I know, that's weird. But I'm sure I'm not the only one who has had this problem.

When I do my arm bar and I'm not wearing a jockstrap, I tend to crush my groin...

You'll understand that in such a case I'm in much more pain than my opponent and I can't make my opponent tap.

Is there a way to avoid this other than to wear a jockstrap? Because the arm bar is one of the few "moves" I have a solid knowledge about and I feel like I'd be restricted if I ever needed to use it without a jockstrap..

  • 3
    You can use the upper thigh of your outer leg to execute the submission instead of letting your opponent's elbow to crush your groins. (E.g.: If you are on your opponent's right side, then you use your upper thigh of your left leg to execute the submission) Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 2:30

3 Answers 3


I assume you are working on the arm bar known in judo as juji gatame. The principle in this technique is the use of a class 2 lever to hyperextend the opponent's elbow joint. Resistance is in the middle, at the opponent's elbow joint. Force is applied by pulling down at the wrist and raising the hips. The fulcrum should be one of your legs; this makes any force you apply to the wrist go to straining the elbow joint rather than moving the opponent's arm. The mechanical advantage from the lever is what allows you to apply the lock without having to crank on the arm. If you set this right, it requires very little effort to make your opponent tap.

If you pull straight into your crotch, yes, you will crush your own testicles. This is unnecessary; the lever is just as effective if you pull into one of your legs. Change the angle you pull at. The usual guidance is to pull towards the opponent's pinky finger to hyperextend the arm; you are however, allowed to change the direction the pinky is facing. So turn the pinky towards one of your legs, then apply the lock.


I prevent testicle crushage while armbarring my partners and opponents by:

  1. Pulling the arm further towards my head, so their elbow is across my pelvis and not my crotch
  2. Squeezing my knees tighter on their upper arm
  3. Wearing underwear (or lack thereof) that provides freedom of movement, so that they can move out of the way of an elbow mid-attack
  4. Not giving a f' if it crushes my testicles, because armbarring them is more effective and important than fleeting testicular discomfort

Wearing a cup is illegal in many grappling competitions because it provides an external hard platform with which to attack your opponents' joints. Don't do it. An armbar should rely on proper positioning and a little dose of toughness to overcome testicular smashing, not a groin protector.

  • Maybe it's because of lack of practice but I can assure you I can't keep my armbar while crushing my testicles! Especially not during practice sparring. In competition I could go over it I guess
    – IEatBagels
    Commented Nov 16, 2015 at 22:05
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    @TopinFrassi I believe you. But the point is to develop the ability. Toughness is both a mental skill and a physical comfort with the uncomfortable position. Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 6:09
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    Toughness is better applied on the receiving end of an armbar to differentiate when the armbar is merely uncomfortable versus in danger of breaking your arm. Crushing your testicles when you don't have to is just unwise.
    – mattm
    Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 14:32
  • We must be going to different grappling competitions. Two out of three I have been to officially required males to wear cups (though I don't know if they actually try to enforce that) and the third allowed it. Other than that comment, I agree with this answer and emphasize point number 1. If 1 and 2 are done right, 3 and 4 should be superfluous. Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 22:31
  • @TimothyAWiseman They're against the rules in judo and IBJJF BJJ. NAGA apparently allows it but they're kind of the Wild West. My point with 4 is to short-circuit potential white belt complaints about elbows in the groin. I try to avoid ball crushage but A) there's a bit that just happens and B) not all pain due to inexact armbars is actually the testicles, but just the fact that it's an elbow and elbows are uncomfortable just about anywhere they're jamming into you. Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 23:13

I've been training Bjj since 1998. I always learned to squeeze my knees to prevent this pain on testicles. This is the most common way to avoid this kind of injury.

But this year, when I was visiting the academy of the Master Sylvio Behring, he taught me a different approach for the arm lock (arm bar).

Squeeze your knees early. He told me to close my knees when my opponent arm are near to my knees and not near to my belly. This will create a much greater angle.

When you put the opponent's arm on your belly, the angle for the lock is shorter. Some guys with hyper-arm-extension can escape. When you lock your opponent's arm early, you have to use more of your arms to submit your opponent, but the angle is greater.

Another tip from the Master was to pull your opponent's head with your leg, to prevent him from biting your calf. This is because the Master teaches a lot of self defense as well and not just competition Bjj.

I don't know if I was clear enough with my explanation. To me, the Master was really clear and it was really nice to learn something basic from the Master.

  • I'm not sure I got the thing about closing the knees to the arm "sooner"
    – IEatBagels
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 18:15
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    @TopinFrassi It means don't get the leg over, then pull their arm, then squeeze the knees, but rather get the leg over, squeeze the knees, then pull the arm. Commented Mar 6, 2016 at 22:03

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