Concern about the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has been on the rise across the country, martial arts schools are no exception.
On the Century Facebook pages, we’ve seen many posts about this new disease: school owners sharing ideas for alternative, no-contact high-fives or asking for advice – “How do I tell my students and parents that I’m increasing the regular cleaning at my school, without worrying them?” Many of them are offering free make-up sessions to students who miss class for sickness (any sickness, not just coronavirus), or setting up online training for students who take a voluntary leave from training.
While all schools can implement the first two measures, cleaning and reduced contact, not all have the resources to provide the second two. And besides that, not all students want to miss training or sit out if they’re not sick. So if you and/or your child are healthy and don’t have a preexisting condition that compromises your immune/respiratory system, you don’t need to pull out of training just yet. If you want to continue to train, here’s what you need to know:
- Most documented cases of coronavirus have occurred in individuals between 30 and 69 years of age.
- Those at highest risk of developing severe complications are individuals 60+ with preexisting conditions.
- Coronavirus symptoms range from very mild to severe/requiring hospitalization.
- Coronavirus is spread most easily through close contact, from inhaling respiratory droplets expelled when a sick person coughs or sneezes. It is less likely to be spread through surface contact (touching a surface that has previously been touched by a sick person), although this is also a concern.
So, the first-best thing you can do to stop the spread of coronavirus is to stay home when you’re feeling under-the-weather. Go to the doctor, and take care of yourself! Practice good hygiene: wash your hands regularly, cough or sneeze into your elbow and not your hands, and don’t touch your face.
Martial arts uses a lot of gear and equipment. It’s always a good idea to clean your gear after training (if for the odors alone), but you should take particular care to wash your gear after every class if your goal is to prevent illness.
HOW TO CLEAN GEAR
Some gloves, like C-Gear Sport and Americana Gloves and Strive Gloves, are machine washable. These are the easiest to take care of, since you can simply throw them through a wash cycle, then a dryer cycle, and know they’re clean. Open-hand sparring gloves like P2 and Student Sparring Gloves are also simple to clean because you can easily cover the entire area with spray or a wipe.
Closed-finger and boxing style gloves can be a little more difficult, since you need to make sure to clean all the way into the enclosed fingers/thumb. One way to do this is by wrapping an antibacterial wipe around your fingers and reaching into the glove, then moving your hand around to clean it. Allow your gloves to try properly, too – don’t just let them sit in your bag between classes. Place them in you garage, backyard, balcony, porch, etc. And remember, no matter how well you can wash your gloves, you still always need to wash your hands after wearing!
If you don’t already have your own gloves, and are using your gym’s communal gloves, now is a great time to invest in your own. And hold off on sharing them, for a while.
Again, some sparring gear (the entire C-Gear Sport and C-Gear Americana lines) is machine washable. If you have that option, take it – it’s your best, and easiest, option for cleaning. For other sparring gear, make sure to wipe it down with an antibacterial agent and let it dry.
Clean your mouthguard thoroughly, and don’t forget the case! Although antimicrobial cases are great choices and offer some protection against bacteria, it is important to remember that they do not kill viruses like those that cause strep throat, colds, and coronavirus. Soak both the case and guard in either 90% isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) or a 1:10 bleach-to-water solution. Make sure you rinse them thoroughly afterwards Note: NEVER mix rubbing alcohol and bleach.
Wash these as soon as possible after every class, and try to avoid lounging around the house in your used gi. If your training schedule and daily schedule conflict in such a way that you usually wear a uniform multiple times in a row without washing, this would be a fantastic time to either buy another uniform, or ask your instructor about giving you a temporary exemption from the dress code.
Also, as always, when you wash your uniform, wash your belt.
The nice thing about most weapons is that they’re easy to clean. Wipe them off with a sanitary wipe, or rubbing alcohol (or bleach mixture) on a rag or paper towel. Just be sure that if your weapon has a paint/polish/finish, that you’re not using anything that can damage it.
Be safe, and happy training!
Want more info? The CDC website is a great resource.