Complete Buyer’s Guide: The Best Cups and Groin Protectors for BJJ
A groin protector or “cup” is something that is used to protect a grappler’s most important… parts. Even though striking isn’t allowed in BJJ, any seasoned jiu-jitsu practitioner knows that accidental low blows can and do happen. Because a cup protects one of the grappler’s most sensitive (and anatomically unprotected) areas, many grapplers will want to wear a reliable, well-fitted cup during day-to-day training.
To help grapplers choose the best cup for themselves, we’ve scoured the internet to find the best groin protectors and cups for BJJ; below are our picks.
A note about the IBJJF and wearing a cup in competition:
IBJJF Rule 8.3.7 states, in part: “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.”
That is, the IBJJF, the biggest and most influential competition organization in jiu-jitsu, prohibits the use of a groin protector in competition — and for good reason. The hard material of the cup could be used to hurt your opponent.
This raises an important question. Why wear a cup in training if it is illegal in competition? In short, even though competition restricts the use of a groin protector, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to wear one during day-to-day training. Few, if any, training partners will complain about your cup as long as you’re not using to cause pain on your partners, and you’ll be safely protected from any incidental low blows.
In order to find the groin cups that will fit you best, you can narrow the search down focusing on these factors in order to choose the best options on the market.
For BJJ practitioners, mobility and comfort are paramount. Because grapplers should only be taking accidental blows to the groin, we recommend focusing less on overall impact protection, and more on comfort.
Cup Size = Mobility
The size of the cup correlates to the amount of mobility it allows while wearing it, and for that reason, it is arguably the most important factor for BJJ. Of course, you won’t want a cup that is too small (meaning you can’t fit all you jewels in there), but you should also be aware that a cup can be too big. If that’s the case, the wearer will have problems crossing his legs, or feel discomfort when moving around.
Unfortunately, there is no standard sizing for cups. To ensure a proper fit, be sure that you select the correct age (youth or adult), and if the cup comes with a jock strap or compression shorts, be sure that those match your waist size closely.
Because a cup can easily become dislodged during a BJJ training session (as opposed to a striking-only art), we recommend choosing a jock strap or compression shorts that fit tight; when in doubt, choose a size down.
The material is important depending on what you are going to focus on when using the groin protector.
If you are a grappler who just wants a little extra protection in your practice sessions, you may want to focus on a lighter weight material and a comfortable strap/compression shorts that aren’t restrictive in your mobility.
However, if you are going to focus on MMA practice or compete, you may want to invest in a higher grade material that allows for better protection to those pesky shots.
Be aware that, generally speaking, the heavier the material, the less comfortable it may be. However, that heavier material typically correlates to better impact protection.
The best cup for a grappler shouldn’t move or become dislodged during ground sparring. It should remain stable and centered during sudden movements.
The best athletic cup for Jiu-Jitsu is light as a feather – you shouldn’t feel it at all during the fight or training session. If you find that your cup is moving around during sparring, we recommend wearing a pair of tight compression shorts over the jock strap (assuming the cup does not include compression shorts already) to limit this movement.
Another key aspect to comfort is the lining of the cup. That is, what material is used on the cup where it meets your body? Some cups use a rubber lining to prevent slipping. Other cups use a gel lining to maximize comfort and impact absorption. In general, you should be aware that a poorly-lined cup can lead to chaffing or, worse, the cup cutting into your skin. This is particularly important in BJJ, where your opponent may be driving his body weight down onto the cup during a roll.
The material of the compression shorts, the fit and the system of the jock straps, they all give a different feel to the way it fits. To keep it simple, the less the cup moves while training, the better.
The Top 8 Groin Protectors/Cups for BJJ
Diving right in, below are our recommendations for the best groin protectors for BJJ, including our choice for best overall, editor’s pick, best value, and XX runners-up to consider.
After reading through our top picks, take your time to read the buyer’s guide and FAQ in order to get all the small details that will give you the upper-hand when choosing your new gear.
Best Overall – Diamond MMA Athletic Cup & Compression Shorts System with Built-in Jock Strap
The Diamond MMA Athletic Cup has been the top option in the market for years, in large part due to Diamond MMA’s compression shorts system.
The compression shorts stand out due to the built in four-point jock strap that holds the cup in place inside the cup pocket, unlike other cups which usually either have the jock strap with no compression, or instead only have a cup pocket on the shorts. This feature is particularly useful for BJJ, where you’ll find your body contorted and pulled on in a wide variety of ways. For that reason, comfort and secure fit is paramount.
The cup itself is made from rigid but flexible polycarbonate, the same plastic material used in bulletproof glass (so rest assured, your jewels will be safe in case any mid-training gun fights break out).
Given the quality and reliability of the Diamond MMA cup, it is understandably the most expensive option. But if you have the money for it, there is nothing to be held against this product. And as an added bonus, even if your product proves for any reason, Diamond MMA’s customer support is excellent, even providing replacements if anything goes wrong.
- Military grade elastics and spandex
- Compression shorts and jock strap system for maximum comfort.
- The core of the cup being made from the same plastic material used in bulletproof glass gives great impact protection.
- Approved by doctors and urologists as the best protection on the market.
- Extremely secure, comfortable fit
- Resilient and highly durable
- Professional grade
- Quite expensive in comparison to any other product in the market.
Editor’s Pick – Venum “Challenger” Groinguard and Support
Venum is one of the leading companies to provide excellent quality combat gear at a reasonable price, and that also includes protective cups. For that reason, the Venum “Challenger” earns our Editor’s Pick.
The Challenger cup is their most recognized entry into the groin protection department, with their jock strap being an easy to use and great comfortable option to wear into long practice sessions.
Mobility and comfort are top features of the “Challenger.” This product does not include compression shorts; the anatomically designed cup sits in a simple but comfortable jock strap. And while the jock strap does a good job of holding the cup in place, some buyers recommend to wear compression shorts to go over it, just to help keep it all in place.
Holding in at a reasonable price and being a good comfort option, Venum knows just how to keep its reputation in place as one of the leading brands in the MMA market. And now that Venum is the official apparel provider to the UFC, you’ll be wearing the same branded equipment at UFC champions.
Being a rubber gel shield, it may not offer the high grade impact support from the previous two entries, but it allows for unrestricted mobility, which makes this cup a go-to option for the BJJ-focused practitioners who want some extra protection.
- Double-layers shock absorbers for supreme groin protection
- Rubber gel shield minimizing impact effects and providing a high level of comfort.
- Anatomical design replicates the athlete’s body shape and provides unrestricted mobility.
- Lower impact protection than heavy duty cups.
Best Value – Shock Doctor Men’s Ultra Pro Boxer Compression Shorts with Ultra Cup
The Shock Doctor brand is one of the best known when it comes to general sports protective gear. And because Shock Doctor specializes in protective gear, we know their groin protector will be top-notch.
In this particular product, the secure fit and “Ultra Cup” retention system ensures maximum comfort, range of motion, and cup stability during intense rolling and sparring. Again, comfort and secure fit are key features to a cup for BJJ.
The cup itself may not be bulletproof material but the carbon flex cup is not going to let you down on the impact protection department at any time soon. One drawback to this cup is that it is slightly heavier than some of the lightweight options on the market.
We love this product’s anti-odor fabric and vented mesh cup pocket to ensure the product doesn’t develop the dreaded “funk,” which in turn will allow you to wear this cup regularly for countless sweaty BJJ training sessions.
A note about sizing. While buyers tend to praise the comfort of this product, a deep dive into the lower graded reviews reveals that the shorts tend to run a little small.
- Great comfort and range of motion with compression shorts.
- High protection from a durable material cup.
- Flexible cup for good comfort.
- Anti-odor fabric and vented mesh cup pocket.
- Heavier Cup than any lightweight options.
- Reviews show that the shorts usually run small.
McDavid Compression Shorts and Flex Cup
McDavid provides a huge range of protection gear for mixed martial artists, and the cup that they make is probably one of the best cups for MMA. It makes sense, then, that this product works well for grapplers, as well.
The key feature of this product is the comfortable and lightweight Flex Cup. The Flex Cup design offers full groin protection with a lightweight feel and multiple airflow ports for superior ventilation, it can withstand some seriously heavy strikes and keep you safe and ready to fight.
The compression shorts are constructed from polyester and spandex. Buyers like the comfort of the shorts, but we are concerned that while the cup easily slides into place in the compression short pockets, that may also mean the cup could easily become dislodged during BJJ training.
While this product didn’t make the very top of the list, it certainly does the job, especially when it comes to MMA. For that reason, this cup would be a great option for BJJ practitioners that will occasionally train in MMA, allowing them to switch from practice to practice seamlessly.
RDX Groin Cup for MMA and BJJ
Being the first “cup only” product in this list, this athletic cup is perfect for BJJ and resists even the nastiest impact without any loss in shape.
The key feature of this cup is the Shell-Shock gel lining that prevents the cup from grinding into your skin. While this cup was designed with strikers in mind, we love this feature for BJJ, where you’re likely to have an opponent dropping the full force of his weight on your groin for extended periods of time; the gel lining prevents discomfort associated with this.
Moreover, the ergonomic design of the cup doesn’t hinder movement, another key feature of a good cup for BJJ.
This product fell just short of our top overall picks because, unlike other products, it requires you to also purchase a jock strap to hold the cup.
Shock Doctor Titan Alloy Flex Cup
The Shock Doctor Titan Alloy Flex Cup is another “cup only” Product, but this time, maximum impact protection is the focus.
In case you need protection up to 100mph, the Shock Doctor Titan Alloy Flex Cup is the go-to option. The stainless-steel alloy coupled with thermal plastic urethane can withstand even the most massive impact before any deformation occurs. For this reason, this cup would be a great option for grapplers that also plan to spar striking, or grapplers that are especially concerned with protection, perhaps because of an injury.
This is a stainless steel alloy cup, which while a little heavy, should be enough to protect you from countless groin shots during sparring sessions.
Additionally, a downside to this product is its size. Because it offers such reliable protection, its size may inhibit mobility during BJJ.
Mueller Athletic Supporter with Flex Shield Cup
The Mueller Athletic Supporter and Flex Shield cup is a no-frills option. The cup is designed with soft rubber edges to ensure comfort and prevent the cup from cutting into your skin. Mueller is a long-time trusted brand in athletic and protective wear.
This cup is certainly a budget option. And while it won’t hurt your wallet much, beware, some reviewers have complained that the material doesn’t feel sturdy under serious pressure or impact. Moreover, while the cup does have several holes to provide ventilation, this is one of the least ventilated options on our list, meaning this product is more likely to hold unsavory smells.
Meister Carbon Flex Groin Protector
We like the cup-only option because it was specifically designed with martial arts in mind. The thermoplastic rubber edge on the cup prevents chafing, while the polypropylene material used for the cup provides lightweight protection.
However, many reviewers complain that this cup fits poorly and tends to ride up. That’s a big problem for BJJ, where you’ll constantly be contorting your body in unique positions. Also, because this is a cup-only product, finding the correct jock strap or compression shorts to hold the cup is another step where things could go wrong.
With those critiques in mind, buyers should be aware of this budget-friend option designed specifically for martial artists.
Groin Cups for MMA and BJJ FAQs
Why should I train with a groin cup in both MMA and BJJ??
When it comes to grappling, it is a matter of choice to wear a cup. There is no constant fear of getting hit in the groin region in an art that doesn’t use strikes. However, there are some instances in BJJ when low blows or injury to the groin becomes much more likely, such as the knee slide or other moves while being in half guard.
The cup comes in handy for these situations, but as mentioned before, it won’t be allowed in the vast majority of BJJ competitions. For that reason, we recommend training without a cup at least several days prior to a competition to prepare yourself for grappling without a cup.
When it comes to MMA, cups are required to compete due to the nature of the art itself. Even on the ground, accidental strikes to the groin can happen in MMA, so we recommend wearing a cup at all times when sparring MMA.
The jock strap vs compression Shorts, which is the better option?
Traditionally, a jock strap holds the cup in place. A jock strap is worn underneath underwear and is simply a pocket to hold the cup. However, recently, many manufacturers have offered compression shorts with a pocket to hold the cup. This way, the wearer does need only wear one thing at a time, rather than two.
Both options offer their pros and cons. For example, the jock strap usually keeps the cup tight in place, but the jock strap itself might shift during hard BJJ sessions. On the other hand, compression shorts keep a tight fit to the whole area and generally provide better comfort. However, if the cup and shorts don’t fit properly, you may have a cup that isn’t tightly secured in the pocket, and moves from time to time.
Some even wear a compression short over the jock strap in order to get the best of both worlds, using the shorts to keep everything in place while having the tight fit of the strap in the groin area.
How to properly wash your groin protective gear?
In order to correctly wash your groin protectors, you will want to separate it into two parts, machine washable and hand washable.
For the machine washable, we are talking about the jock strap and compression shorts, which can be washed just like the rest of your laundry. The cup itself has to be washed separately, because the material it is made of may either damage inside the machine, or damage the washing machine itself.
To wash your cup, simply use soap and water to clean it by hand. We recommend giving your cup a quick wash after every training session to avoid any build up of mold or funky smells.