If you’re gearing up for Jiu Jitsu, you may be wondering what the difference is between grappling spats and standard athletic leggings and if one can be substituted for the other.

The short answer is: sometimes yes, sometimes no. Depending on the leggings you choose, you may be able to get by for a while grappling in normal athletic attire. However, as you advance in the sport of Jiu Jitsu, you may discover - as many women do - that spats are the highly preferred choice.

There are a few key differences - both functional and safety-related - which separate basic Jiu Jitsu spats from athletic leggings.

  1. Pockets: Grappling spats intentionally do not have pockets. They are illegal in competition and not allowed in most academies because fingers and toes can get caught in them.
  2. Zippers, buttons, or any other form of metal clasps or closures: Anything in this family of garment finishing is also not allowed since it can easily scratch or cut a person or damage the surface of the mats.
  3. Fabric: Leggings that are designed for yoga, lifting, running, etc are often made with brushed fabrics that may include natural fibers like cotton or viscose. While these fabrics usually boast a pleasantly soft hand-feel, they are typically not optimized for the durability that is required for BJJ. They can also cause unwanted friction and be welcome hosts for bacteria. In Jiu Jitsu, we prefer synthetic weaves which are more durable and easier to de-funk (see this article for more info on that). We also prefer a higher percentage of Spandex or Elastane than standard sportswear which gives spats a uniquely sleek or slippery hand-feel, resulting in the lower friction that is ideal for fight sports.
  4. Flat lock stitching: straight seams just don’t cut it in BJJ. The sport is too dynamic and therefore requires a more durable and flexible seam to hold everything together. If leggings don’t have flat lock seams, they won’t last long, and unfortunately the crotch seam is usually the first to go.

Beyond traditional BJJ spats, Gaidama has taken it a step further. Our revolutionary spats and grappling shorts have been fully optimized for performance grappling. The features we offer can be found nowhere else on the market. For instance:

  1. Stay put waistband: Can we agree that the last thing you want to do in a fight is pull your pants back up or worry about them slipping in the first place? Our triple action, dual elastic waistband with embedded drawcord keeps everything in place no matter how many rounds you roll.
  2. Two-ply saddle: There aren’t many sports where it’s normal to have your butt in someone else’s face (thanks Jiu Jitsu!) and you definitely don’t want to worry about whether or not your training partners can see (or, let's be honest - smell) your underwear. Trust us when we say that our extra layer of sweat wicking fabric we’ve built into the groin and glutes is going to come in clutch whether you’re playing guard or finishing a top side Kimura!
  3. No center seam: Say goodbye to awkward camel toe! Our specially designed front groin panel eliminates the seam that runs right up the middle of traditional leggings.

To summarize, there are a lot of similarities but several key differences which separate grappling spats from traditional athletic leggings. Pockets, zippers, fabrics, and stitching are the primary differences while Gaidama has introduced other features such as a stay-put waistband, a sweat-wicking liner in the saddle, and no center crotch seam to further distinguish the two and optimize spats for grappling sports. 

June 30, 2023 — Kendall Vernon