I’ll let Adam Sandler explain all the dangers and downsides of not wearing headgear and having cauliflower ears
If you don’t want to cry yourself to sleep, because of UFC ears – read on bro!
One of the most common injuries in jiu jitsu is “cauliflower ear”.
Cauliflower ear occurs when the ear sustains an impact.
Either from another person or the floor.
This creates a blood clot or causes other fluid to accumulate beneath the skin.
This fluid separates the ear cartilage from its nutrient supplies, causing it to die off.
The dead tissue swells and causes deformation of the ear in the characteristic “cauliflower” shape.
It not only makes your ear look like a vegetable, but it messes with your hearing as well.
The good news is that practicing jiu jitsu does not mean you have to part ways with your normal looking ears.
Cauliflower ear can be prevented by using decent jiu jitsu headgear.
If you’re one of those macho bravado type of guys and you act like you don’t care.
Or you’re a spineless whimp who thinks that your training partners are going to laugh at you, know this brother:
Even Joe Rogan rolls with headgear.
And that, boys and girls, ir why Joe does not grow vegetables on his head, ya digg?
Reviewing the Best Jiu Jitsu Headgear
The following are my picks for the best, most effective BJJ Head Gear on the market today.
Making Sense of Your BJJ Headgear Options
While some old school BJJ practitioners consider cauliflower ear to be a kind of badge of honor most believe that mutilating yourself for the sake of any sport is taking things too far. And I tend to agree. After all, the real badge of honor is expressed in your belt color. Not in how many times you’ve had your ear smashed into the floor.
Things to Consider when Purchasing a BJJ Head Guard
- Comfort – You’re wearing your Jiu Jitsu head guard for protection. But that doesn’t mean it has to feel like a box on your head. A nice comfortable fit will help you forget the head guard is there so you can concentrate on other, more important things. The best ear guards for BJJ will be snug, but not so tight that they’ll pinch your skin or restrict your movement. The chin strap also needs to feel like it’s a natural extension of yourself. And not a strap that threatens to cut off your breathing or move your jaw into unnatural positions.
- Visibility – Most (not all) head gear is going to impair your vision to some extent. The secret is to minimize any obstruction while maximizing protection. That’s easier said than done I know, but it’s not impossible. Since everyone’s head features slightly different physical characteristics, it’s impossible to say exactly which head gear will be right for a particular person. Finding head gear that doesn’t restrict your vision but still provides adequate protection will most likely be a matter of trial and error.
- Ventilation – This is something that doesn’t get a lot of attention, but it should. Head gear that’s poorly ventilated is going to cause heat and sweat to build up underneath it and drain your energy. As such, you should always look for head gear that features robust ventilation in order to keep the air moving and allow the heat an escape path. Keep in mind too that better ventilation often means hearing better as well.
- Price – The whole point of these kinds of grappling ear guards is to protect your ears and brain from the consequences of sudden, violent impacts. So it doesn’t make any sense to go cheap. If you choose your head gear just because it was the least expensive, you might as well not be wearing any. Because, not only will it fail to provide the type of padding you want and need, it’s also likely to be an ergonomic mess that digs into your chin, obstructs your vision and comes sliding off when you least expect it. So spend a few bucks and get something that’s actually going to work.
- Quality – Quality is kind of an open-ended word. One that’s subject to a million different interpretations. But in this case, quality refers to the material, the stitching, impact resistance, comfort, weight and durability. Among other things. These are usually a function of price. So once again, don’t try and cut financial corners when selecting Jiu Jitsu headgear. In my experience, it’s just not worth it.
The Pros and Cons of Wearing a BJJ Head Guard
- Prevents cauliflower ear – While wearing ear guards in BJJ isn’t a guarantee you’ll never develop cauliflower ear it’s as close as you’re likely to come to one.
- Helps prevent concussions – A concussion could put a quick end to your BJJ career and fundamentally alter your quality of life. Investing in some high-quality Jiu Jitsu headgear can help prevent such an injury from ever occurring.
- Reduces superficial injuries – Ear guards will also help minimize the number of bruises, cuts and scrapes you experience. They’ve also been shown to cut down on black eyes.
- Provides confidence – Ask a football player what happens to their confidence level if their helmet is knocked off during a game. It’s the same with BJJ. A quality BJJ head guard can provide that extra bit of confidence you need to bring everything you have to the mat.
- Slightly impaired vision – Head gear is likely to impede your peripheral vision to some extent. Though likely not enough to change the outcome of a match.
- Inviting aggression – Helmetless (and some helmeted) opponents see head gear as a green light for them to unleash as much aggression as they can muster.
- Lowering your guard – Sometimes wearing ear guards in BJJ can cause a fighter to assume it’s safe to lower their guard a bit. After all, the head gear will protect them. Right? Not really. Dropping your guard only opens you up to a rash of potentially serious injuries.
Cauliflower ear is no joke. Those who would dismiss it or even promote it as some kind of badge of honor should be given a wide berth. The enlightened BJJ practitioner does what’s necessary to protect their ears from this kind of pointless mutilation. While at the same time reducing the likelihood that they’ll fall victim to an equally pointless concussion. Effective BJJ headgear is how you do that.
For my money, the Mantam Ultrasoft Wrestling Headgear is the best BJJ ear and head protection on the market today. It’s light and extremely comfortable. Yet at the same time, it provides robust protection and stays where it belongs. It’s also among the best at allowing you to hear what’s going on around you. And it looks good too. While any of the items on the above list will serve you well, the Mantam Ultrasoft headgear manages to stand clear of the crowd. If you’re a total beginner, then that’s your best bet. If you’re one, then make sure you read best beginner bjj gi article.