Monday, June 23, 2008

Why We Wear Groin Protectors

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 my Vancouver Jiu-jitsu dojo, wearing a groin protector is mandatory. Even though it remains out of sight, it is as much a part of our uniform as our belts, as is the case with pretty much all 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 brachial plexus or to the lateral femoral nerve (charlie horse), 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 regularly with knees, hands and feet. Of course, the best way to practice targeting the groin is by actually making contact, making the groin protector an altogether mandatory piece of equipment.

And it’s not just for men.

Oftentimes women feel that they don’t need a groin protector 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 striking her. This brings about entirely different problems. In order to avoid striking the groin accidentally, partners 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.

Groin protectors are so routinely expected in our class that I tape a red “X” on the crotch of the pants of a student who forgets their groin protection. This practice is usually used to indicate injury so that partners know to go easy on the marked area.

Whether your partner is wearing a groin protector or not, you should still exercise some caution when striking the groin. Even with one, a strike the groin with a lot of power behind it is still felt. The cup only does so much, so light contact is safer. At seminars when we train with students of other schools, I remind my students to ask their partners if he or she is wearing groin protection first before making any contact strikes to the groin. Not all schools have their students wear them 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.

3 comments:

Antipodean Charm said...

How could I resist commenting.

Ladies: I have personally witnessed the damage that Sensei has caused to a woman's groin with her shin. For further details - read Sensei's book!

I have also witnessed male stupidity about not wearing a cup... and seen the drongo crawl off the mat after a well-placed groin flick.

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