I've been on the proverbial soap box since we started publishing BJJ Weekly, and if you've been with us for a while you're probably sick of hearing about it. But still every week we get emails from people who aren't sure about what's expected, or they need to deal with a stinky nasty training partner. I asked my friend Bon, the owner of Fight Soap to give us his take on good hygiene. I recommend sharing this article with new training partners so they know right up front what's expected! - Bill
Our lives on the mat revolve around training. As practitioners of the gentle art, we put a lot of attention on BJJ technique, drills, and strategy. What a lot of us tend to forget is that practicing good hygiene before and after training is as important as showing up in class. Being clean not only prevents diseases, but it also makes the experience of rolling enjoyable for everyone.
Here are some practices that we encourage for BJJ:
Come to class in a freshly-laundered Gi. Not just air-dried and sprayed with an odor neutralizer; you want it washed and dried.
Come to class wearing freshly-laundered knee braces, ankle supports, etc. (If you wear these)
Trim your finger nails and toe nails regularly.
Remove any form of jewelry such as necklaces, earrings, and wedding rings before rolling. As these can cause open wounds for you or others.
Freshen your breath or chew gum before rolling. No one wants to know what you’ve eaten beforehand.
Sanitize your hands at the very least BEFORE entering the mats. (Picked this one up from Bas Rutten)
If you sweat profusely during rolling, have a towel nearby to wipe it off with OFTEN.
Always watch out for any form of open wounds that you may have acquired during rolling, this includes friction burns from the mats or gi. Tend to these wounds immediately as these can get infected easily in our training environment.
Wear a rash guard underneath the Gi whenever possible (Some schools actually encourage this).
Use paper towels to wipe away any pools of blood or sweat on the mat and dispose. Do not use your own personal towel to wipe these away. Disinfect the affected area immediately after.
Wear sandals or any form of footwear when using the restrooms, especially when you have to re-enter the mat area.
After training, wipe away any excess sweat, wash up if possible, and get into a fresh change of clothes. Do not linger around wearing anything soaked in sweat.
Hit the showers as soon as possible right after training. Take as hot of a shower that you can tolerate, and take the time to scrub your body with soap very well.
All sweaty clothing and equipment should be taken out of your bags when you get home, and set aside to be washed. Wash your gym bag too if possible.
Finally, volunteer to clean the mats and equipment after class every now and then. It’s a great way to pay homage to the mats where you learn the art. It’s also an excellent way to keep your training environment clean, and show that you care for team like family.
We hope that a lot of these tips aren’t new to you. Remember that in BJJ we have to be very considerate of other people and the environment that we train in. We don’t have any katas in BJJ. Like tango, it takes two to roll. Getting another person sick, or just giving that person a plain horrible experience while training is the last thing that we should ever want. The diseases common to the sport are highly-contagious and can spread to the whole school. There is nothing wrong about paying attention to good hygiene at the gym. It’s actually the responsible thing to do, and it benefits everyone in the end.