Under: karate, martial arts, Self-defense
2 Nov 2014


I have been doing karate for years and have not really thought about this from a beginning students perspective recently. I had a buddy ask me my take on teaching students how to kick the groin as beginners can miss the mark at first. Also (understandably) guys do not want to volunteer their family jewels as target practice!


Ok – one of the first kicks a student learns is the front snap kick in most styles. You bring the knee up, snap the kick out (kicking with the ball of the foot or instep), bring the kick back and land it. This method fast becomes second nature but before a student learns actual sparring (if they style they are learning does that), how is a student to know their kick is going to be a real ball buster? That is the question I’ll deal with in this post.


First for some comic relief Master Ken is going to demonstrate some ways to create more sopranos in the choir. :)




Boys mostly have no problem with this as they have had their nuts accidentally kicked and know what it feels like. This is not an abstract concept to men and boys. So I am going to mostly deal with girls and women.


Girls could learn how to do groin kicks in a self-defense class, a martial arts class (yes a short term self-defense class does not equal martial arts training), or if they fought a lot growing up – from the school of hard knocks.


Self-defense classes often times have real dummy targets (a padded person) so the women can really feel what it is like to kick something. Sometimes the girls kick into a pad positioned near the groin. The idea of kicking something can increase the women’s confidence that if they actually had to kick someone in the nuts – they could do it.


In a martial arts program, the girls learn many ways of striking the groin with kicks (snap, scoop, heel…), chops, hammer fists, ridge hands and so on. Each technique has its own method to both get into position and deliver the strike. While striking pads are employed many times at the beginning, more advanced students that already have speed, power and accuracy do not always train with pads.


The martial arts students also have the advantage of some good old school sparring (if they are in a semi to full contact school). One word of caution about the type of contact – not all school have contact and many that have contact sparring – do not include groin shots any more. It boggles my mind how a karate school teach sparring without groin shots practiced in sparring as this is on of the most effective self defense strikes!


For the women that learned some fighting skills on the streets – the street is not an ideal teacher. Survival of the fittest and all. So if a girl is aggressive and lucky at first – she can learn how to do many groin strikes but this is not ideal to “learn” in a real fight if she loses! But that being said – many “tough” girls have some real fighting experience way before they ever seek out a martial art.


So now that you know some of the challenges – what is a good effective way to teach women groin strikes?


First while a short-term self-defense training class is better than nothing – I would suggest studying a martial art. I would favor karate or kung fu as they both teach kicks and punches that include groin strikes. Not that the other martial arts are bad – but they are mostly for sport matches in my estimation.


Check out of martial arts schools in your area. Go on a night where they have sparring to see if it looks real or it is more of a game. I mean many karate schools nowadays are pseudo babysitting services. Sure the kids have fun but that seems to be the goal – not achieving fighting prowess. Nothing wrong with having fun but the goal of the school should be turning out good self-defense fighters – not anything else.


Why do I use the term self-defense fighters? Think about it, most students will not be top notch sport competitors (unless this really appeals to them), but they should be able to demonstrate all of the skills they have learned from step sparring or actually free sparring.


What is step sparring? It is where you take some moves you have learned and practice them with a partner. Groin kicks/attacks are a good candidate for this because you can practice the moves slow at half power (assuming a good wrap-around cup is worn) to do many of the attacks that a martial arts school teaches.


What does this work better in a martial arts school over a short-term self-defense class? Repetition of moves as needed is the hallmark of good martial arts training. If a woman does not feel confident with any move – she has to opportunity to work with a partner that can tell her she missed or nailed the target.


Later the free sparring with be useful to attempt the groin kicks from a moving target. So I do not think much of non-contact sparring because the students do not get the feel of a real fight with the speed and timing required to pull any move off – including a good groin kick.


By saying I think sparring should be part of the learning process – I am not endorsing full-contact kick boxing (sparring for most people). That is for the ones that want to go on to sporting contests like Muay Thai or MMA. Both of those contests do not include groin shots though – they are just a sport.


One can learn to fight for self-defense by employing semi-contact sparring (light to the head for upper-belts and medium contact to the body & groin) without risking long-term repeated traumatic brain injury (TBI). So while I endorse semi-contact  sparring (light contact to the head) for self-defense and tournament training – I do not think full-contact, boxing, kick-boxing and such training adds any benefit to the average student and may be dangerous long-term.


Those of you that think point karate sparring (semi-contact) is not realistic or worthwhile or would not work in a real fight, know that I am not coming at this from a theoretical point of view. I have trained this way (before I was a black belt) and while I worked the door – been in about 100 fights without any problems. My point karate was far superior to any fighters I encountered mostly because I was able to hit them without getting hit back (the big deal in point karate).


So to sum up I think when boys and girls are learning martial arts – it is very beneficial for the boys to wear wrap around cups and engage in (half power/speed) step sparring drills with the girls so they can get the striking accuracy, speed and timing down before attempting real sparring. In martial arts school – the instructors have time time to work with students to allow them to develop any needed skills to enhance their self-defense training.

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4 Responses to “How to Teach New Students to Aim and Kick the Nuts?”

  1. Dr. J Says:

    Very good presentation of a subject that is often avoided.

    My original Korean styles did not consider groin a target so it wasn’t until Kenpo that I learned these techniques. Fortunately, I learned from one of the best in the Tracy system.

    And I’d thought America’s Funniest Home Videos had covered all the groin shots!

  2. B.warrior Says:

    It’s amazing how many schools are getting away from teaching groin shots and a lot of older martial arts practices. My first martial arts school made sure it was the first thing they taught us. however, former students of other schools came in mentioning honor and all that bull Like it would matter in a real self defense situation.

    Honor is great for sparring partners and competitions, but not a real fight. Sensi told them the only thing that should be honorable is the reason you got in the fight in the first place.

  3. Brendan Says:

    I don’t see why kids can’t have fun but learn valuable self defence at the same time. I think both is possible with the right instructor.

    I train Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, Wrestling and Mauy Thai for self defence and have a lot of fun doing it :)

  4. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Dr. J!

    The interesting thing to me is in a self defense situation, the groin kick is a great equalizer allowing a smaller person to get out of an attack. So to not teach it probably means the fighting method being taught is a sport. Nothing wrong with sports but not why I wanted to learn karate as a kid.

    Master Ken is a funny guy. :)

    Hi B.warrior!

    When I was a kid kicking was for girls and boys boxed. If you knocked someone down – you were supposed to let him back up before resuming. Not that was real fighting but that was the mentality. It did not make sense but it took returning military to start teaching karate in strip malls before kicking got popular and accepted.

    So any Martial arts school that does not believe groin shots are honorable in this day and age is a school I would not want my kids attending. Thanks for your insight.

    Hi Brendan!

    I see your point that kids ought to enjoy what they are learning. The point I was trying to make is it should not be a game but just positive reinforcement as they are doing to moves correctly.

    When I had my school to be sure – kids were a big part of my students so I am not against kids but I like to keep it real. I would not want to be considered a babysitting service with some karate.

    Thanks for your comment!

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