Should You Wear a Cup in Karate?

Karate as a martial art has little in the way of specific gear requirements for its students. However, there are some basic pieces of equipment like athletic cups that many martial arts and combat sports tend to use. I looked into whether or not it is a good idea to include a cup in your Karate gear bag.

You should wear an athletic cup to Karate training since it includes striking and in some schools even strikes to the groin. If you are planning to compete in a Karate tournament you should wear or not wear a cup in class based on if you would compete with one in the tournament ruleset.

Now let’s take a deeper look and help you to determine whether or not wearing a cup in Karate class is the right decision for you.

Should You Wear a Cup in Karate Classes?

Wearing an athletic cup really depends on the norms at your dojo and whether or not sparring is included in the training. If you are sparring you really should prioritize wearing a cup in most circumstances because getting hit in the groin is far more likely during sparring than in other forms of training.

Train Your Karate Motor Patterns For Your Purposes

The choice of whether or not you should be wearing an athletic cup for Karate mostly rests upon your goals of training. Somebody who is training for competition is different from somebody who is training in a casual dojo for fun which is also different from somebody who is training for self-defense.

Should You Wear a Cup in Karate Competition

If you are currently training for a competition you need to be training with or without a cup based on whether or not your competition requires or restricts the use of an athletic cup. This can vary based on specific competitions, with display competitions being markedly different than fighting competitions.

Should You Wear a Cup in Karate for Self-Defense

If you are training in Karate with a focus on becoming as competent in self-defense as possible, you need to be training in at least some classes without a cup. If you train without a cup you will be familiar with how to bring your body through those motor patterns that are connected to self-defense techniques without wearing a cup.

Alternatives to an Athletic Cup for Karate

If you can’t or don’t want to wear an athletic cup in Karate for some reason, there are some other options available that can help you reduce the chances of getting hit in the groin. Most of these come down to keeping things out of the way of strikes.

For the most part, use supportive underwear, compression shorts, or a jockstrap to minimize the chances of getting hit directly in the groin. All of these options do basically the same thing and are reasonably equivalent.

I always wear these compression shorts (Amazon Link) underneath my uniform for all of my martial arts training. They are comfortable as well as high quality and have lasted several years for me so far at what I consider to be a good value in terms of price.

The other thing that you can do to prevent yourself from taking a shot to the groin is to practice good body awareness during partner drills and sparring. This alone can prevent most groin-strike-type accidents from occurring.

Final Thoughts

When deciding whether or not you should be using a cup in Karate, you really need to focus on what your goals for training are. Your answer may differ based upon dojo norms, if you are competing in a tournament, training for self-defense, or simply training casually for fun.

I personally train with compression shorts on for most martial arts and don’t absorb very many hits to the groin, but I did wear a cup while I was learning and didn’t have as much awareness.

For more check out How Often Should You Train Karate?


Hi, I'm Andre and I am the author of this website. I currently train primarily in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu but supplement with other grappling martial arts as well as help to coach my kid's blended grappling program.

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