4 Reasons to Wear Martial Arts Shoes

4 reasons why: why you should wear martial art shoes

1. Hygiene 

It is very common in areas where lots of people go barefoot, for skin and fungal infections to spread. This problem is particularly prevalent in locker rooms and sports changing rooms. For martial artists who train barefoot, this poses two potential problems. Firstly, if the student is respectful of his fellow classmates, he will not train while suffering from a skin condition. This, of course, is detrimental to the student’s training regime.

The other potential problem is if the student ignores a skin health problem and trains anyway. This is not pleasant for the other students and the infection can then rapidly spread. An easy preventative measure is for the students to train to wear martial art shoes.

2. Self-Protection

Many martial arts classes meet up to train in a hired room which may not be part of a professional school, or even in a sports complex. Instead, the room could be in a church hall or some other local building not used exclusively for martial arts. If the room is not normally used for any kind of sport or exercise activity (such as yoga or pilates) then the floor may not be ideal for training barefoot. It might be a simple, cold concrete floor, or a rough wooden one with damaged or uneven boards.

These kinds of surfaces can pose an unnecessarily high risk of injury. Even proper matted judo surfaces have been known to cause broken toes, as it is easy to trap a toe between the mats if you end up on the receiving end of a sweep kick. Light training shoes are imperative in cases like this to prevent needless injuries from occurring.

3. Protection During Sparring

Most martial arts include sparring as an integral part of the training so that students can practise techniques against a real opponent. Some commercially available martial arts training shoes are elasticated slip-on type shoes, which incorporate thin padding across the top and instep. These can be helpful to both students when practising during light sparring. They are also normally light-weight and thin enough that proper shin guards and foot padding can be worn over the top of them for more intense, full-contact sparring.

4. Authenticity in Real Self-Defence Situations

The most obvious reason for doing part of any sparring training wearing shoes is that it is extremely unlikely that you will be attacked while you happen to be barefooted. It does pay to train for this eventuality, but in general, any need to use self-defence techniques will occur outside the home and while you are wearing shoes or sneakers. If you are not familiar with executing your martial arts techniques while wearing shoes, you will be at an automatic disadvantage in any physically dangerous situation.

So even if your martial art normally trains barefoot, it is certainly advisable to do some occasional practice sessions wearing everyday clothes and shoes, in order to make your self-defence training as realistic as possible.

Credit: Ed Sadler

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