Sifu Rebecca Knapp, Waterloo Kung-Fu Academy

By Sifu Rebecca Knapp

Some of you may recognize why I am writing about this particular topic at this point in time – I have lately, on several occasions, experienced notable instances of lack of hygiene at WKFA – specifically the smell! In fact, it’s turned my stomach and almost made me leave the floor – not kidding. I thought it would be good to address hygiene as a whole, as it comprises more than just body odour.

Being rough and tough martial arts warriors does not give us a license to disregard physical cleanliness. Developing and maintaining good personal hygiene is one of the foundations of self-respect, no matter how you spend your time. It also says a lot about your respect for others at the Academy!

Below are some hygiene reminders:

  • Launder your uniform every time you wear it. We sweat; sweat releases bacteria and toxins from our bodies, and it smells! I get it – this is normal, we’re martial artists, we’re supposed to sweat! We’re supposed to smell! Right? Nope. So wash your uniform after you wear it. If the smell seems permanent, there are many home remedies that work wonderfully. My favourite is VODKA. Yup – you just splash it on the offending spots and let it dry – no need to even wash it. The vodka will dry and the smell disappears – I’ve tried it, and it works. If you take a swig between splashes, it dulls the olfactory senses, which helps a little too…. Here are some other remedies, compliments of the Google Gods:
  • Keep your finger nails and toe nails trimmed. Longer nails will end up scratching or gouging someone. Nails are hotbeds for bacterial growth and if you puncture or scratch someone else’s skin you will transfer that bacteria to them. GROSS.
  • Don’t train if you’re sick – it’s not really fair to bring your germs to the club.
  • Don’t train if you have a suspicious rash – get it checked out! It’s easy to spread things like impetigo, scabies, ringworm, or MRSA to name a few.
  • Wear shoes for training if you have athlete’s foot, plantar warts or other contagious foot conditions.
  • Cover wounds with a bandage and athletic tape – the wound heals better and you protect others from potential bacteria and infection.
  • Shower after class – this will wash away bacteria from your sweat and others’ as well. You’ll smell better too.
  • Clean up your equipment. Stick your nose inside your equipment bag – it will be obvious if you need an intervention! Wipe your headgear, punches, kicks etc with cleaner; wash out your mouth guard. You can stick a dryer sheet or a tissue with essential oils on it in your bag to help keep it smelling reasonable.
  • Wash your hands and use the hand sanitizer we have at the club.

I’m not trying to be preachy, just clean. And I don’t want to turn and head the other way when someone approaches me for a partner exercise because they gross me out!