Best Shoes for Martial Arts

Okay, when it comes to training – especially hard training – you want to be as comfortable as you can possibly get. This is particularly true if you’re going to be on your feet for most of the time. With that said, shoes can be a tricky piece of equipment because it will all depend on your style of choice. 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 types of 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; it’s quite possible 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

Facts:

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

If you’re looking for training shoes, this is 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.

Now, 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. With that said, I should point out that while these 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

Facts:

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

First off; these 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

Facts:

  • Sport: Taekwondo, Karate
  • Gear: Shoes
  • Material: Vinyl
  • Suitable for training and sparring

I’ve used this style of shoe for sparring; 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 both for forms training and for 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

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 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

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

06: 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 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

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 – helping us to avoid various nasty infections. These 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.

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

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. So, you’ve got some pretty similar trappings to the others on this list; synthetic leather exterior with 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). There’s short lace to ensure a comfortable and secure fit with minimal risk of tripping over the laces.

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

Facts:

  • Sport: Taekwondo, Karate
  • Gear: Shoes
  • Material: Vinyl
  • Suitable for sparring and training

Like the Pro Force Lightning shoes from before, I’ve used similar shoes 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 both for forms training and for 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

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 know 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, although, 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

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 really good shock absorption, 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 both for forms training and for 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

Facts:

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

Okay, first off; 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 running shoe or cross trainer you like. I’m not going to lie, I was waiting with baited breath for these to appear and now they have! Anyways, 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 these 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 bare foot. 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 arts 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 shell. If you’re talking about training shoes then we get into what kind of training are you 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 arts 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 store room and you buy them new; it’s unlikely that anything dangerous could’ve gotten to 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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