How and Why to Tape Your Fingers for BJJ

How and Why to Tape Your Fingers for BJJ

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is popularized as the ‘gentle art,’ and many martial art enthusiasts practice it because of its usually non-violent self-defense biased nature. In BJJ, attacks are usually not the main focus of the practitioners. Quite the contrary, they are trained to anticipate the moves their opponent can execute to subdue them and use those maneuvers against them to achieve their own goals. Many of these defense strategies are dependent on strong grip strength, clutching power, and grappling techniques. A BJJ practitioner’s hands are his major weapon in situations where he has to maintain control over his opponent. This is the primary reason why most BJJ practitioners have bruised hands or deformed fingers.

Hence, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu stands apart from other martial arts because of its emphasis on grips, leverage, and manipulative maneuvers. Most of the submission techniques also involve joint locks, where a stronger grip can easily lead a practitioner to victory on the mats. Unfortunately, the more a jiu-jitsu athlete practices the martial arts, the more damaged his hands get, impacting his ability to train consistently, perform on the mats in competitive settings, and win important competitions.

Recognizing the growing problem of finger injuries, sprains, and tendonitis among BJJ practitioners, the use of BJJ finger taping is being stressed by the most accomplished masters of gentle art. BJJ finger tape is an accessory or tool specifically designed to provide support to the delicate muscles of fingers, allowing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu enthusiasts to practice this sport for as long as they want. Over the years, BJJ finger tape has proved itself as an effective injury prevention tool that also enhances performance. Without the fear of hyperextensions of joints or muscle strain, practitioners can unleash their full potential during training sessions and competitions. This article aims to highlight the importance of BJJ finger taping, touching upon its benefits, types, application methods, and some useful tips that will make your time on the mats more productive and less painful.   

1. What is a BJJ Finger Tape?

BJJ finger tape is usually made up of high-quality hard cotton or other durable materials like rayon. It has a strong adhesive characteristic so that it lasts longer during sweaty and grueling BJJ practice sessions. The tape is wrapped around the finger as a protective covering to prevent cuts, rashes, etc. The BJJ tape also supports smaller finger joints, improving the grip and confidence of BJJ combatants.

The tape can also be used to cover other exposed parts, especially joints in the toes, wrists, knees, and ankles.

2. Difference Between a Regular and BJJ Finger Tape

There is one major difference between regular sports tape and BJJ tape. BJJ tape has a narrow width suited to the width of fingers and is usually 0.3 inches or 8 – 9mm wider than normal sports tape. BJJ tape is more reliable and sticks to the finger during longer training sessions, even sticking while you are sweating.

3. Features of the Best BJJ Finger Tape:

If you are a beginner and searching for BJJ tape, then consider the following features before buying:

3.1. Adhesion

The tape should have strong adhesive properties. It should not fall off your finger when you are involved in intense training. Most manufacturers use zinc oxide to give the tape an adherent characteristic.

3.2. Use of Inelastic and Firm Material

The tape should be made up of high-quality tight material. Most tapes are made of cotton or rayon. These materials provide essential support to the finger joints. It is not recommended you use highly elastic kinesiology tape as these tapes lose their stickiness after some time and are unable to provide support.

3.3. Perfect Size

BJJ tapes have a unique size. Regular tapes are seldom available in the desired size. The grapplers should always choose a tape that is exclusively designed to suit finger size. As described above, the ideal width of the BJJ tape is 0.3 inches or 8 – 9mm. If you use regular tape, you will end up wasting a lot of time cutting the tape off your fingers and this poses a risk of injury to your fingers if they are not covered properly.

3.4. Affordability

It is possible to buy quality BJJ tapes from any brand without spending a lot. Many brands offer a value pack with rolls and a carrying bag. These high-quality tapes have roll lengths over 10 yards / 30 feet / 9.1 meters. Some tapes will have longer lengths of 15 yards / 45 feet / 13.7 meters.

3.5. Does Not Leave Any Sticky Residue

A good quality tape never leaves any residue when removed. Therefore, if your fingers aren’t clean after you take off the tape, then consider changing the brand.

4. Why Tape Your Fingers For BJJ

Most BJJ instructors tape their fingers before they start training.

4.1. Safety

Like all other sports, there is a chance of injury in BJJ. After several training sessions, you begin to realize that it's not so easy to learn jiu-jitsu as it involves multiple bruises, injuries wounds, and a lot of pain. Moreover, an important BJJ technique is gripping your opponent’s uniform to control and subdue him/her.

Your hands take the brunt of this violent exchange where you are holding on to your opponent while he/she is thrashing and pulling at your hands violently to remove your grip.

These injuries take a lot of time to recover from, something BJJ players cannot afford as it would result in time away from the mats. In the long run, injuries to the hands might lead to the onset of arthritis. To prevent this unfortunate occurrence, it is of the utmost importance for the BJJ fighter to cover the finger joints with tape.

4.2. Protection from Injuries

Taping your hands is to prevent injuries to your hands. If your hands are damaged, you cannot fight for a long time as the fingers have a slow healing process. This can negatively affect your BJJ career.

4.3. Build the Finger Muscles

It takes a lot of time for new BJJ fighters to master the difficult gi grappling techniques. When you start practicing, your fingers get swollen and tendons become hard, so it's better to tape your finger joints. Taping of the fingers will eventually strengthen your muscles and help you perform grapples.

4.4. To Cover Your Wounds

Most BJJ fighters use tape to cover their cuts and scars. Applying BJJ tape directly to the wounds is a bad practice. When you open the tape, you will open up your wound also. Always cover your wound with the bandage first before taping it.

4.5. Improve Grip Strength

In BJJ, manipulating one’s opponent by using Gi grip techniques is crucial for survival and triumph on the mats. When pulling on the opponent’s Gi, practitioners experience a lot of resistance and opposing force that can impact the effectiveness of their fighting strategy if the grip strength is weak. Understanding this aspect of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, practitioners dedicate a lot of training time to developing their grip strength and improving grappling techniques that require grip clutching force. For this purpose, it is common to use BJJ grip strength trainers; however, another important accessory in this regard is BJJ tape.

BJJ tape offers significant advantages in improving gripping capabilities, enhancing support to finger muscles, and making it easier to maintain the intensity of one’s hold or grip for an extended period. Another great advantage of BJJ finger tape is that it remains with you on the mats, allowing you to execute techniques with greater precision for an overall outstanding athletic performance.

Moreover, it is pertinent to mention that many No-Gi practitioners deem BJJ finger taping as an act restricted to those who practice traditional BJJ. However, many No-Gi athletes also execute spider guards or De La Riva guards, both of which require immaculate grip strength to be effective on the mats. Performing these guards becomes nearly effortless with BJJ tapes wrapped properly around your fingers.

5. Common BJJ Finger Injuries & Significance of Taping

According to Melbourne Hand Rehab, “Due to the nature of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, hands are a frequent site of injury. One of the most common injuries in BJJ is traumatic finger polyarthritis, which is essentially a wear and tear injury to the joints and ligaments in the thumb and fingers. It often occurs as a result of neglecting smaller injuries over time. It can cause deformity of the finger joints as well as pain and weakness in the hands.” 


If we analyze the Melbourne Hand Rehab’s observations, it becomes evident that neglecting smaller finger injuries’ is a common reason why many BJJ practitioners develop serious musculoskeletal disorders, ultimately rendering them unable to continue their jiu-jitsu training or participate in competitions. Therefore, if left untreated, even a minor finger injury has the potential to end the career of a promising BJJ athlete. 

With a certain degree of expertise in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu related finger injuries, Melbourne Hand Rehab Center offers various preventive measures and injury management methods, one of which is use of BJJ finger tape. 

“There are many ways to try and prevent these injuries from occurring. The first is to get all finger injuries properly assessed and treated. This prevents them from developing into chronic conditions. The second is to use the correct gripping technique. Learning the correct grip technique and learning when to grip at full strength and when not to, can go a long way to preventing injury. Thirdly, taping your fingers can provide support and help prevent injury. Finally, strengthening the fingers improves the ability to deal with the stresses involved in the repetitive gripping in BJJ.”

6. Benefits of Taping Your Fingers in BJJ

Fingers are the most important tool for gripping and holding your opponents, so you must always take care of your hands. The most known injuries that BJJ players go through are tendons, joints, and ligament injuries. Taping of the hands will help you in the following ways:

  • It will increase grip strength.
  • It will improve your gripping technique.
  • The finger tape will prevent injuries to your finger joints.
  • BJJ finger tape lowers the risk of a broken joint.
  • It helps to increase confidence, especially in moves that require finger strength.

7. Types of the BJJ Tapes

There are only two basic types of BJJ tapes. One of them is 1.5-inch tape and the other one is 0.3-inch tape.

7.1. 1.5-inch Tape

This tape has a larger width meant to cover a large surface area. Before using this tape, you need to cut it so that it fits around your finger joints. Incorrectly sized tapes might work for some but they are not preferred.

7.2. 0.3-inch Tape

If you have soreness in the fingers then this tape is perfect for you. It has a narrow width and is ideal for covering your fingers. You don't need to cut this tape, unlike the 1.5-inch tape. It saves you time. It also includes 0.2- and 0.5-inch segments, allowing you to choose what fits more.

8. Types of the BJJ Tapes

There are specific methods used to tape your fingers for BJJ. The taping on your finger depends on the type of injury you are trying to prevent.

8.1. Knuckle Taping

This type of taping is used for injured and sore knuckles. You simply have to wrap the tape around the sore knuckles one or two times. Then wrap the tape around the finger joint below the sore knuckle.

8.2. X Taping

This method is frequently used by instructors. It provides support so it does not hinder finger flexibility and movement. Moreover, it provides maximum protection for fingers that were injured before or during a technique.


In this method, you have to wrap the tape around the knuckles. Start taping from the non-knuckle part of the finger. Then wrap the tape diagonally on the inner side of the finger to make an X-pattern.


Similarly, on the other hand, wrap the tape around the phalange bone before wrapping it around the inside of the hand to make an X-pattern.


This tape will function like braces, providing stability to the tendons and joints.

8.3. The Buddy System

It is one of the best methods to support your injured finger joints. Whenever your finger joint is injured, its stability and mobility become reduced.


For example, if your fingers are already injured, bending and flexing them to maintain a grip on your opponent’s gi would be extremely painful, especially in a competitive setting. You can support your injured finger with this method and make gripping much easier.


Simply wrap the tape around your injured finger and the one right next to.


This will lower the risk of overextending and straining your joints during fights. Remember to tape both of the fingers in such a way that the tape forms an X-pattern.

8.4. Restrictive Taping

This is the simplest of all the methods and is used for a quick fix during competitions. If you suffer an injury during a fight, you can wrap the injured part directly with BJJ tape. It is not considered the best option but still protects your fingers from further damage. After the fight, it is recommended that you clean the injury/wound, apply a bandage, and then put on more tape.

8.5. Taping The Thumb

Thumb taping is slightly more complex than wrapping BJJ tape around the fingers. Thumbs play an important role in gripping. Applying BJJ tape to the thumb reduces the overall strength of your grip. However, reduced grip strength is better than a swollen and injured thumb. It takes some time to properly tape the thumb. Start by putting tape on the inside of the thumb and then wrap it around the thumb joints. You can also extend the tape and wrap it around your wrist for extra support.

9. Tips for Taping

  • Don't wrap the tape around the finger joints too tightly. It can stop blood circulation and your finger may turn purple.
  • When you are done wrapping the tape, gently fold the end of the tape for a clean and nice edge.
  • Never apply the tape directly to your finger joints; this can limit your movements.
  • Do not buy cheap tapes. They lack the required adhesive properties and don't stay on for long. During fights, you are bound to sweat and they will fall off your fingers.
  • Always use a generous amount of tape that covers your wound properly. If you use a small amount of tape, your finger may not be fully protected.

10. BJJ Taping for Injury Management vs Preventive Taping

Many BJJ practitioners do not use finger tapes because their finger muscles and joints are already badly injured and they choose to leave the sport altogether instead of taping the fingers for support and still training jiu-jitsu. While it is true that BJJ finger tape is essentially a preventative measure, it can also help with injury management. But should you rely only on BJJ finger taping when recovering from a serious musculoskeletal injury?

According to Dr. Kreiswirth, PhD, ATC, and the IBJJF Medical Coordinator, the thumb is the most commonly injured finger. In BJJ, the thumb is the most exposed part of the hand due to its unique anatomy. Since it is slightly separated from the hand, its ligaments can get easily sprained. However, this does not mean that all other fingers are not as vulnerable to injury as the thumb during jiu-jitsu training sessions or at competitive levels. While competing and training, fingers can get caught in Gi or get brutally driven into the ground by the opponent. Even though finger muscles are thin and relatively smaller than other muscles, they take longer to heal, majorly because they are used daily in different tasks. After an injury, it is necessary to immobilize the part to promote healing and tissue repair, but because we perform even the smallest of tasks with our fingers, they do not get immobilized which delays healing.

As a result, practitioners who leave jiu-jitsu training due to finger injuries continue to experience finger sprains long after ceasing jiu-jitsu training. The use of activities unassociated with BJJ is also a cause to exacerbate injuries. Therefore, after BJJ finger injuries, it is necessary to stop the use of fingers and allow them time to heal. In these cases, it is important to use a basic finger splint as a BJJ finger tape will not offer optimal support and comfort. 

“Because the finger has very little muscular support, immobilizing a finger sprain is necessary to increase its injury time to heal. Depending on the severity of the sprain, immobilizing the finger is needed to aid in comfort and proper healing. Most finger injuries can simply be put into a basic finger splint or “popsicle” type wood splint, but the need is to immobilize at least overnight while sleeping. This will give the athlete seven to eight hours of tissue repair in immobilization”

(Dr. Kreiswirth, PhD, ATC, and the IBJJF Medical Coordinator)

He further added,

“If possible, wearing a finger splint as much as possible is highly recommended. Taping for finger injuries is most common in BJJ. Tape cannot do the job that a splint does, but still provides some comfort and support. If a finger sprain is mild, taping with non-stretch tape can be used for support. Finger sprains can last 6-8 weeks and longer to fully recover. Steps for care must be taken to reduce this healing time.”

(Dr. Kreiswirth, PhD, ATC, and the IBJJF Medical Coordinator)

Based on the sound medical advice offered by Dr. Kreiswirth, it is evident that BJJ finger taping is highly beneficial as a preventative. However, even in cases of mild sprain, it can still provide support and enable individuals to perform daily activities unrelated to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu without causing further damage to fingers.

11. Common BJJ Finger Taping Mistakes

Properly taping your fingers and ensuring optimal coverage before every jiu-jitsu training session or competition is essential to prevent bruises, strains, and other painful conditions. However, applying finger tape in itself does not offer the support, comfort, and protection you aim for. Improper application of finger taping can cause you more harm on the mats and can also impact the effectiveness of your grappling techniques. Here are some of the most common BJJ finger-taping mistakes practitioners make that one must avoid to reap the benefits of a finger tape. 

11.1. Ignoring the Proper Wrapping Method

The correct application or wrapping method of BJJ finger tape is necessary to ensure your fingers are well-protected during volatile training sessions and competitions. An improperly wrapped finger tape fails to stabilize your joint against resistive forces your opponent or training partner applies to counter your manipulative maneuvers or controlling tactics. As a result, you may feel soreness or a dull throbbing pain in your fingers at the early stage of a training session or match. To prevent discomfort and feel relaxed, it is recommended that athletes follow the X-pattern of taping when wrapping their fingers. 

11.2. Ignoring Tingling Sensation in Fingers or Hands

If a BJJ finger tape is not properly applied, you are bound to feel a tingling sensation in your hands or fingers, and eventually, your fingers will go numb. This usually happens when you wrap the tape too tightly, blocking the required blood flow to finger muscles and joints. This makes it difficult to execute techniques, compelling you to apply a greater amount of force, which in turn leads to more discomfort, pain, and injuries. 

11.3. Overlapping Tape Pattern

When wrapping BJJ tape around your fingers, it is necessary to ensure that each layer of tape is not wrapped over itself; instead, it should sit snugly against your finger. Overlapping tape can add bulk to your finger, hindering movement and also restricting proper flexion, extension, grip, adduction, and abduction. 

11.4. Too Much or Too Little Tension

Maintaining a constant level of tension in the tape throughout the wrapping pattern is extremely important. While wrapping, it is common to apply either too much or too little tension, which can disrupt the consistency of tension throughout the tape. Be sure to pull gently but securely at the tape for optimal support to the joints. 

11.5. Not Testing Movement or Mobility

Not testing finger movement after taping and before assuming position on the mats is another common mistake many BJJ practitioners make. Once you have finished wrapping the tape around your fingers, test the tension and movement by flexing and extending your fingers fully to ensure you have a full range of mobility and do not feel restricted in any way. 

12. How to Care for Taped Fingers After BJJ Training Session?

After an intense Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training session or a match, it is important to tend to your taped fingers. This will help you ensure that your fingers have not sustained injuries. In case you see any bruises on the hand or feel discomfort after removing the tape, it is best to halt the training session to prevent the injury from becoming more serious. Moreover, removing the finger tape after a sweaty match or class helps prevent bacterial growth, irritation, or skin rashes on the fingers. Just like it is important to apply BJJ finger tape properly, paying attention to the correct tape removal method is equally important. 

12.1. Correct Method of BJJ Finger Tape Removal

Correctly removing BJJ finger tape requires patience, as pulling the tape off the fingers can cause more pain and also affect your muscles and joints. It is best to carefully take off the tape and simultaneously inspect for any bruises or injuries. Using your fingernail, slowly lift one corner of the tape and peel the sticky tape in small sections until it is completely removed. Some practitioners also use alcohol pads to lightly dab at the adhesive side of the tape to reduce its stickiness and facilitate removal. However, be sure that the alcohol does not make contact with the skin to avoid potential irritation. If the tape is too tight and painful to remove, it is best to carefully cut through it. 

12.2. Cleaning Injured Fingers After Removing BJJ Finger Tape

After removing the tape, clean the fingers properly and cover the injured areas in the following manner:

  • Wash your hands and gently rub your fingers to remove any sticky residue from the tape.
  • Use a clean towel to gently dry your hands
  • If there are any bruises or injuries, apply an antibiotic ointment to prevent bacterial growth and infections.
  • For scratches or wounds, cover them up with gauze or bandage, and change the bandage as needed to keep the fingers clean.
  • Additionally, be sure to immobilize your hands and fingers by resting and reducing activities. Avoid lifting heavy items right or performing activities that can put stress on your fingers and delay the healing process. The faster the recovery, the more consistent you will be with your BJJ training. 
  • Furthermore, if your fingers have injuries that are taking longer to heal and you are worried about missing out on your grappling sessions, try using a BJJ grappling dummy. It will help you grapple and stay at the top of your training schedule without putting strain on your fingers.

13. Conclusion

It's a fact that during BJJ training, different body parts can suffer injuries and fingers are no exception. Finger taping must be used as a protective measure just like other protective equipment like headgear and knee pads. If you get an injury and you continue training without letting it heal first by covering it with tape, it will get even worse. So use BJJ finger tape as a precautionary measure when you need to use it.

Photo Credit: @elementsfitnessact

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