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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Way of The Gi

Any Irishmen can tell you the importance of a clean Gi, pronounced “gee”. Having a clean Gi is not only a part of good personal hygiene but it is an important part of social etiquette. If your Gi is dirty, smelly and un-kept you will reduce your potential number of willing partners and the few unlucky folk who do pair up with you will surely talk about your Gi behind your back.

 Now if you did not catch what I was talking about above you are most obviously not an Irishmen and in this case better off for it. What I really want to talk about is keeping your Do-gi (道着) clean, some times also called a Keikogi(稽古着) or more simply a Gi. Now every thing I said about a dirty Gi above still applies so lets move on and talk about how to keep your Gi clean.

The first rule to keeping your Gi clean is just that cleaning it. Depending on your age, climate, style of martial art and frequency of training, once every week or two is usually enough. You don’t want to over clean your Do-gi as it will wear out more quickly. You should wash your Gi in cold water and hang it to dry; preferably some where it can get some sun. Presoaking your Gi will help keep it nice and white. I like to keep my cleaning products natural. White Vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, salt and environmentally friendly soaps will all help keep your Gi fresh and clean.

When you get home from practice immediately treat any stains. Blood stains should be soaked in cold water and can be treated with lemon juice and salt. Simply apply a little lemon juice directly to the stain, then using a clean cloth buff the stain with salt. Soak it a little longer, rinse and hang to dry. You should always hang your Gi after practice; this will allow it time to air out, reduce wrinkles and slow the development of the bacteria that cause foul odors.

Don’t Vajazzle your Gi. Some embroidery or a crest here or there, can all be ok but do not over do it. Covering your Gi with patches and decorations makes you look cheap. Remember who you are putting that Gi on for. Is it really all that important for everyone to know that you had once broken six boards a few years ago because a patch on your Gi says so? If your Gi looks like a NASCAR you better make sure your sponsors have your correct mailing address. You wouldn’t want to miss any of those sponsorship checks.

Finally press your Gi. You should press your Gi with a hot flat iron after every wash. Never press fabrics that have been soiled. This can set in stains. If you happen to have a tatami room and sleep on a futon you may try placing your Gi under the futon overnight  This will help keep your Gi looking crisp. A friend of mine was told to do this by his Judo Sensei in Japan after being scolded for coming to class with a wrinkly Gi. I tried it with a pair of khakis last night and it worked wonders. To keep your Gi from wrinkling on the trip to and from class, be sure to roll it or fold it tightly. Never carelessly stuff it into your gym bag.

So there you have it a few tips and tricks to keeping your Gi clean and neat. Simply clean, press, treat, and repeat. Like most things in the martial arts simplicity and an attention to detail are key. Remember a clean Gi is not only part of personal hygiene but it is good social etiquette. No one likes to play with a dirty Gi.

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