In the fall of 2011, I was given the opportunity to conduct a review of a different type of groin protector. I’ve tried a lot of different cups over the years, trying to find one that works effectively and is also comfortable.
When I started in Jiu-jitsu, my style didn’t use groin protection, and people were left to defend themselves, and exercise control while demonstrating strikes to the groin. I’m not going to debate the pros and cons of cup vs non-cup training, except to say, anyone who thinks wearing a groin protector makes you less likely to protect the groin has likely never worn a cup, or at the very least, been hit by Lori O’Connell Sensei while wearing one.
If you watch the video of me being struck in the groin at the end of this review, you’ll see how hard it is to intentionally let someone hit you in the groin during the included outtakes.
The point is that adding a groin protector into my uniform required a lot of trial and error and I went through half a dozen cups until I found one I liked, the Shock Doctor’s Carbon Flex Cup & Supporter. (I’m on my third one now. The first one had to be replaced due to stress fractures, the second to peeling rubber. Cue inappropriate comments… now.)
However, cups aren’t perfect, and they usually are only good at protecting you against incidental contact, or straight on shots. I donate my body to women’s self-defense courses, demonstrations, video and photo shoots, etc, and the contact is generally not incidental or accidental, so I still end up feeling… um, discomfort from strikes. For those of you who need an anatomy lesson, watch the Nutty Buddy video below, it has a much more detailed explanation of how cups work and don’t work, in a pseudo science kind of way.
So the makers of the “revolutionary” Nutty Buddy provided me with their specially designed cup, strap and pair of their compression shorts. (This is also known as The Package. All their cup sizes also have interesting names like The Hog.)
See the Nutty Buddy in Action (Skip ahead to the 4:15 mark to see the inventor of the Nutty Buddy get hit in the groin with a 90mph fast ball from a pitching machine.)
How do you go about comparing groin protectors? I used 3 criteria: Comfort, Quality of Construction, and Effectiveness.
Comfort is pretty easy. The provided shorts are the most comfortable compression shorts I’ve ever worn, bar none. I own numerous pairs, and I tried them all with the Nutty Buddy & jock strap but their shorts are the best. The cup, as you can see from the image, has a different design from traditional cups, and is much wider. If you’ve never worn a cup before, it’s going to feel like you’ve strapped a box between your legs. If you have worn a cup before, it’s going to feel like a small box. But you’ll get used to it fairly quickly.
Over the last couple of months, I’ve worn this cup in all sorts of training situations. I once wore it for 8-hours during a photo shoot for O’Connell Sensei’s upcoming book, and during a a couple of 5 hour training seminars. While training, you don’t notice the cup at all. If you have to sit around for any extended period of time, it can get a little uncomfortable. So unless you wear your cup around the house or to work, it’s not really an issue
I would give this cup straight A’s for comfort except for one caveat – it’s not good for grappling. Straight ground defense is fine, but for more Brazilian Jiu-jitsu or Judo styles of grappling, it’s just too big and it gets in the way and is really uncomfortable for both you and your training partner. If all you do is ground grappling, pass on this cup.
Quality of Construction
Nutty Buddy sells a pair of NXT biker shorts on their site as well. They’re very well made, and aside from losing the logo on the side, they’re in perfect shape after months of washing and use.
The Nutty Buddy brand shorts are in fantastic shape as well, however, they don’t feel as well made. They’re super comfortable, and really breathable, but I don’t expect them to last. The same goes for the jock strap. One of my students actually bought the Nutty Buddy after I mentioned it to him, and the strap broke after a couple of classes.
Now, that’s likely just a defect, and the company was very good about replacing it, but they just don’t feel well made. But that’s my perception. Just because it doesn’t feel well made, doesn’t mean it isn’t, and they haven’t torn, snapped or frayed, so we’ll see. The fabric on both the strap and shorts is breathable, which keeps the heat down.
The benefit to using their shorts over other compression shorts is that their shorts have a different material over the groin, which tends to provide a better traction for the cup. This results in the cup shifting less during training.
Now the cup is a different story entirely. That feels solid. The edges are lightly rubberized which I think acts more for traction to keep the cup from moving, rather than to cushion the blow. This is a single solid, well made piece.
I feel like anything short of a bullet is unlikely to break this cup, and unlike the Shock Doctor, the rubberized edge doesn’t look like it will peel off over time. (A definite weakness in the Shock Doctor’s design, as this is usually the first part of their cups to break.)
I didn’t want to do this part. I just wanted to say it worked well. Instead I went through the process of actually taking the 3 most common strikes/angles to the groin and comparing it against the Shock Doctor. You can see the actual strikes while I’m wearing the Nutty Buddy in the video below.
I went with 3 strikes that have different angles of attack.
A front kick to the groin is a straight on shot, and is quite like the baseball to the cup test as seen in the Nutty Buddy video. The energy is redistributed around the testicles and there’s really no pain in the groin. As I expected.
The Shock Doctor is good, but there is still some energy transfer to the testicles. The Nutty Buddy wins.
The knee kick demonstrates a slight upwards angle, (in the case of O’Connell Sensei kneeing me, it’s a little more upwards than I would like), but the effect is that again, pain is mitigated, and is quite a bit less than the Shock Doctor.
Finger Whip to the Groin
This is the worst strike when you’re wearing a traditional tuck under cup. Most cups will shift and move and be driven into the testicles from the underneath, and while less painful than being struck with no cup, it still really hurts. I’ve definitely come close to dropping from this strike on occasion. (I’ve definitely felt nauseated once or twice.)
For those of you unfamiliar with it, it’s generally done when an attacker grabs you from behind, and you whip your fingers back and underneath the groin, snapping them like a wet towel. Because the strike comes from underneath the groin, the penis, which can often absorb some energy and soften the blow is bypassed, and the full force of the strike is cleanly and painfully received by the testicles.
How’d the Nutty Buddy do? Watch the video.
Yep – when in place and properly adjusted, the Nutty Buddy is actually really effective for this strike. If you don’t have it firmly in place then, you can run into the same problems you would with usual tuck under cups.
So is this cup, at around $90 for the The Package worth the price? That depends on your needs. If the groin is a valid target in what training you do, and you predominately work from your feet, then yes, I whole heartedly endorse this product. It has become my defacto cup. I still keep my Shock Doctor in my bag for grappling days.
If you’re grappling? Well you probably stopped reading this review earlier, when I said don’t bother.
And if you want to cut down on that price, you can use your own compression shorts. I’ve worn Drako made shorts, Nxt Biker shorts, and even Shock Doctor’s compression shorts with this rig, and they all work fine. (The Shock Doctor is a little bulky due to the cup pocket, but it’s doable in a pinch when you’re behind on laundry.)
Any questions or comments of a relatively mature nature? 😉
Leave them below.