We all know that hygiene is crucial in both everyday life and especially in jiu-jitsu life. Sometimes, though, it seems like not everyone gets the memo.
In a room full of sweaty people grappling with each other, a bit of stink is to be expected. You’re pushing your deodorant’s ability to work overtime, and anything you’ve eaten, drunk, or smoked will try its hardest to make itself known as the smell seeps out of your pores. Your standards for smell will need to be a little lower than normal if you want to survive jiu-jitsu training.
However, we all have our limits, and most of us have encountered a rolling partner who far exceeds those limits. Maybe they’ve come from an intense manual labor job, don’t believe in applying (or reapplying) deodorant, or smell like they smoked right before walking in the door. Either way, they smell enough that you do not want to roll with them. But what’s the best way to approach this without causing them embarrassment?
The short answer is, well, they’ll probably be a bit embarrassed no matter what you say or how you say it. No one likes to be told that they stink. But it’s better than leaving them sitting on the sidelines wondering if no one wants to roll with them because they’re flat-out bad to roll with.
The long answer is that there are a few ways to handle it, and the easiest way is to approach your coach about it and let them do the talking. A statement like this is often a bit better received if it comes from an authority figure, much like most of us would rather receive constructive criticism from our boss rather than our coworkers. Passing the info on to your coach often yields better outcomes for everyone involved with minimal awkwardness.
If you’d rather get straight to the point (or you are the coach who needs to do the talking), being direct without being rude will likely solve the problem. If it’s a one-off issue, a “Hey, I think your deodorant stopped working. Mind putting a bit more on before we roll?” should do the trick. If it’s a constant issue, just tell them that the reason you don’t want to roll with them is because they smell a bit funky. A lot of people grow so accustomed to their own smell that they don’t realize that other people can smell them, and while they may be embarrassed knowing that they smell so bad that other people don’t want to roll with them, at least now they’ll know their problem is solvable.
You can refuse to roll with anyone, and you don’t owe them an explanation as to why, but being direct and tactful about hygiene issues is the best way to go for everyone involved.