Thinking about growing a beard? Maybe you already have a beard and you’re thinking of starting Jiu-Jitsu. What is it like having a beard in Jiu-Jitsu? I started Jiu-Jitsu with a very short beard and I’m now close to having a 4-inch (10 cm) beard. In this post, I’ll be going through my experience with a beard and research I have done to see how others deal with different beard lengths.
There are three main beard lengths that will give the bearded individual a different feel in Jiu-Jitsu. The short, medium, and a long beard. The short beard will not give you any grief or negative effects during Jiu-Jitsu. A medium beard is when it’ll start to get pulled and beard hairs ripped out. Finally, the long beard is when you’ll have to start tying it up as more beard hairs will get pulled and tangled.
Jiu-Jitsu With A Beard
Jiu-Jitsu with a beard is hardly different than with no beard. I had a very short beard when I first started BJJ. The only time that myself and others noticed that I had a beard was when it was longer than an inch. At this length, people noticed that when they attacked my neck they would pull on it a bit. I didn’t mind it and just told them it was alright!
Rocking a short beard will be very similar to not having a beard at all. There will be minimal negative effects from rolling with a short beard.
You’ll start to know that you have a beard during Jiu-Jitsu when your beard gets above an inch long. As the beard gets longer than an inch you’ll notice it getting more often pulled when the neck is attacked. As the beard starts to get longer than 4 inches you’ll have to start paying attention to it.
When you have a long beard and someone goes for your neck, your beard will get pulled and it will lose some hairs. The longer the beard gets the more you’ll have to work on keeping it out of the way so that it doesn’t get caught on someone’s arm, hand, or Gi.
Overall, having a beard in Jiu-Jitsu is worth rocking a beard. If you don’t want to have it pull keeping the beard less than an inch will be ideal. Currently, I have a medium beard (4 inches) and the only time I feel the hairs get ripped out is when my neck is being attacked. A longer beard will need some prep before drilling or rolling if it can get caught up on your opponent.
The short beard is generally an inch or less in length (<2.54cm). In Jiu-Jitsu the short beard is similar to not having a beard. There are very few times it’ll get pulled because of its short length. Beard oil on a short beard will help keep the hair and skin moisturized allowing other’s hands to glide across your hairs.
There are many guys that I’ve talked to in my BJJ class that trimmed their beards down once they started Jiu-Jitsu. A shorter beard allowed them to rock a beard without the cons of a longer beard, like their beard hairs getting ripped out during rolls.
I started Jiu-Jitsu with a short beard and I didn’t notice any negative factors of having one. As it got closer to one-inch long it started to look messier after rolling and it would collect dirt from the mats. A quick brush with a boar bristle brush cleaned it up and removed the dirt that was picked up during class.
The short beard, like other beards lengths, will pick up dirt on the mats and tend to collect loose hairs too. This may be the biggest drawback to having a beard in Jiu-Jitsu. Luckily for us bearded folks, it’s an easy one to fix! Washing your face is easier with a short beard and a boar bristle brush will remove most of the dirt hidden in the beard anyways!
A medium-sized beard in Jiu-Jitsu is when you’ll start to feel the hair getting pulled and ripped out. Its length is longer than an inch and up to around 4 inches long (2.5cm-10cm). When your beard is in this category you’re going to notice that when someone’s hand is by your neck, your beard is probably going to get pulled.
In the early stages of a medium beard, you’ll notice that when someone’s hand forces your face in a position, your beard will get pulled. This mostly only happens when your teammate has a back position, like the back mount or top turtle. Some loop or cloth chokes will rub against the beard, but it’s nothing too uncomfortable.
As the beard gets longer than 2 inches (5cm) and gets to the 3-4 inch (7-10 cm) length it will get pulled much more. Anytime someone goes for your neck they’ll be fighting the beard too. When that happens, you have two choices, leave your head where it is or lift your head to allow space.
Going with option one will cause beard hairs to be ripped out, in my experience, not many. Option two that allows space may get you choked out or create enough space for you to escape.
At this beard length, you may have to wash your beard a bit more frequently due to the sweat and dirt that accumulates in it. A simple brush is not going to get to the skin as easily or deep into the beard. Combing it will help and will be necessary to ensure it doesn’t get tangled up.
A long beard in Jiu-Jitsu is when you’ll have to start using clever methods to keep it out of your way and your opponents. The long beard is anything greater than 4 inches (10cm) in length. At this length, it will get pulled and ripped anytime someone goes near your neck.
As the beard gets longer it will start to get caught on everything. Keeping someone in side-control? Watch your beard if your partner shrimps away, your beard may have gotten under them! When your beard starts to get long enough to get caught in your opponent armpit it’s time to think about a hair elastic.
A hair elastic will keep the beard tight so you can tuck it in your Gi or style it to appear as a short beard. Sikhs do not cut any of their hair and are masters at hiding away their long beards in their dastār. When they tuck their beard away it appears as though it is a short beard, wherein reality it can be 2 feet long!
Do you wear headgear? Maybe an elastic at your chin and wrapping the beard into your headgear will help keep the beard out of the way! The main thing you’ll have to do is just keep your beard out of the way, much like how people with longer hair tie theirs up.
Cleaning the long beard will be similar to the medium length, except there is more beard to take care of. A comb through helps get the beard clean and untangled after a roll. Washing the beard will be important as the longer the beard the more it’ll pick up! If you’re good at keeping it tucked away, it will not pick up as much dirt or get as tangled.
Regardless of the length of your beard, it is going to get a little bit roughed up in Jiu-Jitsu. Taking care of your beard and doing beard maintenance will help the beard stay in great condition! There are a couple of products I recommend regardless of the beard length, boar bristle brush and beard oil. For a longer beard, a comb and beard balm/butter goes a long way!
Boar Bristle Brush
A boar bristle brush has a few key factors that will help your beard, especially after Jiu-Jitsu. But first, why boar bristle? The boar bristle doesn’t damage the hair while brushing. Which means, the bristles do not tear or will not split your beard hair. Additionally, the boar bristle gently massages the skin under the hair to help stimulate blood flow and encourage hair growth.
The biggest benefit of using a boar bristle brush after Jiu-Jitsu is that they help remove dirt and dandruff from the beard. Rolling around with a beard is naturally going to pick up a lot of the dirt, hair, dead skin hidden on the mat.
Washing the beard after class every class can dry out the beard and not get all of the finer dirt particles out. Brushing the beard after class will help remove the dirt picked up during class and make the beard look a lot less crazy!
Finally, using a boar bristle brush daily is beneficial to keeping your beard looking fresh and clean. During the day a beard can get quite dirty because of the food and dust getting trapped in it. Bristle brushes are ideal for removing that dirt and keeping your beard clean. The brush is great for evenly distributing beard oil or balm to prevent the beard from getting dry.
Beard oil act as a moisturizer that helps prevent the hair from becoming dry and brittle. If you live in climates that get colder or windy hydration around the beard can become uneven or dandruff and skin dryness starts to appear. The beard oil will help prevent these conditions from occurring!
Why are these conditions not good? First, these are conditions that can occur on a normal basis. But, if these conditions are added while you’re grappling and getting choked in BJJ your beard hair will be more susceptible to being ripped out, breaking, or splitting.
Beard oil is hydrating to the skin and helps soften the beard hairs. Keeping the skin and beard hair hydrated will help prevent dandruff and dry skin – while also softening the beard hairs. Softer beard hairs are less likely to break and split allowing the beard to grow thick and full. The softer hair will irritate the skin less since it will not be jabbing it constantly.
Keeping my beard hydrated before class allows people’s hands and arms to glide across my beard easier. Otherwise, it can feel as though they are straight-up rip my precious beard hairs out. Which still does happen, just a bit less.
One final note with beard oils is that many of them come scented. Some beard oils are scented stronger than others, so getting a separate unscented beard oil for Jiu-Jitsu is recommended.
As the beard gets longer having a brush and comb will help keep the beard untangled and clean. Beard combs are not necessary when the beard is less than an inch. There is not enough hair for a comb to make a big difference if the beard is short. The comb will keep a long beard from becoming tangled and looking like a mess after class.
Combing your beard every day, particularly after the shower, will encourage your beard hairs to grow in the same direction. Overall your beard will be straighter and tidier, which can lead to less ingrown hairs too. Keeping the beard neat and tidy will make it easier to untangle after Jiu-Jitsu class.
After class, my beard looks like I just came out of the jungle. A simple comb through straightens it out and this is so easy to do because I comb it every day. Otherwise, I’d have to deal with knots or have it progressively look worst.
Make sure you buy a quality beard comb, instead of a cheap one off the shelf at the drugstore. There is nothing worse you can do to your facial hair than buying a cheap comb. A cheap plastic comb is made on a large press which stamps them from the mold. Creating a comb this way causing the comb to have many microscopic jagged edges on each tooth. Each jagged edge can tear your hair and rip apart the hair follicles.
It is better not to comb your beard at all than to comb it with a cheap plastic comb. Spend the extra money and buy a wooded comb (sandalwood is common). Or, get a tortoiseshell comb that is sawed cut, hand-polished and buffed.
Beard balm and butter are similar to beard oil in what it does and the benefits, except that it is thicker. Balms typically contain carrier oils and beeswax. Beard butter generally contains carrier oils and types of butter like Shea and Cocoa. Beard balms give a stronger hold than butter and are good for beards that are getting longer but are not big enough to hold themselves down.
The butter in beard butter helps moisture the beard. It makes sure the beard remains soft, much like oil. However, butter provides a light hold that helps tame and style your beard. As my beard gets past the 3-inch length I am transitioning to beard butter. Balm starts to give to much hold and can stiffen up a beard.
Beard balm moistures the beard while assisting in controlling flyaway hairs to keep your beard shaped with a firm hold. I find a balm works well on the sideburn area of the beard, particularly if you keep your sides tapered. Since beeswax is often used in beard balm it can make your beard stiff and more likely to be ripped out.
I found that using just an oil before class was better since there was no need to style my beard. After all, my beard was going to get messy during class and having a soft, flowing beard was more advantageous. The balm was great for controlling my medium-sized beard afterward though!
If you’re thinking about doing Jiu-Jitsu with a beard and are unsure if you should, go for it. Regardless of the length of your beard, it is going to get a little bit roughed up in Jiu-Jitsu. Don’t get mad at your teammates if they accidentally grab your beard or rip some hairs out. It’s just part of having a beard in Jiu-Jitsu. Taking care of your beard and doing beard maintenance will help the beard stay in great condition!
The short beard is generally an inch and is similar to not having a beard. There are very few times it’ll get in the way because of its short length.
A medium-sized beard in Jiu-Jitsu is when you’ll start to feel the hair getting pulled and ripped out. Having a beard brush will be beneficial at this length to keep it clean and maintained.
The long beard is 4 inches or longer. At this length, you’ll have to start using methods to keep it out of yours and everyone else’s way. A long beard will get pulled and ripped anytime someone goes near your neck.