Can You Do Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu With Bad Eyesight?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a high-speed, high-impact, close-quarters contact sport that many people around the world have started practicing hoping to relieve some stress. Others have started it to learn good self-defense or just to compliment the already existing set of skills they may have in the art of fighting. When you’re wearing glasses, you may be familiar with the limitations of not being able to see who you are fighting against.

You can enjoy and excel in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu if you are nearsighted, far-sighted, or legally blind. BJJ is close contact and those that cannot easily see can feel their opponent and learn what to do. Some of the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighters out there are nearsighted and would usually walk around with some of the largest glasses possible.

Many beginners of the sport will try to use contact lenses while they are learning while others have tried to use sports glasses. All of the solutions bring their unique challenges and many times fighters have learned how to fight without wearing any glasses at all, this saves them a lot of time and means that they can master techniques without relying on something that can fail.

There are many ways of learning to fight without glasses, here’s everything you need to know about learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with or without glasses.

What Is It Like Fighting With Bad Eyesight?

Many of those that suffer from bad eyesight will learn how to fight using the touch they have on those they are fighting. While those that are entirely blind may have a harder time, nearsighted people can still see the outline of many of their opponents, this means that they can see where to aim when they make the first contact.

After the first contact has been made and the grappling or rolling of BJJ starts many people, even those that can see perfectly well, rely on the feel of their opponent. Winning a fight by reacting to what their opponent is doing and pinning them with your full body rarely requires that you see how they are going to pin you next.

Those that practice Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu while being near-sighted usually try using various ways of seeing until they eventually give up and go into tournaments and fights without any assists in their eyesight. Fighters have reported that at the beginning of training without their glasses it can feel quite strange, but over time they usually get used to it and can focus themselves on learning new techniques.

Can I Wear Glasses During BJJ Class?

If you are legally blind or extremely near-sighted it can mean that you’ve never gone your life without wearing some kind of glasses. This means it can feel extremely odd when you are not wearing your glasses for the first time, and many first-time fighters will be unwilling to go without them even when they have to get rolling.

You cannot wear glasses while actively fighting, rolling, or grappling, even if you are just practicing. Many instructors allow students to wear their glasses while they are showing a new technique but will require that they be removed before practice begins. This ensures that the glasses are not damaged and the students that are practicing won’t be hurt by shattered glasses.

The same reasons that glasses cannot be worn in most sports apply to BJJ, however, because it is such a close contact sports things can be even tougher. Many times, your head will be jostled, locked, hit, or shoved in very rough ways. Some of the locks in BJJ involve being held between your opponent’s thighs, this can be dangerous to be done with glasses on.

Should I Wear Contacts In BJJ Class?

Many people wear contacts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu without issues other than them occasionally falling out. There is always a risk of them falling out, getting misaligned, going to the back of your eye, slicing into your eyelid, or in some of the rarest of cases be broken.

Make sure to bring a saline solution to clean, re-wet, or re-insert into your eye. The mats are dirty and full of bacteria so if your contact does fall out do not place it back in your eye until you have cleaned it.

Additionally, use daily/disposable contacts as you may lose your contact on the mat!

To see other people’s stories on using contacts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu check out this Reddit thread!

Are Contacts Safe to Wear During BJJ?

Sometimes there are alternatives to using glasses that some will have already been using when they start taking an interest in BJJ. Wearing contacts for work has become normal and many contact lenses are now disposable, meant to only be used for a certain amount of time.

In these instances, it can be safe to wear contact lenses during training sessions of BJJ, however, if you are taking part in tournaments it may not be safe to wear contacts. This is owing to the danger of the contact rolling into the back of your eye, which can cause infections, or in some rare cases having to be removed through surgery.

Contacts are only safe to be worn if you are doing something low impact, with some companies recommending that you not even wear them while running for extended periods. However, some specialized contact lenses can be used in some sports, but even these could cause issues in BJJ as the sport is rough in general.

Contacts are not always perfectly on your eyes, which means they can move around if your head undergoes a large amount of stress. Contacts can fall out, be misaligned, go to the back of your eye, slice into your eyelid, or in some of the rarest of cases be broken.

These dangers are all things that have to be considered by you and your instructor before you start doing anything rough with your contact in your eyes.

These dangers are why many people practice without their contacts so that they can get used to BJJ without the use of their eyes. The other drawback is that some people just have dry eyes and cannot stand having contacts in their eyes even if they are just walking around, wearing a pair while fighting is entirely out of the question.

What Can Be Done For Athletes In High Impact Sports?

There have been many solutions provided to those in the world of high impact sports, where they come and go having to see things that are not just close to them. Many times, archers may need a pair of glasses, which is something they can wear, but rugby players, swimmers, bikers, or runners do not have the pleasure of standing still and aiming.

For these athletes, high impact sports goggles have been invented that can easily withstand the high amount of damage they would receive. These goggles are prescription goggles that are usually fastened with a combination of Velcro and other straps to ensure that the goggles won’t come loose from your head as you are moving about.

However, while these goggles can be used during practice with more ease during the practice of BJJ the Velcro can go loose with the rough movement and many people complain that the goggles do more harm than good in BJJ. This is why many tournaments have made special rules for those fighting against near-sighted or legally blind people.

How Do People With Bad Vision Compete In BJJ Tournaments?

When in tournaments several rules have been adjusted for those with bad eyesight, the one big difference is how a fight starts. In BJJ tournament fights against someone you usually stand at the ready to grapple, however with those with bad eyes the fight will start from a slightly crouched position where the opponents will have their hands on each other.

These fights may start differently but will continue onwards as normal, this is because it is the same as any other fight. The opponents will grapple, roll, and lock each other until one taps out in submission, this why BJJ is one of the best full-contact sports out there. It is not required by fighters to necessarily see each other from a distance to fight effectively.

Many standard rule sets have been made effective for those using the BJJ fighting style and being nearsighted does not mean that you would be any less effective in the fighting style.


While not having the full use of your eyes can be a challenge it is not a complete disadvantage for those fighting in BJJ tournaments. Many times, fighters that can’t see are just as effective as those who can see, meaning many fights can be more entertaining as those without sight can be more aware of how to respond.

Just be sure you know how to move and react, not being able to see is not an excuse not to practice daily!