What’s the deal with BJJ finger tape?
Taped fingers are a kind of trophy for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athletes. Tape and strapping everywhere (especially the fingers) is a sign of how long you’ve been training, and how much you’ve been beaten up. But why exactly do people tape their fingers? Is it just for vanity, or is there something else?
Read on through this post to get all the answers, as well as my recommendations for the best finger tape for BJJ athletes.
Finger Tape for BJJ: Why?
They call it “the gentle art”. Some people might think that’s a load of BS.
Injuries are pretty common in BJJ. It’s only natural in a sport where two people are battling to separate the other’s limbs from their bodies.
While on the more serious end you have dislocated joints, broken bones, knee injuries, back injuries, etc, injuries to small joints like the fingers and toes are much more common.
If you’ve trained in the Gi at all, this won’t come as a surprise. We all deal with sore fingers after a hard Gi class, due to the constant grip fighting.
This grip fighting puts a ton of wear and tear on your finger joints – after all, these joints are small and don’t have nearly the support that bigger joints, such as elbows, knees, and even ankles and wrists.
One of the top BJJ athletes in the world, Keenan Cornelius, mentioned on his Facebook page the damage his fingers have taken over the years.
“Coming up on a decade of Jiu-Jitsu, these hands have taken a beating. I would say I’ve lost about 20% of the mobility in my fingers.”
It’s easy to see why a lot of BJJ and Judo athletes end up with early onset arthritis, particularly in the fingers.
It’s also common for BJJ athletes to sustain contact injuries to the fingers and toes. You know when a basketball hits you right on the tip of your finger? The same thing is common in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It takes just a second to sustain an injury like this.
While a finger/toe injury usually isn’t something you want to take time off for, they still hurt like a bitch, and can be a recurring problem if left alone. That’s why we use tape, to give injured joints more support.
Taping takes some of the stress off your joints, making it easier for them to naturally recover, even while you continue training.
How to Tape Fingers for BJJ
There are a few different ways you can tape your fingers for BJJ. Most notably, “X” taping, “buddy” taping and basic taping just around the joint itself.
If you’re after general support for your joint, or your joints are just aching a little, you can apply tape in a circle either on or below the joints, like this:
This will give you more or less full range of motion and allow you to keep making the same grips you usually would.
For a little more support, such as if your fingers are sprained or causing some serious discomfort, I’d advise an X-pattern.
This is the best mix of support and flexibility – you won’t have quite the same movement as the previous style of taping, but your joints will be much more stable as well.
This video is a good example of X-taping, focusing on support above and below the injured joint:
If your injury is even more serious, such as a break or a severe sprain, you may need to use the “buddy tape” method. This involves taping the injured finger to the one next to it, like a splint.
This is the most stable way to tape your fingers, as each fingers’ ligaments will work together to support each other. If you tape below the joints, as in the image above, your fingers will still be able to bend and make grips. You may need to tape differently if you experience pain when making a grip – though if this is the case, you may just want to take a day off from training.
For more, see this video from Keenan Cornelius on how he tapes his fingers for BJJ:
Different Types of BJJ Tape
There are two kinds of athletic tape you’ll commonly come across. 1.5 inch, and smaller (usually .3/.5 inch) tape.
1.5 inch tape is more of an all-purpose athletic tape, as opposed to tape specifically for BJJ. It’s what you’ll use for larger joints, such as strapping knees or ankles.
1.5 inch tape is too big to use for fingers (unless you’re taping broken fingers together with “buddy tape”). But if it’s all you have, you can tear it into smaller straps to use for finger/toe joints.
Best BJJ Finger Tape
Joints crying out in pain? Fingers aching?
Mine too, and I’ve still got to type up this article!
To help out, here are some of the best options out there for finger tape for BJJ.
- Extra long ten yard rolls
- Versatile ½” thick tape
- 12 rolls per pack
- Designed specifically for use in BJJ
The BJJ tape from Gold BJJ is just what you need to keep your aching joints together. The ½” thickness is very versatile, meaning it’s perfect for use as finger tape, as well as for taping larger joints such as wrists and ankles.
The tape is built with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athletes in mind, with powerful adhesive, sweat-resistant. This is a must for BJJ finger tape. The wrong kind of tape can easily slip off when rolling gets hot and heavy, so it’s a big plus to get something made specifically for BJJ.
- 0.3” thick
- 45 ft (15 yard) rolls
- 8 rolls per pack
- Surgical grade, sweat-resistant adhesive
Hampton Adams athletic tape is made with the tricky joints of the hand in mind – it’s designed to support the stress placed on fingers in sports such as Jiu Jitsu and rock climbing.
The adhesive is designed to stick around during sweaty rolls, but doesn’t leave annoying residue when removed. It’s also chalk-friendly, ideal for use in powerlifting or outside rock climbing.
If you need something strong and powerful to support your finger joints, this BJJ tape is a great choice.
- 0.5” thick
- 30 ft long
- 6 rolls per pack
- Easy tear
Fuji knows Jiu Jitsu. Their BJJ tape is super affordable, well suited for Jiu Jitsu athletes who go through a lot of the stuff.
There’s nothing flash about this finger tape, but it does the job. Easy and convenient to apply, you can tear it easily (no need for scissors), and it won’t leave a bunch of residue when you take it off.
- 0.3” thick
- 45 ft rolls
- 6 pack/8 pack
- High stick, latex free
- Cut for easy wrapping around fingers
Armadillo Skin finger tape – made for all kinds of activity intensive on finger joints, such as rock climbing, Jiu Jitsu, MMA, weightlifting, volleyball and football – is a quality option for keeping your finger ligaments 100%.
Backed with a warranty and 60 day money back guarantee, this tape is specifically cut to make it easy to wrap around fingers. Sweat resistant, easy on the skin, and simple to tear, this is a quality product, and comes cheaper than a lot of other brands.
- 0.2” thick
- 15 yard rolls
- 3 rolls per pack
- Comes with reusable tin
Don’t be scared by the angry-looking panda logo. Red Panda Fight Tape is a solid product. The 0.2-inch thickness is a little thinner than others, and gives you a little more manoeverability as a result.
The exterior of this tape is a raylon cloth fabric, which gives you a better grip than a lot of other brands of tape, which can get slippery and make it hard to maintain your grips.
The reusable aluminium case is a plus with Red Panda tape too, super convenient, making sure you never have trouble finding your tape at the bottom of your bag.
- Choice of 0.2”, 0.3”, 0.4”, 0.5”, 1”, 2”
- 15 yard rolls
- 4 rolls per pack (single roll for 1” and 2” variations)
- Tan/white/black colors
Monkey Tape has a range of high-quality tapes, in a ton of different options to suit your preferences. Whether you need tape as thin as 0.2 inches, up to 2 inches, Monkey Tape has it.
All tapes are woven to wick away sweat, and the adhesive used is strong enough to stay on, but without leaving behind residue.
If you’re a serious athlete, you’ll probably need different kinds of tape at different times – thick tape for larger joints, and thin tape for fingers and toes. That’s why the options provided by Monkey Tape are so attractive.
- 0.3” thick
- 45 ft, 8 rolls
- 100% cotton, no-stretch & hypoallergenic
- Black, white, pink, yellow
- Case included
Kuzushi Labs’ tape is multi-purpose, designed for a range of different activities – from Jiu Jitsu, to Judo, to rock climbing.
The tape is made from non-stretch cotton, which is rigid and should hold up during training or competition. The fabric is also hypoallergenic, designed not to irritate the skin, which is a big plus.
The color options are nice too – the yellow/pink options will give you a few extra style points on the mat.
Finger Tape for BJJ: In Summary
When you put years into training in the Gi (Jiu Jitsu or Judo), it’s inevitable you’re going to deal with joint trouble. That’s why finger tape for BJJ (as well as smart anti-inflammatory supplements like fish oil and glucosamine) is so important.
Learn how to tape your fingers for BJJ, pick up some high-quality finger tape, and you’ll be able to log more training hours and make stronger grips.