Lightweight construction and flexible materials make these shoes comfortable and supportive. Traction sole is pliable and has good grip on mats. Comes in variety of colors, unlike most other martial arts shoes. Great for martial arts, weightlifting, or general exercising.
Can look old and weathered quickly if suede panels are not maintained. Takes some time to lace up, untie, and make adjustments.
Good traction and grip on the floor with a rubberized bottom. Flat bottom ensures you can maintain your balance during workouts. Multiple sizes available. Stylish shoes with a classic black and white design. Very affordable.
Shoes tend to run small. Not much padding inside the shoes. Only made for light workouts.
Synthetic leather material in these shoes will stretch and flex to help during workouts. Rubber soles are flat for good traction on the floor. Lightweight design increases agility. Choose between multiple sizes for men or women.
Not really made for heavy-duty workouts. A little more pricey than other beginner-level shoes.
Sharp-looking shoes available in several sizes and colors. Fashioned from full synthetic leather with a tight weave nylon fill. Lightweight for quick footwork. Boots measure approximately six inches high.
Not as versatile as other martial arts shoes. Looks won't be for everyone.
Should last a while, as these shoes contain extra stitching in the stress points. Finished with leather vinyl for an eye-catching look. Low-top ankle support facilitates ease of movement. Rubbery sole gives you a good grip on the floor.
The insole could be secured better inside the shoe. Some users noted the laces were too long.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Martial arts shoes are specialty footwear designed to accommodate sharp movements and absorb shock from intense connections with the ground. While practitioners remain light on their feet, the shoes are designed to be rough-and-tumble-ready for heavy, high-impact use. Despite their tough construction, they’re typically made with different grades of breathable, lightweight materials.
The martial arts play a significant role in today’s culture. Its popularity is due, in part, to the excitement and accessibility of Bruce Lee’s movies. Lee’s legacy played an instrumental role in the rise of martial arts schools in America and inspired the growth of the industry. Now with an abundance of martial arts students, it’s no wonder that there’s a call for the right equipment to satisfy their needs.
Our shopping guide will help you figure out exactly what you’re looking for. We invite you to step in the ring and size up the competition among the pairs we examined.
Martial arts are practiced both indoors and outdoors, though some arts place more focus on location than others. Competitive fighting is typically indoors in a ring or octagon, whereas recreational practice could be outdoors to get in touch with nature. Depending on the type of practice space, martial arts shoes have different treads and soles to suit different floor and ground types.
Light training: Because the intensity of martial arts varies, lower-impact arts don’t require the engineering of a professional martial arts shoe. Tai chi, for example, is a gentle, paced martial art for which lightweight canvas shoes are acceptable.
Demonstrations: Martial artists who participate on demonstration teams travel to perform at expositions. Because these events are usually held indoors, shoes should accommodate both hardwood floors and mats. Shoes with too much or too little grip could stunt the flow of movement during forms on these surfaces.
You may opt to forgo socks while wearing your martial arts shoes if you don’t need them. Lightweight pairs are delicate enough to be worn without socks, especially since their shoe collars are often cut below the ankle. As for heavier, reinforced martial arts shoes, you may benefit from wearing socks to avoid chafing or blisters.
Early versions of some martial arts shoes were simple, slip-on footwear. Pairs that now feature laces still gravitate toward the no-lace look. Some laces are hidden behind thin textile panels to keep their appearance to a minimum. Not only is the flat design an aesthetic feature, it also serves as a safety measure to help prevent you from snagging on opponents or items around you.
The ankle area is a point of contention between martial arts shoes. In low-cut pairs, the ankle is fully exposed. This is a common design for light practice and demonstration shoes, as these pairs avoid extra material that could add to the weight of the shoe.
High-top martial arts shoes are seen in competitive, professional-level boxing and MMA pairs. The ankle and parts of the calf are covered for lateral support and below-the-knee protection. There are different heights for high-tops, some of which are referred to as “mid-tops” as they rise only slightly above the ankle joint.
Canvas or cotton-based material: Lightweight materials like canvas and cotton blends are ideal for light, casual training on flat surfaces. They’re usually inexpensive and are easily washable with soap and water.
Leather: Premium, competition-level martial arts shoes are made of high-grade leather. They last the longest and maintain a long-term optimal fit, as the leather acclimates itself and molds around your foot after time. Leather is a breathable material, so even though your feet will sweat, it won’t be completely trapped inside your shoes.
Martial arts shoes generally cost between $20 and $200. Pairs in the $20 to $40 range are basic, flat-soled shoes made from canvas or inexpensive textiles. They don’t hold up to much more than light training.
The $40 to $80 range includes shoes with features essential to martial arts practice, such as a pivot point and compact insole. On average, pairs in this range are well-built. Many are made by sports apparel manufacturers with dedicated martial arts product lines. You will also find cross-training sneakers that are flexible and versatile enough for indoor and outdoor practice in this price range.
Martial arts shoes in the $80 to $200 range are geared toward specific sports under the martial arts and fighting umbrella. MMA, capoeira, and boxing shoes are designed around regulations issued by the major federations in which they fight. As a result, they stay within the lines, and there are few differences between them. One perk in this price range is an abundance of color choices and aesthetic accents.
Find a lace pattern that is comfortable. Everyone’s feet are shaped differently, and changing the way you lace your martial arts shoes can improve comfort, fit, and flexibility.
Keep your feet fresh with sanitized shoes. Sweat is part and parcel of being a martial artist, so it’s expected that it will collect in your shoes. Pick up a UV shoe sanitizer to take your post-training cleanliness to the next level. It will help keep fungi, bacteria, and viruses at bay.
Buy more than one pair of martial arts shoes. Like sneakers, martial arts shoes take a beating, so they wear out after extended periods of heavy use. If you want to keep your shoes intact as long as possible, buy a second pair. Either rotate use between pairs or simply replace them once you start to see or feel excess wear.
Leave outdoor shoes at the door. For those who practice outdoors, remove your shoes before going inside so as not to track dirt.
Get your step in line with insoles. The high-impact nature of being a martial artist means a safe landing after floor and aerial techniques is of utmost importance. Insoles give an extra layer of shock absorption and provide support in important areas, such as the heel and ball of your foot.
Q. I don’t like the laces that came with my martial arts shoes. Can I get different ones?
A. Absolutely. Just make sure they are the right length and material. Some laces have waxy coatings or fibers that cause them to untie if they’re not double-knotted. Measure your current laces before ordering to make sure your new ones are the right length.
Q. My new martial arts shoes are stiff and uncomfortable. How do I get used to them?
A. There are some growing pains with new shoes of any kind, and martial arts shoes are no exception. Wear them around the house for a couple hours a day to let your feet get used to them; it’s not enough to just wear them to practice. A little extra time spent in the shoes can speed up how quickly you become comfortable with them.
Q. Part of the sole is coming off my martial arts shoes. Can I just glue it back on?
A. You could, but if the sole is peeling away, it’s probably time for a new pair. Even if you glue it back on, the materials and shape of the shoe have already begun to shift, so the fit will deteriorate over time.
Q. I wear a foot/ankle brace. Which martial arts shoes would work best?
A. Even ergonomic braces add reasonable bulk and material around the foot and ankle. Opt for well-constructed martial arts shoes that are cut below the ankle so they don’t obstruct the fit of your brace. Flat, lightweight shoes are too flimsy for the support you’ll need, and high-top shoes have a fit too tight to wear a brace under it.