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Amanda
11-20-2006, 05:43 AM
Before anyone starts on colours or urban myths this is not what this thread is about. :D

I have just got a new belt and I am having a problem keeping it tied. It's very stiff. Any hints on softening it a bit. It's a club belt so I don't want to abuse it too much.

ChristianBoddum
11-20-2006, 06:14 AM
Wash it once , then after drying , wrap it around something like a staircase-handle (?) ,
something without sharp edges and pull from end to end a couple of times,
it works for me :-)

Steve Mullen
11-20-2006, 08:32 AM
HI amanda, soak it in fabric softner for a bit

No Dan
11-20-2006, 09:44 AM
Time, sweat, and blood. This is why I am still a NO DAN.....

Ketsan
11-20-2006, 12:28 PM
Ah, new belts, the highest form of origami! :D

crbateman
11-20-2006, 02:24 PM
Pound it on a flat rock... http://www.clicksmilies.com/s0105/lachen/laughing-smiley-004.gif

Actually, I know a guy who, when going through colored belts in Judo, made a small contraption out of wood that had small offset pinch rollers inside. Then, he'd run the belt into it and out the other end, and stitch the ends together in a loop. Then he'd clamp it in a vise and power it up with an electric drill. After an hour of running through this thing, the belt would be limp as a rag.

Interesting, but he probably could have spent the time curing the common cold or something... http://www.clicksmilies.com/s0105/fragend/confused-smiley-013.gif

Kevin Wilbanks
11-20-2006, 04:31 PM
I don't know what a "club belt" is, but it sounds like it might prohibit my solution: get a different belt. I threw out the 'good' belt that came with a gi years ago and fished a nice limp cheap one out of the community belt box. It is thin, flimsy and ties a really nice knot.

mriehle
11-20-2006, 04:40 PM
You know, I have a lot of students who ask this question or one like it. I always tell them it'll soften up after a couple of washings.

But now I have some other suggestions I can give them.

And, being a gadget freak, I even have a gadget I can try building. One that doesn't involve stitching the ends of the belt together.

Hmmm.......

NagaBaba
11-20-2006, 09:03 PM
You know, I have a lot of students who ask this question or one like it. I always tell them it'll soften up after a couple of washings....
Washing a belt!!!!!!!!! :eek: What a heresy!!!!!!!
To soft up a belt use it to the techniques where you tie an attacker with. That is martial reason to have a good black belt :cool:

Jess McDonald
11-21-2006, 12:04 AM
Yes washing a belt is heresy!!

Mike Hamer
11-21-2006, 12:47 AM
I'm not washing my belt, cause I'm oldschool y'all.

Bridge
11-21-2006, 05:31 AM
My last new belt was stiff. So I tied it up best I could and worked out where the knot was. Took it off and wrung and twisted and generally stomped that section to soften it. Cos that's the only bit of the belt that really needs to be soft.

The belt softening gadget sounds genius though.

raul rodrigo
11-21-2006, 05:57 AM
On the other hand, a stiff belt makes for a larger knot, which in turn helps keep your hakama from slipping lower in the course of a class. When I shifted to a softer belt (Mizuno), I found my hakama heading south more often than it used to.

DonMagee
11-21-2006, 08:07 AM
Yes washing a belt is heresy!!

I dont wash my belt, because the threat of staff and ringworm keep my foes at bay.

Jaikido
11-21-2006, 08:39 AM
When I was a white belt once I put mine through by accident. Somehow it got a lovely pink stain. So I'd never advise belt washing!

crbateman
11-21-2006, 01:28 PM
A PINK belt??? That's just wrong...

Kevin Wilbanks
11-21-2006, 02:09 PM
Please wash your belts. If you want to observe some kind of foolish superstition, try avoiding cracks on the sidewalk or not walking under ladders. As Don points out, an unwashed belt is like a petri dish for any number of microrganisms, and probably also smells awful. Coming to class with any part of yourself or your training clothes filthy and stinking is disrespectful to your training partners. If you have trouble with it getting tangled in the machine, buy a laundry sock bag made of netting to wash it in.

NagaBaba
11-21-2006, 02:58 PM
Sorry Kevin, You don't understand KI power :(

Kevin Wilbanks
11-21-2006, 04:34 PM
Sorry Kevin, You don't understand KI power :(

I don't claim to, but if it's supposed to be something that accumulates in one's belt, yet can be removed with soap and water, I feel comfortable dismissing it as imaginary.

Incidentally, by the logic of not washing a garment to preserve the "ki", wouldn't you be better off not washing any of your training clothes, or even your normal clothes? In fact, it would probably be best to always wear the same clothes, and never wash them or your body - the layer of dead skin, mold and bacteria that would develop on your unwashed body would provide even more substance in which the ki could accumulate. Perhaps our homeless urban population is an untapped resevoir of invincible warriors...

seank
11-21-2006, 05:29 PM
I just wear my belt into a pliable state... I must admit I too am a little to old school to wash my belt, but I certainly don't let it sit gathering mould or the likes; I take it out and air it between classes.

20 years of combined MA training and I haven't had an issue with a belt getting too nasty (mind you though I've never had one belt long enough to wear it out (Aikido might change that though :p )

Simple wear and time does wonders for making a belt easier to tie.

mriehle
11-22-2006, 08:23 AM
A PINK belt??? That's just wrong...

Well, in our Stockton dojo I'm told that there used to be a pink belt. It got that way through the predictable white-belt-in-the-reds-washing incident. But the instructor at the time kept it around.

When teaching children, you get used to them "losing" their belt. They show up without it, but class must go on. A disproportionate number of times this happens with boys.

So, the aforementioned instructor would make them wear the pink belt, whatever their rank was. The boys would generally only lose their belts once or twice during this period.

But, alas, the pink belt era had to come to an end. It seems that a rash of girls losing their belts corresponded strongly with the general acceptance that if you showed up for class without your belt you wore the pink belt. It was eventually decided that this was not a coincidence.

Mato-san
11-22-2006, 09:05 AM
There is more than one way to knot your obi so she holds.....especially a fresh one.
But the new gi will always need a tweak.
Just another flavour.

Qatana
11-22-2006, 10:36 AM
I would wear a pink belt. Then again, I would also wear a pink hakama.

DonMagee
11-22-2006, 12:42 PM
I just wear my belt into a pliable state... I must admit I too am a little to old school to wash my belt, but I certainly don't let it sit gathering mould or the likes; I take it out and air it between classes.

20 years of combined MA training and I haven't had an issue with a belt getting too nasty (mind you though I've never had one belt long enough to wear it out (Aikido might change that though :p )

Simple wear and time does wonders for making a belt easier to tie.

I've gotten blood, sweat, and dirt on my belt. Usually from very sweaty guys who may not of actually washed their gi in a week or so and sweat horribly due to the nature of bjj. If I did not wash my belt weekly, it would be a biohazard. In fact, anytime I get human blood on anything, I get a little paranoid.

I also have 3 gi's. I wear a clean one each class, and wash it directly afterwards. Of course the level we train tipically is so hard that my gi is actually able to be ringed out its so heavy with sweat, and if it was not washed and instead hung would stink so bad nobody would grapple with me. I have gotten ringworm before, it was not pleasant. This is why I'm so careful of being clean. I also bathe right after class with dandruff shampoo to kill off any bad stuff. I watched the guys in the last ultimate fighter get staff. It's scary stuff. So far I have not notice a lack of growth in my fighting skills.

Amanda
11-23-2006, 04:03 AM
thanks for the advice all. I've tried the twist it up and wrap it around something without sharp edges suggestions so far and although it doesn't really feel that much softer it does now stayed tied so all is well :)

Nick Simpson
11-23-2006, 05:34 AM
Don what is Staff? Never heard of it, Ringworm Is horrible though. I stayed off the mat for about 6 weeks due to it's infectious nature, that was fun...

RampantWolf
11-23-2006, 07:13 AM
Don what is Staff? Never heard of it, Ringworm Is horrible though. I stayed off the mat for about 6 weeks due to it's infectious nature, that was fun...

Staph (pronounced like the American 'staff') is the short version of Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria that lives on the skin but tends to turn nasty when it gets inside an open wound.

http://www.medicinenet.com/staph_infection/article.htm

Gavin

natasha cebek
12-14-2006, 08:44 AM
Relax, it will soften up in time.
But you shouldn't ever wash your belt..ever!!!

Ron Tisdale
12-14-2006, 09:18 AM
Why is that?

Best,
Ron

natasha cebek
12-14-2006, 09:37 AM
Why is what?

Respectfully,
Natasha

Ron Tisdale
12-14-2006, 09:49 AM
But you shouldn't ever wash your belt..ever!!!

Why is it that you shouldn't ever wash your belt?

Best,
Ron

natasha cebek
12-14-2006, 09:50 AM
I was always told that every crease, bend, stain,dirt and fray on a obi, are all personal reminders of ones training path. I don't care, wash your obi. I assume (I could be wrong), you know the historical significance of the color "black", when referring to an Obi?

Respectfully,
Natasha

Kevin Wilbanks
12-14-2006, 10:29 AM
I was always told that every crease, bend, stain,dirt and fray on a obi, are all personal reminders of ones training path. I don't care, wash your obi. I assume (I could be wrong), you know the historical significance of the color "black", when referring to an Obi?

Respectfully,
Natasha

So, despite the filth, bad smell, and the possibility of becoming a vector for staph and ringworm infections in the dojo, we shouldn't wash our belts because you were "always told" something vague about how an unwashed belt makes a great training souvenir?

Incidentally, the "history" you refer to is likely completely made-up. If not, I would be happy to investigate a citation. Unless one is training in a tar pit or on the floor of a steel fabrication shop, no amount of simple use is going to turn a white belt black.

DonMagee
12-14-2006, 10:31 AM
My belt serves on 3 purposes.

1) It holds my gi top closed and keeps people from using my gi against me.
2) It gives me a tool to choke people with.
3) It reminds higher belts to be a little easier on me because i'm not as skilled as they are.


Getting it dirty, frayed etc, is not a measure of skill to me. I look into myself and the opinion of my coaches and instructors for that. I could wear a white belt until it turns black and I would not be satisfied. But a simple nod from my coach and a comment on how good my base or armbar looked does wonders for me. Most times I could even go without the gi and be fine. I feel it's silly to train with a gi just for the sake of training with a gi. I wear a gi for 5 reasons.

1) I like to compete in gi competition.
2) My shorts and rash guards are all dirty.
3) It forces good technique when training with a gi on vs someone without a gi on.
4) I have yet to find any other clothing that lasts as long when people are pulling/grabbing/tugging/etc on it.
5) It hides my poor physique and makes me look tough :-)

heathererandolph
12-14-2006, 11:17 AM
I suggest you just wear it and keep practicing. After a while it will soften up. Go to more classes for faster softening!

natasha cebek
12-14-2006, 11:22 AM
So, despite the filth, bad smell, and the possibility of becoming a vector for staph and ringworm infections in the dojo, we shouldn't wash our belts because you were "always told" something vague about how an unwashed belt makes a great training souvenir?

Incidentally, the "history" you refer to is likely completely made-up. If not, I would be happy to investigate a citation. Unless one is training in a tar pit or on the floor of a steel fabrication shop, no amount of simple use is going to turn a white belt black.

Ok, you should do the research, it is very important to know the history of martial arts in all of its forms, including the "creation" of the Obi.
I have never hear of anyone getting an infection from an Obi, I'll have to investigate that claim.
I would hope though,that people would wash their Gi's on a regular basis, because all I have to say about that is "yuch!". There is nothing more disgusting than grappling with someone whose Gi smells like cat urine.

Respectfully,
Natasha

Ron Tisdale
12-14-2006, 11:25 AM
Hi Natasha,

There are several threads on this site regarding the Myth to which I believe you refer. It is just that...a myth. While it may hold some importance to you, it would not hurt to be aware of what it really is...and to advise others accordingly, even though you continue to operate by it. That would be your choice...and if you make it consciously, knowing the accurate background, this may even give it more personal meaning. Or you may discard it...again, your choice. Made of personal knowledge, not based on someone just telling you.

Best,
Ron

natasha cebek
12-14-2006, 11:33 AM
no amount of simple use is going to turn a white belt black.[/QUOTE]

You know, just as a suggestion, why don't you put on a white belt and wear it for oh, I don't know (we'll keep it at a minimum)..for lets say 3 years, and see what happens. Now of course the experiment would only work if you trained more than once or twice a week.
I wonder, could you do that?

Any thoughts on Mr. Wilbanks brilliant statement?

Mark Freeman
12-14-2006, 11:36 AM
Any thoughts on Mr. Wilbanks brilliant statement?

I thought it was brilliant ;)

natasha cebek
12-14-2006, 11:38 AM
Why don't you just DO the research. Prove me wrong and I will humbly admit my faux pas.
I don't want opinions from members on this site, I want hard,cold historical facts.
Are you up to the task?

akiy
12-14-2006, 11:46 AM
Hi Natasha,

The section under "15) The belt system colours are like that because as a white belt gets dirtier..." in the rec.martial-arts FAQ (linked below) has good information on this myth.

http://www.faqs.org/faqs/martial-arts/faq/part4/

-- Jun

Mark Freeman
12-14-2006, 11:49 AM
Why don't you just DO the research. Prove me wrong and I will humbly admit my faux pas.
I don't want opinions from members on this site, I want hard,cold historical facts.
Are you up to the task?

You first Natasha ;)

regards,

Mark
p.s. It's only a belt

p.p.s if you don't want opinions, you are in the wrong place :D

Kevin Wilbanks
12-14-2006, 11:53 AM
Why don't you just DO the research. Prove me wrong and I will humbly admit my faux pas.
I don't want opinions from members on this site, I want hard,cold historical facts.
Are you up to the task?

Actually, you were the one who made/implied the claim about accumulated dirt being the origin of the black belt tradition, the burden of proof is on you. I feel no need to even investigate the myth, as there are several obvious reasons why it can't be true - incompatibility with the emphasis on cleanliness in Japanese culture, the recent origin of belt color/grading with the advent of Judo and the lack of anything like it in the various extant koryu arts, the fact that a piece of cloth will disintegrate from wear and tear from being used in a relatively clean environment not filled with black dust or tar, etc...

natasha cebek
12-14-2006, 11:58 AM
Does anybody on this site understand the symbolism of the black belt and why the color black?

I just cannot believe that with all the experienced martial artists on this website, that nobody has a clue about I what I am talking about.
Has anybody even bothered to research their history or why certain traditions are in place?
I suppose that next people are going to claim that Obi's have been around forever. OMG, I think that they were created..hmm like less than a hundred years ago.

Kevin Wilbanks
12-14-2006, 12:13 PM
Does anybody on this site understand the symbolism of the black belt and why the color black?

I just cannot believe that with all the experienced martial artists on this website, that nobody has a clue about I what I am talking about.
Has anybody even bothered to research their history or why certain traditions are in place?
I suppose that next people are going to claim that Obi's have been around forever. OMG, I think that they were created..hmm like less than a hundred years ago.

OK, we get that you have a cocky, in-your-face attitude. What we are looking for at this point is information and substantive argument. You keep alluding to this resevoir of factual historical information that you have and we don't, and are ridiculing us for our ignorance of it... why not just explain it and provide your evidence?

Ron Tisdale
12-14-2006, 12:23 PM
Natasha...you should read the link that Jun provided...you should read the threads on this site and others...you should read period. Getting snippy ain't going to cut it.

The obi used in koryu (classical Japanese martial art) is very different from the obi used in gendai arts like judo, aikido and karate. Gendai arts tended to accept Kano's use of the obi, including in many cases the ranking and colors. The classical arts have a very different approach.

What we have been gently trying to tell you is that the myth you are referring to is just that...before Kano's judo, the obi had no rank connotation. In the end...it's really not a big deal...but please understand if you post mis-information, someone is bound to correct it, just like they corrected me for many years, and still do. After a while you learn to listen to the correction, investigate the sources, and make a reasoned decision. Sometimes that means I have to say "oh, you are correct, and I was mis-informed".

It's not really a big deal. Everybody makes mistakes. Such is life. Move on.

Best,
Ron

natasha cebek
12-14-2006, 12:43 PM
I guess your right Ron.
I suppose then that my Sensei was wrong and his Sensei (Chinen) was wrong, especially when his Sensei's, El ich Mayazoto and Chojun Miyagi ,who were also students of Higashionna Sensei, were wrong too.
I think the point I was making was about the "Symbolic" meaning.
I mean were talking about the Japanese culture, a culture that thrives on myth and legend.
I mean who is right? and does it really matter?
Isn't this all semantics anyway?
Nonetheless, I will do some research.
I will certainly forward any relevant information.

Respectfully,
Natasha

po_courcelles
12-14-2006, 12:48 PM
Has anybody even bothered to research their history or why certain traditions are in place?

I see that you haven't either...

A quick search on Wikipedia should get you started:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judo

Enjoy! :)

Ron Tisdale
12-14-2006, 12:57 PM
Well, let's just say the first instructor back was mistaken...let's assume he heard something (perhaps in broken english) that was intended as a joke...but he didn't realize that it was a joke. Maybe he had heard a similar story somewhere else...and hearing the joke, mis-interpreted that as affirming his notion.

Let's further assume he is a kick-butt fighter, and a top notch instructor as well. I mean nobody...not anybody...is going to kick his butt. But he is STILL not a history professor...he is STILL not a linguist, nor does he speak Japanese...Nor is he an anthropologist. He's just a martial art teacher, doing his best to pass along what he's picked up.

If there is a prevelent myth out there, and he picked it up, and passed it on to you...is that such a crime? Does it really diminish him in any way in the ways that count? Is he still a kind person? Does he still teach well? Can he still use his art to defend himself?

Probably. It's not a crime to get something wrong...just because someone somewhere calls you sensei...

And it's not an insult to him just because someone else points out the mistake.

Best,
Ron

natasha cebek
12-14-2006, 01:11 PM
The obi used in koryu (classical Japanese martial art) is very different from the obi used in gendai arts like judo, aikido and karate.

Ron,
I am fully aware that Obi's are different. I made no reference to that.
Lets stick with the original argument, which I will do my best
to provide some kind of historical reference, as you had requested. OK?
I do read alot, so please lets not insult each other or be condescending, it's really not appropriate.

The original argument was in reference to washing the Obi.
Perhaps in your practice, it is acceptable. Whereas in mine, it is not and for several reasons which have been passed down from Sensei to student many times over.

Give me a couple of days and I will get back to you with something tangible.
Thanks.
Respectfully,
Natasha

natasha cebek
12-14-2006, 01:17 PM
Finally..aha!
I completely agree with you.

Respectfully,
Natasha

DonMagee
12-14-2006, 01:19 PM
I believe belts are black for a simple reason.

It is easier to dye a fabric to a darker color. You couldn't start with black and then dye a belt yellow. It wouldn't work, you would need to bleach it first. But you could take a white belt, dye it yellow, then dye it orange, blue, brown, black. No bleaching needed.

Also I train 4 days a week. In hard nasty sweaty martial arts. I have the same white belt for years that I've worn though aikido, judo, and still wear in bjj (which I hope is about to change soon). I didn't wash it until recently after a ring worm outbreak. I realized that belt is soaked in blood, sweat, spit, water, dirt, etc. It is down right nasty. I wouldn't eat off of it, yet it gets in my mouth from time to time when people try to choke me with it. Its been dragged across my eyes, I touch it then I may touch my eyes or mouth afterwards. This is just down right nasty.

I was amazed how little my belt changed in color after washing. It is still dingy and worn and dirty looking with blood stains all over it. I also did not lose any skill by washing it. It did slightly warp and fit funny for an hour as it stretched back out.

The simply fact is that I will choose safety over any tradition, any day of the week. I do modern sport stretching and warm ups. Why? Because they reduce the risk of injury a lot better and have been proven with scientific fact to be better. I no longer do some body weight exercises because they have been proven harmful. Why wouldn't I want to wash my belt?

My aikido and judo teachers too believed in the white to black thing. They believe you should not wash your belt. But the next time you get that belt on your hands, in your wounds, on your mouth or eyes, think about all that nice sweaty nasty bacteria making a home inside your body. I just hope you are not training for health :-)

Michael Hackett
12-14-2006, 01:43 PM
Belt color and myths be damned. One of my friends, a BJJ instructor, is off the mat for another couple of weeks as he recovers from MRSA, a strain of staph infection. It started as a simple scratch on his belly, right about the level of his beltline and quickly got out of hand. Now with a regimen of powerful antibiotics and time away from teaching and training, it is coming under control. I expect to train in a clean environment and with clean people in clean uniforms. I don't know if "crud" is a color, but an unwashed white belt will certainly become cruddy long before it becomes black. Wash your gear - it won't impact your skill a bit, but it will make you more pleasant to train with and keep everyone healthier.

Kevin Leavitt
12-14-2006, 01:47 PM
we try and keep our mats wiped down with bleach as much as we can. MRSA is very dangerous and contagious, not something to play around with.

I cannot understand why anyone cares about belt color, how worn their belt is, or anything else like that over cleanliness and safety.

I have a hard enough time training in clean clothes then to worry about this type of thing!

natasha cebek
12-14-2006, 02:47 PM
I have never met anyone who has gotten a staph infection from their belt. How odd, today is the first time I have ever of such a thing. I have always made it a practice to hang my belts after each class and they eventually dry and they never smell bad. I suppose if I were to put it in my bag after a good workout, while it was still wet with sweat and leave it there until the next class-it could get nasty and smelly and I would certainly be concerned if my Obi had bugs in it.
For the record, I never condone dirty Gi's or bad hygeine, and in my Dojo-I'm the first one to let you know. I wash my Gi's daily and keep my nails trim, I would expect nothing less from those that I train with.
I treat my Obi, my Gi, my weapons- all with great respect. Yes, ultimately it's about the practice and it really doesn't matter what we are wearing.
Why do we bow upon entering the Dojo or mat-after all it's just a room.

Michael Hackett
12-14-2006, 03:15 PM
And I don't know that I ever have met anyone who contracted a staph infection from his belt either. My friend contracted the infection at his belt line from some source, perhaps from his work as a police officer, or from a suspect he dealt with. Perhaps he touched an infected person and then adjusted his clothing before he washed his hands. I don't know and neither does he at this point.

My sole point is that dirty uniforms, including belts can be the breeding ground for various little varmints that will make a person sick. I'm not a particular germaphobe, not after years in the Marines and many more years as a cop, but why roll in filth?

Your point about tradition somewhat eludes me. You compare a mythical tradition, albeit practiced in some dojo, with another tradition and ask why? Traditions are wonderful things and should be honored unless there is good and sufficient reason to dispense with them. If the dirty white belt turning to black was a tradition in fact, it seems that it should be on the hit list for health and sanitary reasons alone. Using your example of the dojo itself, I wouldn't take a second to bow if the building were on fire and I needed to pull someone out. Certainly a break with a very real tradition, but I think a reasonable and prudent course of action. YMMV, so follow your own lights.

po_courcelles
12-14-2006, 03:35 PM
I'm not familiar with the "staph infection" wording. But if it refers, as i think it does, to flesh-eating bacteria or some sort of similar infection, you should all know that the source of infection can be anything. People can develop the infection simply after hitting some part of their body (like a toe on a table leg) and then a simple bruise start to transform in a wound. As far as I know, it is still some kind of medical mystery as to why ans how it happens to some people...

However, that being said I think the reason for having your belt washed is for hygiene sake. Like washing your Gi and your own body....foul odors never made anyone sick, it's only a matter of respect and courtesy.

I also doubt that keeping a Obi unwashed for its lifetime does not really fit with the traditionnal Japanese attitude as mentioned before...

natasha cebek
12-14-2006, 03:43 PM
Ok, so lets agree to disagree on the Obi issue, we do agree on good hygeine and clean Gi's..excellent then.

Ron Tisdale
12-14-2006, 03:51 PM
from the humorous side of this discussion...

http://www.24fightingchickens.com/2005/09/09/urban-legends-of-karate-belts/

on a more serious side:

http://www.judoinfo.com/obi.htm

And from the bottom of that page:
http://www.judoinfo.com/karateranks.htm
and
http://www.e-budokai.com/articles/belts.htm

natasha cebek
12-14-2006, 03:56 PM
Ron,
Thanks..love the humor and I'll check it out later, going to a seminar and I'm almost late.
Thanks again.
Respectfully,
Natasha

Aristeia
12-14-2006, 06:49 PM
Ok, so lets agree to disagree on the Obi issue, we do agree on good hygeine and clean Gi's..excellent then.
Natasha can I clarify what your view on the Obi actually is? I've seen you make a couple of "don't people know the significance" type comments, and I've seen some people assume they know what your stance is based on that. But thought it worth checking whether or not there are crossed wires. Can you state in your words what the significance of the black obi is?

Bronson
12-14-2006, 09:06 PM
I believe belts are black for a simple reason.

It is easier to dye a fabric to a darker color. You couldn't start with black and then dye a belt yellow.

I believe Kano went straight to black... no mucking around with those other colors. The color scheme was introduced by Kawaishi teaching judo in Paris. Kano did have the kyu/dan system in place but he didn't start awarding black belts as symbols of rank until a few years later, so the new influx of students could tell who was most experienced.

I want hard,cold historical facts.


In Dave Lowry's new book "In the Dojo" he goes into a lengthy history of the keikogi and it's parts, including the obi. On page 53, after exploring the history of the colored belt he has this to say:
...there is simply no evidence that colored belts or anything else pigmented have ancient martial sources. Or deep philosophical meanings. True, in Heian-era Japan, varying levels of officials in the imperial palace wore hats or other insignia that differed by color. But Kano never adotped this practice for his judo. It did not come about until judo had gone to Europe. And it requires a considerable stretch of the imagination to conclude that a judo teacher in Paris would have drawn from Japan's eleventh-century court dress as an inspriration for grading his judo students.

Bronson

natasha cebek
12-14-2006, 09:50 PM
Michael,
You are right, perhaps I wasn't being clear about the significance of the black obi. This really started when a woman had mentioned that her new Obi would not stay on, because it was too stiff. I simply told her that eventually it would soften up and hold the knot. I made the mistake of also telling her not to wash her Obi. Well much to my surprise, I was confronted and in some cases insulted. At one point it became combative and really over what? Look, I know that it is just a piece of fabric and that it really has no bearing on ones skill or not. My Obi is significant because it holds my essence and each mark or fray is a reminder of the work and dedication I have put into my training. The very first time I put it on, it was so stiff and it had nothing of "me" in it..it was empty of any spirit. Over time, I could feel the difference-it had life. NO, it does not affect my abilities, it is a personal thing. As far as the historical significance, from what I have been told and read in books; They never had belts indicating rank (until Kano) per se, they wore sahes to hold up their pants. Over time, the sashes/belts would turn black(with dirt and whatever else) which may have indicated skill level. Eventually in theory, it would fade back to white, thus the circle of yin and yang. The symbolism is important because it holds the spirit of Budo. Why do we fold our Hakima a certain way? Why do we bow upon entering the Dojo? Why kneel in seiza? What is so significant about how are hands are positioned, when bowing? Why all the formalities?
Because, the history and tradition of all the martial arts are based on principles that worked.
I'm tired and I'm not sure if I articulated my thoughts very clearly, I hope I answered your question.

Respectfully,
Natasha

Michael Hackett
12-14-2006, 10:50 PM
Pierre,

A staph infection is an infection caused by a particular organism, the staphylococcus aurea bacterium. Staph can be picked up from many sources, including in hospitals and can be quite serious. MRSA is staph on steroids as it is mutated into Multidrug Resistant Staphylococcus Aurea which is very difficult to treat. The so-called "flesh eating bateria" that we read about in the news is a slightly different little beastie from what I understand that causes necrotizing fascitus (sp?). This is fairly common dinner table talk at home as my wife, She Who Must Be Obeyed, is an RN and nursing instructor who deals with this stuff frequently.

A dirty obi, a dirty gi, or even a dirty training partner won't necessarily cause staph infections or anything else, but they can become a vector or breeding ground for many different diseases. There are reasons for "universal precautions" when dealing with body fluids.

In my never humble opinion, even if this were a tradition, we simply have too many fairly modern diseases which can kill to continue to indulge it. It seems wise to change or modify a tradition to meet modern day needs if appropriate. We Marines stand at attention when the Marine's Hymn is played. Great old tradition that is well documented and accepted as factual. I doubt that you would find many of us doing so if our enemies played the Hymn in a combat zone. A silly example I admit, but not much sillier than following a clearly debunked, non-existent tradition. The major difference is that if I choose to stand up while the rounds are flying, I do so at my peril. To wear dirty uniform equipment in the close and intimate relationship of training involves the peril of others.

I'll climb down from my soapbox now........

Bronson
12-14-2006, 10:58 PM
MRSA is staph on steroids as it is mutated into Multidrug Resistant Staphylococcus Aurea
Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus

I had to learn this a while back and, dang it, I'm gonna put that education to use ;) :D

Bronson

Michael Hackett
12-15-2006, 01:10 AM
Bronson,

What is that Ed McMahan quote? Oh yeah, "You are correct, Sir!" Sorry, I was thinking of our recent exposures out here along the border with Multidrug Resistant TB as I wrote. Thanks for the correction - all that book larnin' is payin' off for you.

po_courcelles
12-15-2006, 07:18 AM
Thanks for the info Micheal and Bronson.

Personnally, i am more affraid of getting warts or fungus on the mat or in the locker room than getting infected by a resistant bacteria....God I hate public showers :yuck:

Ron Tisdale
12-15-2006, 08:06 AM
Well much to my surprise, I was confronted and in some cases insulted. At one point it became combative and really over what?
Uh...exactly who insulted you? I'll go back over the thread just in case, but I don't recall anyone insulting you. As I explained earlier, it is no insult to attempt to educate someone. It is no insult to tell someone they are wrong. Who became combative? This is the internet...it is impossible for anyone to strike you here...so...relax. You are safe...

Look, I know that it is just a piece of fabric and that it really has no bearing on ones skill or not. My Obi is significant because it holds my essence and each mark or fray is a reminder of the work and dedication I have put into my training. The very first time I put it on, it was so stiff and it had nothing of "me" in it..it was empty of any spirit.

As a personal feeling, if it gives meaning to you, fine. Nothing at all wrong with that. But you of course do realize that these are metaphors...

As far as the historical significance, from what I have been told and read in books; They never had belts indicating rank (until Kano) per se, they wore sahes to hold up their pants. Over time, the sashes/belts would turn black(with dirt and whatever else) which may have indicated skill level. Eventually in theory, it would fade back to white, thus the circle of yin and yang. The symbolism is important because it holds the spirit of Budo.

Read the links provided in my previous post. This is not historical. It is a myth...If you want to accept it that is your business...but if you spread the myth on a site like this as a fact, people will correct you. Because it is false.

Best,
Ron

natasha cebek
12-15-2006, 08:43 AM
Ron,
It's just what I have been taught, that's all. It works for me and many other practioners I have met, of different disciplines. Why does it bother you so much. We see myths and rhetoric in every aspect of world history. There are people that believe wholeheartedly in various religious dogmas-is it realistic? I don't know, it doesn't apply to me. Your version of the truth may not be mine or someone elses. Just because you forward a link to me regarding someone opinion, does not mean it is right or wrong.
There are people on this site who either believe one way or the other. Even If I did have a document to back up my claim, it's only one version of many truths. Each discipline has its own traditions that they keep or reject. I would never think to insult a tradition that you or your teacher believed in, it would be completely inappropriate. I simply did not realize that people actually wash their Obi's, that's all.
I would imagine that if there was an issue of health in my Dojo as a result of unwashed Obi's, it would probably be advisable to wash them. It has never been an issue.

Respectfully,
Natasha

Ron Tisdale
12-15-2006, 08:53 AM
I would never think to insult a tradition that you or your teacher believed in, it would be completely inappropriate.

Again, it's not about insulting anyone or anything. It's just a statement of fact.

Hypothetical: I have a friend who believes the earth is flat...he has all kinds of old historical documents to support his theory. :rolleyes: Guess what...he is wrong. Stating that is not an insult...to anything.

Best,
Ron (hey, I'm done posting in this one, people have enough info to make an informed decision)

dbotari
12-15-2006, 09:18 AM
Ron,
It's just what I have been taught, that's all. It works for me and many other practioners I have met, of different disciplines. Why does it bother you so much. [snip]

Just because you forward a link to me regarding someone opinion, does not mean it is right or wrong.


Yet you felt compelled to chastise everyone who did not believe as you do about the significance of the belt and its color. What you choose to believe is in fact your choice. When you start telling others (who in this case provided some basis for their beliefs) that their beliefs are wrong because you believe otherwise, is when you got yourself into a confrontation.

Respectfully

Dan

DonMagee
12-15-2006, 09:25 AM
Thanks for the info Micheal and Bronson.

Personnally, i am more affraid of getting warts or fungus on the mat or in the locker room than getting infected by a resistant bacteria....God I hate public showers :yuck:


Just imagine what rolls around on those mats to help pick up that fungus. :D

As for the whole color issue. I think what Ron is trying to say is to not present something as fact if it is not really a fact. It is the same thing I preach when someone starts talking martial technique. If the technique is flawed, I don't care how many generations you trained it, it still wont work, and to present it as fact that it does work is not acceptable.

It is great you have a tradition. I would say "In my club we use colors to represent the dirt, sweat, blood, and tears that goes into our training, with each tear and worn spot representing growth in our ablities." rather than saying "The black belt was historically caused though training until a white belt slowly changed to black, we of course honor this history with a tradition of colored belts." One of these statements is truth, one is spreading a myth as fact.

Inner club traditions with myths metaphors, etc, are very nice and add flavor to clubs. But falsely representing myth as fact does everyone a disservice.

Aristeia
12-15-2006, 09:53 AM
Ron,
It's just what I have been taught, that's all. It works for me and many other practioners I have met, of different disciplines. Why does it bother you so much. We see myths and rhetoric in every aspect of world history. Fair enough. But what has happened here is that you have made reference to a well known and long debunked myth. Some people have pointed out that it's a myth, as they have to many people before you, but you seem particularly defensive? Instead of the the comments above why not just say "oh hey, I must have been mistaken/misunderstood that it it wasn't literal, my bad"? Or do you still beleive it to be true?

There are people that believe wholeheartedly in various religious dogmas-is it realistic? I don't know, it doesn't apply to me. Your version of the truth may not be mine or someone elses. Just because you forward a link to me regarding someone opinion, does not mean it is right or wrong.not all opinions are created equal. There's opinion, there's fact and there's opinion about fact. You cannot cite "oh it's just differing opinion here" in the same way you could if we were arguing over whether strawberries are tasty. This is a discussion about historical fact. The links that have been forwarded you back up one position with evidence. On the other side of the coin you have what you've been told by your sensei.

As with anyone in a position of power you should be wary of holding onto ideas in the face of contrary evidence just because sensei says so. Your sensei may well have been misinformed as well.

There are people on this site who either believe one way or the other. I'd be amazed if you can find another person that will support your claim on this site. You will find people to say "oh yeah I heard that as well" *raises hand*, but not that will support you in the face of the counter argument that's been offered.

Even If I did have a document to back up my claim, it's only one version of many truths. No. Truth is truth. Each discipline has its own traditions that they keep or reject. I would never think to insult a tradition that you or your teacher believed in, it would be completely inappropriate. No! This is not a matter of tradition. We're not talking about what you say as you bow in or what order you line up in seiza. We're talking about something you are presenting as histoical fact which is simply not. Obfuscating an (incorrect) statement of fact by calling it opinion or tradition is disingenuous. I simply did not realize that people actually wash their Obi's, that's all.
I would imagine that if there was an issue of health in my Dojo as a result of unwashed Obi's, it would probably be advisable to wash them. It has never been an issue.

Respectfully,
NatashaFor what it's worth I have never washed my obi and have never had a problem with it getting stinky or nasty.

That's not the point. The fact that you've not seen this myth debunked before makes me suspect that you've just started being active on martial arts forums. If so - you're in for a good time. There's lots of good discussion to be had and stuff to be learned. But people will call you on it when you have misinformation.

This is incredibly healthy. In the past martial arts have been plagued by the kind of insular thinking, beleifs and mindsets that you see in groups that sequester themselves from the wider community. Individual ryu have been so isolated due to lack of crosstraining and discussion that various myths and beleifs get deeply ingrained into the culture. This is no one's fault, it's just what happens naturally when groups are isolated. The internet has been an invaluable tool for breaking down alot of that and propelling the arts forward. When I first started surfing in the late 90s it challenged *alot* of my assumptions and beliefs in martial arts. I resisted many of those challenges until the evidence became overwhelming and I had to start rethinking. I'm extremely grateful for that as my practice is infinitely more useful and enjoyable as a result of the reality checks I got.

So if you are going to participate in these types of discussions I personally reccommend you prepare to have many of your beliefs challenged, keep an open mind because at least some of them will need that challenge, and develop a thick skin.

MTCW

natasha cebek
12-16-2006, 09:30 AM
I did make an inquiry with Palumbo Sensei who trained in Japan for many years directly under Okiyama Sensei(Hakkoryu). He informed me that washing the Obi was adopted in the west and that it was never done in Japan, unless the Obi was caked with 6" of mud-then it would only make sense. It simply was not common practice.
This is all just semanitics anyway, don't you think?
I have certainly learned quite a bit, thank you all.

raul rodrigo
12-16-2006, 09:46 AM
You didn't start out saying it was all semantics. You said you had the facts and the rest of us didn't. Turns out that this is not the case.

For what its worth, I don't wash my belt either. The hakama covers most of it and it doesnt get to smell too bad. But the hakama can get pretty toxic.

Ron401
12-19-2006, 11:13 AM
Wash your belt ?!? Bah. I have never heard of anyone putting there belt in a washing machine...
As far as people getting "sick" from an unwashed belt that sounds a little lame to me, but thats just IMO.Train a lot and the stiffness goes away. After class I fold my belt neatly and place it on a shelf to air it out. My belt has no smell to it, and it is nice and soft and easy to tie.

deepsoup
12-19-2006, 11:24 AM
Wash your belt ?!? Bah. I have never heard of anyone putting there belt in a washing machine...

Then you haven't read so many of the various "belt washing" threads on here. Mine goes in the machine once in a while, when it needs a wash. (Much less often than a gi, much more often than 'never'.)

Chris Li
12-19-2006, 11:30 AM
Wash your belt ?!? Bah. I have never heard of anyone putting there belt in a washing machine...
As far as people getting "sick" from an unwashed belt that sounds a little lame to me, but thats just IMO.Train a lot and the stiffness goes away. After class I fold my belt neatly and place it on a shelf to air it out. My belt has no smell to it, and it is nice and soft and easy to tie.

You have now :). I almost always sweat through my belt in training - if you sweat through your shirt when you go running you wash it right?

Best,

Chris

Basia Halliop
12-19-2006, 12:59 PM
I wonder if some of the belt debate doesn't depend on what kind of gi jacket you wear -- if you wear the light karate style then it might make much more sense to think of sweating through to your belt on a daily basis, while if you wear the heavy judo kind, you might wonder a bit if people aren't overreacting (and if you wear a t-shirt underneath that...). I wash my belt now and then, but it's not really my sweat so much as dirt and 'stuff' from the mat.

Chris Li
12-19-2006, 01:20 PM
I wonder if some of the belt debate doesn't depend on what kind of gi jacket you wear -- if you wear the light karate style then it might make much more sense to think of sweating through to your belt on a daily basis, while if you wear the heavy judo kind, you might wonder a bit if people aren't overreacting (and if you wear a t-shirt underneath that...). I wash my belt now and then, but it's not really my sweat so much as dirt and 'stuff' from the mat.

Not for me - heavyweight Judo-gi, but I soak through the belt pretty much every time.

Best,

Chris

mriehle
12-19-2006, 02:01 PM
Okay, so I'm one of those people who rarely perspires enough for my belt to get wet. I wear a heavy judogi and a t-shirt underneath.

I wash my belt.

Not often, but I wash it.

Especially in the summer, pools of sweat form on the mat. Bad enough that they make an otherwise perfect mat slippery, they also allow stuff to grow. Okay, I bleach my mat once a month. But dip my belt in one of those pools and a bleached mat makes no difference whatsoever.

And it can happen without my being aware of it.

So I wash my belt. Not often, but I wash it.

I've never had ringworm or staph infections and I'd rather not. :yuck: :rolleyes:

Besides, washing the belt makes it softer. :cool:

Just don't wash the red belt with your white gi... :yuck:

natasha cebek
12-19-2006, 02:42 PM
Wash your belt ?!? Bah. I have never heard of anyone putting there belt in a washing machine...
As far as people getting "sick" from an unwashed belt that sounds a little lame to me, but that's just IMO.Train a lot and the stiffness goes away. After class I fold my belt neatly and place it on a shelf to air it out. My belt has no smell to it, and it is nice and soft and easy to tie.

Ron,
You just confirmed that yes there are still practitioners in this forum- that train hard, sweat like dogs, roll around on the mats that don't have smelly, disgusting Obi's.
I have been chastised for a tradition(mythological or not), that my teacher and many others that I have met, follow. What do I know...according to some people in this forum-nothing.
The truth is do we really know who a person is, who they have trained with, what their rank or experience is? What if I was The great, great, granddaughter of hmmm..lets see..Sokuko Takeda (I'm not of course) and I had first hand knowledge of many traditions (sometimes referred to as myths) and then you insulted my intelligence by informing me that I should not give any opinions about "myths" that have already been debunked on the "AikiWeb" forum. What then?


I agree the "Staph infection" thing sounds awfully suspect, but who knows. Now what I have experienced, are some pretty nasty looking feet with yellow-fungi ridden toenails..that smell really bad.
Any threads on bad personal hygiene and how disgusting it is to grapple with someone who has claw like fingernails and only bathes a few times a week?

Respectfully,
Natasha

Aristeia
12-19-2006, 03:42 PM
Ron,
You just confirmed that yes there are still practitioners in this forum- that train hard, sweat like dogs, roll around on the mats that don't have smelly, disgusting Obi's.
I have been chastised for a tradition(mythological or not), that my teacher and many others that I have met, follow. What do I know...according to some people in this forum-nothing.
The truth is do we really know who a person is, who they have trained with, what their rank or experience is? What if I was The great, great, granddaughter of hmmm..lets see..Sokuko Takeda (I'm not of course) and I had first hand knowledge of many traditions (sometimes referred to as myths) and then you insulted my intelligence by informing me that I should not give any opinions about "myths" that have already been debunked on the "AikiWeb" forum. What then?


I agree the "Staph infection" thing sounds awfully suspect, but who knows. Now what I have experienced, are some pretty nasty looking feet with yellow-fungi ridden toenails..that smell really bad.
Any threads on bad personal hygiene and how disgusting it is to grapple with someone who has claw like fingernails and only bathes a few times a week?

Respectfully,
NatashaNatasha this post is a fair sample of why you're starting to get a tough time here. No one has a problem with you following a tradition for traditions sake so long as we're clear that's what you're doing. It's when you present a long debunked myth as fact that people's antennae start to twitch.

Look at the above post for example. You start by talking about following tradtion - so I'm thinking fair enough. But just at that point you go off on a tangent about how you could be Takedas great granddaughter and then how would we feel? Which makes me think you still want to hang on to the myth as fact. Which it's not. If you did have that direct lineage, what then? Well we'd expect you to pony up the proof and take the discussion from there.

I could say "what if it turned out that I have been to the moon and it is acutally made out of cheese? Then what?" Doesn't mean much unless that *is* what I"m saying and I can back it up right?

So at this point why not just admit that you were mistaken about the factual veracity of the history of the black belt but that you still like the tradition you've been taught and leave it at that?

natasha cebek
12-19-2006, 07:42 PM
No, I will not admit I was wrong.
Until someone can substantiate the same "factual veracity" disproving my claim, I stand firm in my belief. This does not mean an article written by "Joe Blow" who has been a martial artist for 20 years and is imparting his own interpretation of some theory.

You see, we are at an impasse..there is no more discussion.
You are as correct as I am regarding our own interpretation. You see, had you actually read what I had written in one of the many previous posts on this subject, I had very clearly stated that this was based on a tradition passed down- In my lineage and I also concurred that I couldn't actually prove it. etc.. etc..What is it that you need to hear, that I have not already stated?
Unbelievable.
I'm done with this thread.
Thank you.

Aristeia
12-19-2006, 09:04 PM
oh ok I get it now. The fact of the matter is less important to you than holding on to the beleif that your seniors are infalliable. You were expecting that as soon as you said it was a matter of tradition passed down from your sensei that everyone would say "oh ok then we don't want want to challenge that because every path leads to the same summit etc etc". Yeah, that's not how it works on these types of forums typically. The links provided you provide ample evidence of at the very least, the extremely unlikeliness of the myth. To challenge this you have "tradition" i.e. the story told by your sensei, and his sensei before him. The problem is that you are prepared to take the unexamined opinion of your Sensei over the common sense evidence. I suspect that will be a problem that extends beyond this discussion.

Aristeia
12-19-2006, 09:05 PM
You are as correct as I am regarding our own interpretation. One last point. That is incorrect. One of us is right and one of us is wrong. This is not a matter of opinion it is a matter of historical fact.

natasha cebek
12-19-2006, 09:22 PM
You obviously have an issue about being right.. Ok then your right.

raul rodrigo
12-19-2006, 09:35 PM
I think basically Natasha is telling us to leave her alone to believe what she wants to believe, regardless of what the empirical facts are. Which is her privilege. No one can make her do otherwise.

The only problem, Natasha, occurred earlier on, was when you implied that our not accepting your belief as fact was due to some laziness or ignorance or lack of intelligence on our parts.

But now that its all supposed to be a matter of opinion (in your mind), then everyone can retire to their corners and leave this little myth alone.

R

Aristeia
12-19-2006, 09:52 PM
You obviously have an issue about being right.. Ok then your right.LOL. I have no issue about being right - it happens quite naturally :-) I do have an issue with BS in the martial arts.

natasha cebek
12-19-2006, 10:04 PM
Paul..I never implied anyone was ignorant or lazy, I don't know what your talking about. In fact I think I stated my own ignorance during one of the 10 million posts regarding this subject.

Michael...thanks, but I have reached my limit and "the boredom factor" is creeping in..in other words, I really don't care.
Ah well, theres nothing like a lively debate on semantics to get the blood going.

Aristeia
12-19-2006, 11:14 PM
you're right, "fact" vs "myth" is just a matter of semantics.

Aristeia
12-19-2006, 11:15 PM
Ok, you should do the research, it is very important to know the history of martial arts in all of its forms, including the "creation" of the Obi.you don't see how this could be reas as implying people are ignorant or lazy? At the very least it's patronising which is ironic.

Michael Hackett
12-20-2006, 12:49 AM
How did this issue become one of semantics? Natasha wrote of a tradition she believed in that holds that obi are never to be washed, and further that historically a dirty and used white belt would eventually become a black belt. Others disagreed about the history of the belt and provided information to support their argument. Natasha chose to ignore the information and explained that her position was based on what she had been told by her Sensei and that her school follows that course of action. I, for one, posited that a dirty belt is unsanitary and should be avoided for that reason if nothing else. Now she suggests that all of this is a matter of semantics, largely an argument on the meaning of words and she is bored with it. I'm simply confused, perhaps confused too simply, but confused nontheless.

To paraphrase Voltaire, I may not agree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it wrong.

Aristeia
12-20-2006, 12:54 AM
How did this issue become one of semantics? .it's not.

DonMagee
12-20-2006, 12:11 PM
I'm going to do more research into the dangers of not washing your belt. I am going to wear a belt, unwashed for 1 month. That is over 20 days of hard, physical, training (judo, bjj, aikido, and I will wear the belt while stretching, running, warming up, jumping rope, sparing, drilling, etc). Basically while I am doing any martial art related practice, I will wear my belt. This will be a brand new belt I am going to acquire from atama. At once months time I will ask a lab to test my belt and tell me what dangerous substances can be found on this belt. I will check it for smells, and keep a photo log of it's appearance.

What I need right now is some assistance. I need to find a medical lab that will test my belt for me at low or no cost. I am a community college teacher, and I do not have much money. I am going to check my connections here, but if any of you can supply help, we can test once and for all exactly what danger a belt presents in passing on infections.

This is a good time to begin this test, because currently there is a ring worm outbreak at my school. The mats are being washed directly before class each and ever day, everyone is told to wear a clean uniform each day, Infected students are required to cover their infections with bandages or tape, yet the spread continues. I do not know how many students do indeed wash their belts. However we will be able to find out if enough ring worm can live on my belt to pass along.

We can also find out if any dangerous molds, fungus, bacteria, etc can live in my belt in quantities sufficient to cause illness.

Who's with me? I need a new gi anyways, so I can order my new gi and ask them for a brand new white belt.

Avery Jenkins
12-20-2006, 12:28 PM
Don--

What a hoot! I think this is a great idea. If you can't hook up with anyone locally, try the microbiology department of the University of Bridgeport College of Chiropractic.

Avery

Hanna B
12-20-2006, 12:32 PM
Before anyone starts on colours or urban myths this is not what this thread is about. :D

She mentioned it in her very first post on this thread... and still it got hijacked.

Well well.

I have just got a new belt and I am having a problem keeping it tied. It's very stiff. Any hints on softening it a bit. It's a club belt so I don't want to abuse it too much.

Running it throught the mangle worked miracles for the tieability (sp?) of my belts, regardless of colour.

DonMagee
12-20-2006, 01:07 PM
Don--

What a hoot! I think this is a great idea. If you can't hook up with anyone locally, try the microbiology department of the University of Bridgeport College of Chiropractic.

Avery

Talking to some people I know in biology, I realized this is going to be a major undertaking. The number of controls we require could take a few months of data gathering. Who knows, we may find air dried washed belts contain more mold then unwashed belts. When I have formulated the entire project, I'll start a new thread to get feedback on the plan.

Ron Tisdale
12-20-2006, 01:48 PM
ok, someone has WAAAAAYYYY too much time on his hands! ;)

Best,
Ron (good luck with the project)

Mike Galante
12-20-2006, 02:14 PM
Please someone stop this thread before it gets out of hand!
Wash, Don't wash, knock yourself out!
Merry Christman
Happy Chanuka
Happy New Year
God bless

DonMagee
12-20-2006, 02:15 PM
I wouldn't have a leg to stand on in my arguments if I didn't put up and prove my theory? :)

I'm actually hoping to find out that it doesn't matter if you wash your belt, because I know a lot of guys don't, and maybe then I won't be so grossed out when it's on my face.

Dennis Hooker
12-20-2006, 02:49 PM
In every dojo I have been associated with over four decades of training it was required that we have a clean Gi in good repair. In Aikido we wear a hakama to add to the formality of the activity. Some of us consider the study of Aikido an honor afforded us so we must dress cleanly and neatly. However some folks wear old worn out belts underneath. I have never held with that tradition. I like to look as clean and presentable as I can. So it means new when the old wears out or becomes to unsightly. It is an individuals choice in the end.

Dennis
www.shindai.com

Bronson
12-21-2006, 01:45 PM
Hey Don,

Is there a Medical Lab. Technologist program at your college? Our community college has one... maybe they could help.

Alternately you could write this into Myth Busters (http://community.discovery.com/1/OpenTopic?a=frm&cdra=Y&s=6941912904&f=9701967776). Let Discovery Channel pony up the cash to have it tested.

Bronson

natasha cebek
12-21-2006, 02:25 PM
My goodness, I wonder if anyone has ever thought about how nasty and disgusting the inside of a pair of shoes can get-yuch! Oh wait I just thought of something- wow, what about public railings and door handles....think of all those germs. OMG!!!!!!!
I wonder how many people actually wash their hands after using the restroom, before going out on the mat? I'd be more concerned with that than whether someone washes their belt or not.
In my opinion (Ron) being clean is very important, but aren't we all being just a tad fungi/germ-a-phobic?

Chris Li
12-21-2006, 04:20 PM
My goodness, I wonder if anyone has ever thought about how nasty and disgusting the inside of a pair of shoes can get-yuch! Oh wait I just thought of something- wow, what about public railings and door handles....think of all those germs. OMG!!!!!!!
I wonder how many people actually wash their hands after using the restroom, before going out on the mat? I'd be more concerned with that than whether someone washes their belt or not.
In my opinion (Ron) being clean is very important, but aren't we all being just a tad fungi/germ-a-phobic?

Any clothing I wear I wash regularly - and even more so for clothing that I wear while exercising. Pretty much standard practice, isn't it?

Now, not washing your clothes may not be hazardous to your health, but I doubt that you'd want to spend much time around someone who failed to wash their clothes on a regular basis.

Best,

Chris

crbateman
12-21-2006, 04:33 PM
I wonder what kind of fashion statement I would make in a hakama and a hazmat suit?!? http://www.websmileys.com/sm/happy/1016.gif

natasha cebek
12-21-2006, 04:51 PM
:D LOL... "Hazakama"....and a "Hazobi"....

deepsoup
12-21-2006, 05:22 PM
aren't we all being just a tad fungi/germ-a-phobic?

There's timing. I was just watching something on TV that made me a little bit fungi-a-phobic. There's a snippet online here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/animals/planetearth/realmedia/ (Under the "Living Organisms" section, scroll right down to the bottom and "Parasitic fungi attack")

Its a very strange combination of 'wow!' and 'ugh!'. Very ot, I know, sorry.

henry brown
12-21-2006, 05:33 PM
On a similar note, there was a report in the last few years in the New Eng J Medicine Volume 343:1223-1227 October 26, 2000 Number 17
(https://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/abstract/343/17/1223) about American football players who caught a stomach bug when one player poked on the field, and other players rolled around in it during the game.

On theother hand, although your belt is far from sterile, it is probably not a very hospitable local for the growth of most microorganisms. Certainly, swabbing it for aerobes would be a fun experiment to do. But if people were transmitting diseases off belts, you would expect a LOT more people to be getting disease off of the mats, which typically aren't sterilized after practice. So, I think the risks of fomite-infection (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fomite) from a belt are pretty low.
Although I am not a microbiologist.

DonMagee
12-21-2006, 07:13 PM
I'm actually in conversation with a few students at a few local universities and with a few professors at my college on the best way to handle this test. What I would like is to find a student who needs a project for a class. I think I might have one lined up. More will be coming in a few days.

Michael Hackett
12-21-2006, 07:54 PM
I agree, or least believe, that there is little danger of contracting disease from a dirty belt in most circumstances. In our modern world we come into contact with all sorts of hazardous situations and generally survive them quite handily. There are some organisms that are significant health risks and are very hardy indeed. Hepatitus B Virus is a case in point and is usually transmitted by body fluids, including blood. HBV is hardy and can live upwards of 72 hours in the air. By no means do I suggest that someone wearing a dirty obi will infect anyone, or everyone, simply because they are wearing an unwashed belt.

I maintain that it is unwise to expose our training partners to disease needlessly. And by needless, I mean without any real purpose. When this debate began, it was a discussion about whether washing an obi was an old Japanese tradition. Evidence has been presented that there was no such tradition and that it is a modern mythical construct. Although there isn't any true historical base for the practice, some martial artists and some martial arts dojo still practice the "tradition". So be it and good for them. Probably nothing will ever happen to them. I hope not in any event.

Outlaw bikers have a tradition of not washing their colors. That means to me that they are traditionally unkempt and dirty. If you choose to not wash your obi, then it follows that you are traditionally or untraditionally unkempt and dirty. Your choice, their choice, not mine. No semantics here.

Please drive home safely and don't forget to tip your waiter.

natasha cebek
12-21-2006, 08:12 PM
Hey Don,
Are you near NY, VT somewhere in the northeast..I'll lend you my Obi for your experiment, I have another one. I train 3-4 times a week, so it should have a sufficient amount of :yuck: life threatening microbes living in it at this point.
Seriously, I think it's a great idea, I'm curious to know what the results are.. :D
Natasha

DonMagee
12-21-2006, 08:58 PM
I'm in the middle or northern indiana. I've ordered 4 belts so far in preparation. One will be kept unopened as a control, one will be worn and not washed. One will be warn, washed, and dried. And finally one will be worn, washed, and hung to dry. All washing will be done in hot water with tide soap.

Once I find a student/lab/professor willing to help front me the lab time and know how to test the belt, I will begin be ready to go. Of course before we can start it will need to be overlooked by real scientists and make sure we are really doing a real test and not some sudo science. At that point I will post the entire project for review, suggested, or modifcations. Then I'll start.

My initial plan is to wear each belt for one month in all my classes. This is about 15-18 hours a week and will include hard sparing in bjj, judo, and possibly boxing. Normal aikido training, and lots of rolling around on the ground. The belts will be photographed, visually inspected, and smelled. All this recorded of course. The belts for washing will be washed immediately when I return home from training.

Qatana
12-22-2006, 09:34 AM
"Outlaw bikers have a tradition of not washing their colors"

Just out of curiosity, how would one wash a leather biker jacket? Or would that be too terribly off-topic?

DonMagee
12-22-2006, 10:12 AM
"Outlaw bikers have a tradition of not washing their colors"

Just out of curiosity, how would one wash a leather biker jacket? Or would that be too terribly off-topic?

I would take it to a professional cleaner. It's probably expensive, and that is why they don't do it.

mriehle
12-22-2006, 10:36 AM
http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/animals/planetearth/realmedia/

Unfortunately this link is very unfriendly to those of us who do not live in the UK.

So I'll just have to take your word for it. ;)

Michael Hackett
12-22-2006, 04:05 PM
Most of the outlaw types wear denim jackets with the sleeves cut off and the patches sewn onto the "cut off". That's worn over the other clothing and frequently over a leather jacket. You'll see some wearing leather vests with the colors sewn on, but not too often. Many also wear their "originals", a pair of jeans that are never washed. Don't the Oakland Hells Angels still ride up in your area over Labor Day weekend, Jo? I haven't worked the bikers for a few years, so I'm a little out of touch with them anymore.

deepsoup
12-22-2006, 05:34 PM
Unfortunately this link is very unfriendly to those of us who do not live in the UK.

Sorry about that, I knew the HD clips were UK only, but I thought the realmedia ones were more widely available.

The victim of the parasitic fungus in the clip was an ant.
Fortunately I don't think even a *really* dirty belt can infect a human with a fungus that will make them climb up somewhere high to die and then grow an enormous mushroom out of the back of their head which then explodes and infects anyone nearby with its deadly spores. (At least, I don't think so! :))

Qatana
12-22-2006, 07:15 PM
Don't the Oakland Hells Angels still ride up in your area over Labor Day weekend, Jo? .

You mean the Redwood Run? Thats a lot bigger than just the Oakland Angels! Thousands of bikes going up the freeway... And I guess the Angels I've come in close enough contact with to smell must be the exceptions!

Michael Hackett
12-22-2006, 07:58 PM
No, I wasn't thinking of the Redwood Run. They used to run up to Santa Rosa/Sebastopol/Petaluma around Labor Day as an HA run. Been years ago since I paid attention to what NorCal was doing.