Sunday, July 14, 2013

How not to stink at jiu jitsu

No, I am not going to talk about how to get good at jiu jitsu. If you figure that one out, please let me know. What I am talking about here is how not to stink - as in, how not to emit foul odors on the mats.

There are blogs that should never have to be written and this may be one of them. But then again. you are bound to roll with folks who just plain stink. It is beyond gross. In a sport where we are in constant close contact, exercising good hygiene not only makes rolling more pleasant, but also protects the health and safety of your training partners.

So how do you keep from stinking at jiu jitsu? Just follow these easy steps:

  • Wear deodorant every time you roll. If you feel that you are particularly sweaty/stinky (and if you have any doubt assume that you are) apply a fresh layer before training. 
  • Wash your gi every time you wear it. There is no way around this. Hanging your gi up to dry is insufficient. It needs to be washed. every.time. Spraying your gi  with Febreze covers the smell for about 30 sec and does nothing to kill the cooties.
  • Know when to vinegar soak or just plain bail on your clothing. Sometimes, when you have sweat through something enough times, a simple washing will no longer do. Sometimes clothing becomes so saturated with funk that as soon as you begin to sweat in it again, it starts to reek. A good vinegar soak might save some items, but some are beyond salvation. Know when to let go.
  • Do not smoke in your gi/training clothes. Smoke clings to the fabric and you will become stinky to your nonsmoking friends, who likely do not want the 3rd hand smoke exposure either.
  • Just say no to perfume and cologne.  It is important to note the following: 1) perfume/cologne smells stronger to those around you than it does to you and 2) body heat enhances its strength. So as you are sweating, your fragrance can actually get more powerful. What smells nice to you can be overpowering to your training partners, especially as it interacts with other delicious mat smells.
  • Take showers after training, washing everything including your hair. Yes, guys need to wash their hair too. Head and Shoulders or any other kind of manpoo is adequate and will get the job done. If you want to go the extra mile, I have a few training partners who I suspect use their wives' shampoos. Their hair not only does not stink, but actually smells fruity and pleasant. 
  •  Keep your breath fresh. I am a heavy coffee drinker and a lover of all things spicy and garlicky. I also work with school children who do not hesitate to let me know when my breath stinks. My solution? I keep mouthwash in my car. I rinse my mouth every time before I train. This rule holds true for smokers as well. 
  • Easy on the bean burritos. My favorite food in the whole wide world is queso. If I could eat only 1 thing for the rest of my life (with nutrition not being a concern) that would probably be it. But truth be told, queso leaves me farty. Not the odorless, "just noise" farts that come from being stuck in knee on belly, but the kind of farts you would expect from eating a massive amount of processed cheese product. Yes, my husband is a lucky man. But needless to say, I would never eat queso before training. And whatever your queso is, you need to avoid it before rolling too.  
So in a sport where we get smooshed underneath each other, swap sweat, and get hair in our faces, the very least we can do is not stink. The funk is not your secret weapon. The funk is disrespectful and potentially dangerous to your teammates.

Look at it this way: The better you smell, the more people will want to roll with you. The more people want to roll with you, the better you will get at jiu jitsu.


  1. I've suspected people of stinking on purpose in competitions... :P

  2. Oh thank the Jiu-Jitsu gods that you are preaching the hygiene message! I will share here my 10 Commandments of Dojo Hygiene

    1. Thou shalt wear a clean gi and rash guard to every class. Thy claims of inconvenient launderettes and insufficient multitudes of gi doth not excuse wearing a dirty gi.

    2. Thou shalt ensure thy body is reasonably clean before training, remembering that recent menstruation or copulation may require additional cleaning.

    3. Thou shalt not train whilst afflicted with illness. Training whilst ill is accursed to you and your fellow students, while bringing blessings to the bacteria and viruses. (green nose or chest mucous may indicate bacterial infection)

    4. Thou shalt cover thy feet when stepping outside the Dojo, especially if visiting the car. Thou shalt never step upon the mat with street shoes.

    5. Thou shalt clean they own blood and vomit. Puttest away thy childish notion that thy nurse maid will cleanse the spilling of your innards.

    6. Thou shalt trim thy nails (finger & toe). Fight not with scratching and clawing like a cat in the jungle, but with skill and technique.

    7. Thou shalt maintain good oral hygiene so as not to offend peers. (Listerine kills the germs that cause bad breath.)

    8. Thou shalt shower after every class. Water and soap doth not kill all bacteria and viruses, so a good scrubbing with a small towel designed for such purposes is a further blessing. After thy showereth, feel free to use anti-fungal foot powders as well.

    9. Thou shalt bandage thy wounds to reduce the likelihood of infection in yourself or others. Treat scrapes and abrasions with antibiotic ointment prior to bandaging. (ie. Neosporin, etc.)

    10. Thou shalt wash thy hands after visiting the potty. If thy hands smell like the paper with which thy wipeth, washeth thy hands again.

  3. Those are very helpful and appreciated! My 12 year old son has been in his jujitsu class for about 5 months and there is one child whose gi is never clean and he smells foul himself. Last night my son was furious that he had to spar with him because of this problem (there are 4 other kids and this is not a problem with them). Should say something to the dojo master?

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