It still amazes me to this day how many people show up to class without an athletic cup. I am not talking about the occasional lapse (“Dangit! I took it off and forgot to put it back in the bag last night!!”) but rather the student who somehow thinks that wearing an uncomfortable and weirdly shaped piece of plastic held to their groin with nylon straps is somehow optional. As a fellow student once quipped, “I wear my cup to the school’s bake sales!”
Incidentally, this advice goes for women as well as men, in case you were wondering. Sure, getting kicked mightily in the groin as a guy makes you wish you had become a monk for a couple of minutes but from what I’m told, getting hit in the groin is no picnic for women either.
In this day and age, there are a lot of options for athletic cups. Gone are the days when the only option you had was an ill-fitting plastic triangle that mashed you into odd, contorted angles. These still do exist but nowadays, without too much trial and error, you can find a higher-caliber cup that’s right for you. And despite the frequent use and abuse, I’ve found that a modest investment in a quality cup will last for many years. I’d go as far as to say that it’s one of the few pieces of training equipment that you might only have to buy once a decade.
It bears pointing out that, no matter how amazing and high-tech a cup is, no matter how well designed it is, it will never, ever, ever be able to fully protect you from 100% of the impact. Unfortunate but true. This is particularly true of a groin kick — a staple of Krav Maga. Sure, it will disperse the majority of the blow and let you walk away from it but when it comes to getting hit from below, it is really not possible to engineer groin protection to handle those low angles. That being said, you will still be fine with a good quality cup, no matter what angle. Just be aware that these are not going to make all hits to the groin pain-free.
Where do you begin? Kind of depends on your budget but, if you were going to choose just one single piece of training equipment to splurge on, an athletic cup would be it! In the grand scheme of things, the price gap between a cheapo cup and a top-of-the-line model one is not all that big. Let’s begin on the top — the best ones to consider. From there we’ll work our way down to the more modest cups that you should only consider if you aren’t sure you’ll stick with training or if you are on an extremely tight budget. Before choosing one, consider how long you are in the training game for. If you are in it for the long haul — say, 3 years or more — my advice would be to go for the best you can get your hands on.
Starting with my current favorite we have the Diamond MMA cup. Although this cup looks like a confusing tangle of nylon straps out of the package, with a little patience it is not all that bad and the straps do their job quite well, keeping the cup securely placed and ready to protect you from even the most savage strikes and kicks. This kind of cup starts first with a pair of compression shorts (over your undies), then the jock, which had a “pocket” for the cup to be inserted. It is a really good fit and allows for lots of mobility — even grappling. I find it comfortable enough to install before driving to school and often leave it on for the drive home, only removing when I get home to shower. A bit on the pricey side, sure, but as was said before, this should last you a decade (straps not withstanding). With average wear (2 or 3 times a week) and common-sense care (no drier), you can probably expect the harness to last a good couple of years. They do sell them separately so you can get a new one when it wears out or one to use as a spare. If you don’t like the strappy model, there’s another variation of the Diamond MMA cup which is made up of a longer pair of compression shorts equipped with a pocket. I haven’t tried this model but have no reason to think it isn’t effective or comfortable.
Runner up, and still one of my favorites is the humorously named Nutty Buddy. This is a great cup and the one I started with years ago. No complaints at all with this one. High enough quality to last for many years and no issues at all with comfort. This one is installed more of less like the Diamond except the jock doesn’t have a pouch to hold the cup. I have never found that to be an issue — neither this nor the Diamond ever slip around. They stay put comfortably and really protect you from serious strikes.
If you want to go for a far more economical, more widely known cup, head over to see the Shock Doctor Core Supporter. I know many people who swear by these but I also see many of these same guys making a bee-line for the men’s room after class because they can’t wait to remove the cup. Not exactly a ringing endorsement to me but, as I said, they do have their fans. I myself tried this style years ago and still have one as an emergency stand-by in my bag. I just personally never found them to be the least bit comfortable. Too triangular, with the peak facing downwards. Considering the male anatomy for a second, this doesn’t translate to a good fit.
After these cups you have a weird kind of cup whose gimmick is that cup is made of steel instead of plastic. I suppose if you’re planning on getting hit in the groin with a crowbar or jackhammer, a steel cup might be a stellar idea. For the rest of us, it is a little excessive. And, let’s face it, the real effectiveness of a cup is not so much what material the cup is made of but rather how it fits and disperses the impact. That’s it. If you manage to fracture or shatter any of the cups above during your routine training, you might consider another partner. Nevertheless, there are some people out there who do swear by them, possibly because of their performance rather than the material. For that reason, I present you with the RDX MMA Abdo Guard Groin Cup Boxing Adult Abdominal Protector. This has its fans, as I said. And if you’re concerned about your cup shattering, perhaps this is the one for you.
So there you have it. A list of good cups to choose from. Given how much money you likely spend per month in training, and the sheer number of times you are likely to get whacked in the groin, you have no excuse and owe it to yourself — and your partner — to get some quality groin protection. Now you can do away with all the sad excuses so whenever anyone asks you before a drill if you have a cup on you can smirk and say, “Of course I do.”