That’s How I Roll Part 1: The Little Things…
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is mostly practiced by men but more and more women are training every day and they're starting for different reasons. Some were introduced to BJJ by their boyfriends or husbands or girlfriends, some (like me) stumbled upon it while trying something else, some want to add a new aspect to their existing martial arts skills; regardless of the reason, BJJ will only improve their lives.
One of the things I see sometimes, though, is the expectation that a girl has to be tough or butch, that she can't be traditionally feminine because she does BJJ. Of course, some things do change. You can say good bye to fingernails because those have to be cut to the skin to avoid scratching your training partners. And you will say hello to bruises on your arms and legs, which suck during the summer if you're wearing sleeveless or skirts. If you paint your toenails, the polish will rub off on the mats within a day, your hair will be a constant hassle during training, and you will have to master the art of washing other people's stink out of your Lululemon capris.
Over the years, I've developed solutions to the little problems that arise for the ladies of BJJ. I don't see a lot of people doing the same thing so I'll share my ideas with you here.
I love painting my toes. On the weekend I'll take a whole morning and give myself the perfect pedicure. The last thing I want to happen after spending hours on my toes is to train BJJ and scuff all of my hard work off on the mats. My solution? Ballet slippers. They stay on, they're comfortable and my toenail polish NEVER gets scuffed. Of course I was teased relentlessly but Jake MacKenzie came to train at our club and he told me he wears them too. Not only are they great for protecting toenail polish they help to avoid toe injuries and they keep your feet clean.
Ballet slippers can be hard to find. I order them from China on ebay for like $7. I love them.
Also an option is the no-slip yoga/pilates sock. I have a pair from Lululemon but I haven't tried them yet and they don't sell them anymore.
If you look at pictures of women at BJJ seminars or competitions who have long hair, they all wear ponytails. When I began training BJJ that's what I did, too, but I was constantly fixing my hair because the elastic would slip down and it was uncomfortable on the back of my head when I was on my back. The easy solution is braids. I have no idea why women aren't wearing braids to train BJJ but they're ideal. The back of your head is free and they're a more secure option for keeping your hair out of your face.
Instructions: create a middle part in your hair. At the base of your skull on each side make a pigtail using no pull elastics. You need the elastics at the top of the braids because that holds them in place against your head and prevents layers from coming out of the braids, etc. Braid the pigtails and secure them with no pull elastics. Done. I can do this without a mirror, it's so easy.
I've started wearing Cover Girl Lash Blast waterproof mascara all the time. If you can't wash your face, it won't run or come off during class. I guess I'm a bit vain but I hate being out in public without mascara so it's great for me.
After class, I hang my sweaty clothes to dry before putting them in the hamper. If you put them in wet, they won't dry out and will therefore start to smell like mildew. When I have a small load, I add some Borax to my laundry detergent and let it soak in the machine for an hour before I turn on the wash cycle. If possible, everything goes out on the clothesline afterward but if not, I dry the dryable stuff in the dryer and hang the other stuff. You should wash your clothing each time you use it, even your gis. I know it's easier said than done if you have to go to the laundromat or if you don't have many gis but you should try. Even if they don't let you know it, your stink is grossing everyone out.
Obviously it's not just your clothes that can have an offensive odor. Your body might stink too. Be sure to floss, brush your teeth and tongue, shower and use deodorant. Remember that your ass will be in people's faces so make sure it's clean and use some unscented natural deodorant or talc on it before class. A lot of people have stink arse but it's a delicate issue to suggest improvement on.
I also use Certain Dri, which is applied before bed and will prevent underarm odor for a couple of days. It's the best product ever but it does sometimes give me a bit of a rash when I use too much. Totally worth it though.
It's a good idea to have a pair of flip flops to slip on when you're walking from the mats to the bathroom and back. My feet are protected with the ballet slippers when I wear them but I really shouldn't be walking on the mats with them after I've been to the washroom. No one should.
I love Aeropostale flip flops.
If you're going to class directly after another event like work or shopping or whatever, you might still be wearing make up. I use baby wipes to get rid of make up and to refresh any areas that might need it after a full day. Afterward, I reapply deodorant and I'm ready for class.
After class I wipe off right away with baby wipes but some people use the Defense wipes. I haven't had any issues so far, though. I shower as soon as I get home, also.
Tea Tree Oil
I asked the pharmacist which products I should use after class to kill any bacteria I might pick up from rolling. She told me that soap should be good enough but if I really wanted to try something else, I should use tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is antibacterial and it's a part of what they use in the Defense body wash to prevent ringworm, etc. Another ingredient used is eucalyptus because apparently that's anti-fungal. It's a bit of a hassle to buy Defense, though, because you have to order online so I use Body Shop Tea Tree Oil body wash with a scrub cloth or bath puff thing. It kills your BJJ germs and my non-BJJ friend uses it to clear up acne. Two-in-One, ladies!
Another option which will take care of hair and body and is significantly more affordable is Head and Shoulders shampoo. It's anti-fungal. I use it as hair and body wash.
You will get bruises for sure and some of them will be huge. Luckily CoverFX exists because that's one hardcore foundation and it will cover any bruise you throw it on. Go to your local Shopper's Drug Mart and ask the cosmetician to select the right color for you and show you how to cover your bruises. I use it on my legs during the summer but honestly as time has gone by, I bruise less and less.
Another option is Dermablend; check out the video below to see how great the coverage can be.
Check back for That's How I Roll - Part 2: BJJ Gear for Girls