Training in the martial arts can be taxing on the body. Hell, scratch that… It WILL be taxing on the body. Even if you manage to come out of years of training unscathed from being struck and/or injured in that fashion, any reasonable physical exertion will cause pulled muscles, bruising and sprains. And on top of nursing those injuries and taking care of one’s body, it’s also important to maintain proper hygiene of one’s body, as I wrote about here. But what many people seem to forget is that good hygiene and cleanliness doesn’t stop with one’s body. There’s also one’s equipment and uniform that need to be addressed…
I’ve often noticed that when someone finishes a class, they have a tendency of packing their gi into their gym bag and head home. Some may pull the gi out and let it dry/air out but many will actually just let it sit in the bag, especially if they happen to have class a couple of nights in a row. There are some significant problems with this. For one, sweating into a garment for a couple of hours then containing it inside a gym bag is just asking for trouble. We’re talking bacteria growth and even mold and mildew if it’s allowed to sit for too long.
All of these things will cause noticeable issues for the practitioner, if allowed to continue unchecked. re-wearing sweaty gear can cause all sorts of skin issues, like rashes and dermatitis. Add to that the fact that re-wearing a gi that has absorbed sweat can potentially emit a bad smell reminiscent of bad BO, whether it dried inside the bag or not. What’s worse, is that the wearer often won’t be aware of that odour themselves. It’s others who will notice it. That’s why it’s so important to keep your gi and equipment clean and washed after every use.
The obvious exception is if your gi is freshly washed and you walk into a light class where you haven’t broken a sweat. You get home, take your gi out of the bag and lay it out and you should be fine. but as a general rule, you should be washing your gi after every use and your bag and sparring gloves at least once a month (less for the gloves, depending on their composition and how often you use them). I was reminded of this fact recently, when a student I was training with exuded a funk that could have easily been described as leaving a wet beach towel sitting at the back of a musty closet for a month.
An important detail to remember as well, is that not all gis are created equal. ironically, the less expensive ones will come out of the laundry flexible and fitting the same as when it went in. Although usually composed of cotton, a gi can be sanforized or not. Sanforized basically means that it’s been pre-washed and shrunk to its current size, so washing in hot or cold water makes no difference. A non-sanforized gi will often come out of the laundry tighter than when it went in. This will make it more difficult to move freely while training. It’s not a bad idea to stretch out your gi prior to use.
Hygiene doesn’t just stop with oneself. Good cleanliness habits extend to one’s uniform and equipment. not only will you avoid tons of issues surrounding your personal hygiene, your dojo-mates will certainly appreciate the lack of bad smells. It’s also important from a respect standpoint. For your dojo AND for your uniform. ☯️