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08-19-2006, 12:16 AM
A few weeks ago I was substitute teaching class and one of my students smelled really bad. I know it sounds superficial, but it was so bad that other people on the mat were asking me to do something about it. I was completely stumped. I did not want to tell him myself because I am an 18-year-old girl, and he is a young man. It would have been terribly embarrassing for me to tell him he had some body odor issues. So the next night I talked to an older male teacher in my dojo and asked him to say something to this boy. After that the boy smelled better for about a week, then he started to reek again. Does this happen to other people? What should I do if it happens again? Does anybody have suggestions I can tell my dojo?
08-19-2006, 04:39 AM
I have never come across this myself thankfully, however at the end of a class every now end then whilst sitting sezia we are all reminded by sensei that good presentation is a part of who we are if our gi,s are damaged they should be repaired we should always keep a good level of personal hygiene at that point you can see everyone looking at there gi,s and having a quick sniff and so on.
Maybe your first route could be to have a general talk to the class before singling him out, just a thought might help.
08-19-2006, 06:52 AM
In a large dojo where I used to practice, they used to post notices a couple of times a year reminding people to take their gis home and wash them. This flyer always went up at the beginning of the summer.
We used to have a real stinker who practiced here. When he was especially bad, you could smell him coming in the door, in winter, with your back turned. I don't know if anything was ever said to him, since we're a bunch of grizzly stoics in some respects, but I do try to gently remind people that their gis might need to be washed more than once a week in summer (as needed).
You might have been right to have an older male student say something to him, but I also think you could have done it gently enough that he wouldn't have gotten self-conscious and defensive... maybe. I'm not 18 anymore, so I forget what it's like.
08-19-2006, 07:52 AM
What was the smell? Sweat? BO, as a result of not washing for a long period? If the latter, the member needs to be taken aside and reminded of some essential conditions of dojo membership.
Aikido is based on some very important Japanese concepts, two of which are misogi, with its counterpart, kegare. So there is great emphasis on personal hygeine, which can be seen by anyone who visits an onsen in Japan. However, in the martial arts there is also a view that sweating, especially as a result of hard training, is very important. I know of one aikido shihan who praises profuse sweating as a sure sign of hard (= honest) training.
In my experience here in Hiroshima, members of the university aikido club practised five times a week and usually possesed two sets of keikougi, which they washed when convenient. In the summer gasshoku, practice was five times daily, and so it became harder to train every day in clean keikougi. The women members were very good, but the men occasionally let things slip.
However, the strong sempai/kohai relationship in Japanese university aikido clubs ensured that problems never arose.
08-19-2006, 08:29 AM
I got told I stunk once - in northern CA so by some sensitive types who couldn't handle the musk of a real man I guess :-)
Seriously, I was just doing a very physical job and one shower a day just wasn't cutting it - the guy who told me was very direct - "you smell", grounded it - "X, Y and Z have also said so" but kind - "the reason I'm telling you is because we like you and don't want people thinking less of you." That approach worked well and the nose in question wasn't busted.
If people continue to stink after being told in this way - ignore them and train with others - it's just rude, and as Mr Goldsbury suggests - it's in the dojo contract!
08-19-2006, 09:50 AM
Like Justin has said give a subtle talk at the beginning or end of the class, so that no one is being singled out. Possibly if it persists, take the person to the side and talk to him or her about their hygiene problem.
This issue came up at the British Aikido Federation Summer School where one of the senior instructors singled out someone for their lack of hygiene, but didn't bring it up once but twice. I can only imagine the shame that man felt.
Hope this helps, Wayne
08-19-2006, 10:52 AM
We had a recent problem with one student who did not wash his gi-he did not stink a lot but it was grimy looking. We just took him aside and reminded him of his responsibility to wash his gi.
08-19-2006, 02:06 PM
Uhhh...Stinky gis are stinky gis. A few years ago we had one guy who you could smell walking in the door, too. I did the same thing and asked a senior and older male student to talk to him about the smell of his gi. The guy told him that he put it in his trunk after class. The real kicker is that we live in Florida. Of course the next time he came back he didn't stink anymore.
I'd say you need to wash your gi at least after two wearings, or one if you sweat profusely. Once you start getting the salt and bacteria deposits (the yellow stain) you really need to wash it after each washing. We have a couple of men in the dojo who have this issue. It makes taking iriminage really fun.
08-19-2006, 02:37 PM
If it is thought to be b.o rather than a dirty gi issue, I think anybody senior to the offending body can/should have a private word. Bear in mind, some offenders may have no idea and would much rather be told so they can correct it.
Yrs ago when I was assisting w/ kids classes, a near-to-teenaged gal being raised w/o a mom was having some intense b.o. issues on the mat due to hormonal changes. At our (male) instructors suggestion, I had a quiet, nonjudemental chat w/ her and she was slightly embarrassed for a moment but overall relieved to have an older woman to talk w/. She didn't realize others could smell anything different or that the problem was easily solvable.
08-19-2006, 03:34 PM
If it is on-going or particularly horrible, fill yourself with valorous ki and tell the person honestly. If it is informative and not accusative, the person will usually act accordingly. Having another guy tell him in private probably softened the blow, but if it still bothers you tell him as politely as possible. To him it might have seemed like a one time thing if he has only been told once. Perhaps the oh-so-subtle, "I'm getting a strong odor from you. Have you washed your gi lately?" I know that if an 18 yr old female said that to me it would make a lasting impression. Well, at least for a few weeks. ;)
Why I say he might not know is the following:
About 2 out of 300 people have smell & taste disorders...
although only one in ten of them see a doctor about it. :uch:
Since we rely on sight and sound so heavily, many don't notice that they have a weak sense of smell. Even if they do, it isn't like they can get cheap mechanical aid like glasses or a hearing aid.
Even a person with normal sense of smell will lose sensitivity to a smell they have been exposed to for a long time (themselves). :eek:
Various diseases can cause a person to stink even when they aren't working up a sweat and have a reasonable expectation that they are "clean".
Or then again, maybe he has poor diet and/or hygiene and/or is just inconsiderate. :yuck:
You said that he seemed to have done something about it when told the first time. Tell him again if you think it will help. You could mention that you noticed an improvement the last time someone brought it up to him.
Practicing aikido is about self refinement and dealing with the adversities of life in an effective and positive fashion. It is each's personal responsibility to maintain considerate (or better) hygiene (on or off the mat). You could help him refine himself by making him aware of the problem. Since it is his responsibility and not yours, you could practice with him, even when he is stinky, as practice for dealing with people that have attributes that you don't like in both civil society and non-civil (Pardon me Mr. Mugger, but you could really use a bath. Here go buy yourself some soap. :D ).
So, to sum up, my advise is to enter, turn or enter and turn.
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