Wash Your Gi

A not insignificant part of the judo/jiu-jitsu “life-style” is spent in transit to/from training, showering, and doing laundry. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s at least true for me.

Suppose you want to be serious about training judo and jiu jitsu. Suppose even that you want to train every day or twice a day. As a friend of mine, Eric, reminded me yesterday with his blog post, infection is also a big part of training. Or rather preventing and fighting infection.

I get mat/gi burn on my feet and hands quite often. It’s incredibly frustrating and leaves me vulnerable to infections, both minor (ringworm) and major (e.g. staph). I think that’s a problem (a.k.a. pain-in-the-ass) everyone has to deal with. Here are some things I do to help prevent infection:

  • Always train in a clean gi. Even if I didn’t sweat at all while wearing it last time, I still wash it.
  • Spray my gym bag with Lysol. I just recently started doing this based on advice some other blog gave.
  • Invest in good tape, lots of it, and tape all open “wounds” like mat/gi burn, scratches, etc.
  • Shower as soon as possible after practice, with antibacterial soap. Some people recommend Defense Bar Soap, but at $6 a bar, it’s a little steep for me. I hear that a good alternative is Super Soap, that’s more reasonably priced. I’ll have to try it.
  • Drink a shot of cold cheap vodka right after every training session. It’s a well known fact in Russian medical journals that bacteria hate vodka, especially the cheap crap that comes in plastic bottles. I recommend Gordon’s or Smirnoff for the individual with a refined taste.

It’s funny but most academies I’ve attended don’t stress these ideas in class, or maybe I just don’t notice it. The higher ranks learn it through word-of-mouth, but I often find beginner students not wash the gi more often than every several practices as long as it dries in-between.

If you want to see something disgusting, google “staph infection” and click on “Images”. Here’s a link. It should serve as a good reminder to follow the steps above.

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