Best Shoes for Martial Arts

When it comes to training – especially hard training – you want to be as comfortable as possible. This is particularly true if you’re on your feet for most of the time. With that said, shoes can be a tricky piece of equipment because your choice will depend on your martial arts style. Styles like Krav Maga, which is self-defense based, would see you wearing everyday street shoes (i.e. sneakers). Some styles – like Ninjutsu – have specific shoes that students wear while training.

Now, with all that said, most styles (taekwondo, karate, judo, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, etc.) are practiced barefoot. That doesn’t mean that you can’t train in something like karate or taekwondo with shoes, and it’s quite possible to use shoes, provided you have the head instructor’s permission (if it’s not sparring foot gear) and the shoe isn’t going to damage the mats.

Our Best Picks

01: Vbestlife Taekwondo Shoes

Facts:

  • Sport: Taekwondo, Karate, Tai Chi
  • Gear: Shoes
  • Material: Synthetic Leather
  • Suitable for: Training

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Comfortable
  • Stylish
  • Non-slip soles

Cons:

  • Not suitable for sparring
  • Sizing may be a challenge

02: Century Lightfoot Martial Arts Shoes

Facts:

  • Sport: Taekwondo, Karate, Tai Chi
  • Gear: Shoes
  • Material: Synthetic leather
  • Suitable for: Training

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Comfortable
  • Stylish
  • Non-slip soles

Cons:

  • Not for sparring
  • Not good on certain floors (carpets and rubber)
  • Sizing may be an issue

03: Pro Force Lightning Kicks Sparring Shoes

Facts:

  • Sport: Taekwondo, Karate
  • Gear: Shoes
  • Material: Vinyl
  • Suitable for: Training and Sparring

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Light
  • Secure
  • Good shock absorption
  • Adjustable

Cons:

  • Not too comfortable for general-use training (i.e., forms)

Best Shoes for Martial Arts

01: Vbestlife Taekwondo Shoes

Vbestlife Taekwondo Shoes

Facts:

  • Sport: Taekwondo, Karate, Tai Chi
  • Gear: Shoes
  • Material: Synthetic leather
  • Suitable for: Training

If you’re looking for training shoes, these are a good option. The synthetic leather shoes are both stylish and durable with the TPR rubber soles providing a non-slip surface, which prevents you from sliding all over the mat during practice.

However, it’s important to note that, with 20 available sizes, finding the right size for you could be a challenge. Additionally, these are not really suitable for sparring. I should also point out that, while these shoes aren’t really meant for sparring, they can be used in sparring. Although, you may want to use something else as these don’t have padding around the exterior, so there’s no shock absorption to be had.

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Comfortable
  • Stylish
  • Non-slip soles

Cons:

  • Not suitable for sparring
  • Sizing may be a challenge

For more information or to make a purchase, click on the link below:

02: Century Lightfoot Martial Arts Shoes

Century Lightfoot Martial Arts Shoes

Facts:

  • Sport: Taekwondo, Karate, Tai Chi
  • Gear: Shoes
  • Material: Synthetic leather
  • Suitable for: Training

Firstly, these shoes aren’t meant for sparring – they’re meant for training forms and possibly self-defense. These are stylish, and the synthetic leather construction makes them very durable while the rubberized soles form a non-slip surface on the underside of the shoe. It’s pretty easy to put these on and take them off again, and they’re super comfortable.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows; however, these are seemingly only available in men’s sizes. This isn’t really a problem unless you’re a woman, in which case getting the sizing right can be a bit of a challenge. These are also not good on certain training surfaces (i.e. carpet or rubber) as the soles will grip slightly differently, which could inhibit movement and damage your shoes.

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Comfortable
  • Stylish
  • Non-slip Soles

Cons:

  • Not for sparring
  • Not good on certain floors (carpets and rubber)
  • Sizing may be an issue

Still, Century is a well-known and trusted brand when it comes to martial arts equipment, and I’d say these are a good option for both beginners and veterans alike. For more information or to make a purchase, click on the link below:

03: Pro Force Lightning Kicks Sparring Shoes

Pro Force Lightning Kicks Sparring Shoes

Facts:

  • Sport: Taekwondo, Karate
  • Gear: Shoes
  • Material: Vinyl
  • Suitable for: Training and Sparring

I’ve used this style of shoe for sparring, and they’re fairly affordable and easy to work with. The vinyl-covered foam provides fantastic shock absorption and the velcro straps allow for easy adjustment and a secure fit. These can be worn for both forms training and sparring; although, training your form in these is more than a little uncomfortable.

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Light
  • Secure
  • Good Shock absorption
  • Adjustable

Cons:

  • Not too comfortable for general-use training (i.e., forms)

For more information or to make a purchase, click on the link below:

04: Keenso Unisex Taekwondo Shoes

Keenso Unisex Taekwondo Shoes

Facts:

  • Sport: Karate, Taekwondo, Tai Chi
  • Gear: Shoes
  • Material: Synthetic leather
  • Suitable for: Training

Keenso is a brand that I’d never seen before now, but their shoes are pretty similar to others on this list. You have a synthetic leather shoe with a rubberized sole for added traction on the mat. These are suitable for general training but not really for sparring. You can train in multiple disciplines with these, making them nice and versatile, and they’re also very affordable.

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Comfortable
  • Versatile
  • Non-slip sole

Cons:

  • Not for sparring

For more information or to make a purchase, click on the link below:

05: VGEBY Taekwondo Sport Shoes

VGEBY Taekwondo Sport Shoes

Facts:

  • Sport: Taekwondo, Karate, Tai Chi
  • Gear: Shoes
  • Material: Synthetic leather
  • Suitable for: Training

Similar to other entries on this list, these taekwondo shoes from VGEBY are made of synthetic leather with rubberized soles. The durable synthetic leather allows for flexibility and comfort without neglecting security, and the rubberized soles prevent slipping. It also doesn’t hurt that these shoes are pretty cool to look at. Another similarity to other entries is that these aren’t meant for sparring; they’re meant for forms training.

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Comfortable
  • Non-slip soles
  • Good price

Cons:

  • Not for sparring
  • Possibility of tripping over your laces

These may not be meant for sparring but they’re still a great option to use – just be careful about tripping over your shoelaces. For more information or to make a purchase, click on the link below:

06: Century Student Hi-Top Boots

Century Student Hi-Top Boots

Facts:

  • Sport: Taekwondo, Karate
  • Gear: Shoes
  • Material: Vinyl
  • Suitable for: Training and Sparring

Century Martial Arts makes a triumphant second appearance with these hi-top boots. The vinyl-covered foam provides durability as well as phenomenal shock absorption. With a much higher boot, your ankle and foot are fully covered, and the adjustable velcro straps allow for a comfortable, secure fit.

These are great for sparring and heavy bag work, but, much like the Pro Force shoes from earlier, you wouldn’t want to do your form training while wearing them.

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Light
  • Secure
  • Good shock absorption
  • Adjustable

Cons:

  • Not great for general training
  • Limited size availability

For more information or to make a purchase, click on the link below:

07: Mooto Korea Taekwondo MarShoes

Mooto Korea Taekwondo MarShoes

Facts:

  • Sport: Taekwondo, Karate
  • Gear: Shoes
  • Material: Neoprene
  • Suitable for: Training

Here’s a novel concept: neoprene shoes. Yes, you read that correctly, these shoes are fashioned from neoprene, which keeps them light and flexible and allows them to absorb sweat. This helps us to avoid nasty infections. These shoes are great for practicing forms, but I would advise against heavy bag and sparring work – I don’t know how well these would hold up in those cases.

Pros:

  • Light
  • Flexible
  • Absorbs sweat
  • Non-slip fabric on the soles
  • Stretchy

Cons:

  • Probably not a good idea to go hard on a heavy bag with these
  • Not good for sparring

For more information or to make a purchase, click on the link below:

08: Adidas Adi-Kick 2 Taekwondo Shoes

Adidas Adi-Kick 2 Taekwondo Shoes

Facts:

  • Sport: Taekwondo, Karate
  • Gear: Shoes
  • Material: Synthetic leather
  • Suitable for: Training

Adidas makes their grand entrance with an update to the Adi-Kick shoes, the Adi-Kick 2. You’ve got some similar trappings to the others on this list: synthetic leather exterior and rubberized soles. The leather is nice and durable, and the rubber soles ensure that you won’t slip and slide all over the mat. Pivot points on the soles allow for quick turns without compromising your balance (unless you’re like me and you have terrible balance). They have short laces to ensure a comfortable and secure fit with minimal risk of tripping.

Like the other, similar products, these aren’t really meant for sparring, so if that’s what you need, then you may need look at something else.

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Comfortable
  • Non-slip soles

Cons:

  • Not for sparring

For more information or to make a purchase, click on the link below:

09: Tiger Claw Spar Master Sparring Shoes

Tiger Claw Spar Master Sparring Shoes

Facts:

  • Sport: Taekwondo, Karate
  • Gear: Shoes
  • Material: Vinyl
  • Suitable for: Sparring and Training

Like the Pro-Force Lightning shoes mentioned earlier, I’ve used similar shoes to these in sparring. That said, Tiger Claw is not a company with which I am familiar, but they seem to have a good reputation in martial arts circles. The vinyl-covered foam provides fantastic shock absorption and the velcro straps allow for easy adjustment and a secure fit. These can be worn for both form of training and sparring; although, training your form in these is more than a little uncomfortable.

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Comfortable
  • Lightweight
  • Adjustable
  • Good shock absorption

Cons:

  • Sizing info’s a bit off
  • Not really for training forms

For more information or to make a purchase, click on the link below:

10: Pro Force Thunder Kicks Double Layered Sparring Shoes

Pro Force Thunder Kicks Double Layered Sparring Shoes

Facts:

  • Sport: Taekwondo, Karate
  • Gear: Shoes
  • Material: Vinyl
  • Suitable for: Training and Sparring

So, we looked at the Pro Force Lightning shoes earlier, but you can’t have lightning without thunder! The vinyl-covered foam provides amazing shock absorption and the velcro straps allow for easy adjustment and a secure fit. The higher coverage means your foot and ankle are both covered and thereby protected during sparring practice.

These can be worn both for forms training and for sparring. However, as previously mentioned, training your form in these is often more than a little uncomfortable.

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Good shock absorption
  • Full coverage of foot and ankle
  • Adjustable

Cons:

  • Sizing may be a challenge

For more information or to make a purchase, click on the link below:

Alternative(s)

11: Whistlekick Karate Sparring Shoes

Whistlekick Karate Sparring Shoes

Facts:

  • Sport: Karate, Taekwondo
  • Gear: Shoes
  • Material: Vinyl
  • Suitable for: Training and Sparring

Whistlekick is another popular brand in the martial arts world. They’re known for quality products at good prices – and with good reason. So, same as before, we’ve got vinyl-covered foam, which has great shock absorption, and velcro straps, which can be adjusted to give a secure, comfortable fit. The higher coverage around your ankle adds some much-needed support to your ankle and foot. One thing that’s different is that where most of these types of shoes have a toe strap on the bottom, these ones don’t. It doesn’t sound like much, but considering the number of times I’ve hurt my toes on those straps, it’s a blessing!

These can be worn for both forms training and sparring; although, as I’ve said several times now, training your form in these is often uncomfortable and annoying.

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Affordable
  • Good shock absorption
  • Comfortable and secure

Cons:

  • Sizing could potentially be an issue

For more information or to make a purchase, click on the link below:

12: Nike Men’s Air Monarch IV Cross Trainer

Nike Men’s Air Monarch IV Cross Trainer

Facts:

  • Sport: Karate, taekwondo, Krav Maga, MMA, etc.
  • Gear: Shoes
  • Material: Synthetic leather
  • Suitable for: literally anything

Firstly, it’s very rare to see people training in a dojo while wearing trainers, but it does happen. It doesn’t have to be Nike either, you can use any type of running shoe or cross-trainer you like. I’m not going to lie, I was waiting with bated breath for these to appear, and now they have! – but I digress. We have a synthetic leather exterior with a foam mid-layer and a rubberized sole. These are very durable and very comfortable (and stylish too).

You can use these for literally anything – except, maybe intense heavy bag work. Forms, self-defense, fitness tests, and, yes, even sparring, are all quite possible with these. A quick note on sparring, however: you’ll almost never spar in this outside of a style like Krav Maga. They’re super comfortable but there’s not a whole lot of padding on these, and the harder soles may leave cuts and abrasions during sparring, which isn’t fun.

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Comfortable
  • Stylish
  • Versatile
  • Non-slip soles

Cons:

  • The price point is quite high for a pair of trainers

For more information or to make a purchase, click on the link below:

FAQs

Question: What kind of Shoes Should I Wear for Martial Arts?

Answer: This depends on the style in which you’re training as each style will have different requirements, but generally you wear whatever you’re comfortable with or whatever sparring shoes you’re given.

Question: What are the Best Shoes for Martial Arts?

Answer: Training-wise, I’d go with the Vbestlife taekwondo shoes, but sparring-wise, I’d probably go with the Pro-Force Lightning sparring shoes or something similar.

Question: Why should I Wear Sparring Shoes?

Answer: Apart from the fact that you won’t be allowed to compete without them, you really don’t want to kick your opponent’s elbow with a barefoot. The pain is excruciating and you could fracture your foot.

Question: Is it Practical to Wear Martial Arts Shoes for Training Purposes?

Answer: Depending on the type of training, yes, it could be more practical to wear shoes while you train.

Question: Is there Sufficient Protection in Martial Art Shoes?

Answer: Yes, but it depends on what you’re doing. This is a bit of a loaded question because there are, from what I’ve seen, two types of shoes: training shoes – which resemble trainers – and sparring shoes which are just a coated foam shells. If you’re talking about training shoes, then we have to consider what kind of training you are doing. If you’re looking at sparring, then probably not, unless you’re wearing a proper sparring shoe, and, even then, it would depend on the quality of the shoe.

Question: Do Martial Arts Shoes Provide Sufficient Ankle Support?

Answer: Yes, most martial arts shoes provide more than sufficient support for your ankle.

Question: Is Hygiene Ensured in Martial Art’s Shoes?

Answer: Yes, but I’d like to point out that where you get your shoes and their condition factor into that quite a bit. If they’ve been stored properly in a storeroom and you buy them new, it’s unlikely that anything dangerous could’ve compromised them beforehand. On the other hand, if you buy your shoes on the secondary market then it’s rather up in the air.

Question: Are Martial Arts Shoes Worn only for Training?

Answer: No, not really. Most sports styles are trained barefoot, but when you train with shoes on you want to be able to use them for more than just training. This is why when you search ‘Martial arts shoes’ online you get a lot of cross trainer-style shoes. Some guys will wear them exclusively for training and nothing else, and others will wear them for practically anything.

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