Shoes & Martial Arts



Just curious as to what people had in the way of opinions when it came to wearing or not wearing shoes while working out. Are you for or against or both and why?
Depends on the system and what you're working on at the time.

If you want to train completely 'realistically', then shoes are a must. However, since I tend to wear steel toe workboots, that could be a wee bit of a problem :)

The problem is, the potential for accidental injury with shoes on is greater than for the bare foot.

However, it can be difficult to train the correct foot positioning for kicks while wearing shoes. On some surfaces, shoes could either slip or stick to the floor, making footwork difficult.

One in-between solution is tabi boots. They are soft enough so that the ankle and toes have enough movement for correct form with traditional kicks, yet they have some sort of tread and cover the entire foot.

Since I come from a 'traditional' system, I would tend to go bare foot indoors, but occasionally train outdoors with shoes.

Sensible shoes :)

My brother-in-law went to japan to teach english as a second language. When he saw some people wearing those tabi boots he assumed they must be into martial arts and asked as much.

Apparently that's what construction workers wear. Egg on the face for him.
Yeah, a lot of people wear them, actually. When I was living there, I did notice most construction workers wore them.

If you get them in the right size, I find them to be very comfortable. I usually wear them when I play outside with my daughter, since I don't want to risk it with my workboots. I've also worn them the few times I've trained solo outdoors.

I'm a big fan of the ASICS wrestling shoe. I have tried the low cut martial arts shoe that most places sell and I think that they aren't worth the stuff they're made out of.

You know, I've always wanted to try those shoes out! The ASICS shoe seems to be supple enough to allow proper 'traditional' foot movement, yet give adequate foot cover and tread.

How do they feel when kicking? With the tabi, it feels almost exactly like kicking barefoot. Are the ASICS the same way?

It's funny how I HATED going barefoot when I started. Renegade used to make us alternate, and I got very grumpy on barefoot day. Now, I really prefer to go barefoot, but I wear asics wrestling shoes when the tatames tear my feet up beyond their ability to heal quickly. (I have very tender skin, you know!):wah:

Cthulhu -

check out if you're looking for wrestling shoes. Great prices and fast service.
Thanks for the link, Icepick!

I'm new, but I bought a pair of low cut shoes by Discipline. So did a few other people in my class. Most of us practice in shoes, but a few people do go barefoot. I don't wear shoes around the house though, so when doing stuff at home I'm usually just in socks. It's no big deal one way or the other to me, but I always wear shoes at our class and practice sessions. Our teacher has said that we should get flat soled shoes like martial arts shoes or wrestling shoes that completely lace up so we can tighten them. The laces prevent us from kicking the shoe right off our foot on kicks which could potentially happen with a shoe that just uses elastic to fit. Since we do practice outside at least sometimes, I think that's why our teacher is encouraging us to get shoes (especially with winter and much colder weather coming).
I like them because they feel like I'm wearing a shoe but it allows me the mobility of kicking. It's not as mobile as if I would be barefoot and I agree to that but when are you going to be barefoot and a fight breaks out? At the beach?
Where could one get some tabi's? I have never seen them for sale. I wanted to try them out for my outdoor practices.

Despair Bear
There are many places online that sell tabi. I'm sure you could look up almost any online martial arts equipment retailer and find some. I've only seen a couple of variations in sole pattern and closure method (velcro or a sort of hook-n-clasp). I think the tabi socks they try to sell with them are a waste of money.

Expect to pay $30-$40USD.

PS...if you still can't find anything, let me know and I'll give you a couple of links that I just can't quite remember at the moment :)
I tend to workout in my shoes no matter what I am doing. If you are on the floor teaching as much as I, used to, shoes are a necessity. I love my Otomix. You pay a little more, but the quality is worth.

I wear shoes even when practicing technques because I will be wearing shoes on the street when I have to defend myself.
Train in every possible thing you can.........never find yourself in something that feels strange
Here's a reason shoes may be advisable:

Guy in the college class apparently used to train a bit in TKD, barefoot. I guess he hadn't trained for a while because his callouses were softening up. As he continued his training, they began to rip off his feet. I'm sure that is a very unpleasant situation.

I'll continue to train primarily barefoot, but will toss in some training with shoes every now and then.

Hard to beat a good savate kick to the abs with cowboy boots
Are you talking about that roundhouse-like kick with toes pointed at the target? Oh yeah. Much pain there! Toe kick to the shins/knees/groin with steel-toe boots! Bam! Heel stomp/side kick with biker/cowboy/combat boots! Bam! Hell, even a footsweep with boots would hurt.

One thing that works when training barefoot and sparring (besides the obvious of just stepping on the opponent's foot) is to sort of rake the top of their foot with your own. It can do two things: just plain hurt since it's sort of a stomp and/or hurt like hell as the skin on the sole of your foot catches the sensitive skin on the top of your opponent's foot and yanks it. My instructor did that to me often. Owie.

I like it...I like it... NHB friend just dislocated his toe on the mat barefoot ....Injuries. can't live without them. Higher consciousness through harder contact (Dog brothers, 1999) Hey what's with these pictures everyone has????

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