Athletic cups. Some decide to wear them in training, some choose not to or simply don’t care. While in training you are allowed to wear one, you have to remember that in BJJ competitions, cups are banned. Judging by that, you could say you should wear one in training and then compete without it, but is it that simple?
Let’s look at some reasons why you should NOT wear a cup:
Doesn’t let you develop self-awareness.
If you ask most advanced students that don’t wear a cup, they will tell you they often find themselves in such dangerous positions, but they always have the awareness to move in such way in order to avoid blows to that area. Rolling without the cup will help you build that awareness. You will be aware that you have to protect your groin and you will start to feel dangerous situations and how to not get caught. Obviously, that will translate to competitions as well.
May hurt your partner.
Depending on how dynamic the sparring is, you could easily hurt your partner. Especially in north-south position and kimura variations from there.
May decrease technique quality.
If we think of armbars, most white belts will have problems with the groin area when they execute it. What happens afterwards? They learn to adjust so that the armbar no longer hurts their groin area and thus do it correctly. What happens with a cup? You can do the armbar however you like, furthermore you also get a solid surface to increase your leverage against the arm.
The cup isn’t all bad.
You may have legitimate medical reasons to wear it. If you suffer from any conditions or past trauma to the groin area and you have to be very careful to not get hit, then the cup is an excellent tool to help you achieve that. There have been cases, very rare though, of fractured testicles during training. This does however have to be stressed, the chances of this happened are extremely small. If however, protection is of the utmost concern to you, then a cup is the way to go.
Another thing to remember is a cup isn’t always tight on the groin area and that can cause huge issues sometimes, injuring you.
A middle way to go (although it may interrupt your training session) is to simply drill without the cup and only use it in sparring.
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