Martial Arts Shoes: The 10 Best Shoes for Tai Chi, Taekwondo, & Kung Fu

Are you new to the martial arts competitive scene? Or are you a seasoned veteran who is ready to amplify their game with the best martial arts shoes the market has to offer? Chances are, you’re one of the two and are looking for a very specific pair of shoes to further your game. In this article, you’ll find the benefits of buying martial arts shoes, factors to consider before purchasing said shoes, and tips on how to choose the best martial arts shoes for your needs.

Factors to Consider Before Buying

Before buying the best martial arts shoes, you should know a few factors before deciding. In knowing the following factors and tips, you’ll be able to find the perfect shoe for you. Whether this has to do with performance or sizing, this guide was created to help you eliminate time wasting when it comes to shopping online for shoes. Factors to consider include the following:

Sizing: It’s imperative to note that sizing with martial arts shoes is extremely tricky. Because the movements during wear has to be precise, shoes that will not be wide width will not fit those who have wide feet. In fact, some need you to size up one or two full sizes in order to get the width you need. martial arts shoes are generally thinner and not as wide because of the range of motion needed and precision needed to execute each move. The bulkier and heavier the shoe, the less precise the movement will be. By reading the size chart and double checking, you ensure that you’re going to get the size you need.

Durability: martial arts  is an intensive sport and uses feet more often than you think. One of the most important aspects of martial arts shoes is that they need to be durable in order to withstand the average lifespan for shoes of this sport. Generally, shoes don’t wear out as fast, but because of the foot movement intensive sport, the pressure and high-impact action happening when using your feet tends to wear out shoes quicker, no matter the material. For the rookies, it’s important to note that martial arts shoes wear out MUCH faster in general than your average shoe. Learning to lifespan of a shoe depending on the area of martial arts you’re studying will enable you to feel at ease when you go through your first pair of shoes (or two). It will happen, and it’s okay since it’s an intensive sport.

Your budget: Of course, your budget is one of the most important aspects besides the aforementioned. When you purchase shoes, you can usually find decent ones in a lower price range. You don’t need to have a ton of money to get into martial arts, as the sport is becoming more common, as are the shoes that are on the market – lowering the general price of them. If you find a shoe that’s inexpensive, you won’t have any issues re-purchasing when your shoe wears out. It’s not like industry tools where the better they are, the price rises, despite how common said profession is. In fact, most martial arts shoes are affordable to the average person.

Training: While breaking the shoes in for competition is important; it’s also imperative to note if you train. The shoes you use for training should generally be the shoes you wear for competitions (if you partake). Breaking your shoes in during training will allow you to feel comfortable with them more quickly during intensive movement sessions. If you are a competitive martial arts participant, training is essential to the success of your competitions.

Style Options

Western low profile

With an appearance like a soccer shoe, you’ll have a range of mobility, while still being able to perform precise movements that stick. You may be confused as to how this style of shoe differs from a bowler shoe or just a low-profile skating shoe, and the answer lies within where you come from. If you want to get used to tai chi before investing, low profile shoes are great for those who have what is said to be a sider, western foot. A great transition shoe, you’ll find that once you master some techniques, cloth or hybrid shoes are a must.

All-cloth

The all-cloth version of the tai chi shoe allows you to move seamlessly and is more aimed at those who want or who are already heavily into indoor training. With the appearance of slippers, not only are they generally comfortable, but you don’t have to break them in much and they allow superior flexibility. Cloth signifies your connection with the Earth and the ground, which is very important with tai chi. Generally, the most inexpensive, cloth shoes are easy to carry and not a burned. However, there are downfalls to this kind of shoe that include being able to get dirty rather quickly, along with wearing out easier because of the weaker material. Whether you train inside at a school or inside at your home, more advanced moves may seem more slippage with an all-cloth shoe. If you’re training somewhere with a rug or an area that provides a bit of traction on the floor for you, you’ll see benefits the most here.

Hybrid style

The hybrid style is a bit less common, but is a hybrid between a possible athletic shoe and a tai chi slipper. Usually, this kind is made up of cloth with the incorporation of a rubber sole that grips enough to the ground where you won’t fall, but not hard enough to where you’ll injure yourself because of it being more like an athletic shoe. If you’re a woman practicing tai chi, the hybrid style is typically the “go to” because of the sizing options. Typically, those that are rubber sole tend to last much longer and are very inexpensive to purchase. While they aren’t an athletic shoe totally, they take the best remnants and make it work for the tai chi lifestyle.

The 10 Best Martial Arts Shoes of 2018

1) Star Sports Martial Arts Shoes

Star Sports Martial Arts Taekwondo Karate Kung Fu Tai Chi Shoes

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The next pair of shoes on our list promises to deliver a great performance for not only TaeKwonDo, but for other martial arts sports like karate, Kung Fu, and even Tai Chi. With a great design that is affordable, features of the aforementioned shoes manufactured by Star Sports Corp include the following:

  • Extra carrying bag included
  • Multiple stitching during those tough stress points of the shoe
  • Raised heel, laceless design
  • Performance is high with this shoe, incredible durability

Breakdown of Features

With many shoes, especially for sports shoes, every pair claims to be durable, With the Star Sports Marital Arts shoes, we think they’re telling the truth. The overall design allows high-performance and durability due to the multiple stitching in the areas of stress that tend to wear out quicker. With the ability to compose a great shoe and target the stress points, those points of interest won’t wear out as quickly during training or competition. The laceless design and slip-on factor allow nothing to get in the way of you successfully using this shoe. Maximum durability and exquisite craftsmanship during the creation of this shoe allow your movements to excel while wearing these shoes.

The Good

A primary advantage to this pair of shoes is that it does boast about having extra stitching in the areas of stress points. Having this ensures that those areas won’t be the first to go, creating more durability and longevity. Created for more sports than TaeKwonDo, they’re meant to withstand a wide range of movements. With an extra carrying bag included, you don’t have to worry about losing them or not being able to transport them before training or a competition. If you’re someone who wears a different shoe as you enter your area of practice and want a safe place to keep your shoes, this is definitely a little advantage!

The Bad

There aren’t too many disadvantages to this product, seeing as how the actual composition of the shoe is well made, and the structure of the shoe fits well with most. However, the sizing of the shoe doesn’t have a wide range and only fits those between size 8 and 12. The aforementioned leaves little room for those to size up or down if their width or size isn’t on the list. While not affecting the performance of the product at all, it’s something to think about.

 

2) Adidas KICK Martial Arts Sneaker

adidas® KICK Shoes Martial Arts Sneaker White with Black Stripes

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Another martial arts shoe manufactured by Adidas, this affordable shoe appears more like their traditional shoe style if you were wondering. Apart of the TaeKwonDo line – this shoe is specifically in men’s sizing. If you’re wondering about the features, continue reading further:

  • A style of lace shoe
  • Lightweight, fantastic fit and great grip rubber
  • Laces are short, for fixation purposes
  • Point of pivot on the sole

Breakdown of Features

Created specifically for martial arts, Adidas has infused yet another sports shoe with their traditional Adidas design, providing strength and durability during usage. While the shoe is generally well-received by the public, there are some things you should know. You can found out more about the above below in our advantages and disadvantages section. For now, let’s discuss other features of this shoe. The laces are short and have a cover of sorts so they don’t unlace and hurt you while performing, along with the laces being short for purposes of fixation. Beyond this, there’s a pivot point on the sole of the shoe, allowing for better grip and individual movement of different areas of your feet. With great grip rubber, you don’t have to worry about slipping or that move being messed up by anyone other than you – after all, we spend money on tools of the trade for them to benefit us, right?

The Good

One of the advantages of this shoe is that there is a pivot point on the sole, along with the short lace aspect. You’re still able to control how tight they are while protecting yourself from falling if the laces come undone. Having this will “door” feature on the top of the shoe will allow your foot to fit better and provide a better performance. The overall lightweight design is aesthetically pleasing, and provides quite a bit of traction and grip.

The Bad

The only disadvantage of this product is that the shoe has a bit of a weird sizing system. The “as expected” aspect chimes in at 57%, and could be improved upon, but once you learn their size chart and research more on your size in TaeKwonDo shoes, these shoes are definitely worth a second look. Their performance is great once you get past the sizing issue. Beyond this, if you’re a female, it’s imperative to note that the sizes listed for this shoe are men’s. Depending on the brand, you may have to size down one to three sizes from your normal shoe size.

 

3) Martial Arts Shoes by Tiger Claw

Tiger Claw Martial Art Shoes

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Sleek in appearance and stunning in design, the aforementioned Martial Art Shoes is manufactured by Tiger Claw, and available at an extremely attractive price. Slimming and sleek in design, this shoe boasts quite a few features that others don’t, including the following:

  • Composed of soft leather, ensures a better grip on the floor with the newly designed sole
  • Features a “power pivot” structure
  • Comes with a carrying case
  • Women should size down by 1.5 sizes

Breakdown of Features

The power pivot aspect of this shoe allows for a better amount of traction, but not the same amount of traction that an athletic shoe has. When you have this specific amount of said traction, your foot can perform to its best, while not falling – no matter the exterior. Another feature of this shoe is that they are listed in men’s sizes, not women’s. We’ll touch base on this more in another section before the end of this review. These martial arts shoes are actually composed of a soft leather that enables flexibility, while providing a durable grip to the floor. It’s worth mentioning that said grip doesn’t grip so hard that you may harm yourself during your fluid movements, but there’s enough there that you don’t fall.

The Good

Mostly all of the features are advantages of the product, but we’ll pinpoint the power pivot aspect of this shoe that is said to have “yin and yang” pivot. Not only does it provide enough traction for you to successfully execute tai chi movements, but you won’t harm yourself, and it will “leave a good impression.”

The Bad

We’ll start off by saying that there aren’t too many overall disadvantages, but moreso specific drawbacks to those who need particular sizing: like females. Unfortunately, this shoe requires you to size down by one and a half sizes, which has proven difficult for many, as it’s received a 58% for the “fit as expected” section of the internet. Once you figure out your sizing, though, it’s all smooth sailing from here! It’s also worth mentioning that those with wide feet will have to look elsewhere, as this extremely narrow shoe isn’t designed for wider feet unless you size up entirely. It’s worth nothing that if you do size up too much, you’re actually posing more danger to yourself than not, as the front end could be so long and big for your foot that you can trip during movements.

4) Tiger Claw Feiyue Martial Arts Shoes

Tiger Claw Feiyue Martial Arts Shoes

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Boasting a low-profile shoe for the newly exposed westerner to tai chi, these Feiyue martial arts shoes are manufactured by Tiger Claw and are available at an extremely attractive price in comparison with others we’ve shown you. Features of the aforementioned pair of shoes include the following:

  • Durable canvas composition
  • Lace up top
  • Padded, light sole
  • Great tread
  • Used by Shaolin masters and monks

Breakdown of Features

The overall padded and canvas composition of this shoe is why it excels more than anything, despite the low-profile aspect of it being in the forefront. While low-profile shoes are typically favored by westerners, there are Shaolin monks and masters that also approve of these shoes, and where them regularly during tai chi activities. With a light sole for a hint of traction and a bucket load of mobility, these shoes by Tiger Claw are fantastic for the first timer, or for those who are so seasoned, that they’ve tried it all. The fit is mostly as expected, but you may need to size down if you’re a woman. We’ll discuss more on this below.

The Good

There are quite a few advantages to this product, including the exclusion of more traction. If you’re someone who’s more advanced and doesn’t care for or need an extreme amount of traction that others offer, then you would love this shoe. Light traction due to the padding and light sole, not only is this shoe much more lightweight and allows you to be more fluid, but it’s also durable and composed of thicker, lightweight canvas. Having the combination of two allows for seamless fluidity of movements.

The Bad

A drawback to using this shoe would be that there isn’t enough traction for some people. There are other, non-low-profile shoes that have more traction, which may be more attractive to others depending on your movement style. However, it’s worth noting that these shoes have the maximum traction for the style they boast, and are definitely worth a second glance.

5) Mooto Wings Korea TaeKwonDoe Shoes TKD Competition

Mooto Wings Korea TaeKwonDo Shoes TKD Competition

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Available at an attractive price, the aforementioned competition shoes manufactured by Mooto are one of the most sought-after pairs on the market. Coming in two different color variations, along with being two-toned, these shoes boast a number of features including the following:

  • Synthetic leather material
  • Lightweight (240g total)
  • Size range from 4.5 to 14
  • Durable with excellent traction

Breakdown of Features

One of the most appealing features of these shoes is the fact that they are lightweight, despite being composed of synthetic leather materials. Weighing around 240g total, these shoes will allow you to make those precise movements quickly, without weighing your foot down. With excellent “adhesive” (traction) on the bottom of the shoe, your movements and feet will not slip or stray. The synthetic leather does have a high durability, and because of the architecture of the shoe, movements are streamlined and provide a great fit during said movement.

The Good

There are a ton of advantages to these shoes, despite their simplistic design. One of the aforementioned features is that it’s lightweight. During competition, it’s imperative that the pair of shoes is not too bulky or heavy. In having a heavier shoe, you’re going to have a limited range of movement and won’t be able to nail those precise movements. Another advantage is their laceless, overall structure. The streamline design allows movement to be quick and with ease. Quickness of movement and your ability to move is one of the most important aspects of shoes, especially those for a sport that includes a competition aspect.  With a wide range of sizes, these shoes have little disadvantages to them. We’ll discuss that in the next section, though!

The Bad

We can’t find too many disadvantages of this pair of shoes; however, something that should be looked at includes the wide-width aspect. If you’re someone who has wider feet, your sizing for this shoe might be a little off. Those who do have wide feet will have to make sure to purchase one to two sizes larger than your normal size in order to compensate for the thinner structure. While it’s not a total disadvantage, and doesn’t have to do with the actual performance of the shoe, it’s one of the most important pre-purchase features to note.

 

6) UNOW Chinese Traditional Kung Fu Shoes

UNOW Chinese Traditional Cloth Kung Fu Shoes

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Manufactured by UNOW, these traditional shoes are more geared towards ones who want to stick with traditional roots. Composed of black cloth and extremely inexpensive, these slipper-style shoes boast a number of features including the following:

  • Can be used for both Kung Fu, Tai Chi, and other sports
  • Style of shoe has been used for 3,000 years
  • Cloth upper
  • Rubber sole
  • Cotton lining

Breakdown of Features

Great for both indoor and outdoor use, this style of shoes has been in use by those who practice traditional Chinese and Japanese sports for over 3,000 years. Composed of a cloth upper, along with a cotton lining, and a rubber sole, these shoes allow for optimal mobility and fluidity, while having a bit of traction. In the style of “slipper” that we mentioned, these are definitely shoes for those who want precise and pinpointed movement. Comfortable and flexibility, there’s no real “break-in” period for these shoes. Great for other sports other than tai chi, including parkour, hip hop dancing, and other martial arts, you can use this versatile shoe with ease and flexibility. Let’s discuss the advantages and disadvantages, though!

The Good

There are too many advantages to this product to list all in this paragraph, but we’ll pinpoint a few that we think are deserving of some of the limelight. Well received by the general public, these traditional Chinese slippers are comfortable and practical for practicing tai chi to perfection. With the overall composition, design, and materials used, this shoe allows flexibility and comfortability all in one package.

The Bad

Unfortunately, sizing is an issue with sport related shoes. Some people want them snug and tight, while others want them loose, so finding your size (despite knowing your normal size) may be difficult. The aforementioned pair from UNOW is no different. There have been conflicting reports of the sizing, so you may want to try researching or going with your general size tips beforehand. If you’re a female, order a size or two down, if you’re a male, try sticking with your normal size and see where it goes from there.

 

7) Adidas TaeKwonDo Adilux Shoes

adidas Taekwondo Adilux Shoes

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Manufactured by one of the most well-known shoe brands, Adidas has released a TaeKwonDo specific shoe infused with their traditional logo and design. The Adilux shoes from Adidas have a number of features, but should be read more about before purchasing. When we get to the advantages and disadvantages section of this review, read carefully. Features of the aforementioned include the following:

  • Shoes for indoor training (no laces)
  • Torsion sole
  • A rubber sole that’s non-markable
  • Lightweight with a ton of support

Breakdown of Features

Made specifically for indoor taekwondo training, these Adidas shoes have great grip, a great design, and a torsion aspect of the sole that’s composed of three parts in order to support the middle area of the foot. Without support in this area, you may see your movements fail easily. The rubber sole allows for pivoting at certain points while eliminating the ability to leave scuff marks on the floor. The aforementioned pivot points mentioned happen to lie under the heal and under the front area of the foot. Being lightweight, you can get those precise movements in with ease.

The Good

There are quite a few advantages to these shoes, including being able to independently move certain parts of your foot without interrupting others. In being able to do this, you can get pinpoint precision, which is much needed for taekwondo moves. With training, ability to move is super important. The arch support is lightweight, which aids in the performance of being able to move those areas independently. Stability on the floor as well as adaptation to your surroundings is seamless when wearing these shoes, as well. Laceless shoes that are lightweight and have a structure that’s perfect for training, Adidas have infused their world of fashion with the world of practicality in sports.

The Bad

Unfortunately, there is a disadvantage that may deter those from purchasing the Adidas TaeKwonDo shoes.  While Adidas is a great brand that usually fits comfortably, the sizing of this pair of shoes is a bit janky. The “as expected” fit only reads 55%, and you may have to look closely at the size chart before purchasing said shoes. However, once the sizing is all figured out, the performance of the shoe excels with ease.

 

8) Black Belt Shop Rubber Sole Tai Chi Shoes

BlackBeltShop Rubber Sole Kung Fu Tai Chi Shoes

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Created by the Black Belt Shop, these tai chi and kung fu shoes are another form of inexpensive slipper shoe. One of the most inexpensive on the market currently (and for sure on this list), this simple pair of shoes boasts a number of attractive qualities, including the following:

  • Slip-on shoe, great for street and studio
  • Rubber soles and a canvas upper
  • Cotton lining
  • For smaller feet

Breakdown of Features

With a rubber sole, canvas upper, and cotton lining, the general composition of this shoe is supreme. Simple and effortless to use, there is no real “break-in” time for these shoes, either. Easy to put on and easy to wear during precise movements, you won’t have any trouble wearing these once you figure out your size situation. While they are inexpensive, there are some disadvantages (as well as some advantages) you should be made aware of. The general composition of the shoe isn’t for those who want something more athletic, but it’s great for someone who wants a bit of traction with the ability to perform fluid movements.

The Good

A classic shoe with some sizing issues, you may have to do some research for the sizing of this shoe. If you have smaller feet, you’re in luck! The aforementioned shoe is fantastic for those who don’t have normal or wide feet, and it can cater to those with smaller bone structure. It’s tough to find well-fitting shoes for those that don’t have normal or wide feet, and these shoes excel at providing optimal comfort and performance. The overall design is yet another advantage, providing traction with the incorporation of mobility due to the structure of the shoe.

The Bad

The advantage we put is also a disadvantage on this one. There isn’t much to this shoe, but for those who have a larger foot, you may want to size up drastically or find another shoe all-together. Aimed towards more narrow and smaller feet, while running a bit small in general, these shoes aren’t great for those who are looking for their specific size, and have a wider foot. However, once the size issue is gotten over, the performance is fantastic.

9) ADIDAS SM II SHOES

ADIDAS SM II SHOES

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Last on our list is yet another choice from Adidas. Mixing a traditional design with modern sports, the SM II shoes are actually some of the more popular shoes on the market for TaeKwonDo from Adidas. More well-received than others from Adidas, features of this shoe include the following:

  • Lightweight and durable
  • Can be used for casual wear or intensive workouts/sports
  • Single lace design
  • Sole has pivoting abilities for mobility to be increased
  • Women order one size smaller because of men’s size listed
  • Extra-light, soft leather

Breakdown of Features

There are a lot of little features this shoe boasts including the lightweight, soft leather design. The single lace design with cover allows you to cater to your feet specifically while providing a bit of safety during intensive workouts. Beyond this, it can be used for both casual wear and your workouts. While not specifically for TaeKwonDo, this is a shoe that should be a contender.

The Good

The main advantage of this shoe is that it’s lightweight, and durable. Composed of soft leather that’s flexible and gets the job done, these are great for both intensive workouts and casual wear. Let’s not forget about the single lace design with cover, allowing you to tighten shoes and cover safely so you don’t get hurt during wear, whether you use this for sports training or casual wear.

The Bad

There are a few disadvantages to this product that don’t directly affect the performance of the aforementioned shoe. One of the disadvantages includes the sizing: it fits as expected 77% of the time according to other users, and women must order one size smaller. Once you research more on your foot size with Adidas shoe, you’ll have no problem wearing the Adidas SM II shoes.

Why You Should Buy Specialized Shoes for Martial Arts

Perform at your best

When practicing martial arts, it’s imperative that you have the shoes to perform. You wouldn’t go into cosmetology work and not have your own shears, now would you? Buying a pair of martial arts shoes is like buying a tool for your trade, and is imperative to the success of how well you perform during martial arts moves.

Low-budget and affordable

One of the primary benefits of having shoes for the specific sport, especially training and competitive-wise, is being able to have your own pair of designated shoes for training and competitions. Using a normal pair of sneakers may prove to be too heavy and bulky for the precise movements you need. Beyond this, you’ll only have one pair of shoes. If you’ve more familiar with martial arts, you understand that shoes that are used for training and other aspects of this sport wear out much easier because of the high-impact movements. When you use a normal shoe for this, you risk shoveling out more money because you also use those shoes afterwards for normal daily tasks (work, home life, school, etc.)