SO YOU ARE STARTING MARTIAL ARTS… Congratulations! Time to choose your cup!
One truth in all martial arts is that it's a contact sport! And contact means everything from holds, hits, and in most disciplines, kicks to and from your opponent. This is part of the draw and excitement of martial arts. Even children participate in many martial arts, so it must be pretty safe, right?
Most martial arts don’t allow groin hits, so it's safe.
Accidental groin hits are very common in most martial arts styles.
It's just a matter of time until you will receive a low blow
If you practice your art long enough, you will take a hit in the groin or pelvic, and you will feel it. The groin is an easy place to accidentally strike being so near the waist, especially in disciplines involving standing kicks, like MMA.
Anyone with even a passing understanding of the martial arts knows that Krav Maga training is considered the most dangerous style to train in. It is not a sport, after all, and groin attacks are simply a part of it and even encouraged. Obviously, it would be pretty foolish not to wear a very high-quality athletic cup.
But the same is true for nearly all styles and disciplines.
Thai Boxing (Muay Thai) is well known for groin kicks in particular and is a popular sport. Groin kicks or low blows are illegal, but its fast-paced nature is well known for accidental low blows. Youtube has plenty of cringe-worthy examples. Again, good quality athletic cups are a must!
But what about the less aggressive types, like taekwondo?
Sure, some martial arts are riskier, but some are very safe.
Any contact sport has the risk of hits to the male groin.
Hits can result in anything from pain, severe pain, or a trip to a doctor’s office. Men, teens, and even boys should and must wear groin protection for any martial arts training. This is unfortunately sometimes overlooked with boys because parents don’t think kicks and hits are that hard. They don't have to be hard since the testicles are so sensitive to impact.
Know the risks, then pick a quality athletic cup and support system that works best.
There are no "one-size-fits-all" type solutions in martial arts. There is a difference between Aikido at one end and MMA at the other, and the risks between them are significant. However, groin hits are still likely in both.
Ok, I will get hit in the groin at some point. How do I prepare?
This is where the selection of a groin protection system comes into focus. Groin Protection or Pelvic Protection is not just a cup. In fact, the cup is rather useless if it is not in place when you get hit there. Even the best quality cups have to have a superior method to keep them in place. Some are "shove it in a pocket," jockstrap-type, or use non-adjustable cords or bands to try to hold it in place. Look for products that have well-designed methods of controlling where the cup is at all times.
It is very important to pick both a high-quality, well-designed athletic cup and a well-designed support system to keep it in place.
In Martial Arts, any standard sports cup is as good as anything else.
Many newly designed athletic cups are designed and manufactured by people who participate in martial arts themselves. They know the challenges of protecting the groin first hand.
The large "big name" sportswear manufactures don't specialize in groin protection let alone the martial arts. However, some more focused companies can make cups and support systems designed and tested specifically for martial arts. These better-designed cups should also be held in place by clothing or attachment types that are designed to ensure the cup doesn't move during leg lifts and other martial arts-specific moves. But you must check this with each product to make sure!
It is crucial to research which high-quality and well-designed groin protection product to wear.
It is that cup that will take the kick, hit, or grab, and that is not the time to discover that it is not effective.
Sports Injury Researcher, United States
Photo by Ashima Pargal