Old School Magic

I know I just did a post about hygiene, but I’m going to do another one anyway.  Skin infections are a valid concern for jiu jitsu fighers, wrestlers, and anyone who rubs up against another athlete on a regular basis. To combat these, the best approach is to go old school.

The skin is the largest organ, and along with the hair on its surface, it is your system’s only defense against the world waiting to assault it. A few simple things will help you help it along.

Support your bacterial flora. Yep, that’s right. A few billion bacteria keep your body ticking along as it should, both inside and out. These good bacteria are key to fending off the pesky bad bacteria, viruses, and fungi trying to mess up your world. They not only function to directly improve your body’s cellular defenses, they also are direct combatants.  You can show them some love by not using antibacterial soaps that use alcohols or other lab produced chemicals, by taking a probiotic supplement regularly, by avoiding antibiotics except when they are absolutely necessary, and by eating well. Harsh antibacterial soaps and antibiotics are non-discrimatory and will kill the good bacteria with the bad. Also, the antibacterial soaps are not antifungal, so using them will not address the real risk of fungal skin infections. Taking a probiotic supplement and/or eating fermented foods regularly will help replenish your good gut bacteria, so they can boost your immune system thus allowing it to fight off all manner of nastiness with greater ease. Eating well is important for a bajillion reasons, but here it applies because the more varied your fiber intake, the healthier your gut biome will be. The different types of bacteria thrive from different types of fiber. Variety is good. Oh, and sugar? Yeah, the bad bacteria like it. Curb your intake to discourage the bad guys from growing. (The bacteria in your gut are truly amazing, and medicine is slowly beginning to understand that they are key to mental health, immune health, and so much more!)

Okay, you’ve eaten your kimchi and banished the antibacterial dial from the shower. What next? Remember my recommendation to wash that gi and belt regularly and shower before and after class? That. Occasionally throw a cup of vinegar in the wash, too. It’s an antifungal. Consider adding Defense soap into your routine as well. It has tea tree oil and

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eucalyptus. The tea tree oil has both antifungal and antibacterial properties though the research is limited (I’ll save you my conspiracy theorist leanings here). Granted, Defense doesn’t smell the greatest, but it works well. What limited studies there are even indicate that it is effective against Methicillin Resistant Staphyloccoccus Aureus (MRSA, also known as “staph”).  If you follow the link, you’ll see these simple bars of soap are a little pricey, but I’ve found that buying it in the five pack from Amazon isn’t too bad. I only use it surrounding jiu jitsu class, so I don’t finish a bar as quickly as a regular bar of soap. It comes in a liquid and a container of wipes, too, if you’re interested in that. I have super sensitive skin, and so far it hasn’t caused me to have a reaction, in case you were wondering about that.

If all of your valiant efforts fail, and you find yourself with a big, disproportionately painful pimple, please don’t come to class. Any drainage from that is super contagious, and your buddies don’t want your funk.

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Seriously?

I’m not exactly sure where the last four and a half months went. I’ve often thought to myself it was time for another blog post but only got around to it today. Looking at the old ones, I realized I haven’t posted in FOUR AND A HALF months. I promise to do better.

We’ll talk gis today. Specifically, I’ll review the Fenom gis that I have. I bought my first one last summer some time and was pleased enough with it that I bought a second when they had their Black Friday sale this last November. I chose this company for my first gi that I selected for myself for a few reasons: 1. I love what they represent–a company for women, by women, in a male dominated sport. 2. Great price for what appeared to be beautiful gear. 3. I could choose my top and bottom sizes separately. 4. I liked their colors and designs. I bought the second one because I liked the first one well enough and because I had gotten wonderful customer service with the first gi purchase.

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I am 5’6″ tall and currently weigh 183 pounds with a curvy, muscular build. Technically I think I fall into the “apple” shape category, but my years of lifting have really shaped me in such a way that I’m just sort of proportionately large–big bust, a belly, slightly rounded butt (that I worked really f’n hard for, thank you.) and muscular thighs. I first bought the A3 kimono (same thing as a gi) top and A3 bottom  in their Crystal Weave Gi in Black, thinking I’d err on the side of caution and suspecting the items would shrink some like my first gi did. While the A3 top worked well despite being just a bit big, the bottoms were way too big, so I decided to try to exchange them for the A2 curvy. I hate exchanging things, so I dreaded to process. The ladies at Fenom were amazing, though, and made it effortless. I talked with them on the phone, and once I sent them email confirmation of the package headed their way, they sent the new pair out. I was good to go in just a couple more days. With the second gi, I opted for an A2 top, and it worked just fine, too. I stuck with the A2 curvy bottoms.

Because I go to class three nights a week most weeks and wash my gear after every class, these gis have been washed a lot. They are holding up well and haven’t shrunk nearly as much as the Venom gi that I started with. I did replace the drawstring on one set with Fenom’s custom cord drawstring. I really like that drawstring. I tried doing it on my second one, but the string got hung up on something in the dryer and frayed to the point of no return, so I put the old one back in. The custom cord has a stretch to it that the stock one doesn’t have, and comparing them is a whole post in itself that I’ll do later. I have a buddy who has one of these gis too, and she says the bottoms aren’t as good as her Fuji gis, that she has to keep pulling them up. I do notice myself resituating the bottoms when we grapple, but honestly, we’re rolling in the floor trying to break one another, so it just makes sense to me that my pants would come down. One of my next gis will be one of the Fuji ones, so I’ll do a comparison when I’ve had it a while.

All in all, I like both of my gis and will buy from this company again.

Gi vs. No-Gi

Remember, I started like a brand new jiujitsu baby a short nine months or so ago, and this blog offers my insights. To many, these will seem infantile, but we all start somewhere, and my hope is to make that start a little more gentle than it otherwise would be.  Feel free to move along to the next thing in your day if you’re already clear on the differences in gi vs. no-gi grappling.

If you are going to a class where everyone looks like they’re wearing pajamas, that’s a gi class. The “pajamas” are gis, and the belts that keep the tops closed show the wearer’s rank.

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The gi tops should all have the left side of the kimono over the right one. I’ve heard that this stems from Japanese tradition and tendency toward order. In death, the right side of a kimono or gi drapes over the left–in my understanding. Most belts are tied in a square knot, with the belt wrapping around the wearer twice. I could try to describe for you how to do this, but honestly, asking someone in the class how best to tie the belt is a great way to break the ice with another white belt.

While the gis look like pajamas, they’re not quite as comfortable, and all the crazy contortions of class often have them slipping around. Brand new belts are notoriously difficult to tie and often come completely untied at the most inopportune of times. “This sounds like a bad combination,” you say? Well, you’d be right. To keep from flashing the world, a lot of folks wear undergarments of some sort–rash guards, compression shorts, spats, or plain old t-shirts. Being a chubby gal, at first I blew off the idea of wearing a rash guard and wore a t-shirt instead. Figuring out the advantages of the rash guard didn’t take me long, though. The t-shirt has a way of sliding around just as badly as the gi top, and rolling around on the mats with people wads both up in a hurry, exposing a little too much flesh. So, the longer the rash guard, the better, and I’ve found that tucking it into the pants tends to keep it in place a little bit longer. Under my bottoms, I wear capri pants or leggings. The combination seems to be the best way of not showing the world what my naked back and/or rear looks like.

No-gi is just what it sounds like, workouts or class without a gi. People who like to look cool in no-gi class wear long board short type bottoms (like the Agogue shorts from Rogue American Apparel ) along with their rash guards. Again, I always wear an under layer, and even when I wear shorts, I wear capris under them to cover my knees. Somehow my knees are always scraping along the mats and getting all raw and irritated. I’m pretty sure if I were ever brutally murdered without an ID, the coroner would look at my knees and think I was either a devout catholic or a prostitute. And since my looking cool is pretty much hopeless, I just wear my regular workout shorts over my capris.

Each way has its advantages and disadvantages. The gis are a bit restricting, but they provide a plethora of hand holds to manipulate. Rolling without a gi allows an amazing range of motion but very few places to grab and hold. Most people feel like the no-gi classes teach them more about self-defense, but if you live in an area where people where jackets, that isn’t necessarily the case. Tournaments come in both flavors.

I’m still figuring out which one is my favorite.

Wondering which gi to start with is a natural progression of the thought process. One of my next posts will be about how I chose my first couple of gis and what I think about them now that I’ve spent some time in them.