When I started Judo, I wanted to know if I needed to wear an athletic cup for practice since wearing cups is very common in combat sports. I decided to take a look into the details of whether or not a cup is important to use in Judo.
You should not wear a cup in Judo. Wearing a cup in judo is not allowed in International Judo Federation (IJF) competition settings including the Olympics. Impacts to the groin area are also relatively rare in Judo, and wearing a cup comes with its own risks.
Now that we know that it isn’t a good idea to wear a cup in judo, let’s take a look at some of the considerations that make it a bad idea and training and what other factors you need to consider when deciding whether or not you should use a cup.
Should You Wear a Cup in Judo?
Wearing a cup in Judo is not a good idea, IJF rules for competitions do not allow the use of a cup. In training, using a cup comes with personal risk as well as risk to training partners also encourages training different motor patterns than those you would use without a cup.
Personal Risk of Using a Cup in Judo
Since Judo is a sport with a lot of dynamic movement the risk of having the cup move into a place where it can cause testicular injury is relatively high. Since the overall risk of getting hit in the groin is low, it doesn’t make sense in terms of risk to reward to wear a cup in Judo to protect yourself.
Risk to Training Partners When Using a Cup in Judo
In judo there are a number of submissions that go across the area where a cup would be, having a hard plastic cup effectively acting as a fulcrum adds extra danger due to the additional leverage against your training partner’s joints and other body parts that get trapped in that area.
Training the Wrong Motor Patterns
Due to the dynamic nature of Judo and the intensity with which it is performed minor adjustments to your motor patterns are very impactful. Since you are not allowed to use a cup in Judo competition it doesn’t make a lot of sense to do your practice with a cup which will change the way you move your body to execute techniques.
Can You Wear a Cup in Judo Competition?
For competitions that follow the rules of the International Judo Federation, which includes the Olympics, athletic cubs are not allowed to be used in competition. This is primarily due to the fact that it can be used as a lever point when doing armbars and other submissions.
When Should You Use a Cup While Training Judo?
In almost every circumstance you should not use an athletic cup while training Judo, however, some medical concerns like injuries to the testicles or recovering from her from vasectomy surgery can justify it. Talk to your instructor for permission first.
When you have medical concerns that extend to your genitals causing discomfort, tenderness, or increased injury risk in that area then you should wear a cup.
If you need groin protection for medical reasons, I recommend this athletic cup (available on Amazon.com).
Some common testicular injuries in sports can be found here, and it is possible, but unlikely for it to happen while practicing Judo.
Some of the more common medical reasons where you would want to wear an athletic cup for extra protection are:
- Vasectomy Surgery Recovery – in order to ensure that everything remains tied off and healing appropriately you need to protect the area for some time after the surgery.
- Testicular Injuries – if you have sustained testicular injuries in the past such as a testicular rupture or contusion you might have significantly increased sensitivity to accidental contact. In this case, it might make sense to incorporate the use of an athletic cup in your training until it is healed up, just keep in mind you cannot compete with one on.
Talk to your instructor if you have extenuating circumstances that make protecting your genital area of increased importance. If a light contact is going to cause extreme discomfort or you need extra protection for post-surgery recovery then make sure to put one on or simply stay off the mats until you have recovered.
Are There Alternatives to Using an Athletic Cup for Judo?
- Jockstrap Without Athletic Cup – using a jockstrap without a cup will pull your vulnerable bits up and out of the way during your training sessions so accidental contact is less likely.
- Compression Shorts – using compression shorts can also keep your groin area outside of harm’s way. I prefer using this method personally and wear these compression shorts to most of my training sessions.
- Supportive Underwear – if you already own tighter more supportive underwear the easiest thing you can do is switch to those instead of loose-fitting boxers.
- Awareness – train with more awareness to avoid situations where groin contact is less likely. You might change which moves you execute or defend certain techniques more than others.
I would avoid using any form of athletic cup in Judo for my personal training. Judo does not have a particularly high chance of impacts to the groin so for me going with more supportive underwear and wearing compression shorts underneath my gi feels sufficient to me.
If I were protecting some kind of groin injury, I would probably just take time off mats instead. If you train multiple martial arts maybe switch your focus until things are all healed up. You could also simply work on conditioning or solo drills where the risk of aggravating a groin injury is minimal.
For more check out Do You Wear Shoes in Judo?