How Do You Help to Keep Your Academy Clean?

By Joshua Rozenboom

Jiu Jitsu people love to brag about their academies. The gym is their “second home”; the gi is their “armor”; the students are their “family”. Sometimes we fall into these declarations as a matter of habit, and sometimes we really mean them. Sometimes both. We take a lot of pride in the trappings of our beloved art, so how do we make sure we preserve them?

Clean the Mats

The mat is our sanctuary. There is no other feeling like stepping on the mat to start training. Where else do you ceremoniously enter and exit? We will spend hours, days, weeks, months and years on the mat. It takes a lot of abuse, and it absorbs a lot of sweat, blood, hair and skin. It is hygienically critical to sweep and mop the mat after each session. Training on dirty mats can lead to skin infections and the ever-looming staph infection. Not only does this affect our training time personally, but merely uttering the letters “MRSA” could threaten the status of the gym. Your school could earn a bad reputation or, worse, a health-code shutdown. Cleaning the mats at the end of class is a great way to help the safety of your school, show respect to your school and instructors, and also helps new students take ownership of their new environment.

Clean your gear

This is something that is widely discussed in the Jiu Jitsu community, but it can never be stated enough: wash your gi after every class. If you train daily or multiple times a day, invest in multiple gis and nogi gear so you can have fresh clothes every class. Our clothes pick up all of the dirt and sweat and grime that we create while training, and they become a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus. Plus, it’s just not cool to be smelly in close-quarters training. It’s even a good idea to wash your belt – there are no actual magic powers until at least the 3rd degree black belt.

P.S. – shower as soon as possible. Clip your nails. Basic hygiene is more than etiquette, it’s a safety measure.

Police your gym

It’s often joked in organizations that 10% of the people do 90% of the work. It’s not that the general public is inconsiderate. It’s more that we believe someone else is going to be responsible for facility maintenance. Well, your gym is likely owned by one or two people who have to recruit new students, organize a schedule, teach classes, talk to new students, answer emails, sweep the mats, take out the trash, etc., etc. Take the initiative and take ownership of your school by doing the little things. Throw out your water bottles. Don’t leave a mess in the bathroom. Offer to run trash to the dumpster or sweep the lobby. Anytime you can take one small extra step is a big help to your school, and sets a great example for the students around you. It’s also important when visiting another academy to treat it as your own, as a way of representing your school and saying “thank you” to the school you are visiting.

We get a lot for our time spent on the mat; health, confidence, friendship, mental and physical exercise – what are some other ways you can help give back?