What’s the importance of you Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt? For some BJJ practitioners, a belt has alot of sentimental values. Some long term black belts have been using the same belt for 20+ years or have inherited a belt from a friend or instructor.
There are also the many superstitious BJJ practitioners that never wash an old belt with the fear that washing the belt would make you lose all your acquired skill…
In the Jiu Jitsu world, there are some places where the tradition to not wash your belt is encouraged. Why? Some people see the belt as a symbol of all the pain and sweat (literally) that the student has gone through and should not be washed of any dirt, blood or other marks.
That is of course pure superstition.
But are there any downsides to this?
Sadly, yes. The biggest and most notable disadvantage to this is hygiene.
First of all, some team mates may not like facing a partner with a stinking belt or otherwise far from decent hygiene.
Second of all, an unwashed belt can come with a health risk. Just think of how much sweat and bacteria accumulate in the belt during a couple of months. Now consider all those bacteria can be passed on skin contact.
Staph infection (staphylococcus) is a group of bacteria that can cause a multitude of diseases. Boils, impetigo, food poisoning, cellulitis, and toxic shock syndrome are all examples of diseases that can be caused by Staphylococcus.
There are even worse strains of Staph called Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, known as MRSA. MRSA is a type of Staphylococcus aureus that is resistant to the antibiotic methicillin and other drugs in this class.
While staph is treatable with antibiotics, it can keep a person away from the mat for months and cause a whole other bunch of personal issues.
Notable athletes were affected by staph. Kenny Florian, Forrest Griffin, Diego Sanchez and Kevin Randleman.
What to do?
If you wash your Gi after every training, like a normal person then you can wash your belt once a week, let your belt out in the sun, or just let your belt dry out of the bag.
Don’t worry, your magic powers won’t go away.
Funny story on Renzo Gracie and his old worn out belt: