The 7 Best Martial Arts Shoes of 2020
Choosing the best martial arts shoe is key to ensuring you have a workout that’s safe and comfortable. You also want good value from a shoe that will last. This article breaks down seven of the best martial arts shoes.
If you’re wondering why you need special shoes for martial arts, think of it as an investment in yourself. With the right shoes, you give yourself the tools you need to perform at your best. You can’t wear tennis shoes or running shoes for martial arts.
They’re too bulky and heavy to allow you to move well. Martial arts requires the ability to be fast and agile. In other words, you need the right tool for the right job. You wouldn’t play golf with a tennis racket, would you?
In terms of design, comfort, and overall usability, the Adidas Kick Shoes Martial Arts Sneaker Stripes are a solid universal choice. Check out the reviews below and compare for yourself.
Best Martial Arts Shoes
Adidas Kick Shoes Martial Arts Sneaker Stripes
ASICS Men's Matflex 5 Wrestling Shoe
Textile and Synthetic
Century Lightfoot Martial Arts Shoe
adidas Taekwondo Adilux Shoes
Ringstar Fight Pro Martial Arts Sparring Shoe
Cotton Sole Mens Kung Fu Closed Toe Slip On Shoes
UNOW Chinese Traditional Cloth Kung Fu Shoes
1. Adidas Kick Shoes Martial Arts Sneaker Stripes
Kicking off our reviews is the adidas KICK. This shoe is perfect if you are new to studying martial arts. Geared towards the beginner, the shoe is comfortable, light, and looks good as well.
The snug fit allows for premium foot control, and the rubber outsole gives you optimal floor grip when needed the most. Its design is close to that of a wrestling shoe and works well for both wrestling and martial arts.
It’s adidas, which means you don’t have to worry about the quality. Although there’s nothing wrong with the adidas KICK, there are better options if you’re looking for the best martial arts shoe for your workout.
You might be like HIIT workouts and cross training shoes if you want your current exercise program to the next level.
If you’re into heavy bag training and want to buy a comfortable shoe that gives good foot protection while spending hours kicking that bag, the adidas KICK Shoes Martial Arts Sneaker is a solid choice for you.
2. ASICS Men's Matflex 5 Wrestling Shoe
As the name says, the ASICS Men's Matflex 5 Wrestling Shoe is made specifically for wrestlers, but it has many features that make it a good pick for a quality martial arts shoe. It's sturdy yet flexible design works well on and off the mat.
A nice safety feature is a pocket that allows the laces to be tucked in so as not to catch on anyone or anything. The full-length gum rubber outsole helps to keep your feet steady, no matter what angle they're hitting the floor.
Lightweight material and overall comfort make it popular with the martial arts crowd.
If you prefer a high top shoe, the ASICS Men's Matflex 5 Wrestling Shoe offers a secure fit and exceptional comfort. The downside is that they may not last as long as a shoe that was made to be used for martial arts.
3. Century Lightfoot Martial Arts Shoe
The Century Lightfoot Martial Arts Shoe is made with martial arts in mind. Designed for comfort, the flexible construction moves with each foot while breathable material keeps your feet at a comfortable temperature.
The rubber soles are accented with pivot points to allow for smooth pivoting. The lightweight material won’t weigh down your feet, but the construction is sturdy enough to give maximum foot support even during numerous bag repetitions.
Velcro straps and a wide opening allow the shoe to go on and come off easily.
The Century Lightfoot Martial Arts Shoe is well padded, easy to get into, and falls into the select category of martial arts shoes with arch support. If you have a high arch or need a little extra support in that area, this shoe is a good option for you.
The synthetic leather is pliable, but still gives adequate protection for bag kicks. Be aware that synthetic materials don’t always breathe as well as organic materials.
4. adidas Taekwondo Adilux Shoes
Another shoe that’s made specifically for martial arts, the adidas Taekwondo Adilux Shoe is a shoe that wants you to have a comfortable workout. The fact that they’re made from real leather is a huge bonus.
Leather breathes, moves, stretches, and conforms to your feet offering a more comfortable fit. The slip-on design avoids awkward lacing, and a thick padded tongue adds extra cushion just where you need it to absorb the shock during repetitive bag kicks.
Similar to the Century Lightfoot, the adidas Taekwondo Adilux shoe has a firm center that gives exceptional arch support, while the flexible sole is thin enough that you can almost feel the ground beneath your feet.
The adidas Taekwondo Adilux Shoes is a terrific choice for an all-around shoe that gives you support and shock absorption, even during the most rigorous training.
5. Ringstar Fight Pro Martial Arts Sparring Shoe
These shoes were made for fighting! Whether you’re fighting to train or starting the fight of your life, these shoes will keep you grounded and stable. The Ringstar Fight Pro Martial Arts Sparring shoe is as beautiful as it is functional.
What sets it apart from the other shoes is the Advantage Ankle Protector that protects the inner ankle while still allowing for natural ankle movement. It’s loaded with padding in the tongue, flap, and toe - so much that you’ll feel like you’re protected from all sides.
The hook and loop closure guarantees that these shoes will be easy on and off, even after those exhausting workouts. Pure white soles guarantee that you won’t leave marks on even the cleanest mat. These shoes are available in sizes to fit almost any foot for any gender.
Overall, the Ringstar Fight Pro Martial Arts Sparring shoe is a sturdy shoe that can take a beating. With excessive cushioning, beautiful style, solid soles, and arch support, this shoe will take a beating and keep on going long after the fight is over.
6. Cotton Sole Mens Kung Fu Closed Toe Slip-On Shoes
Even though the name says they are Kung Fu shoes, the Cotton Sole Mens Kung Fu Closed Toe Slip-On Shoes are possibly the best Tai Chi shoes on this list. The shoe is light, soft, flexible, and comfortable.
The pair folds up easily for compact storage and carrying in your gear bag. This black canvas soft shoe moves with your feet to keep you in harmony during your workout while the reinforced cotton sole keeps your feet cool in breathable comfort.
The shoe doesn’t offer much in the way of foot protection for a heavy contact workout, but for indoor training, they work well. It is not recommended that these shoes get wet because shrinkage might occur. Therefore, these shoes should be used only indoors.
If you’re looking for a pair of tai chi shoe, the Cotton Sole Mens Kung Fu Closed Toe Slip-On Shoe is a top performer. They’re soft, flexible, easy to store and put on, and comfortable to wear. Just remember to keep them off the pavement and out of the rain to extend their lifespan.
7. UNOW Chinese Traditional Cloth Kung Fu Shoes
There are so many good things to say about the UNOW Chinese Traditional Cloth Kung Fu Shoe,s it’s hard to choose where to start. First, they arrive in their little bag which is not only a nice touch but a practical bonus for taking them with you everywhere you go.
Moreover, you can because they can be worn inside, outside, or anywhere your heart desires. Their versatility is the best feature of these shoes compared to all of the others listed above.
They are made with a cloth upper, cotton lining and a rubber sole - no synthetics at all - which means ultimate breathability for maximum comfort during wear, even in the sweatiest of situations.
Inside the dojo, they do their job well. Outside, their casual look is appealing, and the rubber sole means they can be worn anywhere. They’re durable and will last for each comfortable workout.
If you’re looking for a comfortable shoe that will allow you to move, slide and spin, the UNOW Chinese Traditional Cloth Kung Fu Shoes is a great selection. For something sturdier to protect your feet while kicking bags or boards, check out some of the other reviews above.
What to Look For Before Buying Best Martial Arts Shoes
Heavy shoes make for tired feet. A sturdy lightweight shoe will allow you to have the freedom and flexibility without the fatigue.
As with any other shoe, the fit is important. To lose, and you’ll get blisters and be distracted from an improper fit. Too tight, and you could experience numbing cramping and ingrown toenails.
Most shoes have some degree of padding. How much padding you want or need depends on what type of training you’ll be doing. Some people prefer heavy padding for extra comfort while bag training, while others need little to no padding for training such as Tai Chi.
It’s important that the sole of the shoe be skid and slip free. Good martial arts training shoes will allow for smooth transitions from one move to the next without catching or sticking.
You may see our more discussion about non-slip shoes here.
Good shock absorption saves wear and tear on joints, especially knees and hips.
Letting your feet breathe during a workout is important to keep them from overheating. It also helps to control odor and fungus in the shoes.
Safety is Number One in martial arts and that goes for selecting the right shoes too. Shoes that fit properly will give you more control and better balance. Proper padding will ensure that you and others stay safe during training.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Do shoes need to be worn inside and outside?
A. One important factor to consider before buying shoes is whether you’ll be wearing them inside or outside. Some training centers don’t allow footwear on the mats, but others will allow certain types of footwear that are non-marking or won’t tear the mat material.
One concern about not wearing shoes is fungus and other foot diseases. If your dojo doesn’t allow shoes and you have a concern about diseases, talk to the instructors, and get a list of approved footwear before deciding on a particular shoe.
There are also shoes that are made to wear strictly indoors and on mats. These shoes won’t last if worn outside. Make sure to do your homework, or the shoes won’t wear as intended.
Q. Can’t I just wear socks without shoes?
A. Remember that scene with Tom Cruise in Risky Business where he goes sliding across the floor in his socks? You don’t want that to be you during sparring. Aside from being dangerous, wearing only socks is unsanitary.
Your socks may be dirty from the inside of your shoes, and that will spread diseases to those people who are barefoot.
Q. Should I wear socks with my shoes?
A. People with sensitive feet or excessive sweating might prefer to wear socks. In this case, order shoes a bit larger than your normal size to allow for the extra sock space inside the shoe.
Q. What are mat shoes?
A. Mat shoes are designed specifically to be worn on mats during martial arts katas and sparring. They don’t have soles that can tear the mats or cause unnecessary wear on the mat fabric.
Q. What is the difference between martial arts shoes and other training shoes?
A. Martial arts shoes redesigned to support the feet while doing moves specific to martial arts, such as jumps and kicks and hard landings. They also have extra padding in places where other training shoes won’t have them.
For instance, a common pace for padding on martial arts shoes is the tongue so that the top of the foot isn’t injured during bag kicking.
Q. Why do I need to wear shoes at all?
A. It’s true that some styles of martial arts are performed barefoot - such as Kendo and Judo - but again, it comes down to foot support and cleanliness. Taking care of your feet is important, and taking care of the equipment is equally important.
Many competitions are held in school gymnasiums. Think back to your high school gym and how dirty the floors were.
Rocks from the parking lots, dust bunnies from under the bleachers making their way onto the floor, spilled cola, and a whole host of other things that can get on your feet. Freshly polished gym floors can also be slippery. Again, remember Tom Cruise. It all comes back to safety.
No matter your preferred martial arts form - Taekwondo, Karate, MMA, Krav Maga, Kung Fu, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), TaiChi, Ninjutsu, Muay Thai, Kickboxing or Aikido - it’s best to talk to instructors and other students about footwear choices.
The dojo may require you to bring special mat shoes or certain padded shoes for sparring. You might even need to buy more than one pair depending on your field or fields of study.
The type of shoe you need is dependent upon the use. Some shoes are better for bag training, while others are best for pivoting, kicks, sparring, grappling, breaking techniques, or other kinds of practice.
Your feet are, and the wrong shoes could cause injury to you or someone else. Like anything else, do your homework and find the right shoes for the right purpose. The best martial arts shoes depend on you.
- Martial Arts Shoes Buying Guide, by awma