Macca's gi reeked, and for good reason. He hadn't washed it in five years and while some (including his mother, girlfriend and a few work colleagues) thought this to be unspeakable, Macca didn't care.
Having a gi that stank was a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tradition. And he was taking it to its natural limits.
In fact, Macca had been taking it beyond those limits for quite a while. His instructor had always insisted that a good gi stink was key to being a winner. Having been submitted by him time after time during sparring with only one (fluke) victory to make up for it, Macca had come to accept this superstition as gospel. And if there were any lingering doubt, he could refer to the large numbers of BJJ black belts who tried and failed to beat both his teacher and his teacher’s gi.
Logic dictated, therefore, that if Macca's gi stank more than his master's did, then he would be unbeatable. For this, Macca needed science.
Every morning, come what may, he pulled his gi out of the black rubbish bag he stored it in to maintain its moisture, hung it up on a mannequin he'd scavenged from a skip and sprayed it with a solution he'd had made up by a friend who worked at a hospital.
This was no ordinary concoction. Consisting of amniotic fluid, pond water and traces of faecal bacteria mixed in a sugar solution, the foulness was sprayed on his gi and then left to dry. Come the evening's training session, he would then don the gi and stride onto the mat at his school, his head held high. (This also helped him breathe.) With satisfaction, Macca began to notice that he started to win fight after fight during sparring.
His teacher, not given to being impressed, began to take ever more attention. The boy was beginning to show promise...
The day came when Macca was finally able to take on his master. The school had been abuzz about this showdown for some time, with all the juniors and seniors turning up en masse for the open mat session where teacher and student would finally resolve whose gi stank the worst. Also, who was the better fighter.
At first, Macca was almost overwhelmed. He only barely pummelled his way out of a guillotine, an armbar and several painful chokes. Grunting in exertion, he took a deep breath of the raw miasma emanating from his gi, and – emboldened – outflanked his master, pinning him to the mat and then making the veteran tap out with a well-executed gogoplata. The class clapped. Even the instructor had to laugh as he got to his feet and shook his pupil’s hand.
“The student has finally outstripped the teacher,” he said, sagely. “Did I mention that I entered you for a tournament next week?”
Macca was overjoyed. He’d arrived! And as his gi grew ever more foetid, so his tally of victories began to grow. Soon, the local tournaments were not enough to keep him challenged. Taking the UK championship with contemptuous ease, he marched through the European leagues, the smell of victory (and his gi) following him in his wake.
“It’s quite extraordinary!” the eminent researcher said, when they recorded a brief human interest story about Macca’s gi. “Normally, one would expect several thousand incidents of bacteria on such a garment, given the build-up over time clearly demonstrated here. And yet this suit has over three times the average density of life-threatening bacteria per square inch than any other I have examined!”
The story made Macca a minor celebrity. He had helped make MRSA cool again.
But his upward trajectory came to a shuddering halt in the USA. There, the latest developments in germ culture and textile technology had lead to BJJ practitioners growing entire ecosystems on their gis. One noted practitioner had even been legally obliged to make his wife sign a waiver in case she succumbed to any of the various virulent bacteria that dwelt on his uniform. Meanwhile, another master was forced to retire from competition altogether when his belt gave him pneumonic plague.
Macca could not compete against such filthy opponents. By comparison, his gi was freshly laundered and smelt of summer breezes and lavender. He had joined the long rank of Brits who had thought they could conquer America – only to be found wanting.
The final straw was when he took on Ajax Clearwater, a star of both mat and octagon. Even as they shook hands and began to grapple Macca was amazed to see (and smell) how clean and nicely pressed his foe’s gi was. Did he know who he was fighting? With a snort of contempt, Macca passed the guard and tried to apply a Kimura. But then he felt his strength sap all of a sudden, and Ajax knocked him aside, flipped him over and applied a brutal choke. Macca passed out before he could tap out, and his American Dream was over.
But that wasn’t the worst of it. Ajax had a secret weapon. The fibres of his gi were impregnated with a special symbiotic GMO that not only cleaned the suit automatically, but also emitted a toxin fatal to other bacterial life. This had helped weaken Macca and his gi, but then an even greater horror took hold.
Macca was all but helpless as he watched the stark beauty of algal forests, fungal blooms and bacterial colonies blacken and then wither on his gi. Soon, all traces of years of filth began to fade away. His gi was intolerably clean. He had lost the source of his power.
From then on, Macca was a broken man. Even white belts beat him time and again, and in shame he handed in his black belt and asked to be demoted to brown when a dyspraxic, cross-eyed twelve-year-old managed to make him tap out in just under 13 seconds. She had turned up to the class by mistake, and was wondering when they were going to start learning the fifth chord. He had become a laughing stock.
Indeed, it was only a short time before he was sectioned under the Mental Health Act. He was arrested one cold November night for trespassing on the property of a major football club. The security guards caught him in the septic tank, covered in ordure and wearing his gi, which he was smearing with indescribable sewage.
“Don’t you see?” he sobbed, as they lead him away. “I was only trying to recapture the magic!” But it never came back, and his gi was soon stuffed into the back of his cupboard by his mother, cleaned, starched and most immaculately folded.


Alexander Hay is the proud owner of a BJJ white belt and the cleanest gi in Christendom. He's also something of a sci-fi and fantasy writer with work published in the UK for outlets such as Jupiter Sci Fi, Polluto and Nature magazine's 'Futures' section. 'Gi Force' is his first venture into sports fiction, though other tales of hilarious ringworm outbreaks and living with groin injuries must surely await...