Best Kickboxing Shoes Reviewed for Performance

Kickboxing, heck yeah!

After watching Never Back Down in 2008 (ten years? what?) we all left the theater kicking our legs in the air, pretending to punch our best friends. Some of us 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 ahhs” of a crowd made us want to take up fighting; Muay Thai, Jiu Jitsu, Kickboxing.

Alas, either you were too young (AKA your parents said no way) or you couldn’t afford it (working part-time at McD’s isn’t much in the grand scheme of things). Now you’re older and all those super-cool fighting movies you watched back in the day are showing up on your “Recommended” lists on every movie subscription you have (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, to name a few), and suddenly you realize you can do what childhood you wanted so badly to do. 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 Scheels completely overwhelmed by the different “must-haves” for fighting gear. You have the basics; protective headgear, gloves, amazing shorts. Your next question probably is “Do I need shoes? Is there some kind of kickboxing foot gear?”

Featured Recommendations

Hayabusa Ashi 3.0
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Venum Kontact
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RDX Braces
  • RDX Braces
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  • Pull Over
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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. Think that stuff is for wussies but still don’t want to risk rolling your ankle? Use ankle supports/braces. Keep reading to find the best footgear available to kickboxers!

 

 

 

10 Best Kickboxing Shoes

 

 

 

1. Hayabusa Ashi 3.0

Not looking to get rug burns when grappling with your spar partners? Get some of the Ashi 3.0 foot grips by the coveted Hayabusa. You can run and jump all over without the stinging sensation of skin against rubber. Another downside to kickboxing and exercise is that you get ridiculously sweaty so with foot grips you can be sure to always have a grip on the mat and stay in place, no trips and slips.
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SureGrip
As the Hayabusa website states, “Get a step ahead” with these foot grips. Their SureGrip technology “delivers superior mat traction for explosive takedowns” meaning you can super-cool flying air (FALCON PUNCH) attack your opponent and land upright and not have your feet come up from underneath you. When you first put them on it might take a bit before they stretch to your feet and it could affect your training at first, but don’t worry, soon you’ll look like an aerial circus member with all the jumps you will be able to pull off.

Lab Tested
One of the reasons Hayabusa is probably the most popular MMA retailer is because every product they sell is lab tested after being outlined and designed. They do this to ensure the quality, safety, and performance of their gear. There is a list of criteria in the kickboxing world that fighters look for in everything they use when on the mats and the Ashi foot grips follow that list to a T. Before being put on the market they were prototyped and rigorously tested for any flaws in the design and materials.

Cost and Value
When a company is annoyingly popular and used by many of course they’re going to charge more for their gear, the good thing is that Hayabusa measures up to their prices. You have no need to wonder if after spending so much will they last or start to fray and tear after one day in the gym. They will last longer than any of your other gear more than likely, except for your shorts.
Pros
  • Revolutionary technology
  • Increases start/stop power
  • Breathable
  • Lightweight
  • Odor inhibiting
Cons
  • Run long
  • Difficult to pull on

2. Venum Kontact

Another piece of gear available in the MMA world is shin guards. “That’s not footgear” you may say but they do cover the tops of your feet and ankles. So if you accidentally kick with your foot instead of your shin you’re protected from the shock of impact. In kickboxing, beginners tend to miss their mark a lot and can seriously injure themselves if they full-force drive their foot into an opponent's ribs.
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No-slip Fit
Majority of shin guards are kept on with velcro and the Venum’s are no different, but they are known to be more customizable and have more leeway. So if you have thicker legs than the “average” person you can still wear them and not have to spend extra on gear made for “bigger” people. The velcro closure also ensures the guards won’t slide down your legs during training, thankfully, because stopping every few minutes to pull them back up would be annoying as heck.

Machine Washable
Two words: Body odor. When you work up a sweat from training and sparring, any gear you wear will absorb quite a bit of it. At first, you won’t notice much of a smell, but after they’ve been sitting in your gym bag overnight you can be sure to find a rank surprise the next day. Venum made the Kontact guard's machine washable to avoid any lingering odors turning heads in the locker room.

Cost and Value
Surprisingly Venum is laughably affordable considering how high rated their products are. Added bonus? You get more color choices than just the normal black or white. Heck, there’s even camo. ‘Merica! These pads are made to last, a review left by a customer claimed they lasted “10,000 kicks”. That’s probably 9K more than cheapo WallyWorld guards.
Pros
  • Machine washable
  • Velcro
  • Compression lining
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Grappling only
  • Minimal padding

3. RDX Braces

RDX is a company for the not made of money category. If you don’t have much after bills and necessities and such, you can still treat yourself to some awesome ankle braces to protect your feet while kickboxing. Maybe you’re just a stickler and hate spending money. Either way, if you don’t want to spend a butt-load then these protectors are exactly what you’ve been searching for. (Hello, is it me you’re looking for?) Braces aren’t made for grip or impact, they’re so you don’t end up rolling your ankle every sparring session.
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“Batwing” Design
There are so many different styles and designs of braces available and it’s difficult to find one that’s sort of a catch-all. The RDX supports have a specific design that shapes to your ankle for a secure fit. An ill-fitting brace can cause more harm than good, too tight and you can cut off circulation or too loose and they can flip around so that they aren’t protecting your ankles anymore. They can prevent injuries or help ease the discomfort of past ones.

Elastic
The typical brace is fairly sturdy and made from a thick pad and that’s not what you want when you have to be light of foot. RDX made their supports out of a thin fabricated pad that’s lined with elastic to ensure a comfortable fit. We can all agree a stiff edge on a brace can just put a damper on your day while it constantly stabs into your body as you move. That’s why these braces are perfect, they flex when needed.

Cost and Value
Sure, we always say that you don’t want to pick up something that’s “cheap” but drugstores mean drug store cheap. The mass produced, overused cheapo brands that are really just a waste of your time and money. Aha, even though the RDX braces are most definitely low-priced, they are in no way second-rate or inferior to the expensive gear out there. They do their job while being a bargain.
Pros
  • Secure fit
  • Contoured pad
  • Elasticised
  • Pull over
Cons
  • Moderate support
  • Run small
  • Lettering peels off

4. Ringstar Fight Pro

4. 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 (imagine that) 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 Fightpro’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 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 Fightpro’s you don’t need to deal with the hassle and fear, the velcro system in place keeps your shoes secure and prevents any shameful events from happening in the ring. 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, and with Ringstar that’s guaranteed. Flex grooves for traction, white soles that won’t scuff the mats, approved by several overseeing associations: some amazing perks make for some amazing shoes. Treat your feet and protect yourself by buying these sparring shoes.
Pros
  • Ultra-soft sole
  • Advantage Ankle Protector
  • Extra padding
  • Hook and loop closure
  • White soles
Cons
  • Squeaky
  • Run small
  • Hold heat

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 (except the karate uniforms ha!) and their TKD shoes are no different. They’re lightweight, flexible, and perfect for the minimalist in you if you think the Ringstar Fightpro’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 they 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? And when you try, you lose balance? Splat. 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 durability
  • Back stay
  • Synthetic leather
  • 240g weight for pair
Cons
  • Tight fit
  • Can stick on mats

6. Tiger Claw Feiyue

6. Tiger Claw Feiyue
Honestly IMO (in my opinion) nothing sounds cooler than Tiger Claw, so by name alone this company is BA (badass). 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 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, and 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, and 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
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. Bonus? If you want to have a pair for sparring and a pair for show (so you can walk around town and people will think you’re cool) 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
  • Preferred by Shaolin monks
  • Durable canvas
  • Max traction
  • Padded, lightweight sole
  • Catch all tread
Cons
  • Asian sizing (run small)
  • Rotating can be difficult

7. Venum Ankle Guard

7. Venum Ankle Guard
Although similar to the above mentioned braces, these guards are slightly different in the fact they have a bit more padding for impact absorption. They’re also made of cotton rather than elastic or foam or spandex. That means they’re machine washable too, woo! Bonus: just like the Venum Kontact’s reviewed above they come in many different colors to make them more personalized for the wearer. You can match with your other gear no problem.
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Anatomical Structure
These ankle supports have been conformed to fit the lower extremities and protect them by being designed into a more anatomical shape. In plain speak they’re sewn to fit a human foot front to back. The added bonus is the cotton blend used means it stretches and reforms its shape better than many other guards on the market, guaranteeing a comfortable day at the gym and no limping on the way home.

Elastane
Along with the cotton, elastane is blended into the fibers for added durability in the Venum ankle supports. It’s also extremely well-known for the exceptional elasticity it provides to any close-fitting clothing, or in this case training gear. Remember, kickboxing is a lot of movement and having to twist your body in every which way. The elastane inside these guards makes sure your gear will twist and turn with you, almost as if it’s a part of you.

Cost and Value
Fairly close in price and value to the ankle braces by RDX, these supports have one thing those don’t: brand. One of the most important aspects in selling equipment for MMA is that the brand name is recognized. It’s how companies get most of their clientele, when people see others wearing their symbol and that it works. Venum is one of the more popular brands in local gyms and for good reason. They are affordable while still providing high-quality kickboxing gear.
Pros
  • 8 colors
  • High quality cotton
  • Conforms to shape
  • Ships as a pair
  • Soft and lightweight
Cons
  • Uncomfortable seam
  • Lettering peels

8. RDX Neoprene Socks

8. RDX Neoprene Socks
If you like the ankle brace 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, which means 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 (like in kickboxing) 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 Neoprenes will assist in promoting the blood flow from your feet, basically saying “F you, gravity”.

Spandex Achilles
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. Since 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 beat. Especially with the washable yarns of elastane, sweat-absorbing and machine washable perks of the RDX Neoprenes. Designed for cushion, grip, and air-flow while supporting one of your most important body parts they’re worth buying.
Pros
  • All-in-one
  • Arch support
  • Sweat-absorbing
  • Non-slip
  • Enhanced fit
Cons
  • Narrow
  • Leave marks on mats

9. Century Lightfoot

9. Century Lightfoot
Another pair of shoes that are readily available and frequently used are the Lightfoot’s by Century. They even have a black with pink accent pair for those women that like throwing it in a guys face when they’ve been “beaten by a girl”. Creatively designed with aesthetic and functionality in mind for anyone and everyone.
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Pliable
Being made from synthetic leather the Lightfoot 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 (thanks man-made products!) and so lightweight it’s scary. Definition of pliable: bendable but not breakable. 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 AF. 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 (i.e. the pink for girly girls or the real men wear pink guys). Also the fact that they don’t look like your everyday sneakers and high tops make them appealing to the eye. The best part being the synthetic leather, guaranteeing a long lasting sparring shoe.
Pros
  • Synthetic leather
  • Rubber soles
  • Pivot points
  • Breathable
Cons
  • Narrow
  • Run large
  • Difficult to adjust

10. Everlast Guards

10. Everlast Guards
Here is a brand anyone can recognize, since they can be found in athletic shops, readily available. Everlast is more for the everyday kind of person that has no interest in anything “fancy” or “popular”, as long as it does the job. Their shin guards are great for kickboxing being that they have great padding while still maintaining the light factor.
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Compression Sleeve
Not many shin guards have compression sleeves inside them, but these ones do and this little perk can make all the difference in the world. It’s full length (from knee to toes) and provides a snug, superior fit. They’re also great for all body types, meaning you don’t have to be on the “lean side” to wear them. Giving you a bit more added peace of mind though, they have a velcro closure on the back to loosen and tighten accordingly.

High Density
Remember earlier we pointed out that thinner foam is better, but that’s not necessarily true with shin guards. Considering they cover a much larger area than shoes or braces do they need a bit more padding to ensure the absorption of impact in each and every area. It wouldn’t do any good to have inconsistent padding when you’re full force kicking and grappling.

Cost and Value
At this point you should be able to guess how much money training gear will cost you and Everlast is no different. They do make wonderful equipment with high quality materials without costing a fortune thankfully. It also helps that since so many other people use Everlast you can walk up to someone and ask how they like it, and they’ll be able to tell you everything you want to know. A lot of other gear out there can’t do that since it usually has to be ordered and people would rather go in-store and buy something, which usually turns out to be Everlast. 10/10 worth the buy.
Pros
  • Non-slip bottoms
  • High density
  • Superior fit
  • Compress X
Cons
  • Uncomfortable seams
  • Hold heat
  • Run big

So now you have an array of choices to get your foot gear 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 shoes 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 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 its 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 wear. 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 laid up at home. Have you tried kickboxing with a cast? 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, they’re constantly on the move. They also usually 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 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

 

 

How do you clean shin guards?
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?
The most simple 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?
Of course you can. That’s exactly why there are quite a few braces and supports rated on this list. 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?
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’re wanting to actually learn how to fight then go with regular kickboxing because it focuses on form and properly learning how to kick and 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?, Medical Article,
  4. Heather Vale, Difference Between Cario Kickboxing & Kickboxing, Sports Article,

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