Belts in BJJ hold a twofold value. Not only does it help hold together one’s gi but also display rank within the sport’s progression. It is, therefore, possible for a practitioner to rely on a single belt to use with different gis. Because of this, it is reasonable to be careful about the wear and tear on one’s BJJ belt.
BJJ belts shrink if put in a dryer because of the heat used by dryers to evaporate moisture. You can expect the belt to shrink by up to a size with as little as one dryer session, depending on the fabric. Repeated drying sessions can shrink the belt even further.
In this article, we will cover how to best dry your BJJ belt for minimal shrinkage and how you can take care of your martial arts gi. We will also discuss some BJJ essentials you must have to enhance your performance in and out of the gym.
How to Dry a BJJ GI?
BJJ belts are made of fabric, as is the martial arts gi. It is therefore advisable to take care of both the gi and belt in a similar way to avoid damaging them. Dryers are a great way to remove water from drenched clothes like jeans and even office pants. But fabric like cotton is sensitive to shrinkage, and most martial arts gis and BJJ belts are made of fabric that shrinks similarly when put through a head dryer.
For the sake of fabric’s longevity, hand wash the gi and the belt with cold water, preferably immediately after use. This way, you get rid of the smell and the sweat before it has had the chance to stain the clothes. Once you have washed the gi and the belt, let it air dry. The time it will take to completely air dry depends on the region and the environment.
You may need to have at least two gis if you practice daily. That way, each gi will have sufficient drying time, and you will not need to pop the belt and the gi in the dryer because of urgency.
How to Take Care of Your GI
Most quality martial arts gis cost a pretty penny. That is why you may have to be very careful not to let the gi take any more damage than it has to. Follow the best practices listed below to ensure your gi’s longevity.
Don’t Bleach Your GI
While bleach is often used with white fabrics and most gis are white in color, you should bring bleach nowhere near your martial arts gi. The reason for this is the bleach’s corrosive nature and its tendency to weaken the fabric. When using bleach, the person washing the cloth makes a trade on the fabric’s integrity for its appearance. While this would be great to make a pair of thick pants look brighter, it will ruin your gi quite rapidly.
Don’t Wash Your GI With Other Clothes
While it is a rule of thumb to wash white clothes separately, it is worth sitting individually. Even light clothes can release weak dye, and having your gi colored in the dye released by your laundry is not going to make you happy.
Another reason why you should not wash your gi with other clothes is that you want to minimize the gi’s exposure to water. So even an all-white laundry load is not a great place for your gi because the rounds it takes in your washing machine are probably brutal for your gi. Rely instead on washing the gi separately by hand.
Turn Your GI Inside Out While Washing
This is going to be especially helpful if your gi has a lot of patches. When you turn the uniform inside out, you are protecting the cloth’s exterior from stress and exposure to water and detergents. Colored gis have been reported to fade when washed on the outside. This is another drawback you can avoid by turning the gi inside out.
Spot-Clean Where Possible
Supposed you got some blood on your gi, how are you going to deal with that? If you hadn’t read this article, you might have popped it in the washing machine and run warm water over it. While the warm water would shrink the fabric, it would also bond the stain to the fabric. Instead, opt for spot cleaning, just the area where there is blood. Some Gi’s for beginners come preshrunk and require a cold water wash only.
Use 3% Hydrogen Peroxide to remove the fresh stain. To do this appropriately, take a rag or a q-tip (whichever best fits the size of the stain) and dip it in the cleaning solution. Bring the rag or the q-tip over the stain and let the solution transfer onto the stained area. You may hear a faint fizz. Let the solution sit on the applied area for a while before washing it with cold water. If the stain is removed sufficiently, let the gi air dry.
If there is a faint stain remaining, repeat the steps listed till the stain is gone the best it can. If you hit a point of diminishing returns, stop applying more Hydrogen Peroxide as that won’t help anymore.
Use Vinegar as a Detergent
There are two reasons to wash your gi. The first is that the gi has stains. For that, using vinegar is not recommended because vinegar will most likely help set the color of the stain into the fabric. But the other reason, which is more common, to wash a gi is because it stinks from one’s sweat.
To remove the smell, you will have to neutralize the stink-causing bacteria. For this, a cup of vinegar diluted in a single laundry load’s worth of water works wonders. Make sure that you use cold water to dilute the vinegar because you don’t want the gi to shrink because of temperature.
BJJ Essentials Aside From a GI
Of course, gis are essential to one’s participation and performance on the mat. But as time passes, new utilities, enhancers, etc. get introduced to the game. While many of these turn out to be fads rejected by the purists of the community, some have found a place in the hearts of many and have become a performance staple.
What else is crucial to anyone competing or training in BJJ or MMA is a big enough training bag that can carry all your essential gear and wet clothes. Not all bags have enough space to carry your clean gi, shoes for training, and washroom gear – ensure you do your research!
Jockstraps protect the athletes’ groin area, especially during strikes. Because they guard against strikes, they’re much more popular in kickboxing, MMA, and other sports that involve more direct strikes.
As a sport predominantly centered around grappling, it took some time before jockstraps became a norm for many practitioners. During certain guard escapes, players have unintentionally kneed and elbow-hit fellow sparrers in the groin. We highly recommend using a jockstrap and have listed some of the best jockstraps on the market for BJJ.
While strikes are not a major part of the sport, someone trapped in a hold or a strong guard can thrash around and try to do anything to get out of the position.
You do not want to rely on your opponent’s respect for the rules of the sport to protect your teeth, lips, and gums when you can simply get yourself a mouthguard and hedge against the potential risk of getting elbowed in the mouth. If you would like to protect your teeth and lips from such accidents, we recommend you check out our dedicated post listing the best mouthguards for MMA.
Final Thoughts – Do BJJ Belts Shrink?
BJJ belts can shrink when put in a dryer that rapidly warms the fabric to evaporate the water. The shrinkage can lead to the belt, and even the gi, being almost unusable. To avoid this, it is advisable to handwash the gi and the belt with cold water and to let the fabric air dry if possible.