Horrors in the BJJ Academy
It’s finally upon us: the spookiest month of the year. With October comes ghost and goblins, witches and werewolves, zombies, vampires and pumpkin spice everything. Absolutely terrifying.
But we must also remember that there are some pretty scary things that happen in our everyday settings, too. The jiu-jitsu academy is no exception.
While these “scary things” may not be in the same category as those creatures from myths, legends and superstition, they can still inflict fear. This fear largely stems from the possibility of an injury or infection that can cause a minor or major disruption in your life.
Let’s take a look at some of the most horrifying things in the BJJ academy:
Shoes on the Mat
If you’ve been doing jiu-jitsu longer than a day, you know there’s a universal rule across the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world that shoes are not allowed on the mat. The “why” of it is very simple.
Think about where those shoes have been. Even if you’re just walking across the parking lot, you’re stepping in many different kinds of harmful bacteria. When it’s moist or rainy, it’s even worse. A recent study found “30,000 bacterial cells per 100 milliliter of water. [In comparison] the EPA has a benchmark that cities use to close beaches and that benchmark is 110 cells for 100 milliliters of water," according to the researcher. Some of that bacteria comes from animal – and human – fecal matter. That bacteria transfers to the bottom or your shoes, and, if you step on the jiu-jitsu mat with your shoes on, then to the surface of the mat.
This is why you should never wear shoes on the mat (and you should really consider never wearing them in your house). If your academy hosts wrestling classes in which everyone wears their wrestling shoes, great care should also be taken to ensure those shoes are only worn on the mat, and nowhere else.
Bare Feet in the Bathroom
Along those same lines, you should never, ever, ever go to the restroom in your bare feet and return to the mat. In fact, don’t go to restroom in your bare feet, period.
The restroom is a cesspool of bodily fluids. The jiu-jitsu academy is full of male students, and despite having an appendage that makes it easy to direct the flow of urine into the toilet, not all your fellow students will be careful. Sprinkles will happen. Even if everyone at your academy is magically fastidious about their aim, every flush distributes a mist of microscopic particles into the surrounding environment. And contrary to what you might believe, human urine is not sterile. It is full of bacteria, and once vacated from the body and landing on the floor, it makes for a perfect medium for other bacteria to flourish.
That bacteria is then transferred to the bottom of your feet as you do your business, and when you return to class, is transferred to the jiu-jitsu mat and your fellow training partners.
Unclipped Finger and Toenails
Overly long nails are also disgusting, reservoirs of bacteria. And in jiu-jitsu, they can be hazardous to both you and your opponents.
With all the tumble-turvy grabbing, pulling and pushing, the odds of long nails scratching an exposed part of skin is high. The odds of that exposed part of skin being on your or your partner's face is just as high. Nobody likes to go about their work or school day with very obvious nail scratches on their money-maker. And because your nails are home to a plethora of bacteria, those scratches will take a very long time to heal, and could potentially cause nasty infections that will need treatment.
So, no matter how often or how well you clean your hands, your nails will remain one of the scariest places on your body.
Ego on the Mat
While ego can be a powerful tool for athletic performance – when channeled in a healthy, controlled manner – more often than not, it creates some scary situations.
Despite all those cliché comments about jiu-jitsu naturally managing one’s ego, ego still exists on the mat. For some people, it can even increase the better and better they get at rolling. Unfortunately, ego often offers fertile ground for injury. Jiu-jitsu is a martial art… martial being the operative word. Unchecked ego clouds one’s judgment, and can lead to too much force, too little control, no chill submissions or delayed taps.
One of the biggest fears for a jiu-jitsu practitioner is injury. Nobody wants to have to take time away from the mat, or have to make a visit to the ER or urgent care, period. But if that injury was fueled by ego, you’ve also lost the trust of your training partner. You decide which is worse.
White Belt Dudes Rolling with Women
Along the same lines, white belt men – of any size – rolling with women can be quite scary.
Yes, there are plenty (the majority, I’m sure) of men who hold no ill intentions when rolling with their female counterparts. However, white belts simply do not have enough experience and control over their movements to really be safe training partners. This is true for each other generally, but especially for smaller, less robust training partners. Greater mass and strength translates to greater force, and if that force is uncontrolled in any way - a misstep, a fall, overly excessive movement - it can have hazardous results. Depending on the bone or joint and the type of force, it doesn’t take much to break something.
I’m not saying that white belt men should never train with women, but that they should make an extra effort to be aware of their weight and movements, to help avoid inflicting unintended injury.
Hopefully this list of “Horrors in the BJJ Academy” will help you stay safe this October – and all year long – as you continue on your jiu jitsu journey.