Bjj Superstition: Do You Wash Your Belt?

Every subculture has its own set of customs that might seem bizarre to outside observers and bjj is no different.

Like the superstition around not washing your belt.

Recently, several students had shown up at class with their belts now stripe-less following a promotion several weeks earlier.
When I asked where their stripes where, they shrugged their shoulders and said that the thin strips of white tape had come off in the laundry.

“What?!? You aren’t supposed to wash your belt!” I caught myself saying.

Hold on a minute. Where does this “rule” of not washing bjj belts come from?

In the majority of academies that I have trained there was this informal rule about never washing your belt.
The black belt is symbolically the wear (and dirt!) accumulated over many years of training where the original white belt has slowly turned dark.

The superstition is that we should therefore not wash our belts lest we wash out the experience, luck or good ju-ju?
I had never washed any of my belts (seemingly suffering no ill effects) just because of this silly superstition.

Critics – and microbiologists – have rightly pointed out that it would not take long for a bjj belt to accumulate a colony of bacteria in the belt after training and sweating on the mats.

Rationally thinking about it, we would never consider NOT washing our kimonos or rash guards out of the same superstition.

I was horrified when having forgotten my kimono top and belt at a gym, they later washed and returned my kimono top and belt.
I experienced a moment of panic when I realized that they had washed my belt!

What was going to happen?!
Would I be struck by lightning?
Would I forget my techniques and have my hard learned jiu-jitsu skills washed away with the sweat and dirt?

Fortunately no such ill fortune followed.
But it makes us think about the custom and superstition of bjj belts.

Do you wash your own belt?

read also on Jiu-jitsu Times – Phheewww! My Rashguard Stinks!


  1. I’m a white belt from Brazil, Minas Gerais.

    I would like to wash my belt for higienic reasons but i don’t because of the recomentations of the graduated people of the academy.

    People here talk about tradition “because there is a time where jiu-jitsu belts have no colors…”

    I did whashed one time because i didn’t know this “rule” exist at all. Then i get scolded by a blue belt.

    After 6 months my white belt is yellow.

  2. Dont wash it when your school has a ringworm outbreak and watch everyone get confused and mad when it doesnt go away for months but continues to pass around. Then consider this “superstition” again.

  3. For a long time I didn’t wash it but I’ve changed my mind. If you don’t wash it at least put it in the freezer to kill the bacteria.

    • Freezing it won’t kill all the bacteria, it merely puts many of them in a dormant state. Just use fabric glue or use stitching to attach the stripes. Please, WASH YOUR BELT.


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