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Let's Talk Cups
By Hailee Meyers 
June 11th, 2018
The concept of “safety in training” is a necessity at KMS. Hurting yourself or others is a daily reality that could present itself at any moment, especially in upper levels where the techniques are more technical, and sparring is more frequent. It’s rare to see an injury that really lays someone out in class. It does happen, but not often. We can thank our instructors for hammering how to be safe with techniques and for continually reminding us to be controlled when working with our partners. 

More gear is required to protect ourselves from those accidental shots as students advance into upper level classes. There are few items of protective gear that are required for the beginner classes. A mouth guard is a necessity, as is a groin cup for men. While I have never doubted the need for a mouth guard, something I’ve been noodling on for the last few months or so is whether or not the women of the gym need to invest in a protective cup also. I’ve been hit in the groin more times than I can count at this point (that’s unusually bad luck on my part; most of the ladies I talk to at the gym have never been hit in the groin so don’t let that scare you off), and while most of those unlucky shots were momentarily painful bumps, a couple of them have sent me to my knees. So for those of you who have wondered or doubted if a groin shot hurts women as much as men, I can assure you that yes, it does. It hurts like hell. I would not recommend underestimating those types of hits on anyone. It may not be a game-ender, but it’s not a hit I want to take in a fight.

My first experience with this was a knee. I’m not going to go into detail or say who it was because it happens to all of us. Control slips, and we make mistakes that we learn from the next time we train. But I will tell you that it was unpleasant. I would like to think that I took it like a champ but I did have to hobble off the floor for the rest of class. I had no protective gear on, and until that moment, I hadn’t considered if I should have protective groin gear or not. I wasn’t sure what options were out there for women. I knew I could easily find ones for men, but would I find a suitable option for women that wasn’t uncomfortable or bulky or ineffective or expensive? 

I researched a little and found a cup built for women that I thought would work. It was built for women martial artists by women martial artists. It looked slim but durable. The reviews were excellent, and I was thankful to find that many of the comments were from women who also trained in Krav Maga. All of them expressed how they were able to take hits to the groin with minimal impact or without keeling over mid-class. I considered again if this was a purchase I needed to make and decided to table it for a while. At the time, I had only had the one bad experience getting hit there, so I wasn’t sure if that one experience was enough to warrant something that may be seen as odd at the gym. 

Fast forward another six or so months. I have taken some minor groin shots since that first unpleasant experience with a knee. I still have not bought the cup but I do have it sitting in the “save for later” section of my Amazon cart. During a beginner class, I take another well-placed knee to the groin. This one also sends me to my knees, but I do not take it like a champ. Again, these do not happen that often. I have terrible luck. For the most part, wayward groin shots like this do not happen to myself or to others to the point where people have to leave the floor. That’s not to say that they don’t happen. I’m a magnet for these experiences apparently.

I sat in the back room with an ice pack between my legs and rethought my decision about the cup.While I was sitting there, icing my groin and my pride, I decided that protecting myself from injury wasn’t something I should weigh against what others around me might think. I was tired of getting hurt when there was a simple solution. It had to be a necessity I invested in. My boyfriend came back to check on me at some point, and asked if I would consider purchasing the cup now. He had agreed with me months ago when I told him my intent to buy one at some point. I told him I had already bought it. It would be here the following week. 

I will leave a link below for the specific cup I bought, but it is slim and durable like it showed in the pictures. I wear mine over leggings and underneath shorts. It comes with straps so you can size yourself. It was a little odd at first, but now I have wore it to every class for a week. I wasn’t sure I would make it through the week with an opportunity to test its durability and effectiveness. There were a few humorous tests when I first had it on during Monday’s intermediate class. George threw a light groin kick, and Effy tried a chop afterwards for a different kind of hit. I felt the pressure of the hit on both, but no pain.

I have to admit, I was slightly giddy with these results. I wouldn’t have to worry so much about taking a dull groin shot if this kept working with harder hits. This opened a range of opportunities and confidence I didn’t know I was missing. You won’t forget the feeling of getting hit in the groin; hence, why most of the male members are consistent with cups and are quick to warn you when they aren’t wearing one. (Note for the men who haven’t invested in a cup yet: you need to. This post is mostly for the female population, but don’t think this advice doesn’t apply to you too. Get a cup.). 

The main indicator of this cup’s effectiveness was on Wednesday. Intermediate ended class with a sparring version of shark bait. One person was in the middle for two minutes, sparring each person for thirty seconds. Chris was in the middle, and I was sparring him for my section. I’m short. Landing rough kicks on a bigger person is difficult for me, which is why I resort to groin kicks a lot. Chris evidently caught on to this tactic and fired a well placed shot for a cup check. Ladies and gentlemen, I didn’t feel a damn thing. I felt the pressure of the hit, but no pain. One second to shake it off, and I was back in. Now I know it’s worth the investment. 

Here’s the thing: women should be wearing cups at the gym. We should be wearing groin protection if we’re practicing groin kicks. I know that is a weird concept and goes against a lot of societal norms that I won’t drag my soap box out about here, but don’t feel like you will be an outcast at the gym if you decide to wear one. When I was initially thinking of a cup, I asked some of the veteran members at the gym if they knew any female members who had worn a cup consistently. They could only think of one woman. One. Those statistics are hard for me to wrap my head around. I think I can say the majority of the men at the gym wear a cup, but I’m the only woman there at the moment wearing one. Ladies, take advantage of the fact there is a cup made for us. Don’t wait until you get hit there for the first time. There are options for everyone, regardless of where you fall on the spectrum. I will continue to wear mine because it hurts like hell to get hit there, and I want to protect myself from it. If I’m the only woman wearing one, so be it. I will wear it proudly and unashamed.

My groin protection of choice: click here for the Amazon buy link or here for the company website.

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Krav Maga Spokane has been the Inland Northwests's leader in reality based self-defense training since 2009. At Krav Maga Spokane, we believe the key to self-defense is a well-rounded approach. You can't run until you learn to walk and you can't fight until you know how to throw a punch or land a kick. And you can't do either if you're out of shape. That's why we offer classes that focus on self-defense, fighting, and fitness.

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