In the martial arts there is a saying, which goes “上顾头，下顾档” and which means as much as: “in fighting protect yourself above for strikes against your head, and below for strikes against your groin”.
In a previous post we already dealt with the iron head exercise which helps the head in withstanding attacks at moments you fail to dodge an attack. In this post we will tackle why it is important to protect the crotch and what options exist for men to protect themselves. The ability to deal with attacks to the head and the groin combined in one person, are very much necessary to get out of fights without permanent damage.
Why are attacks to the groin generally so effective and feared?
An attack to the male groin is effective because nature has hardwired the male body so as to make it clear that it is absolutely necessary the man learns to be careful with his genitals. After all, every living being has to meet two requirements to pass his or her genes to the next generation: (1) surviving, and (2) reproducing. Nature has hardwired humans to be equally fearful of threats to our life, as to instances where the body signals there is a possibility of permanently losing the capacity to reproduce.
In our evolutionary past, being careful with one’s genitals was not too difficult for men, despite the groin being an easily located anatomical target. Throughout most of human history in small tribal societies, it was relatively easy to NOT be floored by a groin attack, because attacking a member of the own tribe in his member would have had serious social repercussions for the attacker. We can also see this in our closest genetic relatives, chimps. In in-group fights, attacks to the genitalia of the opponent are a taboo, but when chimps encounter a male from another group, it is very common they castrate him violently and murder him. We see something similar in humans: in mutually agreed upon sports combat, attacking the genitals is not allowed, while attacking the groin in fights with unknown men is encouraged in every single self-defense class.
However, in modern society ballbusting is portrayed in nearly every Hollywood and Bollywood action movie (even those for all ages), and in movies for kids, and thus kids and teenagers are exposed to this knowledge very early on repeatedly. (All ages movies such as Ice Age 3, Madagascar, etc, all portray a kick to the genitals for entertainment purposes.) As such children learn to see it as an easy way to win fights and even verbal arguments or disagreements, and have an urge to find out for themselves how much force they really need to use to make such an attack effective. They try this on acquaintances, classmates, young family members and boyfriends. To be sure it will work, the attackers usually don’t hold back. Random groin attacks are sometimes common from one male to the other as a sort of prank amongst ‘friends’ who are jackasses. A youtube search teaches us that when girls do it to boys, it is most common among the late childhood and early teens, and even in early adulthood, usually under the guise of ‘it was accidental’, or ‘he did something that was annoying and so deserved it’, or ‘he asked for it’. (If her friend or classmate asked for a blowjob, anal sex or threesome, would she also feel so eagerly inclined to do it for him as kicking? Obviously him ‘asking for it’ is not the reason: it is that she likes the idea and that she has been given an excuse.) Sexually active women occasionally ‘accidentally’ still hit their man there, of course also most often ‘accidentally’. Moreover a woman feeling hurt emotionally by a partner or ex, often considers this emotional pain as sufficient excuse to potentially cause permanent physical damage to take out anger. The same holds true for whenever she is feeling threatened, regardless of whether there is an actual threat that may affect her for life. For heterosexual boys, a late childhood or early teenage experience where there is painful stimulation of the genitals by someone from the opposite gender who seems to enjoy inflicting this sort of pain, is hypothesized to be at the source for the development of an unhealthy* fetish. A fetish that later turns these boys into men who get sexually aroused from women giving them extreme pain in the groin.
(*A ballbusting fetish is unhealthy if it involves extreme pain without letting the body get used to it over the years. If initially it started out gentle and over the years it became harder, the groin tissue has likely become more resilient and can stand more impact with reduced risk of lasting damage. This sort of gradual build up is identical to the principle that also makes ‘iron groin’ training effective in the ability to withstand kicks to the groin.)
Potential and Real Consequences
In the worst cases, an attack to the male groin can cause testicular torsion (twisting the blood vessels supplying the scrotum, which can lead to necrosis) and may require removal of the testicle if not treated immediately. It is often accompanied by dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and blood discharges from the penis.
Alternatively, testicles can rupture (tearing the tough layer protecting the testicle) because of a kick or knee butt to the groin, which leads to similar symptoms as with torsion, and may also require removal of the testicle if the tissue is damaged beyond repair. These traumas to the testicles most often occur in men ages 10 to 30, and testicular torsion alone occurs at a rate of 1 in 4000 men. While this number reflects one particular testicle related medical emergency (namely torsion), we can assume that the number of males being struck in their genitals but who are luckily not sustaining permanent damage is much higher. If there is damage, the risk for permanent infertility and life long trauma is very real. Injuries of the testicles may affect the entire urinary and reproductive tract.
Apart from torsion and rupture, other risks are degloving (meaning the scrotum is torn), testicular fracture (breaking testicular structure), testicular dislocation (one or two testes being pushed into another area of the body), testicular hematoceles (blood pooling under the protective coating of testicles), testicular contusion (ruptured blood vessels and bruising), and inflammation of tissues surrounding the testicles. If anyone in thoughtless physical violence towards a man’s genitals, has caused damage, the man can be in for anything from reduced urine flow, possibly causing a back up to his kidneys and eventual renal failure, to sterilization, and the possible need for reconstructive surgery to his urethra, to correct the damage that the other in his/her thoughtless temper tantrum caused. With injury, a man’s life WILL BE changed forever: he will need to have annual checks on kidney function, and urine flow, and possibly others, and will also have severe emotional trauma and have his sexuality affected forever by fear.
While rare, an attack to the testicles can in fact cause death due to vasovagal/neurogenic shock, especially when the person under attack has an undiagnosed underlying heart or kidney related problem. This occrus most often with prolonged and continued squeezing of the testicles. There are reported instances of death by testicular attack across the globe from Ireland, to China, to India, to Papua New Guinea, to Cambodia, South-Africa, Zimbabwe and other countries.
Even if a kick to the groin does not lead to permanent damage, it is an effective attack for many reasons:
(1) Pain and fear: A kick to the groin causes immediate and very intense pain. On the internet there is a widespread debate on which is most painful: childbirth or a kick to the groin? The answer to this is not as straightforward. Research on pain recognizes that pain has two components: one is intensity, the other negative emotion. While childbirth is undoubtedly as intense or more intensely painful than a kick to the groin, the emotions accompanying a kick to the groin can approach a level of fear similar to that seen in a life or death situation, not experienced in childbirth. (This is because evolution hardwired the capacity for reproduction to be as important as that of survival. Childbirth has a positive outcome for reproduction, while a kick in the nuts could potentially prevent any chances of reproduction, hence the intrinsic fear response occurring during the latter.) Fear itself is known to be able to make the perceived intensity of pain much higher, thus making the pain very intense. (This is why men who have a fetish for being hurt in the groin can stand this sort of pain much better, because they have learned to override instinctive fear and have replaced it with arousal. These men can feel the pure intensity of testicular pain without the subjective intensity being amplified by overwhelming fear.) On top of that, the hardwired overwhelming fear kicking in causes changes in blood pressure and other autonomous functions, which is why some men become very pale and sweaty, experience ringing in the ears, and sometimes even end up fainting after being kicked in the genitals.
(2) Incapacitation: the reason men most often reflexively double up after a kick to the groin is because of connections of the nerve centers in the testicles with nerve centers in the abdomen as well as in the kidneys and even the aorta. As such, a kick to the balls generally causes widespread discomfort that extends beyond the genital area and extends to the stomach area as well as the kidneys and even the heart. In someone with pre-existing kidney or heart problems, this can be fatal.
(3) Endocrinal disruption: apart from massive activation of the HPA-axis also seen in life or death stress responses, and overactivation of the amygdala due to intense fear, a kick to the groin can cause temporary or even permanent disruption of hormonal function. This is true because the testicles are responsible for producing testosterone. An attack here lowers testosterone levels, and thus lowers aggressiveness, which is another reason why it is such an effective attack. However, with permanent disruption of endocrinal function, a man may suffer for life.
(There is actually a Belgian movie on this issue which was nominated for an Academy Award, and which is named ‘Bullhead‘. The movie accurately portrays how genital trauma can affect a man for life. In the movie, a boy who suffers a traumatizing event during childhood in which his testicles are destroyed, grows up on hormone replacement, making his brain extremely masculine. This testosterone overloaded brain makes him extremely violent, and also makes his crush on a woman extremely obsessive, jealous and over possessive. In the end his entire life is f*cked up as an indirect consequence of the trauma he once suffered.)
(4) Psychological trauma: an attack to the genitals is the equivalent of sexual harassment combined with battery and assault, and in the male brain it is processed to how the female brain processes sexual abuse and rape: it can evoke an instinctive fear response, a feeling of loss of control, invasion of sexual and mental boundaries, and can be highly traumatic. Often, bystanders give outburst of laughter (extremely common), indifference or even encouragement to the attacker, making the victim feel all the more traumatized, socially ostracized, and affecting his self-esteem. (Social exclusion activates pain centers, so the social exclusion experienced when noticing bystanders do not care for your overwhelming pain and anxiety, or that you notice they even feel entertained by it, makes the discomfort tons worse.) If the attack is done by a trusted acquaintance, a friend, a family member or a loved one, it is overly traumatic as it is a huge breach of trust which takes away the feeling of having safe environments in everyday life. This in turn can lead to castration anxiety paranoia and continuous stress throughout every second of each day, as you can’t even trust the people you are supposed to trust and who are aorund you most of the time (similar to sexual abuse). To make matters worse, courts are often very lenient to female attackers, as for example in the case of Megan Jane Conroy, an Australian teenager who held racist views of New-Zealanders, and repeatedly kneed one in the balls to the point of him needing medical assistance, merely for him mispronouncing her name. This is not an isolated incident: filtering through the fetish related search results, we can find a lot of incidents where female attackers are getting away with violently attacking a man’s genitals.
The above provides enough reason for some men to desire a way to be able to better deal with groin attacks.
- Wearing a protective groin cup can help, but this can create friction wounds on the inner upper thighs if worn frequently and for long periods, hinders movement, and is uncomfortably warm on the testes creating profuse sweating in this area, which in turn may cause skin rashes. With hard enough impact, groin cups can break and create penetration wounds. Moreover, a kick can move the cup out of position so that a testicle can get squeezed between the edge of the cup and the lower border of the pubic bone, having an effect very much opposite to intended. For these reasons, especially the latter, protective cups are not always the best solution, and men sometimes don’t even wear them when you would expect them to.
- Knowing martial arts can help, but only if you know when to expect a kick to the groin. For a list of risk factors, scroll down. However, knowing martial arts does not provide a 100% guarantee you will be able to defend yourself against a groin attack, even if you know when to expect it. Being unable to protect yourself is especially true if you are unwilling to hurt the other person as much as they are intent on hurting your genitals.
- An alternative way to deal with the many serious consequences of a kick to the groin, is to do iron crotch exercises, which involve desensitizing the groin to pain, making the groin tissue stronger and increasing its resilience against impact (both the genitals as well as the pelvic bone), and increasing the natural movability of the testes (movability being one of nature’s way to reduce chances of permanent damage).
Indian yogis originally came up with groin desensitizing exercises in order to reduce the temptations of sexual desire that might interfere with the devotion needed to develop themselves spiritually:
In the Tang dynasty (618 to 907 AD), when there was a large exchange between Indian and Chinese culture, the Chinese took some of these Indian exercises and their principles to develop a set of exercises with a similar but different purpose. The Chinese developed their own variations of groin exercises to better withstand attacks to the groin as well as to improve sexual functioning. As we notice the goals of these exercises for the Chinese where different than those of the Indians, hence some changes in techniques. Apart from better withstanding attacks, the Chinese techniques simultaneously stimulate testosterone and sperm production, and improve erectile function. They are also used to increase sexual endurance and the ability to withhold ejaculation in Taoistic health practices.
The techniques for training iron crotch are described in detail in our post on iron crotch exercises.
In the following video we see a demonstration of iron crotch by Shaolin monks, as well as two sports science videos showing the possibilities and mechanisms involved in this practice:
- Apart from iron crotch exercises, there is an even more esoteric Chinese practice in which men can learn to voluntarily withdraw their testes into the abdomen prior to being kicked. This skill has many names in Chinese: Xī yīngōng (吸阴功; exercise to suck up the genitals), suǒ yáng gōng (锁阳功, exercise to lock up the Yang), suō yáng gōng (缩阳功, exercise to withdraw the Yang), or tí dàng gōng (提档功, exercise to lift up the crotch).
As a young man in a time when I frequently trained my abs, I had this testicle withdrawal reflex involuntarily during the peak of sexual arousal, but I was never capable of doing this voluntarily. However, as I know I am physically capable of doing it, I am planning on relearning this for reasons you can read in the end of this post. In essence, this practice involves learning to get voluntary control over the cremasteric reflex. Six minutes into the following video, we get to see how master 叶志强 of the Zhou family southern praying mantis kungfu (周家螳螂) demonstrates this skill.
To be able to use this technique in self-protection, it is important to be able to estimate when a kick to the groin is more likely to occur, because the testes need to be withdrawn before being kicked. If they are withdrawn after the kick, it can worsen any potential damage, as the testes might start to swell while inside the abdomen and blood flow might be cut off, and then they cannot descend anymore, nor cool down or heal.
Risk factors for getting hit in the nuts
Based on information earlier in this post, as well as information from elsewhere, risk factors for being either purposely or ‘accidentally’ kicked in the genitals are:
- Between ages of 10 to 30: having jackass male (sometimes female) friends and standing with your groin exposed. (Youtube is loaded with examples where guys hurt an unsuspecting man for entertainment, and tons of comments indicate this is seen as entertainment.)
- At any age: participating in ball sports, in horse or bicycle riding or in martial arts
- Standing with your legs slightly open nearby a girl swinging her legs for cheerleading, dancing or for practicing kicking on a pad. You can expect with 99% certainty that somehow there will always be some girl to ‘accidentally’ swing in the wrong direction, or miss the pad by a meter and end up with a foot straight in your balls.
- From first sexual activity onward: having intercourse with a clumsy girlfriend. (In rats, the cremasteric reflex automatically occurs when male rats try to have intercourse with female rats, as the females tend to put up a struggle as part of a mating dance to see which male rat is really worth a f*ck, and they often end up striking their hindpaws in the genital area of the male rat. This brings us to our next risk factor for having your balls busted:..)
- Getting into play fights with anyone of the female gender (the hand, foot, or knee somehow always ‘accidentally’ ends up there)
- doing something for a woman what she asked you to do, when she changes her mind last minute, while you are kindly trying to comfort her and trying to encourage her to overcome her fears so she can have what she wants. (LESSON: if a woman wants something, make her get it herself. It’s not your responsibility and you sure as hell will not get rewarded for it, although occasionally you might get seriously punished if you try to help her and fail at comforting her.)
- Annoying a girl or young woman (around age 10 to early teens, and sometimes even throughout her adulthood as a grown woman, depending on her character), or doing something she doesn’t like (blocking her way, or keeping something out of reach), or merely standing with your legs open and being off guard.
- And of course, the number one risk factor at any age: getting into a heated verbal argument where the other one might feel threatened by your height and strength, or just feels like ending the argument fast, or feels like making you feel (s)he is entitled to have the ultimate decision in everything.
When getting into a heated verbal argument with a woman in the presence of bystanders, people always will assume that as a man you are the aggressor and that a woman is ALWAYS the victim, especially if your raise your voice or if there is some physical push pull from both of you, or if you try to make your angry girlfriend come with you to talk things out in private. Bystanders WILL come to the rescue of the woman without knowing what is going on between the two of you. Other witnesses WILL feel it is justified you get kicked and potentially suffer lasting physical trauma, regardless of whether you were shouting at her because you just found out she cheated on you, or whether she just broke you emotionally and then walked out to show she doesn’t care if you kill yourself.)
- Seeming to be impervious to other ways of being hurt, opens the door to the idea of hurting your testicles. For example, sometimes, people pick a fight with you, verbally and they actually try to hurt you, first emotionally, then physically. A girlfriend can in fact try to intentionally off-balance you emotionally in a fight, just to come out on top, just so she can be the one to set the rules about whatever you were arguing about. When she sees you are unresponsive to her emotional ploys to influence you, she may slap you. If after the slap her violence escalates (she starts punching you, perhaps with keys protruding from her fists – and no, this is not exaggerated imagination: this actually happened to me) and she feels you are relatively unaffected and not experiencing pain, the idea of kicking you in the groin WILL come to her mind. Whether she acts upon it or not, can depend on a fraction of a second of you doing the right or wrong thing. (This is very similar to when a girl decides to first go to bed with you or not. It seems to me the mind of a girl works the same for anything involving your genitals being stimulated, whether extremely pleasantly or extremely painfully: any small tiny action or thing you say on your part can make or break the deal, regardless of how attracted/angry she felt up to that point. And she will always either deny, or justify her action, whether it is sex, or a kick to the balls, or the absence of either.)
As an adult, I myself have been close to being kicked in my groin thrice, while having a verbal argument with three different girlfriends (and no, I didn’t have these three girlfriends all at the same time). They all felt I am not easily off-balanced, nor physically hurt, yet they felt that if they won the argument they could easily set the rules and that I would adhere to these rules from then on. A girlfriend having the potential to set the rules in a relationship about something you have different opinions on, can create a huge temptation for a girl to win a fight at all costs, including her considering to hurt your genitals. I have only been able to prevent these three groin attacks from happening by recognizing the thought of hurting my testicles occurred in each of their mind (while angry, a woman’s eyes will suddenly either freeze OR slide to your groin for a fraction of a second). I prevented it from happening by showing them at that exact moment that I am already hurt deeply, or instead suggesting in a joke that what they are thinking about doing will have a different effect than intended, and so they decided not to do it.
- Physically defending yourself against unexpected and hard violence initiated by a teenage girl or adult woman. I have seen plenty of instances where a woman initiated physical violence to a man, or where a girl did this to a boy, he defending himself and thereby granting her an excuse to bust his balls. I suspect that the idea of attacking his groin is already present in such violent girls’ heads prior to confrontation, but that these girls manipulate the boy into giving her a socially acceptable reason to boot him in the nuts. Creating a socially accepted situation for hurting a boy or man’s testicles is easily done by exploiting a boy or man’s self-defense reflexes, especially when he trusts you and doesn’t expect you to slap or hurt him. When he is suddenly slapped, the physical pain combined with the breach of trust may trigger a momentary self-defense reflex. As our sexist society only condones female on male violence but not the reverse, not even in self-defense, him defending himself and trying to stop her from attacking him is enough to give the girl or woman who initiated violence an excuse to attack his genitals and get away with it. (Before you say a man should never ever hit a woman back, imagine a woman attacked by a dog of smaller size then herself. Do you think it is reasonable she will sit back and let the dog wound her on the grounds that the dog has a smaller size and less muscle mass? Or do you think her biological drive for self preservation initiates some attempt to discourage the dog from further attacking her, by showing the dog she could hurt the dog too? The same happens to men when they are surprise attacked by a trusted female: the man or boy’s brain goes in a defensive mode to make clear to the attacker that they should not use violence: usually men or boys that are surprise attacked slap back, but they do not intend to beat a woman to death or anything. They just want her to stop hurting him, like the woman wants the smaller dog to stop attacking her. Moreover, because of societal conditioning men feel bad and guilty within seconds after slapping back, even if they did not initiate the violence, because society is very sexist and condones female on male violence, but not the reverse, not even in self-defense. The mere fact I need to explain a man’s point of view, not a woman’s is a dead giveaway there are sexist double standards around violence.)
In any of the above instances, it would be advisable to be ready to protect yourself, but without drawing attention to the possibility your groin would be an easy target. (You don’t want to give any potential attacker ideas you don’t want them to have.)