Martial Arts

Are MMA Shorts Just Swimming Board Shorts

Today we’re going to be discussing the benefits of mma shorts for sparring and grappling over other shorts. In particular the swimming board shorts, as these have the most similar characteristics. Mainly because starting mma students always seem to ask me whether it’s worth buying mma shorts, when swimming board shorts are cheaper.

So let’s first answer that question.

I’d recommend that if you already have a pair of swimming board shorts and just want to try out mma. Go with your swimming shorts, no one’s expecting you to shell out 60 bucks for something you might not like. Though if you don’t have swimming shorts, go for the mma shorts. Chances are you’re going to like it, I mean who doesn’t like mma amirite?

Besides the worst case scenario that can come out of all this is, that you’ll have a cool pair of swimming trunks.

Just putting it out there mma shorts are also called grappling shorts, BJJ board shorts and fight shorts. Though fight shorts isn’t really a good term to use, as there are many other different types of combat sport shorts besides mma.

Anyways that was my advice on whether you should buy mma shorts or not. Now back on topic, mma shorts vs board shorts what are the differences when it comes to sparring and grappling.

MMA shorts vs board shorts

Can You Swim In MMA Shorts

I suggested that if you were, for any reason not going to continue mma. You could use your mma shorts for swimming but can it take the toll?

Well MMA shorts happen to be made of polyester, which happens to be the same material board shorts are made of. Obviously not all mma shorts are made primarily from polyester but this goes as well for board shorts, I’m simply considering the standard mma shorts material. Due to the materials for both mma shorts and board shorts being the same, we can safely assume that mma shorts would do the job just fine.

Though I would not recommend using your mma shorts as a replacement for your swimming board shorts, unless you gave up on mma. The reason for this is that both chlorine and sea salt damage polyester. Therefore it wouldn’t make sense to use a more expensive shorts, you’re going to be reducing your mma shorts durability for no reason.

No Built-In Underwear

I know proper board shorts don’t have that uncomfortable built-in underwear, but this one’s for ‘those’ people. Assuming your swim shorts have it, it’s going to get really uncomfortable.

The groin guard, that is if you manage to properly place it in those board shorts, it’s most probably going to rip your build in underwear just sayin. Even if you don’t use the groin guard, your going to have to wear proper underwear underneath unless you want to flash everyone at the gym. Overall it will just be uncomfortable.

MMA Shorts Vs Board Shorts Flexibility

Now we’re getting more into the technical design of mma shorts, that make mma shorts into the mma shorts we love. There are 3 main components in mma shorts that are purposely designed in order to prevent lack of motion due to clothing. These are:

  • Material
  • Crotch gusset
  • Slits

MMA Shorts Material

As we already said mma shorts are mainly made from polyester or other flexible material. Though let’s be honest most sports gear is made to be flexible. Therefore when it comes to flexibility, the material used isn’t really something groundbreaking if you know what I mean. It still affects the flexibility of the mma shorts but the next 2 features are more unique when compared to other shorts.

MMA Shorts Crotch Gusset – Stretch Panels

What this initially is, it’s like a really flexible groin area in your mma shorts. To understand me better I’ll explain it with an example. You ever bought one of those really cheap sweatpant. You’re all happy with it thinking you made a bargain. Than you stretch your legs just a tiny bit, to get on top of a chair or something and you hear that ripping sound. Ya what these stretch panels basically are, very good ripping preventers.

Besides the reduced ripping benefit, it makes that area really free. All of you that have practiced mma know what I mean and how important that is for:

  • Kicking, especially high kicks.
  • Grappling, especially when your opponent is in your guard.
  • If your a flexible fighter, It’s essential. If you’re someone who is exceptionally flexible and utilises a lot of techniques that require above average flexibility, definitely get a pair.

Besides all these sparring benefits that come with the gusset. It provides a great place for your groin guard to fit better and stay in place.

This is one of those feature that you would not find in typical swimming board shorts or shorts in general. For the reason that shorts in general are not meant to bend like that.

MMA Shorts Slits

These are the cuts, at both sides of the shorts. This is another one of those distinctive attributes, that make mma shorts superior to board shorts and shorts in general. You will also find this feature in other styles of fighting shorts, as it’s main purpose is to eliminates the restriction caused by general clothing while kicking or kneeing an opponent. It’s really essential for any martial art not just mma, that has a stand up fighting style. On the whole, it will improve your kicking and knee strikes by:

  • Increasing their maximum range
  • Increasing their raw power
  • Increasing their speed

In gaming terms +1 striking power.

MMA Shorts Vs Board Shorts – Ability To Stay On Your Hips (Closure System)

If you haven’t practiced mma yet, heads up you’re going to be spending most of your time on the ground grappling. Now if you’re like me, you’re going to be spinning, twisting, and doing all sorts of stuff down there. Unless you have proper mma shorts, they’re not going to stay on trust me. That’s why mma shorts have 2 mechanics commonly referred to as, the closure system to keep your pants on. These mechanics are:

  • Drawstring laces
  • Velcro strap

Wow really they have drawstring laces, doesn’t every sport shorts have those.

You’re right most sport shorts do have them but unlike sport shorts, mma shorts keep the laces on the inside. For most sports or activities having the laces on the outside doesn’t really impact your performance. In fact there more convenient to tie up and serve as a fashion accessory for shorts like board shorts.

However when it comes to mma, having the laces on the outside will cause them to untie while we’re on the mats. Ultimately ending up with really loose shorts and falling off. You’d think that that would be enough to keep the laces tied but mma shorts designers added an extra feature to make sure the laces don’t get untied. The velcro strap.

What this essentially is, it’s a velcro strap on the inside of the shorts. Once you tie the lace you put on the strap stopping the lace from moving around. This prevents the drawstring lace from getting untied under any situation.

Safety And Regulations Of MMA Shorts

Another benefit of using mma shorts over other shorts is for safety reasons. Though to be honest I never got or saw anyone get injured from the type of pants the opponent wore. However board shorts and other types of shorts do tend to damage the mats, due to metal components such as zippers and buttons on the shorts. In the beginning of your training you’re not going to have extreme sparring sessions, though if you plan to stay get a pair of mma shorts out of respect for your coach.

Unfortunately I can’t find a link to the official mma regulations regarding what shorts are appropriate, all I’m getting is ‘shorts need to be approved by the Commission’. Whatever that means I don’t know, though my mma coach told me that the main concerns are:

  • Pockets
  • Metal components

Unlike board shorts, mma shorts don’t have pockets nor metal components in them. The reason for this is that.

With pockets your opponent might get his hand trapped in there, with a sudden twist you might injure their hand unintentionally. Leading to that person being unable to participate for quite some time. Obviously we don’t want this to happen to either us or our training friends.

The main issue with metal components is that, we might unintentionally scratch our sparring partner. This isn’t as sever as the pockets one, regardlessly we should avoid these dumb injuries.

MMA Shorts Vs Other Shorts – Durability

Much like everything we discussed so far, quality plays a huge role especially in durability. Generally a good pair of mma shorts will last you ages, my venum mma shorts have been going for about 7 years and they still look fairly new.

We already discussed flexibility. Obviously having shorts that can withstand the movements done in mma will last longer, as others will rip if flexed to much. This is most probably the main reason why mma shorts last so long without damage.

Besides the features that improve flexibility which ultimately increase durability, mma shorts are also double stitched if not triple stitched. In non knitting terms this basically means, better quality than the standard shorts. Mainly because normal shorts aren’t going to be used for sparring, therefore they don’t need to have the treads that strong.

Some Other Pros Of Using MMA Shorts Over Other Shorts

  • The material is really lightweight, making it more comfortable to fight and train in.
  • There’s also a hygienical benefit in mma shorts, the material typically doesn’t collect much sweat. Preventing the shorts from getting heavy and reducing nasty odors.Some mma shorts also claim that they have anti-bacterial protection, preventing bacteria obviously and blood stains. Though be wary of this, my coach told me it’s more of a marketing scheme than an actual feature. He said that after 10 washes these ‘anti-bacterial properties’ fade away.
  • Some mma shorts are implementing a rougher material between the inner thighs. Quite an interesting feature in fact, I’m not certain if it’s okay to use these types of mma shorts in competitions. The concept behind this feature is to create friction, making it harder for your opponents to escape your guard or specific techniques.A realistic situations that I think these shorts could shine would be. You’re going for an armbar but for some reason your hands slips while turning. That extra friction could potentially give you that millisecond to grab hold of his arm, before he pulls it out from between your legs.

Conclusion MMA Shorts Vs Board Shorts

As you can see mma shorts aren’t just board shorts. In the long run investing in a good pair of mma shorts, will make your mma experience funner and cheaper. So take my advice and go buy a good pair of mma shorts.

Sources :
All images have been taken from pixabay with a Creative Commons CC0 licence.


Are MMA Shorts Just Swimming Board Shorts
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Are MMA Shorts Just Swimming Board Shorts
Absolutely No, Let's Compare MMA Shorts VS Board Shorts In Terms Of MMA Practice {Discussing} Flexibility, Closure System, Safety, Durability
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Martial Arts Nerd
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