How to create a skullcap of hair
April 28, 2006 2:31 PM   Subscribe

I've just started regularly attending Brazilian jujitsu. Please help me find the perfect hairstyle so my locks of love don't become locks of I-am-totally-going-to-choke-you-to-death-with-your-own-braid!

I'm enjoying it quite a lot, but my hair is not. Any hairstyle I try comes out after a good five minutes of grappling--braided ponytail, "Mickey Mouse" buns, double braids. Give another five minutes, and the whole this is an awful matted mess. Not to mention there's the very real danger of getting strangled by my own hair.

My hair is past-shoulder length, thick, and soft--all very nice for anything that doesn't require a restrained hairstyle. Short of cutting it (I'd rather not, I'm growing it out for Locks of Love), does anyone have any ideas on what hairstyles would be best for this? I'm horribly uncoordinated, so all my attempts at french-braiding have failed miserably.

Ideally it would keep my hair untangled and tight to my skull for the duration of a two-hour practice, with minimum fixing needed.
posted by schroedinger to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In high school wrestling I remember seeing a few kids every year from other schools that didn't want to cut their hair.

They wrestled wearing swim caps.

Even that didn't work very well.
posted by cadastral at 2:38 PM on April 28, 2006

They make headgear to protect the ears. I know a woman with long hair into BJJ who used one.

Taking a random page from google, here's a sample.
posted by cardboard at 2:42 PM on April 28, 2006

Part your hair into four quadrants (or more sections, if you like). Braid each section separately. Tightly bundle each braid into a minibun and secure in place with very snug rubber bands.

Around my house these are known as Sputnik braids for a nerdily obscure reason, although I'm sure there's a real name for them. Properly done, these Do Not Fall Out.
posted by majick at 3:00 PM on April 28, 2006

slather your hair with conditioner to slick it back, put it in a ponytail or braid and tie the whole thing tightly under a bandana.
posted by judith at 3:18 PM on April 28, 2006

posted by boo_radley at 3:36 PM on April 28, 2006

As someone who's had to find a solution for waist-length hair during 8-hour dance workshops, I've found french braids very helpful, so if "keep trying" is at all an option, do. (One or two braids, then clip the tails up onto your head with a strong barette). My second best suggestion is to put your hair up in a tight, highish ponytail with a big fat hair elastic (or two!), then braid the ponytail, then fold the braid in half or into thirds depending on length, and clip the folded braid to your head right in its middle with a big strong barette. Note that you may get a headache the first few times you do this.
posted by nevers at 4:00 PM on April 28, 2006

Have you tried using different types of bands to hold the hair? There are some ponytail holders that just do *not* keep my hair in place; things like scrunchies and the like are worthless for me. Even the more traditional braided elastics vary a lot from brand to brand. It might be worth experimenting with that, too.
posted by occhiblu at 5:17 PM on April 28, 2006

Are you male or female? Are you looking to compete? Is your hair of that much importance to you?

I've done BJJ for about four /five years and had long hair in the begriming. Real long. Jesus long.

I had to get mine cut. Nobody was choking me with it - LOL. However it became a pain no matter how I tied it back. The best combination I found was using a wrestlers headpiece and a number of bands and tucking the tail down in my Gi. But eventually when you free roll it's going to snag.

Most of the gals do real tight braids with multiple bands - eventually it comes out and they just deal. Since in competitions they don't (often) roll with bigger guys it does hold them back. And in practice you don't have roll like brutes all the time - so you can learn to put up with it.

DON'T slick it back with product of any sort. Any hair product when you sweat liquifies and when you free-roll it going to be a nasty mess, sting your eyes and piss off your partners.

I settled on cutting it simply because no matter what BJJ is a competitive art any thing that inhibits you will eventually be used against you by default if not by intent.

And PS. Good for you BJJ. Of all the arts I've done BJJ is the most fulfilling, safe, and practical.

Good rolling.
posted by tkchrist at 5:18 PM on April 28, 2006

Good for you BJJ.

for selecting
posted by tkchrist at 5:19 PM on April 28, 2006

Damn it.
roll with bigger guys it does hold them back.

DOESN'T hold them back.
posted by tkchrist at 5:22 PM on April 28, 2006

I've been doing Jitsu in UK (not BJJ, but whatever this is) and I have to say most of the people with long hair I've seen have not had any kind of good answer to this. Seems to me that most of them just kept it in a loose ponytail and had to fix it after ever match when ground fighting, and a little less often the rest of the time.

You could always try that tape you see female basketball players wearing, but I have no idea what that is really (being male, and never having played basketball).

Reviews own comment: All in all not much help, sorry.
posted by tiamat at 6:06 PM on April 28, 2006

I'm female. I have used tight elastics--scrunchies haven't worked even for running!

Thank you for all the suggestions. As I said, I'm reluctant to cutting it because I've been hoping to grow it out for Locks of Love without coming out bald from the process, but if that's what it takes that's what it may have to be.

nevers, do you know of any guides that have been especially helpful for learning to french braid?
posted by schroedinger at 6:42 PM on April 28, 2006

Schroedinger, not really. Basically I spent hours playing with my hair as a teenage ballet dancer with nothing better to do and eventually got the hang of it. But the more I think about it, the tight ponytail-braid-barette method seems just as sturdy. Then again I've had short hair for years now so I'm out of practice, and I'm also not sure what jujitsu entails -- rolling around on the floor? Rolling over your head/hair?
posted by nevers at 6:47 PM on April 28, 2006

I used to have long, thin, flyaway hair. I usually braided it to keep it neat. When I was a kid I had two books - Beautiful Braids and another by the same authors, More Beautiful Braids. They're just cheap little paperbacks with some B&W photos and they're simple braids for beginners. I found them fine to learn from.

Here's a photo guide I Googled for French braiding one's own hair. A good way for a beginner is when you pull back that top section of hair to start, use an elastic to ponytail it securely. That way you feel a little less like you're "juggling" to keep tension on all three strands - and pulling in side pieces on top of it. It won't be as pretty but it will be tighter to your scalp than you will be able to do on your own at first.

Another idea to try is a Dutch braid, which is a similar technique to a French braid but it's upside-down and raised off the head. I found Dutch braids would secure tighter to the scalp than French.

I used to do a "face frame" which is described in the Beautiful Braids book I used. You do two skinny French braids down from the temples and over the ears and then braid the tails of the two braids with the remaining loose hair in the back. This one is great if you are growing out bangs.

With all these, you can tie off the tail of the braid and then tuck it up underneath next to the scalp, and secure it with a large curved bar barrette (Goody makes simple metal ones that I found worked best) or bobby pins. Try braiding it damp or damp with some gel worked into it to make it hold together more firmly.

You can "fake" the idea of a French braid with the classic '80s style of pulling your hair back in a row of elastics or scrunchies. I wish I could Google you a photo. You pull that top piece of hair back and band it, pull in two pieces from the sides together with the top ponytail, band them all together; pull in two more pieces below and band them with the ponytail; continue like that all the way down to your nape. You can braid the pieces in between the elastics and braid the tail. This is quite simple but *cough* probably pretty cheesy! Then again, you could just say it's retro...
posted by Melinika at 8:38 PM on April 28, 2006 [1 favorite]

I think Melinika means this although I think more than three sections would probably be necessary. I always called it a "French Ponytail."

French braiding your own hair is freakin difficult. Do you have a friend or teammate who could do it for you?
posted by radioamy at 11:48 PM on April 28, 2006

Wow, Melinika, that site you googled is damned impressive. Who knew you could actually do that with hair?
posted by schroedinger at 11:48 PM on April 28, 2006

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