Please take a moment and pay attention to this very important message.
There was an article in “Grappling Magazine” that focused on the status of skin infections and such in martial arts academies in general. This subject is not anything new to the Gracie Family. This letter is how we have always addressed such matters. Ongoing communication with all students and or their parents is welcome.
One of the absolute most important aspects of the learning experience is that it is conducted in a pristine environment. The basic fact that the Academy is a place wherein literal sweat is shed every single day mandates a vigilant and ongoing effort to insure that our place of learning is kept as healthful as it can possibly be. And this has always been our universal practice at all Charles Gracie Academies.
One of the reasons we have always been able to maintain a hygienic environment in our schools is not just because we perform scheduled maintenance. Which we religiously do! It is because we make sure we also educate our students on their personal role in this important exercise. There are eight basic things for each student to know about.
We ask all of our students who visit other academies to train, or those students who participate in wrestling to please pay extra attention in making sure that you do not have any ringworm, rashes or other skin infections, and that your uniforms are clean before attending class.
1. SKIN PROBLEMS: Cuts are bad for the person who has one. Rashes however are worse. The things that cause them can be spread to other students. If you find you have one “Stay at home, don’t train”. See your doctor immediately and find out what you have, how to treat it, and when your doctor thinks it will be ok for you to resume training. Do not resume training until you have had it looked at. Do not take rashes lightly.
2. WASH YOUR GI (UNIFORM) FREQUENTLY: Dirty GIs (Uniforms) can carry a lot of bacteria. Some might wonder why it is even necessary to speak to this. Doesn’t everyone keep their GI fresh and clean for every workout? Knee pads and wraps? They don’t, and we found over time many people simply were not aware of this aspect of working in Academies. Some come from other sports where you don’t have the consideration for ongoing hygiene protocol; at most you simply throw your socks and trunks in the wash. Others are younger single people who don’t have anyone else to remind them. GIs and all accessories like pads should be washed after every workout. But they should also be aired and allowed to dry out after the workout if not immediately washed. One of the worst things you can do is get a GI soaked during a workout and then put it in an athletic bag overnight and not allows it to air out. Single guys are notorious for that. Some leave the wet GI in the bag and the bag is in the trunk of their car for two days. It makes cleaning them much more difficult after that; and is why some GIs get “old” way before they should. Having more than one or two GIs is best because you reduce wear and it is then easier to have each GI (Uniform) cleaned and maintained properly.
3. BARE FEET: Just as a reminder, it is MANDATORY for all students to be wearing shoes/ sandals when coming to the academy. If you or your child is coming to the academy barefoot he/she is tracking all of the bacteria and dirt from the street into the academy. Please make sure that you or your children are wearing shoes when coming to the academy. If we notice students coming in barefoot, we will ask them to wash their feet before class begins, this will cause them to receive a tardy stamp on their attendance card if they are unable to do so before class begins.
4. COMING DOWH WITH A COLD (FLU): The best advice is “Stay at home, don’t train”. As soon as you feel you may be coming down with a cold or if someone in your house has flu and you aren’t feeling quite up to par, rest your body. Drink lots of fluids. We are entering flu and cold season. Get yourself better and don’t try to fight through things like viruses and colds during your workouts. Everyone will be thankful you were considerate of them.
5. FINGERNAILS / TOENAILS (GERMS): Infections happen almost exclusively because germs enter the skin through existing skin openings and, or, cuts. We are grappling of course and, between fingernails and toenails, many cuts and abrasions are possible. So we ask that all students go beyond cutting a nail only after something happens or after it is getting “too long”. We expect everyone to closely monitor their nails and keep them trim all the time. We have nail trimmers and cutters in every academy. Check your nails before every workout.
6. DESINFECTANT DISPENSER: We have approved disinfectant dispensers in every academy. Make sure you use them after every workout. Make post-mat wash-up with disinfectant and soap your consistent routine after workout or after using the bathroom. Always shower after every workout and use that opportunity to check your entire body for any new cuts or openings in the skin. If you find one, apply anti-bacteria solutions like Bactine right away if there is any redness to any skin opening, scrape, or cut no matter how small it might look. For parents of the younger students, this is a small, but good, way to teach your child responsibility and self-reliance and personal care. Ask them if they used the disinfectant after their workout. Help them get it done if they haven’t. These simple precautions have worked well for many years.
7. BATHROOM: Bathrooms and carpets naturally tend to house many germs. Because of this we would like students to take this precaution to always wash their hands and, or, feet, if necessary, to eliminate the possibility of germs being transferred to the mat. And don’t forget, throw toilet paper in the toilet and paper towel please throw it inside of the garbage.
8. SANDALS: For hygiene purposes we recommend that students start to bring their own sandals to be worn in the academy before, and after training or whenever they leave the mats but expect to return. We want the mats to welcome only clean feet and hands at all times. We do everything we can in the interest of maintaining a clean environment, however there’s still a small possibility of germs being spread by students leaving the mats for water or bathroom breaks. And we don’t want to take any chances.
All our instructors are trained in these measures and they follow my instruction of not allowing anyone in an unwashed or smelly GI to train. It has rarely been done but that is mostly because through communication and reminders like this everyone who trains with us is sensitized to their personal responsibilities. If we notice student’s GI is dirty, we will not allow them to train. Allowing students to train with a dirty uniform would expose other students to the bacteria and could eventually cause someone to get an infection. Again, please make sure that you are washing your uniform on a consistent basis.
“CONSIDERATION AT ALL TIMES FOR ALL OTHERS” Are magic words.
Thank you for reading this. I hope it helps us to maintain, and thus enjoy, the highest quality training facility and school. We are determined to have the very best teachers and quality of instruction, equal to the best academies in the world, where you or your child learns and trains. We send a communication like this in the interest of providing the best learning environment we possibly can, at all times, and the role of all our students in helping us to achieve that goal. No one is exempt!