Should You Wear a Cup in Kung Fu?

Anytime I start a new martial art I want to make sure that I have all the protective gear that I need. So when I looked into Kung Fu I wanted to know if using an athletic cup or groin guard is something that is normal and necessary in this martial art.

Wearing an athletic cup is not necessary for most Kung Fu classes. If your classes include live sparring or partner drills in which impacts to the groin are likely, wearing a groin guard can be beneficial. In competition settings that include sparring wearing a cup is typically mandatory.

Now that we know a little bit about athletic cups in relation to Kung Fu training, let’s go over some other considerations and details that might help you make your decision on whether or not wearing an athletic cup is the right choice for you.

Should You Wear a Cup in Kung Fu Classes?

In most schools, wearing an athletic cup is not necessary since accidental impacts to the groin are rare in most classes. This is because sparring and intense partner drills are not typically included in most Kung Fu classes. Also, wearing an athletic cup can restrict movements.

Whether or not you choose to use an athletic cup really depends entirely upon the expectations of your instructors and the types of work that happen in the classes with specific instructors. The simplest action is to simply ask your instructor about whether or not it is a good idea in your particular school.

Generally speaking, you should lean towards using an athletic cup if your classes include any sparring or moderate to high-intensity partner striking drills.

For a high-quality option for groin protection, I recommend this athletic cup that is available on Amazon.

Personal Risks of Using a Cup in Kung Fu

Using an athletic cup in Kung Fu classes actually comes with some risks on its own. If it gets displaced you may end up in a situation where it pinches and bruises the area just from sliding around and putting pressure through normal movements.

The risks of this are low if you get a cup that fits well and you wear compression shorts or other gear to help keep everything in place but the risk doesn’t go away. Ultimately, wearing a cup should only happen if these risks are lower than the risks of getting hit in the groin.

Training the Motor Patterns Correctly

Using an athletic cup will affect the way you move when training and you should factor in whether or not you will be doing techniques with or without a cup.

If you are planning to do some type of sparring-oriented competition it is a good idea to wear a cup to ensure that your motor patterns remain the same from training to a competition where you will be required to wear an athletic cup.

If you are training to demonstrate forms, as a hobby, or for self-defense purposes it is a good idea to train without an athletic cup just because then the training will match the motor patterns that you will be needing to call upon in those scenarios in which you will not be wearing an athletic cup.

Can you Wear a Cup in Kung Fu Competition?

International Chinese Martial Arts Championship or ICMAC has a set of rules that covers both forms and sparring-oriented competitions. Sparring requires groin protection while a performance that is intended as a display of forms does not.

Alternatives to an Athletic Cup for Kung Fu

For somebody who is looking for some protection from accidental impacts to the groin area, but doesn’t want to use an athletic cup, there are options to mitigate risks. Using a jockstrap, compression shorts, or more supportive underwear can keep things out of harm’s way during training.

Additionally, practicing with higher awareness and care and choosing good partners for training drills or sparring can also reduce the chances of receiving accidental impacts to that area.

Final Thoughts

Kung Fu has a pretty low chance of impact to the groin, so using an athletic cup is not typically necessary. In some competitions that include a sparring component it will be required, but during typical training in most schools doing one or more of the alternatives to an athletic cup will be sufficient.

Using a cup is a personal decision for Kung Fu, but between the change in movement patterns and the low overall risk of impacts to that area it seems like the risks outweigh to rewards of using an athletic cup.

For more check out Do You Wear Shoes in Kung Fu? and Do You Need to Be Fit to Start Kung Fu?


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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