What to bring to a Judo or BJJ competition

So you’re a week ahead of your first/next Judo or BJJ competition and you’re wondering what to pack? Well, this guide is for you!

Small disclaimer: I’ve been to three competitions run by British Judo and two BJJ competitions (British Open No-Gi, Grappling Industries). I’ve also won a gold medal in all of these events. I may not have hit the double-digits in terms of event quantity but given the performance stats it’s fair to say my opinion isn’t completely trash. So, without further ado, here’s the list!

Stuff to bring to the competition

  • For British Judo make sure to bring a clean white judo gi. There are no exceptions. No excessive patches, no rips. For BJJ, make sure you don’t have so many patches that your opponent can’t grip you.
  • For British Judo, bring your up-to-date Judo license (the white plastic card).
  • Water. Lots of it. I usually bring 1 or 2 additional water bottles alongside my filled water bottle. You can overpay for water at a drinks vending machine (which may run out) or you can suffer the small discomfort of lugging the water with you.
  • Snacks and a light lunch. You likely won’t have time to eat before your fights (because noone will be sure when your division’s fights will start). Canteen food and it’s potential queues are a gamble, and this is not a day for gambling on anything other than fighting tactics.
  • Flip-flops. It’s good to be ready and not having to get shoes and socks off all the time. Additionally, some venues are very strict about you wearing flip folps.
  • Familiarity with the venue. Check it out with Street View on Google Maps if it isn’t close by. See what the parking is like. Visualise yourself with the directions to get there. Actually get there early on the day so you feel fully settled in. Your performance will be very negatively impacted if you’re stressing out and getting there 2 minutes before your first fight is about to start.
  • Patience and an open-mind. You’ll be standing or sitting around for ages. Enjoy the day – you’ll get to see all kinds of game and you’ll hopefully be with your team-mates. It might take a while but you’ll get your turn.
  • Familiarity with the process of bowing to get onto the mat, walking to the edge, bowing etc. Judo events are strict on this. Watch some formal Judo matches and practice it in your head. You want to look like a pro.

Stuff definitely not to bring

  • For British Judo competitions don’t bring a rashguard. They’ll tell you to take it off unless you’ve got a doctor’s note. They’re a bit traditional on that front.
  • An attitude. There’s always someone that beats his chest and points multiple times in the air if they win a round. The competitions most of us mere mortals go to are small regional ones that really just count for nothing in the grand scheme of things. Remember that:
    a) it’s not the olympics.
    b) it’s nice to win a round, but it always feels more shit to lose.
    In short, be respectful (to yourself and to others).

Things nice to have but not essential

  • An electrolyte mix. One high level competitor team mate swears by them. He takes the gels. In the past I’ve had this:
    I personally can’t vouch for its efficacy because the most fights I’ve had in one day is six and they weren’t all back-to-back.
    The logic behind these is that when you’re competing, you’re running out of water, salt, electrolytes. You can replenish water with water but to keep your energy levels high you need to get some electrolytes in there. You can’t eat all the time in between bouts as you’ll puke so these energy mixes are the next best thing.
  • You should generally keep a record of your competition history, in whichever format works for you. British Judo have a competition record book that they issue you. BJJ don’t have a wide-sweeping governing body so you should come up with something to record the existence of that future medal hanging on your wall.
  • Towel,soap etc. Personally I never take a shower at the venue because I go straight home afterwards and I never work up the same level of sweat as a randori night. It’s also additional baggage. Each to their own though.
  • A camera/camcorder. You’d be surprised how many things you learn from watching your old matches. Make sure you’ve got some recording equipment and get someone to film your rounds where possible.
  • A spare white gi. I personally don’t have one, but if you do it’s worth bringing it along. A plain white one is better because it’s more likely to pass checks in any event than a non-standard, coloured one.
  • For British Judo you should bring a white belt and a blue belt (regardless of belt ranking you are). If you have them then great. They usually have them on the day but you’re best off having your own so you’re not rushing about. These are the belts you will fight in. You can bring your normal ranking belt for the photos at the end when hopefully you’re getting a medal.
  • Finger tape and plasters. They’ll have some on the day but you’re best off bringing your own.
  • A hoody or something that you can wear over/under your gi so you keep warm while you’re waiting to fight.


I hope this was useful to you! This list has served me well and hopefully you’ll find it useful too.

Remember, we practice these martial arts to learn and to get better. Competitions are a good indicator of the standard of your Judo or JiuJitsu AT THIS POINT IN TIME alongside your peers. You’ll get better if you keep chipping away at your training, regardless of your last competition result. It’s very easy to get caught up in the moment and feel your self-worth riding on the results (good or bad) but it means nothing in the grand scheme of things.

Go out there and test yourself. You’ll feel nerves, adrenaline, anxiety, the works. But you’ll have pushed yourself, put yourself on the line, and you’ll be a better person for it.

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