Skip to main content

If You're Serious About BJJ or Judo, You Need Flip Flops

My story (briefly)

I've been doing judo and BJJ for nearly 18 yeas now, and as a result, I've competed in literally hundreds of different tournaments, been to dozens of seminars, and trained many thousands of times. One thing in common at all of these scenarios is that bare feet belong on the mats, and shoes belong on your feet when you're off the mats, whether it's to use the bathroom (really, seriously - if you're not wearing shoes when you go to the bathroom, you are THAT GUY), or just to run over to grab some tape for your finger.

It's astounding being at tournaments and watching people run into the bathrooms with no shoes on their feet. I'm like, "Hey, I'm going to put my face on those mats, and you're going to bring pee onto them." I've actually said that to more than a few people, calling them out! US Grappling, a tournament circuit I help run, actually puts up "no bare feet in the bathrooms" signs at every single one of our events, and we even make periodic announcements about this at our events. It's almost embarrassing to admit that grapplers can be gross enough to walk into a bathroom with bare feet, but once you get to know grapplers, you kind of realize that we are, at our core, willing to do more gross things than your typical person.

An effective solution

I've tried dozens of different slip-off shoes, from flip flops to sandals to sneakers, and nothing suits my needs as a long time BJJ practitioner than these sandals. Here are three great things about the sandals:

  1. I can leave them by the mats (or in a nearby shoe cubby, depending on which gym I'm teaching or training at) and just kick them off or slip them on without crouching down. This didn't used to matter so much to me, but nowadays I don't much like crouching down and kneeling unless I'm working to pass someone's guard or what have you.
  2. They are 100% machine washable! I like to periodically wash them every other week or so. I don't drop them in the dryer, though, as the heat might damage them, but it doesn't really matter, because I just leave them in the sun for like an hour and they're good to go (or, if there's no sun, I just leave them out at room temperature for three or four hours or overnight).
  3. They're super comfortable. Like, more comfortable than any other sandals or flip-flops I have ever worn. In fact, I wear them even when I'm not at the gym or tournament. If you don't believe me, check out any full body pics of me on my Facebook page or see me at my gym; I'll be wearing these bad boys. I'll even wear these sandals with my socks (I know, I know- fashion faux pas, but I really don't care).

It's tough to imagine what would make a flip-flop or sneaker better suited to BJJ or judo than these Adidas Adissage guys, but if those ever come around, I'll likely invest in them too. In the meantime, these are simply the best shoes for BJJ or judo.

Judo sandals

Judo sandals

Training at Revolution BJJ, where we keep the gym really clean


US Grappling, who has a strict no bare feet in the bathrooms policy

Scroll to Continue

Do your part

Wearing shoes into the bathroom (and never on the mats) is one very, very important step in making sure your training atmosphere is as clean as possible, but it's really just the beginning. You can read more about some of the steps we take at my gym if you'd like. Here are a few quick tips:

  • Mop mats every time immediately after training
  • Shower as soon as possible after training
  • Wash your gi (or no-gi gear) immediately after training as well
  • Come to class clean and showered in the first place
  • Spray down wall pads or heavy bags with a Lysol or bleach solution
  • Communicate with your teammates if you have a skin infection
  • Do not train if you have a skin infection
  • Cover up any cuts or scrapes you have

There are lots more good tips, but if you approach your gym as more like a clinical environment, like a hospital, you'll begin to understand the approach you need to take in order to do your part to help prevent infectious skin diseases present in BJJ and grappling.


Andrew Smith (author) from Richmond, VA on August 10, 2016:

Nice, additional good ideas. I really like the flip flops in question (sandals, if you prefer). I keep an extra pair at the gym just in case.

David A on August 09, 2016:

Great tips, and I'm actually going to buy those sandals! They do look really comfortable. I've found that placing a few towels around the mats coated with disinfectant and keeping them there the whole time for people to wipe their feet on each time before stepping on the mats has been helpful.

Related Articles