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Old 04-12-2002, 12:50 AM   #1
Erik
Location: Bay Area
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Washing Belts

There was an interesting thread over on e-budo:

http://www.e-budo.com/vbulletin/show...threadid=10302

I thought I'd tackle the same question over here. The question is do you wash your belt and why or why not?

For the record, I've been told to never wash my belt for 3 reasons:

1. Ye olde white to brown to black to white story.
2. It's tradition (not exactly the same as #1).
3. Washing removes your ki from the belt.

That last one is kind of true in a warped sort of way. Interestingly, it must have taken because I've never washed one of mine. Honestly, I kind of like a ratty belt that looks like it's been through a war or two.

So do you wash your belt?
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Old 04-12-2002, 01:17 AM   #2
Bronson
 
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The only time I've washed any of my belts is when I first got them, to set the dye. After that, nope. I don't think anybody in our dojo does for reasons #2 and #3.

Quote:
2. It's tradition (not exactly the same as #1). 3. Washing removes your ki from the belt.

Mostly I don't because my sensei and sempai don't.

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 04-12-2002, 03:48 AM   #3
JJF
 
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I sweat a lot. My belt get soaked. It smells BAD!!. I don't want to be too repulsive (at least not my odour ). I wash my belt.

It's white. Perhaps I will change my mind when I get a black belt one day to prevent loss of color. Time will show. If I stop washing it I will definately start airing it outside in the wind between trainingsessions.

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

Inspiration - Aspiration - Perspiration
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Old 04-12-2002, 04:44 AM   #4
Olaf
Dojo: Aikido Dojo Rodgau
Location: Rodgau
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Dear fellow Budoka,
I don't know where and how you train, but I do sweat a lot during class (when training and not teaching). I wash my belt (and hakama) once in a while for the same reason as Jorgen just explained.
On reason #3 - good lough! Thank you! If "my Ki" was in the belt, not only would I (have to) wear it all day, I would wear two of them! (Much like H.Ikeda Sensei's "power connectors" he pulled out of his Gi from in front of the lower abdomen, BUT he was joking!).

Happy training - and please wash your stuff once in a while!

Olaf

P.S. Some Yudansha don't (have to) wash their black belts (or hakama) -- it's not because you don't see them sweating on the mat anymore, is it? (BAD REMARK...I know)
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Old 04-12-2002, 08:35 AM   #5
Greg Jennings
Dojo: WPAFB JiuJitsu Group
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The only reason I've heard for not washing an obi is that they are prone to shrink badly.

Best,

Greg Jennings
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Old 04-12-2002, 09:12 AM   #6
Chuck.Gordon
Location: Frederick, MD
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Blush! Re: Washing Belts

Quote:
Originally posted by Erik
For the record, I've been told to never wash my belt for 3 reasons:

1. Ye olde white to brown to black to white story.


Myth. Urban legend (look up Peter Urban and his Tales of the Dojo for that reference)

2. It's tradition (not exactly the same as #1).

That's the only good reason not to wash it (unless you use a kaku obi, which should be handwashed very gently lest it disintigrate and turn into a limp span of shapeless wool).

3. Washing removes your ki from the belt.

So ... if you take a bath does you ki go down the drain?



Chuck

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Old 04-12-2002, 10:35 AM   #7
joan
Dojo: Michigan Technological University
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For what it's worth--

I've washed and dried my belts many times over the years, and haven't noticed any shrinkage.

I didn't notice any ki changes... If #3 is true, would my washing machine be like the hara of the house? And what about the septic system?

Joan
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Old 04-12-2002, 11:57 AM   #8
giriasis
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Talking

I always thought that the belt might fall apart in the washer. (I have a real cheap one from my first gi [really cheap]}.

I hand wash mine though and let it hang dry even though it still is pretty stained.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 04-12-2002, 12:19 PM   #9
Bob Heffner
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For reason #3
If you wash the belt and the Ki goes into the water, what would happen if you drank the water. Would that put the KI back into your body? What would happen if I drank everyone's wash water? :-)

Would I have super Ki!

For the record I'll skip the wash water drinking and keep what Ki I got!

Bob
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Old 04-12-2002, 01:01 PM   #10
Erik
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Quote:
Originally posted by LOEP
Snipped!
You know, I thought you might have something to say on this one.

You know, #3 is partially why I jumped all over Bruce on that other thread. That kind of ki just permeates some places.
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Old 04-12-2002, 03:31 PM   #11
Arianah
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Quote:
Originally posted by Erik
2. It's tradition
What is the tradition with this? Is there an actual origin, or is it just something that our instuctors did, and their instructors did, and their instructors did, etc.? It can't go that far back, since, as my limited knowledge understands it, the use of belts as sign of rank is a relatively recent integration, right?
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Old 04-12-2002, 03:43 PM   #12
Chuck.Gordon
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Stinky obi

Quote:
Originally posted by Arianah

What is the tradition with this? Is there an actual origin, or is it just something that our instuctors did, and their instructors did, and their instructors did, etc.? It can't go that far back, since, as my limited knowledge understands it, the use of belts as sign of rank is a relatively recent integration, right?
Arianah,

There's an old dojo legend that says if you wash your obi, you wash out all your knowledge. It's persistent, pervasive and wrong. The story goes that back in the old days, everybody just wore white belts till they got all grungy and dark, eventually black. When you belt was black (by which time, in MY belt-wearing experience, the thing would be a rag anyway), you were an expert.

It's bogus. Lots of folks like the romantic sound and feel of the tale, though.

Nobody wore anything resembling the modern judogi/karategi and obi much before the late 19th, early 20th century anyway (and there's some good evidence there was western influence on its design, too!) ...

Like so many other cherished dojo traditions, it's new, romantic and not necessarily the truth.

It is, however a neat tale!

Chuck

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Old 04-12-2002, 04:02 PM   #13
Erik
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Originally posted by Arianah
What is the tradition with this? Is there an actual origin, or is it just something that our instuctors did, and their instructors did, and their instructors did, etc.? It can't go that far back, since, as my limited knowledge understands it, the use of belts as sign of rank is a relatively recent integration, right?


Chuck will certainly know more than I, but from what I've read the use of belts came into play late in the 1800's from Kano. Colored belts came into play some time in the 30's in Europe (they were not a creation by us decadent folks in the US). Hard to have much tradition in such a small amount of time.

The reason I posted the reasons I did was that they are basically BS but I'd heard them a number of times. What was even more funny is that I've discounted them all, even told people to wash their belts, but never done it myself. I find myself to be amusingly contradictory at times.
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Old 04-12-2002, 05:30 PM   #14
guest1234
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Ah... it's springtime, and there's nothing closer to a Flight Surgeon's heart than the chance to discuss the germ theory of disease and the importance of washing (hands, gis, and other items)

I wash my gi and obi every day, and when I wore a hakama regularly I washed it once a week. I have also been accused of being a clean freak but there it is. I also sweat like a pig.

I would encourage you all to wash all items on a regular basis (ie, before folks move away from you on the mat and the dog runs from your workout bag... if in doubt, ask your wife...). My belts shrank, I just buy ones up 1 or 2 sizes.

If for any of reasons 1-3 you do not wash your obi, please please please wash your hands after tying it and before training. Thanks. Also, everyone should be washing their hands before training, if the sneeze/cough/bleed/etc on them during class (excuse yourself and go wash, we all thank you for it), and for their own sake after class, especially if you will be adjusting contact lenses, going out for a snack, etc.

This public health message brought to you free of charge...
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Old 04-12-2002, 08:10 PM   #15
lt-rentaroo
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Hello,

Colleen, are you saying that when I get sick it's because of germs and not because I washed my obi, which resulted in loss of Ki and subsequent weakening on my body's life force? And after washing the obi, I don't have to harmonize with a tree to replenish my Ki in an effort to prevent illness?

Hey, I just covered three different threads with that.

On a more serious note, I'm pretty certain that I've never washed an obi. The middle section of my body doesn't seem to sweat much and for whatever reason, my obi has never appeared to need a good washing. But, Colleen makes a good point and so I'm going to start hand washing my obi whenever I wash my hakama.

LOUIS A. SHARPE, JR.
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Old 04-13-2002, 10:21 AM   #16
ndiegel
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I washed my white belt, until it started to rip. Really, until probably my next belt, when I can get a higher quality one, I won't wash it. I've never really needed to before. My gi however...ugh. Always wash your gi.

"Expect Nothing, Be Ready For Anything"
-Samurai Battle Chant
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Old 04-13-2002, 10:51 AM   #17
guest1234
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I'm not saying belts HAVE to be washed, just one's hands after tying it. I really don't want to interfere with anyone's beliefs on Ki, or tradition. Just want to cut down on germs.

Most folks don't sweat onto their belt much (some of us do), so until it starts to really smell you are probably OK... if it smells, it is time for a new belt, or some Tide misogi on warm/cold and regular spin for the belt...

But handwashing would be nice. I don't have to touch other's belts much, so don't mind that they look terrible, but object when the hands that tie it them move to my hands/neck/jaw etc. I mean, how long would you go without washing sheets or towels, etc... on second thought, do not answer that, any of you Those belts roll around on the mat, which in some places is not quite as clean as it sould be. Those hands that touched all those other hands (some cleaner than others) in class now reach down to untie that belt... along with Ki, there are probably a few million colony counts of bacteria building up on those belts...
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Old 04-15-2002, 09:57 AM   #18
Tom
Dojo: The London Aikido Club
Location: London
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I always wash my belt along with my gi. I'm a 'clean freak' too and I like to be sure that myself and my kit are as clean as they possibly could be before going into a dojo.
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Old 04-15-2002, 06:13 PM   #19
deepsoup
Dojo: Sheffield Shodokan Dojo
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Quote:
Originally posted by Tom
I always wash my belt along with my gi. I'm a 'clean freak' too and I like to be sure that myself and my kit are as clean as they possibly could be before going into a dojo.
Thats great advice, depending on what colour your belt is! I had my red belt sneak into the washing machine with my gi a few years ago (I think it curled up and hid in one sleeve). Everyone at the dojo was very impressed by my lurid pink gi at the next session!

Sean
x
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Old 04-15-2002, 06:19 PM   #20
Pam Callea
Location: Shelton, WA
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washing belts

Hi there,
I'm always learning new things at this forum! Had no idea about the "reasons" one doesn't wash their belt. I thought folks didn't wash their belts was because it shrank too much (mine did anyway). I've found that if I tie some string to each end after washing, then attach a bungee on each end of the string and re-stretch between two posts or down a banister, letting it air-dry, I get about 3 inches back. I'm sure I'm compromising the threads & weaving in the belt to some degree. I do sweat a lot, but not enough thru my gi that it soaks my belt. I still have to wash it now and again, just not good at handling that "dirty" look. Oh well, so much for tradition. Being so new to Aikido, haven't even found my Ki, let alone able to wash it. And if I ever get to a black belt level, I think I'd want a new belt by then anyway.

Pam
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Old 04-15-2002, 06:26 PM   #21
Erik
Location: Bay Area
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Quote:
Originally posted by deepsoup
Thats great advice, depending on what colour your belt is! I had my red belt sneak into the washing machine with my gi a few years ago (I think it curled up and hid in one sleeve). Everyone at the dojo was very impressed by my lurid pink gi at the next session!
That's a Gene Lebell trick and he can wear whatever color he wants.

There's a picture of him here:

http://www.genelebell.com/news.asp
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Old 04-15-2002, 08:29 PM   #22
Arianah
Dojo: Aikido of Norwalk
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Why are all of your belts shrinking? Mine didn't very much. Just wash it (and your gi) on cold/cold, and if you put it in the dryer, put it on the lowest heat setting available. That will minimize shrinking.
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Old 05-04-2002, 12:18 AM   #23
Amendes
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I have never washed any of my belts.

However I was never told not to.

I just figured on the following reasons.

1. Traditionally there were no belts, but wariors used to have a (ohh man I cant remember the word for it.. I dont think sash is the word neither but it maybe,..) Anyway they used to wipe there hands on it and it would get dirtyer over periods of battle. Evidently you could tell how experienced they were by looking at their "sash?"

Thats the first story I was told.

And second.

2. I don't want to see what happens when a belt tangles around the spinning thing in the washing mashing.
(Yes Spinning Thing!, Im relly at a lose for words today.)
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Old 05-04-2002, 12:54 AM   #24
PeterR
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Amendes
Traditionally there were no belts, but wariors used to have a (ohh man I cant remember the word for it.. I dont think sash is the word neither but it maybe,..) Anyway they used to wipe there hands on it and it would get dirtyer over periods of battle. Evidently you could tell how experienced they were by looking at their "sash?"
That's a new one - A+ for imagination.

Not picking on you Andrew - just in a mood.

Trying to imagine neophyte warriors trampling on their obi to try an intimidate their opponents.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 05-04-2002, 02:30 AM   #25
Edward
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Well, I think it's a combination of no. 1, 2 and 3

I myself never wash my belt because of the tradition, but if it gets really dirty and smelly, the hell with the tradition. It's just not dirty enough yet. I do wash my gi daily, though.

And as far as germs go, Colleen, I wouldn't worry so much about my belt germs in a dojo full of smelly feet when I have quite often to stick my sweaty face to these sweat covered mats when being pinned. Aikido is disgusting sometimes, no?

Cheers,
Edward
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