Rolling around on the ground with not much more than a few pieces of cloth between your opponent and your crown jewels can be risky business.
At some BJJ gyms, you may find your fellow practitioners are wearing cups.
But some masters of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu would swear against it. So it can be confusing to know what’s best.
Key takeaways 🥋
You shouldn’t wear a cup in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu because it severely restricts your movement.
Some BJJ schools might recommend it or even require it to roll, but this isn’t standard practice.
Male Jiu-Jitsu martial artists take this as an acceptable risk as part of training and improving their abilities in the Gi.
Even professional competitions, like the IBJJF, ban the use of cups because it’s more likely to harm your opponent.
A cup could give a significant advantage in a hip-thrusting submission like an armbar, making it overly dangerous for the purpose.
While I don’t generally recommend wearing a cup for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, there are a couple of benefits to using one, and I’d choose this cup option (which is great if you plan to do MMA):
Supreme cup on the market, ideal for mixed martial arts and kickboxing sparring.
To learn about the specifics of how cups can cause more harm than good, keep reading the rest of this article!
Table of Contents
Why you should NOT wear a cup in BJJ
While it may seem like a cup will give you added extra protection against pressure or accidental elbows and knees into your groin, it isn’t the best resolution.
Cups are really good at reducing the severity of blunt force, which makes them useful for MMA and other striking arts.
But a cup isn’t necessarily a great tool for grappling martial arts, including Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Restricts your movement
The main reason is that wearing a cup will restrict your movement.
There are plenty of situations in BJJ where you will be laid on your side, like when performing shrimping, and your thighs are going to be squished together.
This squish will be much more noticeable and uncomfortable while wearing a cup.
Not only that, but if you’re wearing a cup while rolling with a partner, both you and they will notice it getting in the way.
It might just make the training experience, for you and them, frustrating as hell.
With BJJ, it’s ideal to have the least friction possible for your learning experience.
Wearing additional protective gear or even equipment like a fitness tracker just has the potential to cause annoyance.
Unrealistic and unfair advantages
Another reason for not wearing a cup in BJJ is because the cup could give you certain unfair advantages that you get used to, and when the cup is taken away, you might not be able to perform in the same way.
When you take the cup away, like for competition, your movement and success might be affected.
A great example is the armbar.
In an armbar, you usually will have one arm between your legs and use a pulling and hip-thrusting movement to increase the leverage.
The cup makes it incredibly dangerous for your sparring partner’s arm and effectively decreases the force you need to use.
When you build a habit of using a certain degree of force, it might not be enough when you plan to use it without a cup.
Wearing a cup during BJJ adds unrealistic artificial changes to what is possible in your movement and technique.
And as Jiu-Jitsu competition doesn’t allow you to wear a cup at all, you’re only hindering yourself from improving in the natural art form.
If you’re just training BJJ alone with drills and conditioning, then, of course, you don’t need to wear a cup at all because the cup is only somewhat useful against a partner.
Elevated injury risk for you and your partner
Wearing a cup in BJJ adds an unnecessary level of risk for injuries. These risks are mostly placed on your sparring partner.
If you were wearing a cup during BJJ without informing your sparring partner, they’re likely to feel sore from accidental impacts or pressure onto the hard material.
If you wear one, you should tell your sparring partners to watch out for it. Otherwise, it’s just bad sportsmanship.
Above discomfort for your partner, it’s also riskier for them to spar with you if you’re wearing a cup.
Wearing a cup during BJJ would give you an unfair advantage along with that risk if you were putting your partner in positions that put their limbs or neck in between your legs.
Some of those risky positions while wearing a cup are the armbar, the Kimura, and most variations of a North-South position (where your opponent’s head is in between your thighs).
Imagine performing an armbar on your opponent while wearing a cup (or worse yet, it happening to you), and the cup gives a hard surface for the wrist or forearm to be pushed against and give much more leverage and pressure.
Imagine laying the back of your forearm over a rock and having someone pull it down from your wrist.
Sparring in BJJ and any martial art is about being a good teammate and helping each other to learn through challenge and adversity, but not while putting each other at unnecessary risk.
So for the potential injuries of wearing a cup in BJJ, it makes sense not to wear one.
Banned in competition
If all previous reasons weren’t enough to convince you not to bother with a cup, maybe this will seal the deal.
Because if you’re ever thinking of entering a professional tournament for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, whether Gi or No-Gi, you most likely won’t be allowed to wear a cup.
So if you ever want to compete, just forget about using them all together as you’re going to learn improper form.
I know you’re worried about your Johnson, but just take training slowly and you should be fine.
Most reputable BJJ schools will recommend that you don’t wear a cup during BJJ training because it ultimately won’t be allowed for you to wear one to compete.
You may get away with it in a local competition where there aren’t as many checks, but your opponent would probably notice very quickly and ask you to remove it. It just isn’t fair play.
The IBJJF, the foremost authority on global BJJ competition, even bans the use of groin cups along with other protective wear that could cause harm to your opponent:
“Use of any foot gear, headgear, hair pins, jewelry, cups (genital protectors), or any other protector fashioned of hard material that may cause harm to an opponent or the athlete him/herself is forbidden. Also forbidden is the use of eyes protectors, even if they are made for sports practices.”IBJJF Rules Book, January 2021
Cups and other wearables with hard materials are not an accepted part of the IBJJF uniform, whether it’s Gi or No-Gi.
So overall, it’s recommended that you practice BJJ without wearing a cup and get used to moving in such a way that doesn’t add any unnecessary pressure to your groin.
When wearing a cup in BJJ is a good idea
Despite all of the reasons why I think you shouldn’t use a cup, there are some benefits to them which I’ll detail for fairness.
Wearing a cup could save you from an accidental blow to the groin that sometimes comes with the territory of Jiu-Jitsu sparring.
It’s not likely to nullify the discomfort entirely, but it could take the edge off.
There are plenty of moments in BJJ where your opponent could have one of your legs wrapped between both of their legs.
To get here, your opponent has likely passed half of your guard (your legs), which means their knee will often be in between your legs.
Sometimes getting into half guard comes with a lot of struggle, and the momentum could sway their knee up the middle, right where you don’t want it. This can happen from time to time.
If your opponent is trying to go from side control into a fully mounted position, their knee can also find its way across your stomach and sometimes a bit lower accidentally as they try to pass over your guard.
A slip too low can be uncomfortable, for sure.
I’ve also experienced my opponents successfully move my guarded legs away as they drop their weight on top, squishing my legs together, which sometimes means your bits get trapped between your thighs with that added weight.
Wearing a cup could keep your bits a little more protected while your thighs are squished together with additional weight on top. But it might hurt your thighs more.
If your nads are just too valuable to risk getting whacked or squished, then there is only one cup to consider — the Diamond MMA compression short and cup combo:
Supreme cup on the market, ideal for mixed martial arts and kickboxing sparring.
Still, the cup itself could be the implement causing groin discomfort more than protecting it.
You might have to try it out for yourself to see how you feel wearing them. As, after all, everyone’s package has different shapes and sizes.
What you SHOULD wear for BJJ
Most of the time, a cup for BJJ isn’t the best idea, but there are other attire options you might need for rolling.
A decent mouthguard is an absolute necessity piece of protective gear for BJJ.
If you don’t have any mouthguard option yet for Jiu-Jitsu rolling, Gi, or No-Gi, grab a boil-and-bite mouthguard ASAP.
They won’t be perfect, but it’s better than nothing.
Then you should strongly consider getting a custom mouthguard.
You can usually get them from your dentist if you’re ready to spend crazy bucks.
But thankfully, there are more reasonable options that are suitable for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and mixed martial arts, like the Impact Mouthguard:
A perfectly molded mouthguard for your fighter's face. No more missing teeth here!
Impact are the leading provider of custom mouthguards for professional athletes across combat sports. They are the ideal accompaniment to any regular sparring activity.
- Mouthguard custom manufactured to your jaw
- Hundreds of styles to choose from; flags, stripes, solids, logos
- Leading brand for pro-grade mouthguards, used by athletes worldwide!
- Incredibly durable and comfortable for long training sessions
- Suitable for all martial arts: Boxing, BJJ, Muay Thai, MMA
- Customizable to add flavors, initials, or speedy service
- More expensive than regular boil-and-bite options
A custom mouthguard like this, which is used by professional fighters, I might add, will give you plenty of comfort for sparring and last a lot longer than a boil-and-bite option.
Highly reviewed and rated by many martial artists, a trustworthy option with Impact.
If you’re a nerd for data, then tracking your health stats while training is going to be right up your alley.
While not a lot of tracking options are comfortable enough to wear for rolling, there are two that stand out:
$399 (24 mo) / $16.63 per month
The Polar H10 is a chest strap that is very minimal and doesn’t usually get in the way of your rolling.
It will sit under your Gi or compression shirt and give you a health analysis from your session.
You might feel additional pressure if your opponent is applying pressure to your chest (some submissions involve that), but you should be fine most of the time.
The WHOOP 4.0 can be detached from its wrist strap and instead added to a variety of underwear to continue tracking in your Jiu-Jitsu training.
What is particularly useful about this is that there are different undergarments to suit your preference so that you could add the tracking device into boxer briefs, shorts, or a compression shirt (and even a sports bra for the ladies).
Excellent options for the needs of different martial artists and supreme health data tracking to boot.
Final say: Should you wear a cup in BJJ?
You shouldn’t wear a cup in BJJ because it will potentially cause more harm than good.
Wearing a cup makes it harder for you to move out of challenging positions and can even increase the potential of injuring your opponent in some tight submission positions.
I don’t plan to be wearing a cup in BJJ any time soon because I would rather take the slight risk of discomfort than impede my mobility or make sparring dangerous for my partner in any way.
But you might pick a different option, like selecting the Diamond MMA cup to wear. And all power to you. Just get on to the mats and keep sparring!
What to read next
Now that you’ve learned the ins and outs about cups for BJJ, these next articles will probably help expand your Jiu-Jitsu knowledge further:
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