Reader Question: Would you give some advice for having long hair in BJJ. What have you learned over the years? There isn’t a ton of info out there…
Josh Littleton has been a proud member of #teamLongHair for awhile now (his blog is featured on my “Best BJJ Blogs Of 2017” list) .
Having Long Hair In BJJ
Lets get this out of the way right up front. Jiu Jitsu is for people with short hair. Having long hair while you are training Jiu Jitsu has plenty of set backs.
- It’s hot
- Impeded Vision
- Hair will get pulled (or sat on)
- Hair will get messed up
- Training partners won’t like it
- More maintenance time
I Want To Train Jiu Jitsu AND Have Long Hair!
I understand. Me too! There are a few steps that I follow to make long hair in BJJ more tenable.
If you hair isn’t long enough to put up, then you’ll just have to deal with it being everywhere for now. You’re an aspiring Jiu Jitsu team longhair member. Keep fighting the good fight against haircuts.
Secure your hair as soon as you can.
As soon as it gets long enough to put up, start to keep it in a pony tail. The more controlled your long hair in BJJ training is, the better.
I recommend using things to secure your hair that have no metal. Protect your training partners, and your long hair. For hair ties, I’ve had good luck with these Goody Ouchless No Metal Thick Elastics Black.
Your training partners will appreciate having your hair a little less all over the place. Occasionally they will be slapped with a sweaty pony tail when taking your back, so be prepared for maximum choking effort to happen right away. I find that having my hair up is a little cooler.
As my hair gets longer, I shift that ponytail higher up the head. A ponytail lower on the head can be uncomfortable when your head is on the mat in positions like bottom side control or mount. This also keeps a larger gap to allow your opponent to get their arm under you and crossface the heck out of you.
There will be times where you will probably have to give up positional scrambles or tap because of having long hair in BJJ. Just like training around an injury, you are training with a liability.
When getting my hair up, one of the places I am most focused on is where my scalp meets with my neck. I keep this hair trimmed or put up. Especially when training in the gi they will get pulled out constantly as my opponent goes for collar grips.
But What If It Is Super Long?
I’ve never had what I would consider super long hair, but I’ve seen that braids and cornrows seem to be the way to go. Multiple hair ties are one of the keys to keeping it all together. Pro-actively adjusting a hair control system between every round also seems to help.
In my research, I did run across this quality hair guide with some videos especially shifted towards ladies. It seems lots of girls in gi’s recommend either dual buns, or dual french braids that merge into a single ponytail.
Wrestlers have traditionally solved the long hair problem using beanies, swim caps with wrestling headgear over the top. One innovator mentioned that rugby helmets are their favorite hair control.
Caring For Long Hair
Since I’ve started training Jiu Jitsu I’ve logged a ton of hours doing laundry and taking showers. The longer the hair, the longer all those showers take. Because you’re not that jerk who is going to have long and dirty hair in class right?
Under normal circumstances no one would typically recommend washing hair on a daily basis, but I typically train 4-5 times per week, which means I am washing it nearly every day. This strips the natural oils off the hair which normally protect it.
Shampoo and Conditioner
Cheap shampoo makes everything worse so I use at least a mid-level quality shampoo. I’ve tried a few different brands, and settled on a few that work fine for me that are quite inexpensive.
I have found that if I use conditioner too often, my hair seems to depend on the conditioner to replace the oils and produce less natural oils over time, so I typically only use conditioner as needed (once every week or two).
After my hair dries I will often put coconut oil in it, to help keep it tame and hydrated. When I have to wash my hair late at night I avoid sleeping with a towel over my pillow, because that will also strip the natural oils off my hair as often as possible.
This is the Coconut Oil I’ve been using
I’ve heard other people swear by other types oils such as argan oil, but I have no personal experience with it.
Final Encouragement – Long Hair In BJJ Can Work
As I write this we are in the heat of July. Remember “Winter Is Coming…” Hang in there.