The principal explained to them that he had selected the smartest kids of the school and had placed them into three classes for an accelerated learning program and that each of them was given the opportunity to teach these exceptional kids for the whole year.
The teachers where excited to have been offered this chance and went about teaching these special kids with newly found energy. The results were immediate: their classes accelerated academically and by the end of the school year students in the three classes where almost 30% ahead of all other students.
But when the three teachers where called back to the office they where told startling news: the principal told them that they had been part of a behavioural experiment and that in fact none of their students had been special at all. Their classes had been filled completely at random with average kids just like all the other classes!
The teachers argued that it much have been their own outstanding skills then that caused their kids to outperform all the other students only to be told that they had been selected at random as well.
It turned out that just having the complete confidence that the children in their care where special and had unlimited potential made them and the kids BELIEVE that they can do much, much better!
My name is Don Whitefield and I am convinced that the lesson learned here is the same for all our West Coast Martial Arts Junior students as well as for our professional athletes:
Believe in your unlimited potential with 100% confidence and you will be amazed as to what you can accomplish!
This is why we use our Martial Arts school to bring the best out in your children starting with kids as young as age 3. We use their valuable after school time to built their confidence, self esteem and discipline so take advantage of what we have to offer in order to boost your kids potential too:
- Tots & Kids Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (Self-Defence) programs
- Kids R.E.A.L. Martial Arts programs
- Kids Pro D Day Camps (next camp is this Tuesday in Maple Ridge 8:30-4:30)
- Kids All Day Summer Camp (July 8th – 12th)
- Kids Birthday Parties for an unforgettable experience with their friends
- Kids Referral program (help sign up a friend and get one month of training for free)
We believe in the unlimited potentials of our students so let them experience our school. Visit West Coast Kids Martial Arts to learn more!
To schedule a free private class and free first group class for a new students or for more information please e-mal me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I never had many injuries. Although I train almost every day for the last 15 years after starting BJJ only at age 32 I always had enough common sense, sleep, water and sound nutrition to prevent being injured for any long amount of time.
Of the three most common injuries in Jiu-Jitsu people get- knee, shoulder or neck injuries I only injured my knees and after an ACL replacement on the right and meniscus trimming on the left knee (before learning how to roll with knee safety in mind) I am 100% healthy when it come to my joints and neck.
Sadly, I am witnessing students who do not have this luck.
It seems that a combination of overtraining and unawareness of the weaknesses of your body is the most likely cause for injuries especially in your white belt phase of training BJJ. We take many steps at West Coast BJJ to minimize the chances of injuries:
1. New students do not free spar until their first promotion (about six month- exceptions are only made for students with previous grappling experience)
2. New students are not allowed any submission in targeting sparring until their first promotion
3. Students do not submit new students that don’t have their first promotion
4. We use a well designed 6 months class curriculum that prescribes sound drills, techniques and class layout
5. We prepare and guide our coaches now with detailed safety, action and emergency procedures given in writing
6. We screen our coaches very carefully, only allowing those to teach who have proven themselves as trustworthy over a long period of mat time
7. We remove coaches who do not to show leadership and/or do not follow the rules and guidelines we have given them regardless of rank or accomplishment
8. We are demonstrating any high percentage, proven technique as long as it looks safe for a majority of our students regardless of age (no rubber guard)
9. We are discussing safe and unsafe techniques and practices on a regular basis in class
10. We maintain the right sparring culture in all classes that prioritizes group safety over individual accomplishment. We try to start each sparring sessions with: “Remember, you are responsible for your partners safety!”
No matter how safe we try to be injuries will occur and with knee injuries being the most popular injuty I want to talk about what to do and what not do to. Here is a sadly typical story of a student in his own words:
“I tore my left outer meniscus two years ago; I know of people who have had this injury and have maintained a active sports life. However I was misdiagnosis for over a year and sustain major damage to the meniscus. Doctors and specialist threw me around the system.
I eventually I got into having surgery for the first time on August 14, 2011. Dr. …. removed in his own estimate 20% of the damage meniscus. Recovery was quick and I began being active again.
Thats roughly when I started training Jiu-jitsu again with west coast. It was only three or four mounths after I began training Jiu-jitsu that I started to get soreness again in my knee. Before I new it a cyst was forming. I was concerned so I went back to Dr…..
I had second surgery on May 26th 2012. It turned out he didn’t remove enough of the damage meniscus which was the cause of the cyst. After the surgery He said he had removed up to 40% more of the meniscus. It didn’t stop there though. Around the begining of August of 2012 I went back to Dr. …. for discomfort in my knee and he gave me a cortisone shot to help it.
It definitely made it feel good in the moment but now after 8 mounths the pain is worse then ever. [I have been told that another] cyst has formed where the old one was, right on the surgery line.
Where I’m at now with my knee is in great discomfort stuck waiting for surgery. I’m only 19 years old but now have a high risk of getting arthritis in my knee at a very young age. As much as I love being active and playing sports my first priority I’ve realized now is to just get healthy again.”
It is so painful to me to hear stories like this based on mis-diagnosis and delayed procedures. In contrast I would like to share the story of my last surgery hoping to share some valuable pointers. I had pain bending my knee just like him. I took it easy on the knee for a month and when it did not improve I went to my GP insisting to see a specialist.
Rule #1: Never allow your GP to diagnose your knee. No offence but it is well out of their area of expertise no matter what they pretend. I asked him to refer me to a specialist I had chosen based on testimonials of other athletes
Rule # 2: Never assume that a specialist is very good at what he is doing. Always select your surgeon based on referrals and testimonials from athletes not your Aunty Judy. I selected Dr Chauncey in Maple Ridge and called right away and asked to go on her wait list to see her. I was able to see her within one week.
Rule #3: Always ask to go on the waitlist! Even if you miss the first call you are still way ahead of all the WCB cases who in general have no hurry to return to work by their own admission. She took her time to diagnose me and came to the correct diagnosis: that she had no way of telling what actually was wrong with my knee
Rule #4: Never wait or rely on the MRI Your tenons may look perfect on the MRI when they are actually so stretched that they will not support your knee at all (think guitar string- you can’t tell how tight it is until you touch it). Dr Chauncey scheduled me in for day surgery and again I asked her to go on the wait list. I go the call 3 days later but had to decline due to a trip.
When I returned I called again asking to go back on the wait list and I went in two weeks later for day surgery. When she scoped my knee she found a major meniscus tear and trimmed and cleaned it up properly right on the spot. I walked (limped) out of the hospital and started physio on the very next day. I started (very careful) training again the following day.
Rule #5: Dont’ Wait! Rehab your knee right away. Scare tissue is harder than bone and every moment you wait will increase the time of rehab. I learned this rule laying on my couch in pain after my ACl replacement watching YouTube videos of very famous rehab clinics showing their patients on day-by-day videos walking backwards being at the same day after the surgery as I was! Always move your joints following the recommendations of a sports physiotherapist (use testimonials again to find one that is great with athletes)
I hope that helps anyone with a sore knee including my 19 year old student who deserves better. We have a great health care system in Canada and I never was asked to pay anything for a procedure but at the same time it is up to you to ask the right questions, which brings me to the last rule:
Rule # 6; Always do you research! Talk to your coaches, friends and doctors and listen closely. Always use the internet as the great resource it is and you will get back on the mats much faster than you think!
My names Aaron, I Just got my blue belt from Don Whitefield and wanted to share my story.
I started BJJ in mid 2010 a 215 pound mess with severe asthma. My first class I threw up all over the hallway of the high school my small club was renting the gym out of (lucky for me my uncle happened to be the janitor there). I always pulled guard, didnt fight from my knees as it took to much energy. I had to really pace myself because of my asthma, I regularly had to use my inhaler during class. I had been training for about 4-5 months when this happened…
My Cousin commited suicide, then her dad (my uncle) drowned in a hotel pool 6 months later, the day after his wifes brothers wedding.
I almost bled out a week after sinus surgery when a artery in my sinus sprung a leak. The doctors had my family come in to say goodbye to me just in case I died during the emergency surgery to correct the problem.
1 month later I had an asthma attack in my sleep out in the boon docks while house sitting for my grandparents, on a stormy night, took the ambulance 20 mins to reach me. Lost my job because my asthma wouldn’t settle down. Lost my gf of 3 years at about this time or a couple weeks after.
All this in a 6-7 month period. Started having seizure like symptoms. Doc said it was because my body was quiting because of the level of stress i was going through.
The thought of getting back to the gym to do BJJ is really whats keeping me motivated to get up in the morning.
After the attack in my sleep I had to stop training. Which sucked because i missed a Royce seminar. I took 3 months off of doing anything physical.
My lungs were really really bad so it was hard to get back into any kind of physical activity. I started by getting up early in the am and going for a walk every day, at first I could only do a lap or 2 around the block maybe 15-30 mins of light walking depending on the day. I also started eating right again. When I started I was 200 +pounds. I’m got down to 190ish just from this small change.
Did that for 2 weeks and on Jan 1st of 2011 I added a circuit routine with weights. I started of easy with the goal in mind to get back to BJJ when I could work out at a decent pace 3 days a week.
I got back to training around early march 2011. I could do portions of the warm up only and since we rolled 4-5 five minute rounds I usually rolled the first round and the last round.
Doing this routine I got down to about 185 pounds and read to compete for my first time. The week leading up to the competition my asthma was really bad and I thought about pulling out. The night before I was talking to a team mate and told him that I wouldn’t need a ride because I couldn’t compete with my asthma flaring up. We joked that they had EMT’s there to save me if I had an asthma attack. I competed the next day regardless and took bronze.
A month or 2 later I started having weird skin issues. I stepped off the mats right away out of respect for my training partners, not wanting to pass anything on to my training partners. Turns out I had MRSA in both of my legs.
While recovering from this I had another flare up on my hand and went back to see my Dermatologist. He took a biopsy of my hand and when he tried to stitch it back up my skin kept tearing and wouldn’t take a stitch. He looked at me weird and said “That’s odd, this usually only happens with skin cancer patients, that is something we should look into” After a month of tests and me and my family worrying turns out it was eczema brought on by an sensitivity to gluten.
I cleared that up and got back on the mats as soon as possibly.
Cut to today about a year later and I am doing 6 classes a week. I teach 1-2 of them and had the pleasure of teaching the kids classes this summer. During the lead up to the mundials I was rolling 15+ hrs a week to help my friend and training partner prepare.
I owe my health and my happiness to this sport we all love. I just wanted to share this with the community and thank West Coast BJJ for my promotion. I would have liked to share my story with Don before I received my blue belt and thank him for being part of my success even if its just at seminars a couple times a year but I know its long. I know Jason Gagnon posts and reads on these forums though so at least someone from West Coast will have my thanks. And I hope to come over and roll with all you guys soon.
As a college student I took up Judo. After four years of bi-weekly practice, I was in love with it for life. Recently I have started practicing Judo again after a 6-year hiatus. It was just like riding a bicycle – a lot of the moves just came flowing back to me and were simply fluid, as if I never left Judo at all. Along with the techniques, a lot of the life lessons that I took out of it came flowing back too. Martial Arts training – regardless of whether it’s Karate, Judo, Tae Kwon Do, Krav Maga, et al,. – is a great activity for kids, – much more so than team sports such as Basketball, Baseball, Soccer and Hockey. If you are contemplating signing up your child for some organized sports activity, here are some reasons why Junior will be a lot better off studying Judo or Jiu-Jitsu than playing in a Basketball league:
The number one reason why most people take up a martial art is for self-defense, and pretty much any style is a great way to learn how to defend oneself. Not only will the martial arts teach you the techniques to defend yourself, but also the way to think about defending yourself. They also help you build up the reflexes you need if you’re ever in a pickle, and give you the confidence to fight back – which leads me to my next topic…
As children become more proficient in their selected style of martial arts, their confidence gets a big-boost. They become more self-assured and confident. Their Sensei’s (Teacher’s) encouragement goes a long way to help them achieve this goal, but the confidence level will extend far beyond the Dojo (Martial Arts Studio).
3. Belts and Ranking:
I know that this might seem like a stupid reason at first, but you’d be surprised how much belts and ranking help build your child’s confidence and their desire to succeed. For the uninitiated, most Martial Arts styles use a system of Colored belts to indicate the knowledge and skill levels of their practitioners. In many cases the first belt promotion can be attained in as little as a few weeks and when children obtain that first belt, it shows them that with the right motivation, they can succeed. One belt is always not enough, once a child passes one belt test he or she is already thinking about the next one. Belts are a great way to help children track their progress and motivate them to strive higher.
The mantra of any martial art is ‘practice makes perfect’ There is constant repetition in drills and practices with emphasis on details and rhythm. Kicking and punching are practiced ad nauseam; throws are repeated over and over. Even while sparring or competing – where a martial artist shows how creatively he or she can apply their well-honed skills – there are still rules and protocols to be followed. All of this teaches children to respect one another, their opponents and colleagues, and how to play games fair and square – lessons that follow them in their non-Martial Arts lives. It also teaches them the benefits of frequent practice, and the patience to get there (Remember the Karate Kid and Wax On/Wax Off?!).
5. Emphasis on Individual Achievement:
In basketball there are only five starters, yet there are seldom only five people on a team – which means that someone has to start each game on the bench. This applies for most team sports as well. In team sports there are also positions, and each has connotations. Although teamwork and sportsmanship are emphasized in team sports, at some point you’ll need to explain to your child why they aren’t a starter or why their stuck in right field batting 9th instead of playing first base and batting cleanup. In the martial arts, however, each child’s success is based on his or her own individual merits. Yes, your kid may not be the most winning Judoka in his Judo class, but that will be because he tried and lost, and not because he wasn’t good enough to make it off the bench. Your child will also not be stuck on a ‘bad team’ as her own ambition will help her achieve success. Knowing that their own ambition and abilities will drive them to succeed, will lessen the chances that your child will say to you ‘I hate this sport’. Since each child has an opportunity to play, there is also no scapegoat to blame if they don’t win, and the opportunity to do better at the next tournament.
6. Gender Equity:
I am sure that while many of you would consider martial arts for their sons, not nearly as many would consider it for their daughters. However the martial arts are one of the few sports where both boys and girls can play together. There are also tremendous international opportunities in Women’s martial arts as well. Your daughter’s red belt will not be any easier for her to attain than your son’s red belt will be for him. It also gives brothers and sisters an opportunity to practice together and learn from one another as well (not to mention the convenience of having all of your kids in one place at a time). My college Judo coach, Sensei Maureen Braziel, competed for the US on an international level, and she is a great coach and an excellent Judo practitioner, in addition, one of Israel’s few Olympic Medals, a Silver Medal, came from Yael Arad in the women’s Judo competition in 1992 in Barcelona. Maybe your daughter will become a champion too some day?
The typical 2-hour martial arts class will often be comprised of warm-up calisthenics, teaching and practicing of moves and possibly some sparring. The warm up and practice comprise the bulk of the time, and for that time your child will be constantly on the go – stretching, crunches, punches and kicks. The workout each child gets will not only assist in the natural development of his or her muscles, but also help them build stronger Cardio-Vascular systems. Even in the most active of team sports such as Basketball, Hockey, or Soccer, children don’t get that much of a workout simply because they generally don’t play the whole game and even if they do, there are still breaks in the action.
8. Respect for Strength:
The first thing the parents of (even slightly) mischievous children think about when they send their kids to martial arts class is: “Is my kid going to use this to hurt others?” Although this is a legitimate concern, it is always addressed early by instructors who remind students that the techniques they learn in the dojo stay in the dojo (except in self-defense), and shouldn’t be used to bully people (unless your Sensei is John Kreese from The Karate Kid). As children learn the ropes, they will learn to respect their newfound strength and techniques. They will also gain a disdain for bullying as well.
Just like in team sports, Judo is all about competition. Competition is great for kids to test their skills and show their progress. Unlike team sports, the loser can’t really blame anyone beyond his or herself. But then this gives them a sense of respect for their opponent, as well as motivation to do better the next time. Unlike team sports, which treat each game as a leg in the entire season, each tournament is a fresh start, and it is seldom that you get only one match (even in the Olympics where there is a single-elimination for the Gold and Silver medals, there is a second-chance round for those who have lost their first matches for them to be able to win a Bronze).
10. You can do it with them:
Many martial arts schools offer classes for both adults and children. While most do not run those classes simultaneously, they are usually one right after the other. This means that you can watch your children workout, and then they can watch you. If you have the proper space for it, you can practice with each other at home, and learn from one another. This will give you a special activity to use as a bonding tool with your kids. You can also become physically fit together. Granted, you can play Basketball in your driveway and have a catch in the backyard, but it is just not the same as working on your kids’ roundhouse kicks in a group.
11. The Never-Ending Season:
Many team sports, especially those primarily played outdoors, or in specific weather (think Skiing, Hockey) are seasonal. The Martial Arts are a year-round affair. As I mentioned above, a bad tournament only puts you out until the next tournament, and your exercise routine remains constant the entire year. Having this consistency also helps build upon discipline, and allows children to progress very quickly.
Courtesy of Jonah Wolf
This article covers the origins of the expression “Osu!”, proper pronunciation, appropriate use of the word in various situations, equivalence to noises used for esprit de corps in the West, and examples of incorrect and correct usage. A lot of source material was pulled from discussions held online about “Osu!” as well as the article on the topic that was here previously. You will find plenty of material to wrestle with.
When you are done reading this article, you may feel fully qualified to bark “Osu!” at your friends every now and then. You may feel that you cannot authentically use it, and in the desire to be avoid being incorrect, you may want to stop using it completely because it is simply too complicated to remember all of the rules. You may simply read this article as a curiosity and continue to use the word in your club as it is used, because, well, that is your reality and who cares anyway. All three situations are fine with me. I offer this article to you as help if you want it.
The Origins of Osu!
Unfortunately, the Japanese do not really know where the expression osu comes from. There are two prevailing theories as to the origins of modern Japanese using “Osu!”. Each theory is just that: it is only a theory. We can do little more than speculate on where the expression comes from.
For theory one, I refer you to Japanese: The Spoken Language in Japanese Life by Dr. Mizutani Osamu 1. Dr. Mizutani is a linguistics professor at the University of Nagoya and is frequently published in The Japan Times, Japan’s English language newspaper, as an expert on the subject. He also has a rather long list of books he has published on the Japanese language.
On page 59 he talks about an experiment in people returning greetings. He greeted people on the streets and noted the responses. He always said, “Ohayo gozaimasu,” which means, very politely, “It is early”, and is commonly used as “good morning” in Japan.
During the experiment, he noticed that greetings changed as situations changed. Joggers, involved in an athletic activity, responded with rougher language than did people who were walking the streets with a destination in mind.
In his study, he found that most of the joggers responded with “Ohayossu!”, “Ohayoosu!”, “Oosu!”, or “Osu!” to him.
In Mizutani’s study, he found that most of the joggers responded with “Ohayossu!”, “Ohayoosu!”, “Oosu!”, or “Osu!” to him.
From the responses, we can see a clear pattern in the Japanese language as the more formal expression “Ohayho gozaimasu” is contracted:
Ohayo. more familiar and intimate; casual usage towards friends and neighbors. I used to say this and receive this back every morning when I walked into the office while I worked in Japan. Customers and visitors who came in said the more formal “Ohayo Gozaimasu” to us, however, because they were not part of our working in-group.
Ohayossu or ohayoosu. more athletic, male expression. You might hear this from a neighbor you don’t know well if you greet him while he is jogging past you. Men’s and women’s language usage differs more in Japanese than it does in English. There are distinct feminine and masculine expressions, and the Japanese find it inappropriate for women and men to use each other’s language. Generally such usage is reserved for transvestites.
Ossu or oosu. A very tough, rough expression of masculinity. Used primarily by young boys and others engaged in athletic activities together. It is generally aimed toward one’s colleagues, not the coach, instructor, or other seniors. The expression is avoided by women, unless the particular culture of the athletic activity has become one in which the ladies use this word regularly.
From this escalating contraction of the word as used by Japanese in this study, it is pretty apparent that all four expressions are related: osu, ohayosu, ohayo, and ohayho gozaimasu. I think “Osu!” is probably a contraction of “ohayo gozaimasu.” Mizutani writes in his book that “Osu!” is a rough expression used by men toward other men and that it means “Hi ya!” in English 2.
For the curious, there is a more rough expression than “Osu!”. “Oh!” is considered a rougher, more manly and potentially rude greeting than “Osu!”. I would read the rest of this article before using that one with anyone. I’ve never dared to try it out with any of my Japanese friends before.
There is another theory to the origins of this word, and it is supported by the way the Japanese write “Osu!” Every time I have seen the word written, the kanji shown here were used.
Osu is written using the kanji for Push and Suffer
The first kanji is the Japanese verb osu which means push 3. It is a common word, used in the same way as when you say “Push the door open” or “Push my car because it broke down.” The second kanji is the Japanese verb shinobu which means endure or hide 4. The expression is a contraction of these two words together. This creates several possibilities for the original meaning of the expression.
Push and Suffer. “Osu!” could be an expression that means you should persevere under harsh conditions. That would be a very Japanese and military sort of meaning for it, and since the history of Shotokan is rooted somewhat in the militaristic period in Japan’s history, that would be a plausible meaning.
How do you say “Osu!” properly? You have three options available to you: osu, ossu, and ohsu. There is no change in meaning from one pronunciation to another. They all mean the same thing. Most Westerners pronounce this word somewhat incorrectly, though I imagine given the context of karate training, and the lack of a door or heavy object that required pushing, generally everyone would understand anyway.
Oosssss! That is how most Westerners say it – as if it rhymes with “book” and requires that one hiss like the snake in Jungle Book at the end. The word does not rhyme with book. There is an “oo” sound in the Japanese language that could be used to reproduce that noise, but it is not used here. The Japanese only have five vowels: a, i, u, e, and o. Respectively, they rhyme with clock, beep, book, set, and boat.
The one that should be used is the one that rhymes with “boat.” “Osu!” is not “ooooosssss!” It is properly pronounced “Oh-ss” and rhymes with coast, toast, and most. Wait a minute, The Japanese o vowel is a little more difficult than that.
Japanese does not have a diphthong o. A diphthong is a vowel sound that is actually comprised of two sounds put together in an extended and changing noise. The English o as in most to a Japanese sounds like m-oh-u-st. We stretch out the length of the sound, and we slowly close our lips from the o shape to the u shape as we say the word.
Japanese do not close their lips as they pronounce o. They only say the first half of the English o. So, to properly pronounce it, you have to imitate a Japanese. Wrong: “Ooosss!” Correct: “Os.”
The u at the end of the word is silent. You don’t have to pronounce it at all. But wait! The Japanese actually do always pronounce it because it is not truly silent. They only pronounce it for a quarter beat. It is ever so slight in some people’s speech, more noticeable in others, and not noticeable at all in the speech of many. It depends both on the accent of the Japanese in question and the Japanese pronunciation rules.
“Osu!”, as it turns out, is one of those words that just happens to utilize all of the most difficult pronunciation features of the Japanese language.
“Osu!”, as it turns out, is one of those words that just happens to utilize all of the most difficult pronunciation features of the Japanese language. When you say it, you are probably saying “usu” to the Japanese ear, which means “mill-stone.”
Oosu! The Japanese also have the ability to stretch out a vowel. This means that they speak the vowel sound for two beats instead of one. “osu” can be “o-osu.” Stretched out. This is very, very difficult for English speakers to learn, because our idea of long vowels is that they change pronunciation. Japanese long vowels are literally spoken longer. Since English has no “beat” the way Japanese does, it takes some practice to learn this. Some Japanese say “oosu!”, which still does not rhyme with book, but is a stretched out o noise – almost a diphthong like the English o. That’s why if you do the diphthong, Japanese are not confused. They heard you accidentally pronounce it correctly.
Ossu! Japanese also has long consonants. That means that you can make a k into a kk, and the meaning of the word changes. The s in “Osu!” can be stretched out a little, but not a lot as in ‘sssss’ like some sort of hissing noise. That is the third pronunciation: “Ossu!”
Man to Man.
“Osu!” is a masculine word. That means that for the most part, it is only spoken by men. Women who use the word are rare, and the few that do are very masculine in their appearance when they use it. This might include female karate instructors with young male students, coaches of athletic teams, or a woman who is trying use young people’s slang in order to identify with and get through to a boy.
“Osu!” is mostly used by men toward other men or boys. It is generally not directed at women, unless the women fall into the above exceptions and instruct their young charges to address them in that fashion.
“Osu!” is similar to “boo-yah” as heard spoken by a sports announcer. The word is rough and definitely associated with athletic activities, not just the martial arts. It is spoken by baseball players as well as those involved in sports like judo or karate.
Your Own Age Group.
Except for the times noted above, “Osu!” is generally spoken toward people within the speaker’s own age group. I might bark “Osu!” to a man my own age the same way that I say “Dude!” or “Yo! What’s up!” It is appropriate to use it toward people your own age. As a non-polite expression, using it toward your friends is appropriate.
The Japanese are very sensitive to in-group and out-group. Polite speech is always outward away from your in-group and plain speech toward the in-group. So, when you use “Osu!” toward a man your age at the karate dojo, you are indicating that the two of your are comrades and are friends outside of class. For example, I might “osu” my friend of 20 years that I happen to take karate with, but I won’t “osu” another guy in the class my age whom I do not feel is one of my in-group.
As a greeting. “Osu!” is primarily a greeting.
You use it toward other people, not toward an empty room when you bow. You don’t bark it out before you perform a kata, and you don’t yell it at judges in a tournament. You cannot really use it for “goodbye.” You could potentially use it to mean “Roger” or “Let’s go!” It is never a question and does not mean “I understand.”
Excerpt from article found on http://www.24fightingchickens.com
A lot of martial arts (BJJ included) gym websites post their schedules, tuition fees, directions to the gym and “about the instructor” sections.
What they don’t tell you about is Mat Etiquette. BJJ often tends to be the least formal of martial arts. There is rarely any bowing/clapping or formal ceremony. But make no mistake, there are some guidelines you should follow.
The etiquette is about being a decent human being with common sense. On and Off the Mat.
Below I have listed out a few helpful suggestions that may help to make your BJJ training experience more successful.
1.) Be on time, if not early for class. This is a big one for every instructor I have ever had. Your instructor’s time is valuable. When you are late, you show a lack of respect for him/her. You also show a lack of respect for your teammates/training partners. When you are on time/early, you show respect for the art, your instructor and everyone at the gym. You say to them with your actions “I am serious about my BJJ journey.” I guarantee you, you will be respected for it. It might not be vocalized, but it will be recognized.
If you are going to be late (life does happen) give your instructor short call/text/email to notify him/her. It’s just plain good manners. Besides, how would YOU feel, if your INSTRUCTOR was late?
2.) Be clean. Take a shower before you train. Or at least wipe your sweat off with a towel/bring a fresh gi/training uniform to each class. Noone wants a skin infection. I assure you, you do not want my funk on you. And I don’t want yours either. (A personal note here: You are going to be in someone’s personal space for the next few hours. Please. Use. Mouthwash/Gum/Mints.)
3.) Keep it quiet during instruction. Seriously, you can’t learn without listening. And you can’t listen if you are talking during instruction. Try to keep questions on topic and relevant to the instruction, but also at a minimum.
4.) Be a GREAT training partner. It takes time to learn to be a great training partner. But setting a goal for yourself to be a great training partner starts you off on the right path. Be polite and try to provide the “sweet spot” for resistance during drills. Not full resistance, not flopping around like a fish. Somewhere in between. Respect your partner, and you will be respected. Fact.
A side note here, your training partner’s safety is as important as your own. Be slow and controlled with your training partner(s).
5.) When you roll, roll with respect first, intensity second. Rolling is NOT a fist fight. It’s not a battleground or a proving ground. It’s a workshop for you and your training partner. Respect one another and work hard, but with CONTROL. Do yourself a favor and find out the “Leg Lock” rules at the gym. You don’t want to KNEEBAH, when it’s not acceptable to do.
6.) Do whatever your instructor asks you to do. Whether you want to do it or not. Seriously, your instructor has developed a plan to build you up. He/She knows best and have probably been at it for at least 10 years or so. Do as you’re asked. Keep the complaints/excuses off the mat and out of the gym. They will not benefit you.
However, if you have a physcial limitation (in my case a fused ankle), make your instructor/training partners aware and work around it. Chances are you’ll surprise yourself by overcoming and adapting.
These are just a few examples of BJJ Gym Etiquette. The key theme here is respect. For yourself, for your instructor, gym and training partners. You have to be respectful to be respected.
There is also a related topic of much mystery and conversation: the unwritten rules of BJJ mat etiquette. It’s also a lesson that becomes self-evident after many years of training. However, to save a little time (and potential embarrassment), this article compiles a collection of common sense philosophies that underlie good training etiquette.
First, why would you want to be nice to your training partners? Do you really have to ask that question? Your partners will be giving you feedback as to what works and what doesn’t, technical advice (especially if they have more experience than you), and a great experience rolling. If you have a “no quarter asked, none given” style of rolling at the gym, you are going to be missing out on an extremely valuable part of training: feedback from your partner. Further, what’s to stop your partner from being “that guy” when he rolls with you?
The “golden rule” certainly applies at the gym, but what does it mean?
Here are a few simple tips to figure out what’s appropriate at the gym when you’re training.
Be a good partner. Don’t be a limp fish when drilling with your partner. On the flip side, don’t resist every movement your partner makes when doing a technique you’re both just now learning for the first time. This time is for you to figure out the basic movement and then get it down to muscle memory. If you have feedback, use your voice to give it, not full on resistance. Your partner will thank you, and will be more likely to return the favor.
Remember that you are responsible in part for your own safety and for the safety of your training partner. If your partner is not willing to tap to a joint lock, for example, are you willing to break his arm or leg in order to “teach him a lesson”? Hopefully not.
On the other side of the coin, though, if you are caught in a submission, you should tap when trapped, not when pain starts to appear, or when you are fairly certain something is about to break. Be honest with your partners and don’t tap when a submission isn’t locked in yet, but once it’s locked in, do your duty as a good partner and tap!
Similarly, tucking one’s chin isn’t a viable defense to a choke, but is breaking their nose or orbital bone really a viable answer to someone who doesn’t want to tap to a choke and tucks their face into it?
Keep in mind that it is your responsibility to be a good training partner at your gym, and that the benefits of doing so will carry you far in your jiu jitsu career. Remember the Golden Rule, and have fun!
Courtesy of http://www.revolutionbjj.com/
Just for your reference here are our West Coast BJJ Gym Rules:
Greet everyone when stepping on the mats
Welcome new students and introduce yourself
Use respectful language and behavior at all times
Come to class clean and odor free
Keep your Gi/rash guard on during the class
Keep your finger and toe nails short and clean
Always wear a gi that is clean, dry and unicolor
Cover any skin breaks and take all injuries seriously
See a doctor if you suspect you have a desease
Stay at home when you are sick
Do not talk when the instructor talks
Listen carefully and follow all instructions
Drill all techniques until you are told otherwise
Shake hands before and after sparring
Control your submissions and care for your partner
Give your best in training every time
Control yourself and leave your ego off the mat!
Thank you for reading,
On Sunday July 8th I had one of the best days of my life. I was fortunate enough to not only get to marry my best friend, but early on that day (at a free roll I had organized) my instructor, and close friend Professor Don Whitefield surprised me with my brown belt. It was clear that my lovely wife was not just marrying me, but also the sport I love so much. Although this was not new news to her, it definitely drew a lot of strange looks at the wedding when I dawned my Gi at the ceremony. Suffice it to say, that Sunday was a great day.
I was extremely excited, as we set off early Tuesday morning for our honeymoon. We had planned a road trip down the Oregon Coast (from our home just outside Vancouver B.C) and were anxious to get started. We took our time on the drive, and arrived in Beaverton, Oregon (just outside Portland) around 3pm, we settled in to our hotel, and relaxed. This is where the BJJ part of the honeymoon really got started. I set off just before 6pm to train with some friends at Impact Jiu Jitsu (We decided to stay in Beaverton, because it was their home base.) I was able to take part in both a beginner and advanced class at the club, under Professor Michael Chapman. The team at Impact was very friendly, welcoming, and technical…everything you could ask for in a Jiu Jitsu club.
We had planned to leave early Wednesday morning, after having a chat with Michael the previous night (and a quick glance at their schedule) I discovered they offered not only a 7am BJJ class, but also a 6am Conditioning class before hand. Professor Brian Walsh taught both of these classes. Brian was clear and concise with all of his instruction, and I really enjoyed getting to train early before hitting the road.
That day we hit the coast and slowly made our way down to our most Southern destination, Los Angeles. After about 6 hours of slow go along the Coast, we decided to hit the main highway. I was anxious to get to L.A to train with one of my BJJ hero’s Professor Ruben “Cobrinha” Charles. With this in mind we drove through the night (although we did take a short nap at a road side rest area.) We arrived in L.A about 10:30am; this was perfect as we would be able to go directly to Cobrinha’s to take part in his lunchtime class. I arrived, and although exhausted I excitedly jumped right into class and on the mats with Cobrinha’s group of killers. The core group that makes up his lunchtime, and competition team, is a group of young, athletic, and very skilled guys…most of whom have won World’s, Pan’s, etc. They are technical, and very dedicated (sometimes drilling 5 or 6 hours a day on top of normal training!) That first class was an eye opening experience. We headed back to the hotel to rest in the afternoon, but returned to Cobrinha’s for evening classes. Friday was much the same as Thursday. The lunchtime class, followed by some rest, and then evening classes (all in all I was at Cobrinha’s training for about 6 hours that day.) That evening we did Hollywood (I think my wife needed that for sanity purpose’s) and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, (although I’ve done this before) it was her first time seeing the walk of stars.
Saturday arrived, and although I was looking forward to heading to Las Vegas that afternoon, I was not looking forward to leaving Cobrinha’s. The guys at the gym, and Cobrinha himself are not only welcoming, and very genuine, but they are just such a cool group that all love BJJ very much, and training in an atmosphere full of guys like that is intoxicating. I trained from about 10am to 1pm, said my temporary goodbye’s (I’ll be back there soon, be sure of that) and we hit the road again for Las Vegas.
The Drive to Las Vegas was quick and uneventful. I trained hard all week, managed to keep up with my cross fit workout’s and run’s and was looking forward to a much needed rest day Sunday. Of coarse this rest day was not optional for me, not because my very understanding wife objected, but because I was unable to find any Sunday BJJ in Vegas. After a fantastic Saturday evening, and some shopping and exploring Sunday I was set to get back on the mat’s Monday morning.
I have been to Las Vegas once before to compete, while there I trained at Cobra Kai Jiu Jitsu with Professor Simpson Go. Sim was great; I was disappointed not to be able to get back in there this trip, but the schedule at Drysdale Jiu Jitsu worked better. I arrived at about 9am Monday, to take double class 9:00am – 11:30am under Professor Sonny Nohara, with Professor Sophie Drysdale. It was a very relaxed class, with a large number students who all wanted to work hard. The rolls were great, and although my cardio was having a tough go in the dessert heat I left eagerly anticipating tomorrows class. Tuesday we planned to make the drive to Reno, beginning our journey home. So again I got up early and got to class. I had a great time again, and as this was my third day in Vegas, I felt like my body was a little more comfortable and better adapted to the heat.
Arriving in Reno that night, we were tired and went straight to bed. I figured due to the fact we had a lot of driving to do Wednesday it was unlikely I would be able to train, so I got up at about 5am to get into the gym for a run and a workout. Before hitting the road, and heading to Portland, I was informed we had a slight detour to make. We back tracked nearly an hour to a little animal shelter outside of Fallon, NV. During the many hours my wife had been patiently waiting for me to finish training, it seemed she had occupied her time looking up various pets for adoption, and wanted to “just take a look” at one in Fallon. About 2 hours after that, the adoption papers signed, we had a new addition and were back on the road. At this point, I knew there was no way I was going to make back to Beaverton that evening for another session at Impact Jiu Jitsu. Around 6:15pm we noticed a large signing informing us we were nearing Medford, OR. I knew Medford was a fairly decent size town, so I decided to test my luck and throw “Medford BJJ” into the web browser. As fate would have it, there was a Lotus Club in Medford, right beside the highway, about 30 minutes from our current location, and wouldn’t you know it? They had a class starting at 7pm. I attempted to call and ask about drop ins, but with no luck we decided to simply drop in. I was excited to discover a decently sized, friendly club run by Professor “Pistol” Pete Loncarevich. I managed to get in a great 2 hour session, while my wife and new puppy relaxed and went for a walk.
Thursday was the last day of the trip, we planned a short drive to my Uncle’s cabin just outside of Bellingham, were we spent the last day of the trip lounging around and relaxing by the pool and later camp fire. The trip ended up being amazing. I was able to train with so many talented, interesting, and wonderful people while making new friends all along the way. We are all so lucky to be involved in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It is unlike any other martial art out there. There is no other martial art in the world, where you can walk in off the street, thousands of miles from your home, and ask to train. This is the essence of BJJ, it is so real, so humbling, so honest that there is no way it doesn’t make you a better person. As such people that can’t handle the reality involved with BJJ, and those who’s ego’s hold them back from growth tend to fall off, leaving only people of excellent character. In my experience getting to train with so many great people over the last 10 days I didn’t meet a single person who wasn’t genuine, and happy to have a visitor in his or her home club. The welcome I received at all these different places along the way truly reaffirmed by belief that there is not better sport, or martial art on the planet.
I am truly grateful to my wonderful, beautiful, and more than understanding wife for allowing to me to participate in so much training while on our honeymoon. It was a tremendous experience, and truly allowed for a lot of quick growth into my new brown belt. I’m going to finish by saying that I highly recommend (as my Professor Don Whitefield taught me very early on) that you ALWAYS travel with a gi. You never know where, or with whom you will find quality mat time. I would also like to encourage anyone to stop in to all the following schools I visited (which I will again list below) as they all treated me great, and had incredible Jiu Jitsu. As always the doors at my home club West Coast BJJ & MMA are always open.
Thanks again to everyone I met on this trip for your hospitality.
See you all on the mats soon.
Impact Jiu Jitsu – Portland and surrounding area.
Head Instructor – Professor Michael Chapman
Cobrinha BJJ – Los Angeles
Head Instructor – Professor Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles
Robert Drysdale BJJ – Las Vegas
Head Instructor – Professor Robert Drysdale, ( Professor Sonny Nohara)
Lotus Club Medford – Medford, Oregon
Head Instructor – Professor “Pistol” Pete Loncarevich
I’m still a few weeks away from being able to get back in to the gym, and it’s killing me. I walk around dodging imaginary punches and catching kicks that don’t exists (I know, usually I catch the punch with my chin and start grappling, but it’s always nice to pretend). During conversations I feel my mind constantly trying to figure out new submissions that I will try when I get back. My knee is now finally at the point where I can begin to test it. Tonight will be my first big test as I will go for a 5km run and see how it feels after.
During the summer my brother Jo works as a guide at one of the nicest fishing lodges on the West Coast (http://www.legacylodge.com/). Not only is he my brother, and my room-mate, but he is also one of my best training partners when it comes to grappling. While he only started training Jiu Jitsu in November, he is already one of the best rolls at the gym. It helps that he was a decorated wrestler; winning Provincial and National Championships in high school and going on to wrestle with Simon Fraser University until an unfortunate shoulder injury, a surgery, rehab, and another shoulder injury forced him to hang up the boots. He is close to my size, can easily match my athleticism and isn’t shy about beating me up and pushing me to my physical and mental limits. But in his absence I will have an extra room in my place so I thought what better thing to do then set up a little home dojo. I will have a 15? by 15? foot room matted up and ready to roll on in just under a month and cant wait to be able to have access to mats 24/7. If you are ever in the Burnaby area during the summer and want to get a roll in send me a message, there is never a time when I wouldn’t rather be grappling.
While my career continues to be a lull, my friend, and team-mate Daniel Swain is getting ready for one of the biggest test of his young career against another very talented up and comer by the name of Lee Morrison. I have been keeping in touch with Mr. “Agent Orange” over the internet and on the phone, but I have to say I hate not being able to see and help him prepare for this fight. I know he’s doing what he needs to do to get ready while at the same time helping out as many local fighters as he can. But still, I would like to be there to lend a hand however possible. Daniel fights on May 26th, which is next Saturday, and if you live anywhere near Sandpoint, Idaho I suggest you watch him fight before you have to start paying UFC prices.
Hopefully my knee feels great on my run tonight and I can take the first steps towards being able to walk out to the cage for the first time as a professional athlete and being able to rep all my great sponsors FVSTR, Dominant Ground, Reflex on Kingsway, Drako, Passion Sports, Tippet Richardson, Kombat Nation, Klench Kustom Guards, Canusa Fight Team, and Echelon Fighter Management and of course MMASucka. It’s companies like this that enable me to continue to chase my dream of becoming a professional athlete and one day being able to say I am the best in the world.
If you’re on twitter please follow me @micahbrakefield and help out by re-tweeting things you like. Also please take the time to find my athlete page and give that a “like” and even share if possible.
Thanks for reading
“Mitey” Micah Brakefield
Every year all West Coast BJJ association members are invited to come with us to Florida where we train in the last week of January with the best BJJ and MMA fighters in the world.
This year we will go to Orlando, Florida for a special Wintercamp under Ricardo de la Riva. Master De la Riva will teach 7 seminars for us on the following days:
Thursday January 26th- Morning and afternoon seminars
Friday, January 27th- Morning and afternoon seminars
Saturday January 28th- Morning and afternoon seminars followed by a Birthday party for Master de la Riva!
Sunday, January 29th- Morning seminar
The prices are as follows:
Single Seminars Only- $50
Four Seminar Package- $150
Seven Seminar Package- $250
Considering that a regular seminar is $100-150 dollars in the US this is a great price to train with a legend.
Our trip will go from Tuesday, January 24th until January 31st and here is the hotel that all we have a special rate negotiated with. Please call (407) 851 8200 and ask for Alex or the sales dept. to get the special West Coast BJJ rate:
Its about 10 minutes from the airport, 15 mins from Thiago Domingues (http://jungleorlando.com/) where the seminars will be held. Its very central, close to shopping including the Florida Shopping Mall.
We are now looking at $40 a night for a room with 2 queens, and $39 a night for a room with either 2 double Beds, or 1 King.
Other benefits of this booking:
- Free Shuttle services from 6am – 11pm to/from airport
- Laundry facilities on property
- Free use of their conference room
- Free Deluxe breakfast, which is better than the shitty continental things most hotels do
If you wonder how much it will cost, here is my estimate:
Return Flight Seattle to Orlando- $300
Hotel cost for the week- @$45 (for a room with two double beds)
training with Master de la Riva and at all the clubs-@ $300
Other- depends, it can be $500 if you are eating out and buy a lot of gear.
Ride and Room Shares: Please post in this blog if you need a ride to the Seattle airport and/or if you need to share a hotel room
History of our Florida Winter Camp:
In previous years we trained with Marcello Garcia, Team Popovitch, Edson Deniz, Ricardo Liborio and the whole American Top Team, De la Riva Jiu-Jitsu Black Belts “Boca” Oliviera and Guilio Timoteo. We had seminars with Roberto “Cyborg” Abreau, Dustin “Clean” Denes and Thiago Dominguez and all students that went learned a lot.
Typical Itinerary from last years Winter Camp Training Schedule
(bold shows where I was training)
Tuesday, January 25th
10:30am No-Gi BJJ @Roberto Abreau
6:00pm Beg. BJJ and 7pm Adv. BJJ 8:30pm KB @Pablo Popovich
8:00pm Beg. BJJ @ Roberto Abreau
Wednesday, January 26th
9:30am Beg. BJJ and 10:30am BJJ @Roberto Abreau
10:00am BJJ and 11am Pro MMA @ATT
6:00pm MMA and 7pm Adv BJJ @Pablo Popovich
6:30pm BJJ @ Boca de la Riva
7:30pm BJJ @ De la Riva Jiu-Jitsu Giulio Timoteo
8:00pm Adv. BJJ @ Roberto Abreau
Thurday, January 27th
10:30am No-Gi BJJ @Roberto Abreau
6pm Beg. BJJ, 7pm No-Gi BJJ 8:30pm KB @Pablo Popovich
8:00pm Beg. BJJ @ Roberto Abreau
Friday, January 28th
9:30am Beg. BJJ and 10:30am Gi BJJ @Roberto Abreau
6:00pm Open Mat BJJ and KB @Pablo Popovich
6:30pm BJJ @ Boca de la Riva
7:30pm BJJ @ De la Riva Jiu-Jitsu Giulio Timoteo
8:00pm Adv. BJJ @ Roberto Abreau
Saturday, January 30th
10:00am De la Riva Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt Thiago “Batata” Dominguez seminar at 2954 SW 30th Avenue, Pembroke Park (15 min from hotel)
Sunday, January 31st
9:30am De la Riva Black Belt Dustin Denes at Pablo Popovich
2:00pm Black Belt Seminar at ATT in Coconut Creek $?
7:00pm Team Dinner at Mamacita’s Mexican Bar & Grill located on the Beach Broadwalk north off the hotel (5 min walk from hotel), your presence is requested
Monday, February 1st
9:30am Beg. BJJ and 10:30am BJJ @Roberto Abreau
10:00am BJJ and 11am Pro MMA @ATT
6:30pm BJJ @ Boca de la Riva
7:30pm BJJ @ De la Riva Jiu-Jitsu Giulio Timoteo
8:00pm Adv. BJJ @ Roberto Abreau
American Top Team- 4631 Johnson Road, Coconut Creek, 954-4250-0705 (45 min from hotel)
Roberto “Cyborg” Abreau- 7403 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, 786-370-8990 (20 min from hotel)
Pablo Popovich- 777 E. Oakland Park Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, 954-771-0084(30 min from hotel)
I booked my flight here: http://www.hotwire.com/
SINCE ALL PREPARATION ARE MADE BY US AT NO CHARGE AND YOU ARE JUST PAYING FOR YOUR OWN TRIP AND TRAINING WE ASK YOU TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU HAVE A CURRENT WEST COAST BJJ ASSOCIATION MEMBERSHIP AS WELL AS THE FOLLOWING:
1. MAKE SURE YOU GET HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR THIS TRIP
2. MAKE SURE TO TALK TO OTHERS ABOUT TRANSPORTATION TO THE SEATTLE AIRPORT, FROM FORT LAUDERDALE TO THE HOTEL AND TO GET TO ALL THE CLUBS
3. ONLY SHARE RIDES TO SEATTLE IN YOUR OWN VEHICLE IF YOU ARE STAYING THE WHOLE WEEK SO OTHERS DO NOT BECOME STRANDED!
4. IF YOU ARE RENTING A VEHICLE MAKE SURE TO RENT A MINI VAN OR SIMILAR TO GIVE OTHERS A RIDE. ASK THEM TO SHARE THE COST.
5. POST HERE WHEN YOU ARE TRAVELLING SO OTHERS CAN RIDE WITH YOU OR YOU CAN CATCH A RIDE
I look forward to see you at the next camp!
A Microbiologist’s Take on BJJ
So my recent bout with face-critters really got me wondering about all this…information we’ve got floating around regarding treatment, prevention, cleanliness, the whole shebang. Thankfully, a girl I know from WAY back grew up to be a really cool microbiologist (she managed to work a reference to LeBron James into a conversation about bacteria) and she was nice enough to, after a weekend at Dragoncon, take the time to answer some questions I’d collected.
You can check her credentials below (she did her dissertation on MRSA), and if you have any questions about the critters you may be carrying to and from the gym, you can also email her at ms.oxide at gmail dot com, just tell her you read her interview with Megan.
Seriously, if you have a few minutes, take the time to read the whole thing. She addresses the general “lifestyles” of bateria and fungi, the use of triclosan, MRSA, and general habits that we have around keeping clean in the gym, not to mention a bunch of other things (like not washing belts), that we could all benefit from. So, a huge thanks to Brea and…here goes!
PhD in 2010 from Emory University in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
Dissertation on antimicrobial resistance in S. aureus (she used a MRSA strain)
Postdoc at the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Athens, GA a part of NARMS (National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring Service). They monitor, characterize, and describe antimicrobial resistance in the food chain. They also are involved in foodborne illness outbreak responses.
So first let me just say that my bias is definitely in thinking of bacteria in terms of communities. I did a postbac at the NIH in a lab that studied how bacteria build communities (aka biofilms) on your body. We used dental plaque as a model. What you have to understand is that you have basically three kinds of bacteria, and this can go for fungi as well, living on you: ones that are beneficial, ones that cause you to get sick, and ones that CAN cause you to get sick given the chance. There’s this beautiful and important balance that occurs when one is healthy. When one is sick and the proportion of the latter two categories overwhelm the beneficial bacteria, then you have problems. The other part of that is that many pathogenic bacteria are really only “visiting”. They live on you, but not all the time. If you have MRSA on you now, it doesn’t mean you will be colonized with it if you were checked in a month or so. We call that being transiently colonized, and about 30% of people are at any given time transiently colonized with MRSA. Doesn’t mean they get sick. So, from what I can tell, much of this antimicrobial craze is aimed at getting rid of the “visiting” bacteria before they try to make your body a more permanent residence.
OK so questions…
1) Is it best to wash with just regular soap and water?
Washing with plain old warm soap and water is the best thing you can do to stop the spread of disease. I know many people won’t believe it, but the mechanical activity of washing your hands is THE BEST way to get germs off of your body. Hand sanitizing using alcohol based hand sanitizers is not a substitute for hand washing, but it can be used to supplement a hand washing regimen. The germs a normal person might be exposed to on a daily basis don’t really require any fancy antimicrobial soaps, etc.
Furthermore, how often you wash and what you wash with really does depend on your day job. For people who are exposed to nasty bacteria on a daily basis (that would be someone like me), I keep hand sanitizer in my office. I don’t use it at home. Only when I’m at work, and I always wash my hands after I am done in lab. I found this nice little summary here: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy732. Here’s another summary from the CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/infectioncontrol/faq/hand.htm . It does a nice job of summing up the proper way to wash your hands…because yes, there is a proper way to wash your hands. For the majority of the readers of your blog, they could probably do with using an alcohol based hand sanitizer after they work out, in addition to washing their hands/showering.
One thing I do want to address is triclosan. Triclosan is the dominant antimicrobial that’s found in the majority of anti-bacterial products. Triclosan acts by inhibiting fatty acid synthesis in bacteria, and work by Stuart Levy (who is like the LeBron James of antimicrobial resistance research) has shown that getting triclosan resistant mutants in E. coli is actually pretty easy. They were able to generate a spontaneous mutant that had a resistance to triclosan 500x that of the normal strain. So, the take home from that experiment is that triclosan resistance is real, and overusage (antimicrobial window cleaner…really?) can lead to resistance. The problem with this is cross-resistance (resistance to one antimicrobial also protects the bacteria from another unrelated antimicrobial) can become a really scary problem. You can read the summary of that study here: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/vol7no3_supp/levy.htm .
So, as someone who does nothing but study how bacteria acquire and disseminate resistance on a daily basis, I would hold off on the use of triclosan and other antimicrobial products. For many people, it’s completely unnecessary. We see and deal with the results of overusage on a daily basis.
2) Does bar soap tend to harbor anything? (lots of people favor body washes because of the idea that certain organisms can live on soap in showers)
This is an interesting and really great question and I had to do a little digging. So there wasn’t a lot of info on contamination of bar soap. Bacteria can absolutely live on bars of soap, especially ones that are frequently used for hand washing. Its recommended that bar soaps not be used in public places (makes sense), although I found a study that showed there’s no evidence that “in-use” soap bars can transfer bacteria to naïve hands (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3402545.
So, to address the body wash issue. As long as the body wash container isn’t being refilled (which I know is uncommon but you can buy the ginormous refills at Sam’s), I think its fine. Refillable hand soaps/body washes have been shown to transfer bacteria and can become easily contaminated (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3126420/?tool=pubmed). So as long as its your bar of soap, and not a community bar, you should be fine.
3) Is not washing a cotton belt a bad idea? Lots of guys just…don’t…ever.
So…this is really gross. Like…really gross. Bacteria are really good at clinging to things,
especially S. aureus. It’s a freaking champ. Its particularly good at clinging to natural fibers (like cotton). Remember me mentioning bacterial communities and your natural flora earlier? Your skin has an amazing abundance of bacteria that call it home including Staphylococcus epidermidis and Propionibacterium acnes and our sweat is at the tops of their menu. I would imagine a sweaty cotton belt would be a perfect place for bacteria to set up shop. So if the goal is to encourage the growth of bacteria (cos remember S. epidermidis’s cousin S. aureus likes sweat too), not washing a cotton belt is a great idea.
4) Most gis are cotton and since they shrink, are washed in cold water and air dried or dried on very low heat. Besides getting sweat out, does that do any good? Does adding hydrogen peroxide to the wash help?
After proper washing, by the time most things make it to the dryer they’re no longer
viable. I think any vigorous mechanical agitation would definitely help in dislodging bacteria and other things from the fabric. As far as peroxide goes, the concentration you get in the drug store (which is usually 3%) won’t be nearly enough to make a difference if you put it in a washer full of water. Bleach would definitely work, as long as the gi is white. For a colored gi, I would imagine hand washing in warm water with detergent and air drying would be a good way to clean it.
5) How long is too long to wait to shower after training? (some people drive home and don’t shower at the gym) Besides spreading organisms to other surfaces, does it even make a difference? I’ve heard many times that if you wait more than 30 min, ringworm has had a chance to set in already and showering won’t help.
I don’t know what the doubling time is for ringworm, but the doubling time for S. aureus is about 20 minutes at 37°C, which just so happens to be body temperature. On warm, sweaty skin all bacteria would be able to multiply rather quickly, including any bacteria one might have picked up from the mat or a grappling partner. I would definitely take a shower as soon as I could after the session was over.
I would be most concerned about contracting fungi or other bacteria on my feet in a community shower. However, I think shower shoes are pretty standard practice in places like that. As long as you’re bringing in your own towels, soap, and shower shoes, I think the risk of taking home anything you didn’t want would be minimized.
6) Is disinfecting before training a bad idea? (are we killing “good” bacteria on the skin and weakening part of our natural defense system?)
So this goes back to what I mentioned earlier. You have a unique community of bacteria living in and on you. Its kind of like a microbial fingerprint, although as a species we have certain genera of bacteria present on all of us normally. Your own microbial flora acts like a first line of defense on keeping the bad “visitors” out by not allowing them to set up shop. Of course, from time to time bad bacteria do establish themselves, and most of the time, if you’re a healthy individual you don’t even notice it. Going into an environment that has bacteria, particularly pathogenic bacteria, without the full complement of your own flora intact is like leaving your front door wide open while you’re away on vacation. If you’ve been particularly sweaty before you go for your workout, then it’s a fine idea to shower. If you’re coming from work however, I dunno that its something I’d do. I would always shower as soon as possible after any intense workout.
7) Does scrubbing the skin after soap is applied make any difference? (Some people say scrub as much as possible, others say that this risks opening micro-tears in the skin and causing even more problems, so they opt to just let soap sit before rinsing)
I would just stick to normal washing. I think if you’re scrubbing so hard, you’re opening
micro-tears in your skin, you might want to scrub just a little more gently. The mechanical action here is key, but you don’t want to get carried away and actually cause breaks in your skin.
Are natural oil based products effective or are they just a gimmick?
I talked a little about triclosan earlier. I absolutely think it’s overused, and even as an
athlete coming into contact with other people’s bacteria, I still don’t think the juice is worth the squeeze. While it’s true that tea tree oil and other naturally derived products have antimicrobial activity, I would think that there would be problems with maintaining that activity in a soap.
Saponification is the process by which fatty acids are hydrolyzed using a strong base, generally lye. This makes soaps alkaline. To complete the reaction, you often have to let the soaps sit for a few weeks before you can actually use them to make sure there isn’t enough lye in them to harm your skin. While I wasn’t able to find any information on the concentrations of any of the additives in the natural sport soap bars you sent, I would think that their antimicrobial activity is either non-existent or negligible due to abrogation by the lye, or just not being present in a high enough concentration to make any real difference. The actual oil might be fine as an all natural disinfectant, but once again, washing with normal soap and water after a workout would probably do the trick.
9) Do topical steroids help prevent staph in cuts?
Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory, and as someone who has had atopic dermatitis
all of my life, they are amazing at decreasing skin inflammation. Corticosteroids are produced in the body from cholesterol. There was a paper from 2008, from Victor Nizet’s lab that showed an enzyme that blocks cholesterol biosynthesis in humans could also block production of staphyloxanthin, the pigment that gives S. aureus its hallmark golden color. Staphyloxanthin is actually an antioxidant that protects the bacteria from neutrophil killing by your immune system. You can read about it here: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/319/5868/1391.abstract .
10) Do anti-fungal shampoos prevent ringworm or are they placebos?
I know they’re fungicidal. That’s pretty well established. I’m not sure if the
active ingredient in them is broad spectrum and can prevent ringworm. Not sure if they can be used as a prophylactic.
11) What kind of detergent/cleaner is best for killing living organisms on training surfaces (usually vinyl)? (There’s a lot of debate out about bleach, which a lot of academies use.)
I would think a dilute bleach solution would work best. Bleach kills just about everything. We use it in the lab to kill cultures.
12) Are skin barrier foams any good? (They claim to suspend contaminates and be effective for up to 4 hrs AND not be harmful to the body’s “good bacteria”. They seemed to be based on blends of lanolin, butane, and stearic acid. )
I had never heard of these until you sent me this link. I tried to find information on the specific ingredients and couldn’t. Its hard to say anything about these products since the company doesn’t provide information about its ingredients on its website. I’d have to have a little more info to really say anything.
13) Is using a disinfectant spray (like Clorox) on gym bags worth anything?
I’d think keeping a clean gym bag would be a huge help in stopping the growth and spread of harmful bacteria. I’d definitely wash my cotton gym bag regularly, and spray a vinyl one with Lysol or wipe it out with a dilute bleach solution.
14) Based on what I mentioned above, does anything jump out at you as an issue?
The grossest thing is not washing a sweaty, cotton belt. Why wouldn’t you wash a sweaty, cotton belt? I think the other thing is having common sense. We have an immune system for a reason, and our own flora are part of what keeps us healthy. Wash your hands (and your body) regularly. For most people, antimicrobial products are unnecessary. I think that’s it mainly.
P.S. Viruses are much less resilient than bacteria generally, but S. aureus can survive for a couple weeks on fomites (things in the environment like doorknobs, handles etc.)
Thank you to Chris Empson to make this information available. The lessons here are pretty clear:
1. Wash yourself before and after your workout whenever possible
2. Wash your gi AND Belt every time and wipe/wash your gym bag too
3. Look after every small skin opening and infection right away
Thank you to Tangled Triangle for letting us use this article: http://bjiujitsu.blogspot.com/2011/09/microbiologists-take-on-bjj.html