No matter which martial art you practice–even if it's an art in which practitioners traditionally go barefoot–you need a good pair of martial arts shoes at one time or another, whether for practice or competition. Asian World of Martial Arts (AWMA) and ProForce® have you covered for excellent quality, with lightweight and flexible martial arts shoes. Knowing what to look for and how to choose a shoe is key for both comfort and safety.
Using Regular Shoes Not Possible
There are a number of reasons why you cannot use regular shoes for martial arts, with the most common reason being that your sensei won't allow it. Most martial arts have some type of uniform or "gi," and any footwear must be in line with the uniform. Furthermore, normal street shoes or trainers are too heavy. If you wear a heavy trainer during practice sessions, it is likely that your leg muscles will tire much more quickly, which has a negative impact on your technique. Another risk is that you become so accustomed to training with a specific weight on your foot and leg.
In most martial arts training, you spend a lot of time repeating the same movements repeatedly so that they become second nature. Doing so with the wrong type of shoe, and thus a different weight, affects these movements and your ability to repeat them perfectly once the heavy footwear is removed. For these reasons, you should use a light shoe for martial arts training, such as those from ProForce, which feel almost as if you are not wearing footwear at all.
On a similar note, most normal outdoor shoes provide a certain degree of ankle support. This is ideal for normal activity but, when training, you want your ankle to be flexible and be able to rotate freely. For all martial arts, you need your ankle to be completely free from obstruction so that you can perform these movements. Martial arts shoes allow for this freedom of motion.
Different Shoes for Different Martial Arts
Martial arts shoes come in various styles depending on what martial art you are practicing. Boxing shoes, for example, come in both high-top and low-top styles, with the former providing ankle support and the latter allowing for good maneuverability. While karate is usually practiced barefoot, some schools use shoes for sparring and practice. These tend to be laceless to avoid injuring the sparring partner with the whip of a shoelace. Mixed martial artists sometimes use grappling socks, and ankle wraps are often used in Muay Thai. The point here is that while many martial arts are practiced with little or no footwear, there are times, such as when sparring or when you are protecting your foot after an injury, when you want to have a good pair of martial arts-specific footwear to practice in.
Finally, some martial arts, such as krav maga, want to add an element of realism to the practice. The point is that you may actually have to use your skills to protect yourself, and you will be outside with shoes on. Thus, you train wearing shoes, which adapts your feet, legs, and hips to moving with the extra weight and padding on your feet and ankles.
Before buying any martial arts shoe, decide what kind of shoe you want and need. Of course, select a shoe appropriate for the martial art you practice. Then, established what your special concerns and requirements are—if you need arch or ankle support, search for shoes with those features. Taekwondo shoes serve as a great all-around martial arts shoe. If you do a martial art that is traditionally barefoot, the light and easy-to-slip-on Taekwondo shoe is a suitable choice. The men's and women's shoes look the same for taekwondo shoes, and the sole of these shoes often have traction circles, which helps with smooth pivoting when doing kicks.
Ensure a Good Fit
Remember that most people have one foot that is bigger than the other. The shoes should fit your biggest foot comfortably. Test your AWMA shoes from ProForce both sitting and standing, as your feet expand very slightly as you support your weight on them. Ensure the shoe fits on the widest part of your foot. Don't assume they will stretch out only to realize later that they won't. Finally, take the time to walk around in the shoes and try a few jumps and kicks. You'll be glad later when you train in comfortable, well-fitting martial arts shoes that you took the time to select the right pair.