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Old 03-16-2007, 10:49 AM   #1
"non smelly aikidoka"
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personal hygiene

When we practice Aikido we have to be in close contact with each other. If you think of some techniques such as irimi nage your face can pretty much end up underneath someones' armpit.
Apart from that there is constantly touching other sweaty people etc.
My questions is what's the best way to approach someone who has poor personal hygiene. We have a couple o students in our dojo and I know it's not just me that has a problem with them as other people have raised the subject without any hinting from me.
Is it the Sensei's job to have a word? Should I have a word and if so how? Or should I just not train with these people?
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Old 03-16-2007, 11:06 AM   #2
Eric Webber
Dojo: Aikido West Reading
Location: Reading, Pa
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Re: personal hygiene

You may want to ask your sensei to make a general announcement about paying attention to clean dogi and appropriate personal hygiene before/during/after classes, to stress the importance of this practice of mindfulness. I have trained with a few "vikings" and depending on my relationship with them I have either mentioned it to the leading instructor or told them straight on "Dude, you're ripe; clean your dogi before the stench atemi kills us all."
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Old 03-16-2007, 11:11 AM   #3
Ecosamurai
 
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Re: personal hygiene

Its the individuals responsibility to look after their own personal hygiene. But of course this doesn't always happen. If it becomes a serious problem, mention it to your sensei.

Not long ago I said to someone in class that his toenails were too long. I happened to be looking at his feet while he was practicign a technique and noticed it. So I siad to him that he could injure himself and others and would he mind cutting them. He hasn't been back to training since.

Sometimes people don't like to be told these things but they need to be told them nonetheless, if they are the sort of person who would take offense at this stuff they are unlikely to be willing to accept other, more important criticisms concerning their aikido practice in general. Seeing as such criticisms are the job of the instructor I tend to view talking about hygiene as the job of the instructor too (though I don't like having to do it myself).

Regards

Mike "Woohoo!, last simulation is done, time for beer" Haft

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."
-Martin Luther King Jr
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Old 03-16-2007, 11:30 AM   #4
gdandscompserv
 
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Re: personal hygiene

Sometimes a few creative "signs" placed around the dojo help.
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Old 03-16-2007, 01:45 PM   #5
Cady Goldfield
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Re: personal hygiene

I've always been fond of the section in C.W. Nicol's Moving Zen that addressed the problem. Two Canadian students at the Shotokan karate dojo where Nicol trained in Japan, were in tolerably rude, rowdy and - worst of all - totally devoid of any sense of personal hygiene. Nicol says:

I don't know how often they bathed, but certainly neither of them ever washed their karategi. Soon everybody complained of the stink...The stench was overpowering. Angered students time and time again tossed the offending uniforms out the window. Even Donn Draeger got to hear about it and had words with them, to no avail.

Eventually, Nicol complained to one of the senior instructors, twice, and resolution of the issue was attempted by warnings from the sensei, and then, after the offending two ignored those, their expulsion.

Really, the whole issue of hygiene is a pan-social one, not restricted to the dojo. It seems that even the advice columns in the newspaper often feature complaints from some poor soul who has to sit next to a stinky person at work, has a loved one with bad hygiene habits, or other olfactory issue.

Let's face it, we are a social species that uses senses to discern social clues and cues, and draws conclusions about others from them. We respond to the way people look, smell and sound, usually in about that order. But some people are clueless about social cues and their meanings, and have to be taught (they likely never were taught by their parents or early peers). If we care about the person who wears the stinky keikogi, has a booger constantly hanging from his nostril, or laughs loudly and in an equine fashion, we try to help them by gently (at first) bringing the matter to their attention and letting them know the impact it is having on those around him or her.

In Nicol's book, he states that the two putrid students were heading for a serious beating from dan-level dojo members, probably primarily for the disrespect the stinkers showed toward their dojo, teachers and dojo mates, and secondarily for the stench itself. They were lucky that they were expelled before that came to pass.

Most of the time, people are fairly open to suggestion and may not even know that they have a problem until it's mentioned. Our sense of smell hits a fatigue point after experiencing a certain odor/chemical combination for a short period of time, which is why we often can't smell ourselves. That's where friends can be very helpful in getting us back on the right path. That goes for the booger thing, too.

Last edited by Cady Goldfield : 03-16-2007 at 01:51 PM.
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Old 03-16-2007, 09:11 PM   #6
aikidoc
Dojo: Aikido of Midland
Location: Midland Texas
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Re: personal hygiene

There seems to be a phenomenon with people with bo. They cannot seem to smell themselves. I would start with sensei and let him address it himself. A good approach is to have a dojo policy or set of rules. Talk to those who don't follow the rules.

One dojo I trained had a young girl whose family was hippy like and into natural everything and frankly her gi reaked most of the time. During blindfold practice you could smell her coming some distance away.. SOAP and WATER should not pose an issue of cost and natural soaps can be purchased.

Sometimes my students will just flat out tell more junior students to wash their gis.
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Old 03-16-2007, 10:02 PM   #7
giriasis
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Re: personal hygiene

We had one guy in particular who you could smell 4 - 5 feet away. I asked a senior student to do the honors and ask him what he does with his gi after class. He found out he just left in in his car after class and never cleaned it. After his "talk" he surprisingly did not stink any more. Sometimes people are just moronic and don't know better and need to be told, but told tactfully. I choose the "asked senior student to say something" path.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 03-17-2007, 08:57 AM   #8
Tony Wagstaffe
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Dead Re: personal hygiene

Just tell 'em plain and simple..... You stink!! Just make sure that no one else is in earshot when you do!! Its in the dojo rules isn't it? well it is in ours! Unfortunately some people do suffer from disorders, but there are enough products on the market now to alleviate those kind of problems anyway. Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind and they will appreciate you as a true friend eventually...... If they don't do something about their self imposed problem (in most cases) then they will leave.... or I will ask them to if they are not prepared to do so! At least then nobody has to play ring a ring of roses when you are next up for randori kyogi........ poouuugh !!
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Old 03-18-2007, 06:06 PM   #9
Lorien Lowe
Dojo: Northcoast Aikido
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Re: personal hygiene

Mike Haft wrote:
Not long ago I said to someone in class that his toenails were too long. I happened to be looking at his feet while he was practicign a technique and noticed it. So I siad to him that he could injure himself and others and would he mind cutting them. He hasn't been back to training since.

I got gouged in the ankle by a guy with long toenails a month or two ago; as I was headed for the women's room for a band-aid, I told him, "trim your toenails." I came back out with the bleeding staunched, kept training, and never saw him come back to the dojo after that night.
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Old 03-18-2007, 09:44 PM   #10
barry.clemons
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Re: personal hygiene

I concur with the majority of the posters; if there's a question about how to confront this individual, you shouldn't do it at all. I'd speak with either a senior instructor or the Sensei.
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Old 03-19-2007, 09:01 AM   #11
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: personal hygiene

Quote:
Barry Clemons wrote: View Post
I concur with the majority of the posters; if there's a question about how to confront this individual, you shouldn't do it at all. I'd speak with either a senior instructor or the Sensei.
That's ok...... but what if the sensei isn't too particular? In the past I have been to a couple of dojo's where that has been the case!! Suffice to say that most of the individuals that practised there were of the 'new age' variety and it didn't seem to bother them that much..... mind you it was also reflected in their practice..... sloppy and the 'why don't you harmonize with me' attitude! Obviously from the planet Pujenta of the 3rd quadrant in the 29th dimension!!: with the aroma of that earthy smoky weed substance called marijuana? mixed in with stale b.o....... freaky: Never went back!! The atemi to the nostrils forced me out of the dojo within a very short while..... bad news...
Tony
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Old 03-19-2007, 01:07 PM   #12
barry.clemons
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Re: personal hygiene

Quote:
Attilio Anthony John Wagstaffe wrote: View Post
That's ok...... but what if the sensei isn't too particular? In the past I have been to a couple of dojo's where that has been the case!! Suffice to say that most of the individuals that practised there were of the 'new age' variety and it didn't seem to bother them that much..... mind you it was also reflected in their practice..... sloppy and the 'why don't you harmonize with me' attitude! Obviously from the planet Pujenta of the 3rd quadrant in the 29th dimension!!: with the aroma of that earthy smoky weed substance called marijuana? mixed in with stale b.o....... freaky: Never went back!! The atemi to the nostrils forced me out of the dojo within a very short while..... bad news...
Tony
Atemi to the nostrils. LOL

Ok ok; I concede. I was speaking in regard to someone who did not know how to approach the situation; the best thing in that instance is to speak with someone you feel would be able to address the odoriferous offender. Personally, I'd drop the person subtle hints like 'hmm.. this mat smells a little rank; oh wait...', as i'm being pinned.
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Old 03-19-2007, 05:19 PM   #13
Jill N
Dojo: K-W Ki Aikido (Kitchener, Ont)
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Re: personal hygiene

Hi:
I suggest that if there is a problem that you notice, you should discreetly tell the offending person. Why should your poor overworked sensei have to do the dirty work? Don't forget most sensei's are volunteers, and most aikidoka are adults, and should be able to address this stuff themselves. Also, isn't it more embarrassing for the person if they know that there has been a discussion like that with sensei, about them?

If you tell them and it doesn't work, well, then, "Sensei! Can I have a talk with you?"

e ya later
Jill
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Old 03-19-2007, 06:52 PM   #14
Amelia Smith
 
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Re: personal hygiene

What's up with the toenail people? I don't understand how they could be so put off by a relatively inoffensive request. I was surprised enough at the first one (Mike Haft's post), and then a second (Lorien Lowe's post)?! Very odd, IMHO.
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Old 03-20-2007, 05:55 AM   #15
Selnith
Dojo: Cleadon
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Re: personal hygiene

i've been mauled by overly long toenails before, but it was during sparring at ju jitsu, after stemming the flow or blood i suggested to the offender that they trim their toenails and when they realised what had happened they were very apologetic and there hasn't been a problem since
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Old 03-20-2007, 10:59 AM   #16
Princess Rose
 
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Re: personal hygiene

I’ve had this problem before in my home dojo. We have signs up in the changing rooms about keeping dogi clean but sometimes this isn’t enough, when certain offenders started smelling bad the teachers started to make announcements about keeping up with hygiene after every class. When this wasn’t enough hinting for certain people, an older male teacher was asked to talk to the kid personally. Likewise, if it had been a woman with stinky issues, a senior female would have been asked. This helped for a few weeks then the student started smelling bad again. So the older male asked him again. I guess some people just need reminders to wash their dogi. But I think embarrassing the stinky person should be avoided at all costs. I thought it was a good idea for the dojo to pick out a person who would be able to talk to stinky guy with some tactfulness and not single him out in front of the whole dojo. Also, picking the right person who could make him feel comfortable would be key. For example, the stinky guy in question was a guy in his early twenties. If I, a nineteen year old girl, had told him he smelled bad I think he would be more embarrassed than when the 50 + year old guy told him. Same would be true for me, I’d rather have an older woman tell me I stink than a young guy.
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