HYGIENE IN JIU JITSU
Jiu Jiteros are hygiene nuts. It comes with the territory. Every athlete of every rank understands the risk of staph, ringworm, folliculitis, and the common cold on the mat. We’ve all stood at attention after rolling, receiving the daily announcements from our professors, and at least once in all our histories, we’ve been warned about the risk of infection and disease.
We are told to clip our nails, wash our gis, and shower within an hour of rolling. A dirty Kimono left on the floor is a petri dish of bacteria. These concepts are basic, but occasionally in our journeys, something new and scary will arise. This “something” might be COVID-19.
CORONAVIRUS AND JIU JITSU
Over the last month, Jiu Jitsu academies across Asia have seen students expressing concern about COVID-19; their student’s reactions have ranged between sensationalist panic to nonchalance. Understanding this outbreak, and the associated risks are the best way to prepare ourselves and our community. Here’s what you need to know:
Coronaviruses are a type of virus affecting mammals and birds. They are zoonotic, spreading from animals to people, meaning even the largest blue belt gorilla on the mat is at risk. Coronavirus causes illnesses ranging from common colds to Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome And SARS. The strain that is coming out of Wu Han China, and dominating our headlines, is a Novel Coronavirus.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT COVID-19?
Originating from the Chinese province of Wuhan this Virus is both deadly and infectious. COVID-19 has a transmissibility rate of 2.6; implying that an infected athlete can infect 2.6 others unless quarantined. So far there have been over 800, 000 reported cases with more than 40, 000 deaths. Currently, there’s no information on whether any of these have been Jiu Jitsu practitioners). At the moment, there are no clear statistics on the Covid-19 Coronavirus, simply because it is still spreading across the world. However, the mortality rate is estimated at being less than 2%.
The virus is spread through close personal contact with infected individuals by coughing and sneezing, therefore it is perfectly reasonable to assume that infections can occur while grappling. Coronavirus also has a long incubation period of fourteen days. This means that should an athlete, or an athlete’s loved ones carry the virus, they will not show symptoms for up to two weeks. This combination of circumstances makes it clear that Coronavirus is a risk that should not be taken lightly. This being said, there are a few measures that can be taken in the prevention of this (and really any) virus while on the mat.
First, pay attention to the news. While not being as exciting as the UFC or Jiujitsulegacy.com, keeping an eye on the progress of this disease is key to keeping yourself and your teammates safe and healthy. Ask yourself the following questions: Has the virus entered my region? How quickly does it seem to be spreading? Do I trust my local medical and government services to identify and handle an outbreak effectively? Understanding the answers to these questions will better prepare you for our next step: prevention.
THE WORLD ON LOCKDOWN – SERIOUS COVID-19 PREVENTION MEASURES
It is clear by now that the virus has the ability to spread, and it does so at quite an alarming rate. At this moment, the Covid-19 virus is present in well over 150 countries in the world, and that numbers rising constantly. What was perceived as something not really serious at first, ahs put a halt to all day-to-day operations across the world. And, unfortunately, that also includes training Jiu-Jitsu.
As of this moment, there are only a few regions in the world that do not have cases of the Covid-19 Coronavirus. this has led to the implementation of serious epidemiological measures to stop the spread of the virus. With the WHO now officially treating the virus as a pandemic, we need to be serious about following the recommended measures.
Europe has been completely shut down by the virus, and the USA is not far behind. so far, due to the Coronavirus outbreak, many major sports even were canceled. From all the biggest soccer leagues in Europe to UFC events in the States. Following recommendations, most BJJ academies in affected areas have closed down for the duration of the emergency measures. Not fun, but entirely necessary.
The measures that the governments now recommend, based on WHO guidelines are those of social isolation. That means people should not leave their homes unless absolutely necessary. All work should be conducted from home, and all large gatherings of groups over 5 people are either banned or discouraged.
Put simply, the world is in lockdown. What we need to understand is that this virus spreads fast. IT is not as deadly as people think, but if you come in contact with a sick person, you most certainly become the carrier. And, while you might not be in a category that’s at a high risk of mortality form the infection, you might spread it to those that are. So, the smartest thing, for now, is following the measures of a quarantine imposed or recommended by officials.
RECOGNIZING THE SYMPTOMS
How do you know if you have the Covid-19 Coronavirus? Well, the initial symptoms include coughing, fatigue, possible headaches, and a fever. Worry not, most of the people that contract the virus actually go through it with just mild flu-like symptoms. However, you should still react as per the guidelines in your area if you suspect that you have the virus.
First and foremost, do not head to a hospital or a pharmacy. Instead, call the dedicated number in your areas (every country has its own) and trained professionals will likely visit you in your home and conduct testing. Testing for the Coronavirus involves a molecular method called PCR that recognizes the virus’s genetic sequence. It is very precise, fairly quick and done off of a blood sample.
The Covid-19 virus takes two weeks to present symptoms if it does. That means that the 14 day incubation period is the least a quarantine should last. Whether you’re in self-isolation at your home, or in a hospital, stay there for at least 14 days, again, following any and all official guidelines. The goal at this point is letting the virus run its course, as it has already spread all around the world.
The virus is only dangerous to a very specific part of the population – those that are elderly, those with preexisting pulmonary conditions, as well as those that have more severe chronic illnesses. The goals of all the emergency measures are to keep these people from contracting the virus.
WEATHERING THE STORM
Coronavirus is avoidable. If living in a region with outbreaks, athletes should avoid people who are sick or areas where sick people congregate. Wash your hands frequently and wear a surgical mask. Traveling and flying at this point is impossible, so there’s no real need to point out how to stay safe during travels.
When it comes to training Jiu Jitsu, it is hard on all of us, but we must comply with the measures in place. keeping an academy open in a situation like this is irresponsible and selfish. Le’ts just stay at home for a couple of weeks and see it as a vacation. For everyone training, though, remember that there are many things you can do to stay engaged during the duration of the outbreak. your academy might be closed now, but that’s no reason to stop training BJJ altogether. In fact, your academy will need you the most when it re-opens, so keep the fire burning.
While in isolation, take care of your health and your body. Avoid over training and excessive weight cutting as these activities can lower your immune system. Maintaining a healthy diet and rest regimen is your best defense against every illness, be it COVID-19 Virus or the common cold.
Finally, do not panic. While this pandemic is serious, it is not as dangerous as people think. Yes, there are deaths as a direct result of the virus, but all of them are in a very specific population, like discussed before. that said, the virus has brought countries like China and Italy to their knees.
Act early, follow the measures, and ensure you are staying safe and protected. The virus is not a very resilient one and our immune systems can beat it on their own, so just buckle up and weather the storm.
Even after the outbreak ends, though, we’ll need to stay alert, especially when training Jiu Jitsu. Namely, athletes should stick to the basics and monitor the situation. Introducing hand sanitizers and a bit more overall gym hygiene is something gym owners should look into. As for athletes, wash your Gis, clip your nails, don’t train when you are sick, protect your neck, and maintain a good base: the basics.
Bryn is an American Purple Belt dividing his time between rainy Taipei, Taiwan and sunny Hochiminh City, Vietnam. He holds a master’s in Asian studies and is fluent in Chinese. He enjoys photography, writing, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Check out more of his photography on IG @High_Mountain_Green