Jiu-Jitsu Hygiene Etiquette: Don’t Stink
If you’ve trained long enough, you must have encountered some unsavory characters on the mat – not just stinky training partners, but skin infections such as ringworm, staph, or even MRSA. In a previous blog, we discussed the importance of academy etiquette/team guidelines, primarily to keep everyone on the same page with the “house rules,” which has information on personal hygiene for a reason. The bottom line is this: you might be a great person, but if you stink (literally), NOBODY wants to train with you. And if you’re the last person to find a training partner (especially if you’re a colored belt), chances are, there’s a reason why people don’t want to train with you.
The idea of washing your gi (or even yourself) before class, especially if you know that it (or you) aren’t clean, may be common sense to most, but not everyone. Like the saying goes: sometimes common sense isn’t so common… and it’s true. Sometimes we don’t realize we smell bad or our nails aren’t as short as we think they are… but that’s where our family/friends/training partners are there to tell us what’s up. If you don’t have people like this in your life, especially at the gym, you better ask someone… because nothing is worse than being the odd person out and you don’t even realize why.
So here are some tips on how to maintain good hygiene in training:
WASH YOUR GI. Make sure you have a clean gi prior to each class. A clean gi also means a DRY gi, because semi-wet gis often smell like a wet dog. If you put in major work the night before, using higher grade detergents such as Oxyclean or adding vinegar or OdoBan, will probably work best at getting all the smells out and keep your gi smelling fresh. The same can be said for no-gi gear as well.
CUT YOUR NAILS. This means your fingers AND toenails. Sometimes clipping your nails sharpen them, so if this is the case, be sure to use a nail file to smooth them down. Long nails have the potential to rip or bend when gripping the gi and also cut skin open on others in no-gi, which can lead to bacterial skin infections.
WEAR DEODORANT. This is not to say you have to bathe yourself in Axe, but there are less conspicuous alternatives such as scentless deodorants to keep body odor at bay. Rolling with people who have bad body odor completely ruin the training experience, especially if you literally wanna tap because the smell is that bad. On that same note… if you are already sweaty BEFORE training, you should probably…
SHOWER BEFORE (AND AFTER) TRAINING. This is why BJJ specific soaps and disinfectants were created. Using natural antiseptic soaps that contain eucalyptus or tee tree oil will not only leave you smelling fresh, but also fend off any potential skin infections.
BRUSH YOUR TEETH. Or if you don’t have time to do this, at least chew some gum or have a mint right before training. If you think body odor is bad, bad breath could be potentially worse in close counter situations such as side control which could make anyone want to tap out in a second.
If you are doing No-GI, WEAR THE APPROPRIATE NO-GI GEAR. If you are doing no-gi in basketball shorts and a t-shirt, chances are, the odor is going to get locked into your clothing versus spandex or dry-fit gear. Mixing of sweat also create bad odors within itself, which doubles when it gets locked into clothing and can’t be washed out.
They say that it takes a village to raise a child. The same can be said in the gym. If you’re self-conscious about your personal hygiene, ask a teammate if you smell bad, etc. If there are others in the gym who wreak of body odor, don’t let there continue to be a white elephant in the room and everyone avoids them like the plague. Pull them on the side, politely (or jokingly, depending on the rapport you have with them) tell them that they stink and offer some suggestions on how to address the issue.
Don’t be THAT person in the gym. You won’t go far with bad hygiene, especially with your teammates!