Karate is a physical and mental discipline that has been practiced for thousands of years. It is a martial art that involves training in hand-to-hand combat, as well as self-defense techniques. Karate practitioners are often referred to as karateka or karate players.
One of the most important aspects of karate is wearing the right shoes. You might think that any pair will do, but you would be wrong! Here are some tips on how to choose the best shoes for karate.
Best Shoes For Karate
7 Best Karate Shoes Reviews | Buying Guide
Though they aren’t always essential, karate shoes come in handy during many different situations. The footwear is great at protecting your feet and does an excellent job at helping you train or daily use without putting your body at too much risk.
I’m a long-time athlete who has spent 6 years around karate, as well as those who practice it. My own experience with the sport, combined with extensive research on the topic and its various practices, enabled me to compile the below list.
In my opinion, the Adidas Adilux is the best karate shoes money can buy. It’s lightweight and comfortable but offers plenty of support.
The shoes has several premium features, but what truly sets it apart from other models is the 3-part torsion sole that perfectly backs up your arches and midfoot. That, combined with the lightweight shell, creates plenty of comfort without losing any build quality or power.
I further break down the pair, along with other excellent karate footwear throughout the sections covered in the following guide.
Who Should Get This?
In many cases, karate is practiced barefoot. However, there are various reasons students wear shoes during practice, sparring, or training sessions. That includes specific sensei rules, additional protection, or general comfort. If any of those apply to you, you want solid shoes.
Those who practice outside also want solid footwear when they’re training. You can’t go barefoot out in the cold or on rough surfaces. You can’t wear regular shoes either, as they’re too heavy. If you need footwear when practicing karate, there’s no substitute for dedicated shoes.
7 Best Karate Shoes: Top Picks
This section details the best karate shoes and explains why they go above and beyond similar items.
1. Adidas Adilux
- Best For: Overall
- Key Features: 3-part torsion sole. Excellent midfoot and arch support. Flexible design and lightweight feel.
- Weight: 1.76 pounds
- Color: Black, white
- Material: Leather
Few karate shoes can match what the Adilux from Adidas brings to the table. The lightweight option kicks off my list because it provides an incredible amount of support and comfort no matter where or how hard you train. The leather construction also holds up quite nicely.
What sets these shoes apart is the 3-part torsion sole support that gives you extra padding in the midfoot and arch areas. That allows you to drive, plant, and kick without losing any power or putting any unnecessary stress on the more vulnerable parts of your foot.
Some people may want something a bit heftier, but karate shoes need to be on the lighter side. This pair manages that without losing any key qualities. The fit is wonderful as well.
2. Mooto Wings
- Best For: Comfort
- Key Features: Strong, comfortable leather construction. Excellent adhesive. Lightweight. 30 degree toe.
- Weight: 1.15 pounds
- Color: White, black
- Material: Synthetic leather
If you’re after a shoes that’s both usable and comfortable, the Mooto Wing is a great pick. This model sheds a lot of weight in favor of a more low-profile design. The result is a shoes that fits extremely well and provides ample support without ever getting in your way.
A big plus of this shoes is the synthetic upper sole. Those premium materials add a level of durability to the design without packing on any unnecessary weight. The 30 degree toe, which helps with both jumping and stepping, is another great characteristic.
The shoes aren’t too expensive, and they will last a long time. They do fit a bit on the snug side, however. Be sure to get them a size up to give yourself a bit of extra room to work with. Nothing is worse than footwear that sits too tight.
3. Unow Traditional
- Best For: Fit
- Key Features: Traditional look and style. Elasticated sides provide a strong grip. Durable. Soft cotton lining.
- Weight: 1.05 pounds
- Color: Black
- Material: Cloth
Though they may look rather unconventional, these traditional shoes from Unow are some of the best fitting and most comfortable karate footwear money can buy. Rather than utilizing any modern designs, they rely on elasticated sides to securely grip your feet as you move around.
Adding to that comfort is a uniquely soft cotton liner that prevents any rubbing. They slip on easily and are extremely flexible. Being able to get right in and out of them is one of the biggest reasons to choose them over more complicated items.
As they do utilize a more closed design, these shoes don’t have the best ventilation. However, if you’re someone who’s often outside or who doesn’t like fussing with their footwear, these are perfect for just about any situation.
4. Adidas Adi-Kick 2
- Best For: Low profile
- Key Features: Grippy rubber sole. PU construction. Short lace and light design.
- Weight: 1.07 pounds
- Color: White
- Material: PU
Another excellent Adidas karate shoes, the Kick is a great choice for students or teachers who want protection without getting too bogged down. Sometimes, shoes can get in the way of training. These are so sleek and lightweight, that won’t be an issue at all.
Rather, you get soft shoes that almost feel like wearing nothing at all. The rubber sole does a great job of letting you plant, the PU material is as strong as you would expect, and the pivot points enable you to turn or spin right away.
Though some students might want something with a bit of extra heft or long-term durability, it’s hard to find shoes as thin as the Kicks.
5. Macho Sparring Shoes
- Best For: Toughness
- Key Features: Comfortable foam exterior. Vinyl strips create secure fit. Stable straps. Multiple color options.
- Weight: 3.91 pounds
- Color: Red, black, pink, blue
- Material: Foam, vinyl
If you’re someone who wants tougher, more powerful footwear, the sparring shoes from Macho are excellent options. They come with stable criss-cross straps and unique vinyl strips to create a secure fit without being too tight or restrictive.
Some people may not like the extra weight they bring, but their design is all about sturdiness. These are easily some of the toughest karate shoes on the market, and they can take a beating for a long, long time. On top of that, they come in plenty of fun, eye-catching colors.
6. Century Lightfoot
- Best For: Grip
- Key Features: Strong rubber soles. Breathable. Well-ventilated. Unique color options. Tough synthetic leather.
- Weight: 1 pound
- Color: Black, white, pink
- Material: Synthetic leather
One of the biggest issues with going for shoes over bare feet when practicing karate is you lose some grip. To avoid that, you want a sticky shoes that holds onto the ground so you can plant, move, and jump without worrying about any unnecessary slipping.
The Century Lightfoot fills that role, providing you with a tough shoes that has a snug fit on top of a powerful rubber sole. That adds an extra layer of comfort and makes it easy to use them for long training sessions.
Another bonus is the breathable design. Ventilation is important, and the lightfoots let you breathe no matter how hard you push yourself.
7. Vbestlife Taekwondo Shoes
- Best For: Affordability
- Key Features: Low price point. Senior material creates a comfortable feel. Strong stitching. Sleek appearance.
- Weight: 11.22 ounces
- Color: White/Black, White/Red
- Material: PU, rubber
While karate shoes won’t cost as much as basketball or running sneakers, it doesn’t hurt to save some money where you can. There are a few solid affordable options on the market, but no budget karate shoes come with more features than the ones from Vbestlife.
This pair doesn’t just come in at a low price point, it has grippy rubber soles, a strong overall construction, as well as a lightweight build. There’s extra stitching at key stress points and the design stands out compared to other more traditional options.
Their long-term durability isn’t going to be on par with other top karate shoes, but they will still give you months of heavy use before needing to be replaced.
Best Karate Shoes: What to Consider?
All of the traits in this section are critical to keep in mind when buying shoes for karate.
Fit and Comfort
First and foremost, your shoes have to be comfortable. You might have a pair with the best look or the most useful traits, but they won’t do you any good if you don’t enjoy wearing them. Get shoes that are soft on the inside and don’t sacrifice durability on the outside.
On that note, fit is incredibly important. Always understand if a shoes runs big or small and make sure it has a secure fit. The less slipping that occurs, the less chance you’ll have of blisters or any general pain while you’re practicing.
No matter how much you pay for your karate shoes, they need to be high-quality. It’s easy to purchase the first ones you find, but that can lead to some serious issues down the line. Always make sure you get a pair made with premium materials that will last a long time.
Remember, saving some money up front can be more costly if you have to replace your shoes more often. You want a pair that can take a lot of use and abuse. The better made they are, the longer you’ll be able to keep them.
Color and Style
Almost all karate shoes are some shade of grey, black, or white. Even so, there are quite a few color options within that spread. Some have specific striping or sewing as well. Don’t be afraid to add a splash of color or similar flair if your dojo allows it.
You’re never going to get shoes solely based on style, but getting a unique look in a sea of similar colors can always be fun.
This section looks at some common questions about karate shoes and answers them as succinctly as possible.
What Do You Need to Consider When Buying Karate Shoes?
When getting karate shoes you need to study their look, the way they fit, comfort, and general durability. You don’t want shoes that are uncomfortable, nor do you want ones that break down too quickly. Once you meet those marks, look for something that matches your style.
How Do I Wash My Karate Shoes?
Though you don’t need to rigorously wash karate shoes, if your pair does get dirty you can always wipe them down with a wet paper towel or baby wipe after a long session. It’s also important to never keep them inside a stuffy bag or on your feet for too long.
How Do I Dry My Karate Shoes？
There are two ways to dry off wet karate shoes. First, you can put them in the dryer and run them on a low cycle. Second, you can simply open them up and set them outside in a dry place. Both methods work. The one you pick depends on your personal preference.
How Should My Karate Shoes Fit?
Your shoes should be secure and comfortable at the same time. You want them to hug your feet and not slip around, but your toes and sides should have some mobility as well.
Can I Wear Shoes in Karate Competitions?
Typically, no. While they are great for sparring and practice, shoes are not permitted to be worn in most karate tournaments.
The Adidas Adilux is my favorite karate shoes on the market. They give you everything you need while training without having any common pitfalls you’ll see in other models. They are light, strong, soft, comfortable, sturdy, and grippy at all the same time.