Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Hygiene in the Dojo

Martial Arts is fun. The dojo is (or at least in my opinion should be) a safe, healthy, worry free environment to learn and practice your art. To help keep it this way most dojos have rules or guidelines to follow to help keep all the students from getting hurt. I cannot stress enough how important it is to follow these rules! Find out what your dojo rules are, make a point to read them, and a strong effort to follow them. They are there for a reason.

In addition to these basic rules, there is the basic courtesy of hygiene. You'd figure this would be a given. But apparently, its not, so I'm going to take some time to go over some basic dojo etiquette. Rules will, of course, vary from dojo to dojo. Regardless, due to recent events, here are some things that I feel compelled to mention:

Some traditional basics:
- Take off your shoes when you enter the dojo
- Bow before stepping onto the mat, when entering or leaving the training area, etc.
- Kneel down when your instructor or a black belt is putting on or taking off their belt
- Kneel down to put your belt on or take it off
- Be respectful and polite to everyone, higher and lower ranks. Give a little, get a little.

Some safety basics:
- Do NOT wear jewelry in class, of any kind. Not only is this a danger to yourself, but others as well. If you have something like an earring that you cannot take out, Tape it up. It takes two seconds and you forget about the tape once you get going in class. This is a huge pet peeve of mine, when people stand around before class, just waiting for class to start, and refuse take off/out their jewelry. I have offered people tape for their earrings when they told me they didn't want to take them out and they tell me "No, it is too much of a bother." To all of you who who cannot be bothered to take out, or even just tape up your jewelry, I hope you get your earrings ripped out someday.
- Trim your fingernails and toenails. No one likes being scratched, even unintentionally. It hurts and can make people bleed. While you might think blood on your Gi and the dojo floor might be cool, or epic. I assure you, its not. I am not squeamish in the least, but after I was stabbed by someone's toenails when our feet accidentally smashed together as we stepped in at the same time. It was hard enough to leave a bruise and cut the bottom of my foot open to the point where I was bleeding. I was sliced open by someone's dirty toe nail, and that fact grosses me out just a little bit. I can understand a girl having long fingernails, I understand sometimes you can get scratched on accident, but if you're going to practice barefoot in the dojo, trim your toenails!!! For everyone's sake.

Some hygiene basics:
- Do not bring food or drinks into the dojo, (other than water in a water bottle with a lid) (Crumbs attract insects while pop and juice when spilled make things sticky and unpleasant. If you have a medical need, such as if you are a diabetic or hypoglycemic or some such, then you are an exception.)
- Wash your Gi on a regular basis. You may not need to wash it after every class, but please wash it before it starts to get... ripe.
- Wear deodorant and/or shower/bath regularly please.
- Brush your teeth or have a breath mint before class. I keep mint gum in my car and gear bag so if I forget to brush before class I can at least freshen up my breath a tiny bit on the way to the dojo, that way, my partner doesn't have to smell whatever I ate for dinner every time I'm exhaling during a strike or kick or whatever.

Seriously. A little bit of consideration for your fellow dojo mates and self respect enough to take care of your body and your Martial Arts equipment goes a long way.

Please and Thank You.

~Samurai Girl Sahara


  1. Hi, SG: You said,

    - Kneel down when your instructor or a black belt is putting on or taking off their belt
    - Kneel down to put your belt on or take it off

    Can you tell me why this is performed in your dojo?

  2. I don't really know to be honest. As far as I understand it, its more or less just for the sake of being respectful.

    However, I've NEVER heard of this being done anywhere but at my dojo. Personally, I think its a little bit silly. Probably because I have studied at several other dojos without this being mentioned. Also because I have also heard blackbelts snap at other students not kneeling down when they are putting on/taking off their belt. Its irritating because its one more thing to get a power trip over or to 'lord over' lower classmen. Its sad that this happens.

    I'll ask my instructor tonight, but I am 95% sure he will say "To be respectful!" and that will be the end of it.

  3. I asked my instructor last night. His answer was this: "Its a respect thing. We american's lead such crazy busy rush rush lives that kneeling down to put your belt on forces you to take a second, stop, and realize you're about to be in class."

    So, it kind of makes sense, but we also have a few minutes of silence before and after class as well. Either way, there you have it.