Things I’ve Learned Studying Jiu Jitsu, Lesson 8: Gear, Gis, and Endless Laundry!

I’ve never in my life ever had to do so much laundry than I have since starting BJJ. If I wanted to do this much laundry, I’d have kids. At least twice a week is darn unreasonable in my opinion, but I also think having 9 gis, 25 rashguards and a pair of spats for every rashguard is a little excessive too, so whaddaya gonna do? I’ve been the primary laundry-doer in a domestic arrangement and I still think I do more laundry as a single person training Jiu Jitsu than I ever did while trying to keep clean clothes on the backs of two grown adults. My heart to BJJ students with a bunch of kids, or worse, those who have a bunch of kids training. That must be a nightmare of a laundry day! But, as anyone who trains would agree, it’s a labour of love.

I used to frequently hand wash my rashguards in the hopes of keeping laundromat costs down, but that turned out to be way too time consuming and just not thorough enough. Although I know I did a good job of cleaning them, my tights and rashguards never came out smelling “clean”, and let’s face it, we’re trained now to associate cleanliness with a scent, be it lemon or ‘meadow fresh’, whatever that’s supposed to mean. Gis are way too tough to hand wash, and while it can totally be done, you need a recovery day just to rest your arms after scrubbing and wringing the thing out. Now do that to all of your gis…nope. My stint with hand washing my gear actually got to the point that I started dreading jits, simply because it became associated with scrubbing clothes in a tub. Needless to say, I cut that out pretty quick and got back to loving jiu jitsu without the pressure of having to hand-bomb my rashguards every day. I also sucked it up and bought a few more rashguards, tights and bras to stretch the weeks’ worth of gear out, too.

You know what’s worse than having to wash a metric ton of training clothes all week long? Showing up to class and realizing you’ve forgotten some or all of your gear! For the women, nothing’s more irritating than lugging all your gear around all day, getting to class only to find you forgot your sports bra at home. Few things make me want to choke someone (mostly myself) than that, and lo, I can’t even hit the mats without the stupid thing. And if you spend a lot of time in a gi, woe betide the cat who forgets to bring something to wear under their gi. I mean, you can get away with wearing your undies only, but it’s just awkward for everyone. I made a horrible call once when I forgot all my under-things and only managed to remember my gi, but trained anyways with a regular bra and just my underwear under the gi pants. I made it through drills with most of my dignity intact (this was long before I accidentally shrank my only gi and finally chucked it aside for a primarily no gi life), but once the rolls began I started looking as though I were inadvertently trying to stage my own Kyra Gracie photo shoot. My roll lasted all of two minutes before my partner looked at me imploringly with these ‘you’re-barely-wearing-clothes, I-don’t-feel-good-about-this’ eyes. Needless to say, I quickly packed up with what pride I had left and went home, with a tough lesson about BJJ modesty under my belt.

I think another runner up for the “Ugh, That’s the Worst!” award is forgetting your sweaty gear in a bag overnight. Gross. Burn it. Kick out the invisible cat that seems to have peed on your gear while you’re at it. Ever forget your sweaty gear in your car overnight, then go out to it in the afternoon, after the car’s been sitting in the sun? Might as well burn the car down with the gear, it simply isn’t road-worthy anymore.

I cry about having to do so much laundry and having smelly gear, but at the end of the day, I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. I love jits, even when it stinks!