Best Kickboxing Shoes Reviewed & Rated for Performance

Kickboxing, heck yeah!

For those of us who saw Never Back Down in 2008,  some of us left the theater kicking our legs in the air and pretending to punch our best friends. At home, we may have even broken some items around the house (your mom knows it wasn’t the dog that knocked over the lamp). Who can blame us? All the flying in the air and oohs and ahs of a crowd, made us want to take up fighting; Muay Thai, Jiu-Jitsu, and Kickboxing.

Alas, either you were too young (your parents said, “No way”) or, maybe, you couldn’t afford it. Now, you’re older and all those super-cool fighting movies you watched back in the day are showing up on your ‘Recommended Lists’ (e.g. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc.) and, suddenly, you realize you can now live what childhood you wanted. Although now, you’re a bit older and not quite as in shape as you once were, which makes it the perfect excuse to learn how to fight. Type in ‘Kickboxing gyms near me’ on your phone or computer and find the one that’s best for you!

Okay, you’re all signed up, now what? You’re unprepared and standing in a sports gear store completely overwhelmed by the different must-haves for fighting gear. You have the basics; protective headgear, gloves, amazing shorts. Your next couple of questions will almost certainly be, “Do I need shoes” and, “Is there some kind of kickboxing foot gear?”

Featured Recommendations

Tiger Claw Feiyue
  • Tiger Claw Feiyue
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Canvas Upper
  • Lightweight Outsole
  • Price: See Here
Ringside Diablo
  • Ringside Diablo
  • 4.9 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Non-slip Outsole
  • Nylon Mesh Upper
  • Price: See Here
Under Armour Toccoa
  • Under Armour Toccoa
  • 4.9 out of 5
    Our rating
  • EVA Midsole
  • Textile/Synthetic Upper
  • Price: See Here

Well, that depends, since no one in the fighting world regularly wears shoes. If you’re not comfortable running around and grappling with someone who could crush your toes, there are a few shoes that would work with kickboxing. If you’re scared of hurting your legs and feet, then shin guards are going to be for you. If you think that stuff is for wussies but still don’t want to risk rolling your ankle, you can utilize ankle supports/braces. Keep reading to find the best footgear available to kickboxers!

 

10 Best Kickboxing Shoes

 

1. Tiger Claw Feiyue

Honestly, in my opinion, nothing sounds cooler than Tiger Claw. So, by name alone, this company sounds like a kickboxer’s delight. Shaolin monks have even been known to wear the Feiyue shoes because they’re simple and practical. These shoes are compatible with all martial arts styles, and that includes kickboxing. They’re so lightweight it feels like you’re not wearing any kind of footgear at all, therefore no hindrance to your performance while, also, still protecting your feet.
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Canvas
Everyone knows that canvas is a great material to make shoes from, thanks to the fact that it’s durable, light, and flexible. They are lace-up shoes, but you can always double knot and tuck the laces away; so, don’t let that small factor keep you from treating yourself to these wonderful training shoes. They are guaranteed to last many wears and hardcore abuse from their owners, thanks to the thick, durable canvas.

Zero Drop
A problem with normal shoes is that the heel and toes are on different levels. With kickboxing, you need flat soles that can move with your feet. Flexibility is important because you do spend quite a bit of time on your toes. Balance is hard to keep unless you’re barefoot or have flat bottom shoes. They are slightly padded but not enough for impact absorbance. These shoes are mainly traction enhanced for ultimate performance.

Cost and Value
The middle tier is affordable to all and Tiger Claw keeps their gear pretty close to it. The Feiyu’s are, definitely, cheaper than many other shoes on the market for martial arts but we assure you they do not sacrifice practicality. If you want to have a pair for sparring and a pair for show they, also, sell high-top styles. You probably won’t want to wear the high-tops to the gym though because they can hinder ankle movement.
Pros
  • Shaolin Monk-approved
  • Lace-up
  • Canvas Upper
  • Lightweight Outsole
  • Great Traction
Cons
  • Size runs small/narrow
  • Minimal color variety

2. Ringside Diablo

Improve performance and speed with these, as they are lightweight and are sports-specific. These are built to give you greater mobility while providing ankle support. Simply, the tighter the laces, the more ankle support you will gain, as these are designed with this in mind. A patent leather nylon finish gives a professional, yet contemporary aesthetic appeal to them. And the non-slip, rubber outsole is an ideal choice when evaluating ring performance.
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Non-slip Outsole
The outsole is non-slip and made of rubber; thereby, allowing you to plant firmly before that next devastating punch or kick. This is a must-have safety feature and something to consider before your next purchase.

Nylon Mesh Upper
With your body in full-blown workout mode, you will need a pair which can cool those feet down; albeit, they may still be on fire with a winning kick in place. This upper allows your feet to breathe, as you work out the bag, a sparring partner, or competitor.

Cost and Value
Believe it or not, this pair is budget-friendly and is great for workouts or ring performance, as they are made with good-quality materials and provide ample ankle support. These, simultaneously, provide you with fluidity in motion and, moreover, provide you with a great idea for your next pair to add to your footwear collection.
Pros
  • Breathable, Nylon Mesh Upper
  • Non-slip
  • Rubber Outsole
  • Patent Leather Vinyl Finish
  • Contemporary Style
Cons
  • Ankle support; tight laces requirement

3. Under Armour Toccoa

Another pair great for training, this is footwear that breathes nicely. Made of a textile and synthetic upper, you will experience less fatigue because they are lightweight. These are more for practice sessions and less about the ring; a great addition to your wardrobe collection, especially if adding a pair to your rotation.
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High-abrasion Traction
The traction is great but may be a bit much for the actual ring. As such, these should be used as a means for practice sessions where floors might, otherwise, be too slick with other shoes.

EVA Midsole
The cushioned midsole provides decent comfortability levels. Furthermore, you can concentrate more on that next 'perfect' move, per se; and less about aching and tiring feet.

Cost and Value
Easy on the wallet, this footwear is a perfect buy; especially, when considering a pair for daily practice rotation. They breathe well and are lightweight enough to reduce fatigue. Moreover, these have great grip for more aggressive stances and have decent durability.
Pros
  • Textile and Synthetic Upper
  • Rubber Outsole
  • Die-cut, Full-length EVA Sockliner
  • EVA Midsole
  • High-abrasion Traction
Cons
  • Minimal color variety
  • Size runs small/narrow

4. RDX Neoprene Socks

4. RDX Neoprene Socks
If you like the ankle brace’s idea but want something that grips the floor and compresses like a sock, then we suggest the RDX Neoprene socks. The spandex socks are like a cross between the foot grips and ankle braces on this list. They give anatomical support while providing the non-slip factor, as well; meaning you get the best of both worlds. It’s almost as if wearing a second skin that’s been engineered in the future.
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High-density Compression
Blood flow is kind of a big deal; since, without it, your body parts would die. When you’re being active it’s pretty important for the blood in your feet to get back to the heart as quickly as it can, since your heart is pumping overtime to keep your muscles oxygenated. Compression socks, like the RDX Neoprene’s, will assist in promoting the blood flow from your feet.

Spandex Achilles
Do you remember in Greek mythology, Achilles’ one weakness was his heel? Without the proper support, you can severely damage your tendons, especially wearing improper fitting braces and socks. RDX made their socks out of a monofilament made from elastane and lycra for that 'just right' fit to keep you going. If you damage your Achilles tendon, you won’t be able to train for 8 to 12 weeks if you have to wear a cast/boot. Or if it’s extremely severe and surgery is needed, then it will be around 4 to 6 months. So, better to be safe than sorry and get these compression socks.

Cost and Value
Considering the fact that you’re getting a compression sock, foot grips, ankle brace/guard all in one, the price can’t be beaten, especially with the washable yarns of elastane, sweat-absorbing and machine-washable perks of the RDX Neoprene. Designed for cushion, grip, and airflow while supporting one of your most important body parts, they’re worth buying.
Pros
  • All-in-One Support
  • Arch Support
  • Sweat-absorbing
  • Non-slip
  • Enhanced Fit
Cons
  • Narrow
  • Leave marks on mats

5. Mooto TKD

5. Mooto TKD
Kickboxing is a form of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) and Mooto gear sells high-performance equipment for MMA. Almost anything sold by them will work with kickboxing training and their TKD shoes are no different. They’re lightweight, flexible, and perfect for the minimalist in you; that is if you think the Ringstar Fight Pro’s are too flashy. On the outside they look like regular shoes but don’t be fooled, they’re made for kicking and balance.
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Slip-on Design
If you want to get rid of the laces and Velcro, altogether, and still avoid potential embarrassment, go with the Mooto’s. Their design is made for snugly fitting your feet to ensure you can stay on your feet during training and fighting. Mooto knows that safety is #1 and kept that in mind when building their competition shoes. The tongue is made from a spandex textile to stretch and fit perfectly in place once on. These shoes are called Wings for a reason: because when you put them on, you feel like you can fly.

Angled Forefoot
Have you noticed that kickboxers are constantly on their toes and hopping around but when you try, you lose balance? These TKD shoes have a 30-degree angle at the forefoot for increased balance to make bopping around easier. Your buddies might call you Twinkle Toes at first, but once they see you in action, they’ll be asking for a gym reference and where you got your shoes from.

Cost and Value
Mooto brand is known for being quality and moderately affordable compared to more high-end brands like Hayabusa. That way, if you’re not looking to spend your savings, you can still get that bang for your buck you want. With a 3-layered sole, an arch supporting shank, and dynamic performance, Mooto claims it’s not shoes but science.
Pros
  • Lightweight
  • High dDurableility
  • Back sStay
  • Synthetic lLeather
  • 240g Avg. Wweight for pair
Cons
  • Tight fit
  • Can stick on mats

6. Ringstar Fight Pro

6. Ringstar Fight Pro
When you’re just starting out in fighting, your body isn’t conditioned for impact or the proper balance; and in kickboxing, there’s a lot of kicking involved which means you need to keep your feet in all the right places. Ringstar developed a pair of sparring shoes that will support your ankles and prevent your feet sliding around the smooth gym floor. What’s better? The patented technology used in the making absorbs impact like you wouldn’t believe. Just remember they’re made for indoor training, so don’t wear them outside if you want to keep the bottoms intact.
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R3 Protection System
Keeping you protected from impact without weighing you down, the Fight Pro’s are made from high-quality, closed-cell foam for superior absorbing power. Three layers are used for ultimate padding that’s still lightweight. Ringstar’s R3 technology is patented and guaranteed to disperse force and keep injuries at bay; something that is needed by beginners who don’t know the correct form yet and may, otherwise, hurt themselves, just by training without a sparring partner. You can stop flinching every time you lunge and kick with these on your feet.

Velcro Closure
Shoelaces can be your greatest enemy: too tight/too loose, come undone, fray and break. It would be pretty embarrassing if in the middle of a fight you tripped over your laces (face to mat equals K.O.) or your shoe flew off into the opponent's face. With the Fight Pro’s you don’t need to deal with the hassle and fear. Furthermore, the Velcro system in place keeps your shoes secure and prevents any shameful events from happening in the ring. In other words, you can focus on your kickboxing instead of your shoes.

Cost and Value
When out shopping, typically, your initial thought process is cheap. But when it comes to protective gear (especially for kickboxing beginners), don’t skimp; always choose quality. Thankfully, with Ringstar, that’s guaranteed. Flex Grooves for traction, white soles that won’t scuff the mats, and approved by several overseeing associations: these are some amazing perks which make for some amazing shoes. Treat your feet and protect yourself by buying these midrange-in-cost sparring shoes.
Pros
  • Forms and Sparring
  • Fastening Structure
  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Flex Grooves
Cons
  • Indoor-use only
  • Minimal color variety

7. Otomix Ninja Warrior Stingray

7. Otomix Ninja Warrior Stingray
A wraparound outsole on the forefoot area helps to add stability while planting your feet for that next kick or transitioning to a hand strike. Forefoot and heel overlays add extra support to the upper, without compromising the importance of maneuverability. The outsole is thin, yet it grips well. This, in turn, helps you to feel the floor; an important feature for those guided by multiple-move transitions.
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Wide Toe Box
The toe box is great for those having wide feet or need splay when setting up for a power kick. The toe box is roomy; yet, the overall upper design helps to ensure minimal foot movement within the shoe.

Ankle Support
These are perfect for those in need of better ankle support. In fact, this is a great idea for those moments in which the inevitable turned ankle may occur, as these can provide a bit of support for quicker healing.

Cost and Value
At the upper end of cost association, these are kickboxing shoes well worth every penny spent. Made with high-quality materials and designed to give you ankle support, fluidity in motion, and feel for the ground, this is a pair worthy of the purchase price.
Pros
  • Polyester Upper
  • Rubber Outsole
  • Wide Toe Box
  • Ankle Support
  • Lace-up
Cons
  • A bit pricey

8. Century Lightfoot

8. Century Lightfoot
Another pair that is readily available and frequently used is the Lightfoot’s, by Century. They even have a black with pink accent pair for those women that like throwing it in a guy’s face when they’ve been beaten by a girl, as it were. Creatively designed with aesthetic and functionality in mind, these are great for anyone and everyone.
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Pliable
Being made from synthetic leather, the Lightfoot’s shoes are great for using in kickboxing, since they will bend and flex with your feet while you pivot and spin. The leather is, also, ridiculously durable and so lightweight it’s scary; no worries about your shoes falling apart after a few sessions.

Rubber Outsole
Anyone that exercises frequently knows the importance of a rubber outsole for traction and grip. Without this feature, one leg kick can send you falling back on your rear end, and no one likes a bruised tailbone. Added bonus, the enhanced pivot points in between grips ensure your fancy footwork stays fancy. Therefore, you can keep perfect form with every kick, spin, and takedown.

Cost and Value
In all honesty, they’re around the same price point as the other shoes on this list, but they do have a few more perks that make them a little more coveted than others. Also, the fact that they don’t look like your everyday sneakers and high tops, make them appealing to the eye. The best part about them, however, is the synthetic leather which guarantees a long-lasting sparring shoe.
Pros
  • Synthetic Leather
  • Rubber Outsoles
  • Pivot Points
  • Breathable
Cons
  • Narrow
  • Size runs large

9. Otomix Original Lite

9. Otomix Original Lite
A great practice session tool, the Otomix Original Lite is a revamped version of the original shoe made over 25 years ago. These can work as a daily rotation or as your go-to pair for workouts. It is both thin and flexible which provides great fluidity in motion and, also, helps you 'feel' the floor, as it were.
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Thin and Flexible
These are made for mixed martial arts; a great tool for kickboxing practice sessions. Made to be thin and flexible, there is decent maneuverability, as well as, good overall flexibility.

Stingray® Outsole
This is an outsole which wraps the foot, in order to provide maximum balance and support for kicking power. It is an ideal solution for any kickboxer.

Cost and Value
Pricing falls into the midrange with these but they are sturdy enough to last well beyond the purchase value. They are, most definitely, worth the purchase price and would make a welcome addition to a kickboxer's footwear wardrobe.
Pros
  • Stingray® Outsole
  • Single Top Lace
  • Thin and Flexible
  • Rubber Outsole
  • Synthetic Upper
Cons
  • Minimal color variety
  • Size runs small

10. Adidas SM-II Low Cut

10. Adidas SM-II Low Cut
These are a pair which can be great for practice sessions, as they are lightweight, have a pivot point design outsole, and utilize a top lace feature. Easy on and off, they still give you the security in knowing they are staying on your feet during that next roundhouse to the bag. Furthermore, these are comfortable and can create less fatigue, as a result.
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Leather Upper
The leather implemented in this upper is soft; that is, there is minimal break-in time and you can feel more of your foot during strikes. This gives you comfort and the satisfaction in knowing you are not straying too far from that natural feel.

Pivot Point
Perfect for laying down moves such as spinning heel kicks, the pivot point in the outsole allows you freedom of spin while, simultaneously, providing ample grip. This is an ideal feature for those working on mechanics.

Cost and Value
Budget-friendly, this pair will not hurt the bank account. Moreover, they have a great design and can work as a good training tool. Perfect for practice sessions, this is footwear which can help with the right mix of both grip and maneuverability.
Pros
  • Leather Upper
  • Rubber Outsole
  • Pivot Point
  • Single, Top Lace Design
  • Soft Leather
Cons
  • Minimal color variety

So, now you have an array of choices to get your footgear from. There’s no shame in not being ready to fight without some kind of protection on your feet; safety is always the number one priority at the gym. Keep yourself protected and comfortable with any of the items reviewed here without sacrificing that barefoot advantage.

 

Criteria Used to Select the Best Kickboxing Shoes

Expanded Array of Products

Something that was important in the choices made for this list was the range of products for different preferences in equipment. Specifically for beginners, who aren’t too sure about grappling and fighting barefoot, the footwear chosen were picked for people who aren’t comfortable not wearing them, especially during exercise. Shin guards are favored by people who haven’t been conditioned and are afraid of the impact on their legs when practicing kicks. Braces, socks, and foot grips are something to give peace of mind while still, technically, going at it barefoot but not completely barefoot.

Brands

Usually, no one wants to be the first to buy a product from a new company, because it’s a big gamble whether it’s a waste of money or absolutely the best thing ever. Every brand on this list is one of the more well-known in MMA to ensure the guarantee that you aren’t wasting money on gear that will just fall apart and be worthless after one wearing. Obviously, you want to support home owned mom & pop businesses, but those are more localized. This list is of brands available to anyone in the market for kickboxing gear.

Supportive Abilities

When it comes to protective gear for any kind of MMA, support is the main factor in your final choices. Something flimsy and cheaply made will not protect you in any way, especially if you’ve had previous injuries. Getting highly supportive and high-performance protective wear will prevent further damage to your joints. Protective apparel can be the difference between being healthy and active or injured and stuck at home. Have you tried kickboxing with a cast? It’s probably not the best idea. Each item on this list was chosen to keep those kinds of things from happening.

Durability

You’ll notice in UFC and videos of street fights that the fighters do a lot of bouncing around and they’re constantly on the move. They, also, aren’t wearing much other than their shorts and mouth guards. Why? Because the more added weight you have, the harder your body has to work, and you can get tired much quicker from the extra gear. The reason for this list was to provide protective foot gear for those getting into kickboxing and who aren’t ready to go it barefoot. So, each item had to be specifically chosen for being lightweight and keep up with your training.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q. How do you clean shin guards?
A. If you want to prevent any kind of smell in your shin guards, it is recommended to wash right after you get home from the gym. Otherwise, they’re more likely to absorb your sweat and emanate the odor later, once it’s dried into the fibers.

  • Wipe down the exterior with some disinfectant wipes, use a dry cloth towel to get the sweat off of the interior, and either let air dry or use the cool setting on a hairdryer.

You want to get all the moisture accumulated off of your shin guards before it sets into the padding. It’s, also, a good idea to never leave them in your gym bag overnight because they can absorb moisture that’s collected in there and become musty.

Why do most fighters go barefoot?
A. The simplest answer is that no one wants to be rolling around on dirty mats from people’s shoes. The more complex answer would be that wearing shoes or anything on your feet can prevent the development of your muscles and affect your performance. Without shoes, you have more control of yourself and can feel whether you’re doing things right or not by the grip you have on the mat. Footwear can be more of a hindrance than a help.

Can I still train if I have past injuries?
A. Of course, you can. That’s exactly why there are braces and supports. That way, you can train and participate in kickboxing without worry that you will re-injure yourself in the same place. Don’t let anything get in the way of being healthy and exercising. Kickboxing is a great way to stay in shape and can be done safely.

What’s the difference between kickboxing and cardio kickboxing?
A. Cardio kickboxing is more like an aerobic workout, rather than regular kickboxing which is a contact sport. If you’re looking to just get in shape, people recommend cardio because it focuses more on the fitness aspect. Now, if you want to actually learn how to fight, then go with regular kickboxing, because it focuses on form and properly teaches how to kick, strike, and block.

Sources

  1. Nick English, Know Before You Go: Kickboxing, article, Sep 17, 2013
  2. Tri, What Equipment Do You Need to Start Kickboxing?, article,
  3. Pramod Kerkar, MD, What are the Benefits of Ankle Brace?, article,
  4. Fisher, C., Cardio Kickboxing vs. Kickboxing, blog; article, Sep 17, 2017


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