How blessed are those who are allowed to train in a real Asian dojo! Wooden, shiny floors, fragrances, discreetly decorated walls, venerable atmosphere …
Most of us experience a much rougher environment. The occupation with the martial arts usually involves frequent visits to gymnasiums. In terms of hygiene and scent, this is usually a matter of its own and can be coarser than a punch in the nose.
There you roll your nose over the floor in the dust and dried sweat of the previous users, find from time to time torn off plasters or remains of the moulting of the soles of your feet. You jump barefoot through the hall and hope not to have to go to the toilet, because these are areas where sturdy shoes are absolutely recommended … Since I train in the big multi-purpose hall in Kalletal, we have access to a tiny little room where we store claws, sticks and safetys. Problem: The former solo shower has a sink and a drain. And they have a trap that keeps drying out. So you need at least an odour-brawn-belt to avoid having to acknowledge the opening of the door with immediate fainting. The stuff you take out of there smells correspondingly “delicious”.
There is probably nothing to be done about these things; we have to live with the bluntness of many of our fellow sportsmen and women and the austerity dictates of the operating communities and municipalities who neglect the cleaning or renovation of halls.
But what we can (and urgently should) change is our own hygiene. My dear Mr. Choral Society, how often I have been allowed to “enjoy” Gi, on which the sweaty edges have turned white. Especially at the Kempo with the black suits it is not so rare to admire … Finger- and toenails, which would urgently need scissors and a little cleaning. Or the situation where you jump into the shower completely sweaty and your fellow athletes casually throw themselves into their normal clothes — of course without having enjoyed the cleansing effect of water beforehand.
Washing and unwashed
Now there may be people who enjoy the natural scent of old sweat. Who would like to show the sweat marks on clothes or dirty suits in general as an expression of already overcome torments and let them celebrate. And Yeti-like toenails could even be an advantage when climbing barefoot, the black edges under the fingernails could serve as Ninja-liken camouflage.
I don’t know. But I personally feel such conditions as an imposition and lack of respect. To me and to everyone else. So here are a few rules of etiquette:
- Suits should at least be well ventilated, if not washed. Staying for days between wet towels in a sports bag does not help!
- Finger- and toenails must be clean and reasonably short, otherwise they are actually dangerous. I once scratched a partner’s eyebrow with a toenail. If that had been intended, I would have been quite an expert. But I was not!
- Unwashed feet are neither an adornment nor particularly appetizing during partner exercises where you have to touch the cheesy maws.
- If you get into your everyday clothes after training, you should actually clean yourself first. It’s almost embarrassing that you have to write this … It’s different if you shower at home right after the training. But until then you massage your excess body juices into car upholstery or feed them to your clothes.
In this day and age, you can’t force someone to be clean. Political correctness and all that. When I was in school, it was compulsory to take a shower afterwards as part of gym class. Nowadays there are usually only three or four sportsmen and women among our washing facilities, the rest stinks unwashed. And Gi wait unwashed and not ventilated for their next assignment. If the technique is not enough, the smell club knocks you out…
This has nothing to do with the so much conjured up Budo etiquette. And it has nothing to do with respect for one’s fellow human beings either. So please water march! 🙂