If you ever saw a professional Karate competition, you probably noticed that the fighters are fighting barefoot. That is the common practice in most dojos, but there are more than a few reasons why many practitioners opt to train in shoes. There are specially designed shoes that can benefit you for so many different reasons, so you should definitely at least consider practicing in them.
If you are planning to compete in Karate, you won’t be able to wear the shoes in competition, but training in them can help you avoid plenty of possible problems and injuries. It can also help you get a feel of what it would be like in a real self-defense situation, because it is very improbable you’ll be attacked bare-footed.
Obviously, you’ll need special shoes to train Karate in. It’s not possible to train in your regular outdoor sneakers, both for practical and hygienic reasons. Before you buy Karate shoes, though, you should be aware of what you’re looking for.
What Kind of Shoes Are Good for Karate?
As we mentioned, most Karate dojos practice barefoot. However, that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t be allowed to train in shoes. You need to consider some things before you do it, though. First of all, you shouldn’t use these shoes outside of the gym. That way, you’ll keep them clean and avoid soiling the mats with dirt, especially if other practitioners are bare-footed.
Secondly, you need to know what kind of shoes you need. They should be thin, light-weighted, and shouldn’t have laces. Laces can cause injury to your opponent when taking a hit, so most gyms don’t allow sparring in laced shoes. You can still practice in them without sparring, but it would be a lot more simple to get ones without laces.
There are several types of shoes that practitioners often use in practice. The laceless sneakers are the most common, and there are many models to choose from. But, if you want a more traditional martial arts feeling, you can get a pair of old-school Kung Fu shoes (that is, slippers). They will provide you with more grip and protection, but keep your comfort and mobility on the same level as being bare-footed.
There are more types of martial arts shoes, such as boxing boots and ninjutsu Tapi shoes, but we don’t recommend these for Karate practice. They are designed for different types of movement and skillset and will limit your performance when practicing Karate.
Benefits of Wearing Karate Shoes
There are many more benefits than there are drawbacks of wearing Karate Shoes. The biggest drawbacks are the fact that you have to be barefoot in competition, so it can feel a bit strange if you are used to practicing in shoes. Also, if the shoes are too sturdy, they can hurt your opponent, but that is why you should get ones that aren’t.
On the other hand, the benefits are vast. First of all, there’s hygiene. In dojos where everybody practices shoeless, there is always a residue of skin and sweat. But, that’s not the worst-case scenario. If only one of the practitioners has fungal contamination, the problem can spread around other practitioners, especially if they share the mats, locker rooms, and the dojo in general.
The other benefit of wearing shoes for Karate is the protection it provides. When barefoot, you can suffer injury to your feet in several different ways. It’s common for a toe to get stuck between the mats, or your foot can get stepped on. You can also get hurt while kicking right into a block.
To add to it, many Karate clubs use rented spaces for their practice, such as school gyms, halls, etc. The floors can be old, rough, and damaged, which means a dangerous surface to train on with no shoes. To avoid all these problems, you should get some light Karate shoes and focus more on your training.
Finally, it puts you more into the feeling of how it would look like if you really get attacked and need to use your techniques to defend yourself. It’s very improbable that you’ll be barefoot if that situation occurs, so training in shoes puts you at an advantage to know how to perform the techniques while having shoes on.
Best Shoes for Karate – Overall
If you want the best of the best, choose well-known, high-quality shoes. Our best overall pick is Adidas Adi-Kick 2 Sneakers. It’s an improved version of Adidas Adi-Kick that provide you with stability and comfort while performing even the most complex techniques.
To add to it, these shoes are extremely light, so you won’t even notice them while practicing. They feel as if you aren’t wearing shoes at all. They are made with high-quality polyurethane materials, which enable the flexibility and durability of the shoes. They are single laced with a protective cap over it, meaning that you can still adjust how tight you want them to fit, but be sure that both you and your opponent are safe.
The soles are made of rubber to improve friction and stability, and they have additional support on pressure points such as the heel and the base of your toes. Be careful to get the right size, because it’s crucial for your training to have shoes that aren’t too loose or too tight.
As for the price, the range goes from $40 to $60. It is a bit more than some other models of Karate shoes, but you can rest assured you will get the top quality for your money. Adidas is a well-known brand for sports equipment, and Karate is no exception.
Best Shoes for Karate – Budget Pick
If you want good quality and support, but have a tight budget, then you should take a look at Vbestlife Wei-Rui Lightweight Karate Shoes. Priced at around $25, you will get all the support you need for your training for half the price of some more branded models.
The materials are of the same kind. Soles are made of rubber, so you can avoid slips. The shoe itself is very soft and light, and even though there are no common laces, they fit well and won’t slip off. One more great part about this model is the double stitching in crucial pressure points, so they will definitely endure the training, even the highest intensity.
Basically, these shoes are the cheaper version of the before-mentioned Adidas model. Even the design is similar. They are of a bit less quality than Adidas, but still give you everything you need when it comes to Karate practice – durability, stability, comfort, and lightweight. If you are looking for a good shoe, but wish to spend less money, this is the choice you should make.
Other Great Shoes for Karate
The two models we mentioned are our picks as the best ratio of quality and price. However, your choice depends on the purpose of your training, too. So, we picked a few more great models to help you determine what you need and what suits you the best.
Century Lightfoot Martial Arts Shoes
Now, this model costs a bit more than the Wei-Rui model but less than the Adidas. Priced at around $37, it is a Great choice for Karate practice, especially on wooden surfaces. The design is similar to the before-mentioned models, but the soles are a bit thicker. That will provide you with better friction and stability, but can be a bit too heavy for combat.
The biggest concern about this one would be to get the right size. The shoes are made in China, so the sizes can be a bit different than you think. But, if you get the right fit, you’ll be satisfied with the performance of the shoes. Not the best of the best, but will get the job done.
APIKA Traditional Kung Fu Shoes
This one is for all the martial arts practitioners that enjoy the ancient, old-school feeling while practicing. These shoes are designed similarly to the shoes you can see Bruce Lee and other famous martial artists wearing. However, that doesn’t mean they lack the performance that modern shoes have. On the contrary, they are very light and easy to wear.
The rubber extensions on top work instead of laces in order to provide you with the best mobility and comfort. The soles are rubber as well, and the best part about them is the price. You can get a pair for only $15, which is awesome. They might not provide the padding that modern footwear can give you, but they will protect your toes from injury and provide you with a great base for your practice.
Mooto Korea MarShoes
Now, these shoes are great, although they technically aren’t shoes, as the previously mentioned models are. These are sock-typed shoes that easily get on and off your foot, made from neoprene fabric. They allow your foot to breathe but give you the necessary protection when practicing in a dojo. They look like a modern version of traditional martial arts slippers/shoes.
The model is extremely light, and the purpose of it is firstly hygiene. It will protect your feet from sweat or skin from other, bare-footed practitioners while containing your sweat and keeping the dojo clean. As for the performance part, they may not be the injury protection you have with common sneakers, but the extra padding on the soles will enable you to be more stable while performing certain techniques.
They are also machine-washable, which is also a great feature. So, if you wish for something simple to keep your feet safe and sound hygiene-wise, this is the way to go.