Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Rolling with cups...

Paul posted a question as a comment and I thought it merited its own post:

"I've got a weird question for you.

What are your thoughts on men wearing cups?

I was rolling tonight and I noticed my partners cup as I went to pass his guard. Like, I thumped up against it and it kind of blocked my knee (without it I wouldn't have thumped his junk but I may have passed his guard). I'm pretty damned new to all of this, and I'm sure I can adjust to that sort of thing, but it did seem to sort of interrupt the flow. Moreso than the occasional indelicate moment which can be ignored, or if need be apologized for.

No big deal, but I wondered how you feel in regards to men wearing cups. I can imagine running into a guy wearing a cup and how it changes the roll, perhaps good and bad.

I don't wear one, but maybe I will at some point.

I feel a woman who has the experience you do might be able to talk about how they affect your roll in ways that a man might not."

My first thought was, I wonder why he thinks a woman would have a different reaction to rolling with a cup-wearer than a man would? But then I reconsidered... maybe a cup could be viewed as a considerate way of putting one more layer of "stuff" between someone's stuff and my body?

But no, in my opinion, cups are unnecessary (for that reason at least) and worse, they are miserable for me to deal with on an opponent.  They make it much much easier to finish an armbar for example, and it's partly for this reason that they are not legal equipment in IBJJF tournaments among others.  If you can't wear it in competition, you shouldn't be practicing with it.

Now, not possessing balls, you might think it's pretty ballsy of me to say you don't need a cup in jiu jitsu... but here's why I have this opinion.  Yes, I've had maybe 2-3 rolls (over about 6 years of training) where my foot slipped off a hip and grazed someone's privates.  I've honestly truly never done a knee-through pass and had any shin/knee-and-groin connection.  And I mean grazed, as in glanced, maybe caused a wince, but not connected with/struck/slammed/pushed etc.

On the other hand, I have been armbarred many, many times.  I've been kneebarred a few times, too.  I have been triangle choked and on the bottom of north-south and even had people take my back.  In every one of these circumstances, I would have potentially suffered a great deal more pain and discomfort from someone wearing a cup.

When I am rolling, I am not aware of someone's privates except insofar as I need to keep my hands, feet, knees, and other bits from using that one area of their body for leverage.  If they're sitting on my face to finish a kimura, the last thing I am thinking about is their testicles.  But, if I feel someone wearing a cup during a roll?  depending on how I discover this, I will continue the roll and then gracefully decline another (and explain why) or I will stop in the middle and not continue. 

So, the bottom line: please do not wear a cup.

Other people have written on this topic, too:
Jiu Jitsu Sweep


PirateMartialArts said...

I bought a cup, and found it to be the most awful thing in the world to wear. I have been training for over two years, and never had any issues with not wearing one.

Many of my training partners do, and it definitely sucks. I will note that the only people I've seen that have gotten "racked" are those that actually wear them. I hypothesize that men will naturally protect their junk, and that a cup actively inhibits that process.

slideyfoot said...

Yeah: I started training in 2006, never wore a cup, never had an issue. Keep in mind that a cup can also slip and crush into your testicle, which is MUCH more painful.

So due to that and the reasons Georgette mentions, I discourage people from wearing them in my class.

Now, for striking, I always wore a cup. But it's not necessary for grappling, and indeed is detrimental for both people in a grappling spar.

Paul said...

Thanks everyone.

And yes Georgette, I was wondering if that sort of "extra layer" was something appreciated. I can imagine some guy jamming his cup into me would be far more annoying than any sort of, uh, normal grown up intimacy?...that comes with respectful rolling. But, yeah my imagination as a male should probably be informed by asking a lady about it. :)

Like I said, I'm pretty new and it's nice to hear some thoughts.

Reading Reddit, and other things I noticed that there were a lot of opinions. I wouldn't wear a cup for any reason other than to make a woman more comfortable with the roll. It seems like it doesn't do that, and I think there's something to idea of training wearing what you will likely be wearing should you use the techniques. I also think there's something to not wearing one and learning to protect oneself's junk if they are a male.

It seems like the cup actually just makes other moves worse (armbar, etc). Meaning sort of "You notice a cup, but not the lack of one." It seems Georgette, is of that mind.

Not sure how to talk about it well on the internet, but I think I've gotten some more perspective, so thanks all.

Be Well.

Georgette said...

No, thank YOU Paul... it's lovely to have these kinds of conversations and welcome a new member to the sport/club/addiction :) Friend me on the book of faces if you feel like it. Thanks for contributing! :)

Paul said...

I don't use Facebook, but I'll be following your blog, and Slidey's and others (Jiu Jiu). I'll try not to spam it too much. I really liked your blog because of your story, attitude, lots of things, but also the links section. I respect a good links section. Shows someone really has a interest in, uh, service, respect, knowing stuff and sharing...I don't know.

I'm 5 weeks into this, and I wonder how soon I'll stop counting weeks.... Soon. 1/3 of my intro 8 week intensive class has stopped training for one reason or another (I think mostly from ego getting in the way of them knowing when to not train, or pushing themselves too hard). I'm still there, 135lbs of crushable attentive idiot.

I think the main thing I've learned is that I believe I picked a good school, so I should probably mention it.

Renzo Gracie Academy - Portland. Anyone reading this is welcome to come on by - it's endorsed by a 5 week white belt!

Georgette said...

Fair enough! Thank you, again. I hope you really enjoy this journey. I know I did. I'll suggest a couple things that might help: travel, and train when you travel. Don't fixate on training only at another of your affiliate schools-- explore, because jiu jitsu really really is different not only with diff instructors, but with diff "schools of thought." True story, there really is a big ol' difference between Relson, Humaita, and Barra ;)

Another thing: write a blog. Don't stress if no one reads it, just write down what you think about training, your progression, what's hard and what's not. You will cherish the record when you are a blackbelt.

Third, and the most important: Portland isn't far from LA. Go train with Henry Akins as often as you can. The single best instructor I have ever trained with, plus, the best jiu jitsu content-wise. Don't think oh, I'm just some whitebelt, I'm not advanced enough. Go get some Henry as often as you can.


Anonymous said...

There's a guy in my gym wearing a cup, he's pretty unexperienced so no much way he can submit me without me noticing it, but yes it's weird. It's the first time I encountered cups on the mat. I must also say it may be because most men get used to some discomfort but not all of them, and these rare animals need a cup XD it also looks like the most uncomfortable thing in the world, so I guess they don't like it either.
But well, you can always wear a chest protection for women and make it equal for him

REA said...

I don't wear a cup, but I have a teammate who really should wear one. I'm not sure if it is his techniques or his anatomy, but he is always getting dinged. I mean, a minimum of once a week he is getting clipped and then it's a huge dramatic scene.

For him, I would suggest getting a good flexible cup designed for grappling.

However, I would absolutely let him know that he know has a stronger artificial fulcrum and therefore has the responsibility to be considerate and careful.

Anne said...

Great post and resulting conversation. Georgette, I know this might be a touchy subject, and not to ruffle anyone's feathers (although I know you don't mind doing your share of that when warranted) but could you talk about your experience and thoughts on some of the different branches of the family, since you've experienced relson, humaita and barra?

Thanks! So happy that you're blogging again

JiuJiu said...

I really dislike when dudes wear cups. THEY HURT!!!

I love Mariste's cartoon about this:


Unknown said...

Let's try this out for size: just as much as you don't want your reproductive health being dictated by others, I don't want mine being dictated by others.

If you physically feel my cup that means that had I not been wearing one I would be writhing in agony on the ground for a while.

As for people who complain about a cup being uncomfortable or, worse yet, dangerous, you're wearing the wrong cup.

As for competition that's a valid point. My first IBJJF competition I got clipped in the nuts during one of my matches and it wound up costing me the match. Wasn't the other guy's fault, and subsequently I no longer wear a cup when I roll at my gym, BUT when I am visiting other schools where I don't know who's a spazz and who's not, I make a habit of going back to wearing a cup.

We have some really good purple and brown belts who wear cups, our black belt Professor does not. But it's no one else's business but the wearer, and in the few moments where someone else notices it, it just means the cup is doing its job.

Unknown said...

Oh also one more thing: last I checked the IBJJF doesn't allow headgear. Does that mean that we should all subject ourselves to cauliflower ear?

Paul said...


I don't think anyone was saying you can't wear a cup. I was just asking people how they felt about those that wear them.

I think the analogy you drew between your reproductive rights might be a bit over-stated in a defensive way, but I hear your point.

To answer your question on headgear: I think you bring up a fair question, but to answer it -- Sure wear headgear in class.

It is not true that when I noticed the cup in question my partner would have been harmed; it interfered with the training, even if only to a small degree. So, it is possible for them to be problematic (which seems to be where a fair bit of the opposition to them comes from), as it is also possible for them to be a reasonable piece of gear. I don't think it has to be so one way or the other.

If you want to wear one, I'm not going to tell you you can't, but it might be nice if I were still allowed to think that they are annoying. Just because a person notices it during an armbar or triangle does not mean that it somehow saved you from injury.

Mistakes can happen in any gym, so it seems odd to be so selective about when you wear them. But, again you can of course do as you like.

It does seem true, from what I have subsequently read up on this, that there are indeed better cups and worse cups.

There are quite a few people that find them not just annoying, but also that cups can interfere with learning techniques properly. It seems odd to me that such a view can be so easily dismissed.

Anywho, be well.

Georgette said...

Emil, since you say you train without a cup, then I'm sure you know that it's possible to do armbars, kneebars, and flatten someone out from the back all without danger to your reproductive organs causing "writhing in agony." Amirite?

A cup is not necessary to protect your balls from the pain of ordinary grappling. Yes, I know, it's possible for accidents to happen. You can choose to wear something that routinely and regularly hurts your partners more than the ordinary sub or position requires-- to protect yourself from something that happens very rarely, or you can accept that you should train the way you will compete.

And as for headgear... it's not necessary to avoid cauli. Poor technique causes cauli. Don't pull your head out of a tight triangle or guillotine. Don't subject your ear to shearing force, and you won't get cauli. If you're drilling shots, sure, wear headgear... but if you're rolling with me, I don't want your hard plastic ear cups flattening my eyeball :)

Christopher Odell said...

I have honestly noticed little difference in wearing them or not for arm bars, mine seem to work regardless or maybe the extra few degrees just doesn't bother me.

I came from an mma background so wearing a cup was a natural thing to me and it took me of guard when bjj people started making an issue of it.

I have also had a testicular torsion so maybe I'm a little sensitive nut wise but I plan to keep wearing them despite any comp rules (which of course if you train BJJ for MMA still allow cups). For anyone else to tell me not to protect such a sensitive area is just rude, I don't care for headgear smashing against me but hey if it saves an ear I'll deal.