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6 Ways to Avoid Skin Infections in BJJ

One of the things we were always most proud of when it came to our gym, was Devotion’s record of never having a skin infection outbreak.

4 years with no staph, no ringworm, no skin funk of any kind.

This summer turned that pride to hubris, as we have struggled with a number of cases that have resulted in us having to close the doors to the gym twice for intensive cleaning.

Dealing with these skin issues is one of the costs of training in a combat/contact sport like this, especially in the wet, humid southern summer.

There are a number of things you can, and absolutely should be doing to limit your exposure to these nasty infections.

I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice.

I am a just guy who likes doing jiu-jitsu and doesn’t want a hole in his left thigh because you haven’t read enough Jordan Peterson to know you need to shower every day.

You’ve got your 12 ways to win the day, now add these six ways to keep your gym/self/team free from skin funk.

This is being compiled under the assumption your mats are being cleaned after every single use. If they aren’t, start immediately or find a new gym.

We now have a member show up half an hour before and clean the mats PRIOR to training as well. The bottom line: your mats can’t be too clean.

1. Purify the body, before and after.

Came straight from work from your construction job? Awesome. Here’s the problem: You didn’t even wash your hands when you came in, and the ground you touched at your job site had the eggs of a parasitic roundworm in it. It was passed there from dog feces weeks ago. Now three people in your gym have ringworm. Take a shower before you train - (BONUS: use a natural soap like Devotion BLACK)

2. File, scrape, trim.

This is a two-fer. I don’t want to look like a cat-attacked me when I get home tonight. Furthermore, the dirt under your long ass eagle-claws - you guessed it! Filled with nasty germs that can infect your partners. That jungle rot on your foot should probably get checked out by a doctor as well.

3. You better wipe those feet when you come in my house.

Baby wipes, grappler specific wipes, whatever. Your feet have been sweating like John Wayne Gacy at a kid’s cancer telethon - and when you were wearing sandals earlier, some dirt got on em - and guess what? That’s right, probably some animal feces or other disgustingness.

4. Please remove your pajamas from the balcony

Despite the heartwarming, old school stories about the Brazilians using the South American sun to “kill the germs” on their filthy gis after training, anyone who has ever tried this, knows what happens next. “Oh my gi is dry and was laying out in the sun just like Marcelo Flavius DeSilva’s abuela used to do for him in the jungles of Brazil.” You head to the gym, put on your gi, and as soon as you hit the mats you can smell it. No, it isn’t just you - your gi stinks to high heaven. Soak that shit in vinegar, wash it, and return to class. Clean your gi, in a washing machine.

5. Bonus tip - Put the razor down and nobody gets hurt!

Staph gets in through cuts and breaks in your skin. Often you will think “that’s just a pimple” (it’s not, don’t think, go to the doctor). Shaving with a razor, even if you didn’t noticeably cut yourself, can leave small nicks in the skin that can put you at risk.

Again I am not a doctor - but I have been on the mats for for a lot of years and have never had ringworm or staph even once.

While this is obviously a testament to the supremacy of my Hyperborean immune system, I also follow all of my own advice.

Remember, if you even think for a second that something on your skin looks weird, DO NOT GO TO TRAINING.

There’s no reason to put your training partners at risk, plus, you need to go to Walgreens to pick up your antibiotics anyway.

6. Extra Bonus tip - check that bucket

If you use the common pump spray-wand setup that most gyms do to dispense their cleaning solution on the mats, this one is important.

The bottom of the cleaning solution container is often set down on the mat repeatedly, and can pick up all sorts of nasty shit off your mats.

We don't usually think about this one, but you could think you are cleaning the mats, but actually be wiping them with germs as you go.

Be sure to give it a wiping down before and after it’s been on the mats.

Back to basics

The best part of this latest outbreak we have had to deal with, is that it cut our training crew down a small group of friends, who have been training together for years.

We grabbed the mobile, velcro mats, washed them religiously, and have been training together off-site. While we can’t wait to get back to the temple, it reminded me why I do jiu-jitsu in the first place, what I love about it.

I work from home, and spend most of my day in silence with my dog. Jiu-Jitsu is as much my social outlet as it is training. So when that goes away, I can get into a major funk mentally.

Being around a close-knit group of people who trust each other not only to simulate acts of violence on one another, but to do whatever they can to keep their partners healthy and on the mats, is good for the soul.


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