What's Between YOUR Legs?
The Advantages of Wearing a Cup in Martial Arts Training
First-time students at our dojo often ask me, “If this is a self-defense art, why wear a cup? You wouldn’t wear one on the street.” To this I simply reply: “You’ll find out why when you get on the mat."
In our dojo, wearing a cup is mandatory. Even though it remains unseen, it is as much a part of our uniform as our belts, as is the case with most Can-Ryu Jiu-jitsu dojos. In Can-Ryu Jiu-jitsu, we practice our strikes in self-defense techniques with light contact. Whether it’s to the solar plexus or to the radial nerve, we make contact to ensure that we are on target on the giving end, and so we know the effects of our strikes on the receiving end.
Naturally, the groin is a common target in self-defense and we practice striking it quite commonly with knees, hands and feet. Of course, the only way you can practice targeting the groin is by actually making contact, making the cup an altogether mandatory piece of equipment.
And it’s not just for men.
Oftentimes women feel that they don’t really need a cup the way a man does. Speaking from experience, a solid strike to the groin, on a woman’s pelvic bone, can cause a lot of pain, and bruising that can last for days.
If a woman doesn’t wear a cup, her partners will be forced to be more careful when striking her. This brings about entirely different problems. In order to avoid striking the groin accidentally, partners will tend to take it easy on all their strikes, impeding the targeting development of the striker and the development of strike effect understanding of the strikee.
Cups are so routinely expected in our class that I tape a red “X” on the crotch of the pants of a student who forgets his or her cup. This practice is used at our club to indicate injury so that partners know to go easy on the marked area.
Whether your partner is wearing a cup or not, you should still exercise some caution when striking the groin. Even with a cup, you shouldn’t strike the groin with full power. The cup only does so much, so light contact is safer. At seminars when we train with students of other schools, you should always ask your partner if he or she is wearing a cup first before making any contact strikes to the groin. Not all schools have their students wear cups while training.
Lastly, I should warn everyone that there are a crazy people out there who don’t think being kicked in the groin is such a big deal. Everyone I’ve heard make the claim that they could take a shot to the groin soon regretted making the claim.