Ask the Nail
“The secret of this sport is, while you’re the nail, hang in there, let them hit you, until the day you become the hammer, then you smash them back!”
Hi, I have been training for 4 months now and the other day I had a problem on the mat. My partner’s gi was really dirty and smelled horrible. I wasn’t sure if I should say something because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, but it was clear he didn’t wash his gi. Should I have said something to him? Is this a real problem, I have heard people talking about mersa infections and stuff. Is there like a dress code for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
You definitely should have said something. Sometimes I will roll for a couple classes in a row and my gi will get pretty smelly. However, if your partner was just coming in and his gi smelled because he did not wash it then something needs to be said. Not washing the gi is extremely dangerous and can lead to a variety of skin infections including ringworm (Tinea Corporis), Herpes Gladiatorum, and MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus). For some pictures of MRSA in action click here (WARNING Graphic Pictures). As a Nurses Aide I have seen many of these infections up close and personal and the pictures are real. I even caught a minor staph infection once on my forearms. Fortunately, I recognized the problem and took care of it before it had a chance to get worse.
I talked to an ER doctor about recognizing staph infections and he said that most infections initially look like spider bites and most people ignore them until they get much worse. He said that if anybody comes in complaining of spider bites he always assumes they have a staph infection unless they actually saw a spider bite them. He went on to say that spider bites are extremely rare while staph infections are very common even among people who don’t grapple. If embarrassing a training partner is the only way to get them to wash their gi then it is a small price to pay for everyone’s safety. It is also important to make sure the mats are washed regularly. I met a guy who trains with a grappling club/group at a local gym. They had an outbreak of ringworm and staph infections and the guy said they never washed their mats. Scary stuff, but almost entirely preventable if you wash your gi, wash yourself after training and wash your mats.
About there being a dress code, some schools have rules about what to wear while others do not. Check with your instructor if you have questions. This is kind of funny, but the whole dress code issue recently came up in the UFC. According to this article, Dana White is implementing a dress code for fighters in the ring. This is in response to Dennis Hallman’s banana hammock shorts during his fight with Brian Ebersole at UFC 133. This is kind of weird because guys wear these things to weigh ins pretty often. In fact on The Ultimate Fighter show there is at least one guy who does this during a weigh in every season. Apparently it is all good fun during the weigh ins, but not in the actual cage. I don’t support Hallman’s right to wear his banana hammock in the cage, but it was a hell of an entertaining fight with everybody in the room rooting for the guy with the arrow on his chest to beat down the guy in the banana hammock.