One of the rudest moments someone participating in any sport can experience is when they discover that groin protectors aren’t perfect. While I’ve never seen anyone strut around the mats like their groin was invulnerable with a cup on, there is definitely a misconception that it keeps strikes to the groin entirely pain free. It doesn’t. Taking a shot to the groin isn’t just about standing there and taking it, and once you learn how to use your body to effectively minimize the energy delivered with a groin strike, while at the same time allowing your partner to train proper targeting, you’ll be a lot more comfortable taking groin strikes in your training.
Chris, my dojo’s other instructor, was recently asked what the main difference is between his old style of Jiu-jitsu (Shorinjikan) and Can-ryu (our style). His answer was as follows: “It’s not Can-ryu if there isn’t some kind of groin strike involved.” I couldn’t help but laugh. Of course, it was an extreme statement designed to elicit a laugh, but there is a certain degree of truth. A truth he met with full force just last night.
In my dojo, we always wear groin protectors because our self-defense oriented style uses a lot of strikes to the groin. It is as much a part of our uniform as our belts.It is so ingrained that everyone wears a cup while training that when someone forgets their cup, we have safety precautions that we take to remind everyone when someone is not wearing. I have a roll of red electrical tape that is used to mark a large ‘X’ where the groin is to remind everyone not to strike that target with force. Without the reminder, people tend to forget… like I did last night.
Chris decided not to wear his cup last night. He had recently bought the shock doctor compression short groin protector and he was finding it to be not very comfortable. He decided to take it off since he was only teaching last night and not likely to receive any blows to the groin. Unfortunately, the teaching situation changed and we team-taught the class.
I was demonstrating an after-throw technique that had an optional strike to the groin from a tendon twisting lock. Basically, if the uke lifts his hips and makes the groin an easy target, you take it. And in this case, the target was offered and there was no red ‘X’ to remind me not to take it. The class laughed, not at Chris’s pain (which was intense to say the least), but at my embarrassment at having forgotten. There aren’t too many times when the class gets to see me blush.
The moral of the story is: The red ‘X’ marks the unprotected spot. No exceptions.