ones are:

  • Cauliflower ear prevention;
  • Prevention from scratches and tears;
  • Fewer chances of cuts;
  • Protection of your senses;
  • Better physical appearance;
  • Better overall protection.

Cauliflower ear prevention

This is the most important of all benefits of BJJ headgear. Here is the video about UFC fighters and their cauliflower ears.

Cauliflower ear is an irreversible condition. It develops when the external part of the ear is constantly hit or pulled. With time, the blood clot develops. The other option is fluid collection under the perichondrium. In both cases, the cartilage cannot be supplied by nutrients. The fibrous tissue creates in the layers of underlying skin. The external part of the ear resembles the shape of a cauliflower. The swelling and deformation are permanent.

The deformity is first seen in wrestlers, but it appears more and more often at the BJJ and MMA fighters. In MMA, a cauliflower ear means the badge of experience. The only way of treating it is enabling the proper blood flow into the swollen area. On the other hand, the area is more prone to infections. If the fighter denies medical intervention, the damage to the health can be enormous. It can also be a result of ear bone abnormalities or blood vessel abnormalities, but it is very rare.

In BJJ, it appears with often choke and submission attempts. You may find your ears swollen, especially after the tournaments, when fighters throw everything they have on each other. One bad contact with your ear might be sufficient to change its physical look. Ears are exposed to grinding, pulling, crushing, choking, impacts, and offensive maneuvers.

When an opponent tries to take you down, he might accidentally pull your ear or press you too hard over your ear next to his body. The same thing happens when the opponent tries to submit you or maintain the contact on the ground. The outer part of the ear becomes isolated from the blood flow. One of the most dangerous chokes that lead to cauliflower ear is Peruvian necktie. Any choke or submission attempt where the opponent presses your ear towards your head might be risky. Triangle choke is dangerous too, just as guillotine choke – the blood flow towards the brain is stopped. Even the weak strike can make cauliflower ear explode.

Here is a video that describes the science behind cauliflower ear. There is a possibility of ear draining and easing blood flow, but a good BJJ headgear costs way less money than various injections and medicines. This research describes pathophysiology and treatment of cauliflower ear, which is also known as “wrestler’s ear”.

Do you really want to drain liquid after every hard training session?

Prevention from scratches & tears

When you grapple your opponent, there are many movements where you suddenly need to change the directions. For example, in one moment your arm is on the back of the opponent’s head, while in the next one it has to go towards his neck. When you compete, the referee usually takes a look at your nails or some items that can cause injury. In training session, nobody is going to check your nails.

The best thing you can do is buy a BJJ headgear. While the war on the ground lasts, you are protecting your ears and other parts of your head. Why would you risk accidental hair pulling or cheek scratch? It can also be a harder injury which can cause bleeding. Even a little scratch can infect.

Just take a look at the BJJ ground game. Have you seen how many times the hand initiated the contact with the lateral parts of the opponent’s head? A good BJJ headgear would definitively decrease the chances of injury.

Fewer chances of cuts

When it comes to BJJ ground game, cuts are rare but possible. If you take the opponent down and his head initiates the contact with the ground, it might occur. Elbow is pretty sharp and any elbow movement, especially towards ear and forehead, carries a risk of a cut. When a cut occurs, flushing is a must. Optionally, hydrogen solution can be used if the cut is big. There is also a risk of blood poisoning. Why risk all of that when you can invest 50-100 dollars in good BJJ headgear? Medical treatment is at least ten times more expensive!

Protection of your senses

If your ears are injured, there is a probability you will have hearing problems as the years go by. Is the diameter of your ear smaller? There is a risk your ear will receive less auditory signals.

In the case your brain is constantly pressured, some centers inside of it might start to lose its function. A good BJJ headgear will prevent this problem.

Better physical appearance

Despite the cauliflower ears, cuts and bruises are good in the world of martial arts, there is a problem among regular people. You may scare a girl you like. People might think you are a bully or a dangerous man. It talks differently about your real intentions and behavior. The masters of martial arts are usually very calm people who don’t seek for trouble. But unfortunately, regular people usually judge by look.

BJJ Headgear – Benefits & Important Things That You Must Know

Better overall protection

A fighter does the training session in more relaxed manner. There is no need to think that much about possible consequences. When the protection is maximized, the fighter will definitively risk trying more various takedowns, submissions, and chokes. There is a possibility you will have a hard time slipping out of submission or choke attempt, but it is good for the competition. You will escape easier when you remove the headgear.


As you have already seen, good BJJ headgear can keep the health of your head and ears. In any case, it is always better to prevent! Not only it costs less money, but it decreases the need to visit a doctor so often and waste your time. You will be able to focus on your training sessions and results instead of thinking about health issues.

You can find a good bjj headgear in another article of us: Best Headgear for BJJ That Will Help You To Avoid Ear Injures in 2018

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Teaching, Friendly, Young, Passion. Always wanna go up & down. Hey, you gotta live, do you?  

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Robert Sterling  //  Author

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