Training Shoes For Fitness and Martial Arts

The question I get asked most often about training apparel is "What kinds of training shoes should I wear to the gym?"

There is nothing that signifies your accelerating readiness to start training than the purchase of workout apparel and in the hierarchy of things, buying your training shoes means you are serious about your mission and ready to go.

But what kind of shoe to buy can be a very personal question to your preferences. When it comes to shoes, like how we buy cars, often looks matter.  That being said your look may not be mine but there are some classics that seem to stand the test of time and generations that remain popular today. 

I basically break my needs up into the things I train for most which is strength and conditioning and martial arts.  If you have sport specific needs here like volleyball, long-distance running... then these recommendations may not be right for you but if you are doing general fitness with a lot of cross-over work between endurance, strength, kick-boxing... this is what I keep in my gym bag that I recommend you try.

Training Shoes

training shoes

Strength and Conditioning

Let's start with good old fashion weightlifting.  This and running are probably the most common training shoes.  But in this case we are talking about everything from deadlifts and cleans to kettlebell swings and tire flips.  When you have heavy weight in your hands that you are trying to move, the single most important thing to look for in a shoe is a stable base which normally means you want a pretty flat shoe that your foot fits snug inside without a lot of movement.

My shoe of choice here is the classic Converse Chuck Taylors, a staple for over 50 years. I am in good company here as this is a favorite shoe of some of the highest level powerlifters in the world that wear these when they train.  Recognize that I am not talking about competition here as they make hard sole lifting shoes for that but I am talking about a good all around training shoe for the weight room.  That being said I have seen Chucks in competition as well.

Anybody want to tell this guy that pink is for girls?

Strongman-converse-training-shoes

You might not like running in these shoes if you mix your resistance training with your endurance work but anyone who has worn these long enough knows they are very comfortable and running in these shoes is more than adequate to the task.  If you want to break track records, then like I said above, get a sport specific shoe.

Converse black Chuck Taylors-training-shoes

http://www.converse.com/us/en_us/c/converse

Martial Arts, Parkour, Free Running and Adult Tumbling

My next training shoe of choice has been a lessor known shoe outside of the asian martial arts and especially the Kung Fu community, but it is gaining steam among both the Parkour community and as a classic looking recreational shoe in Europe and its popularity is spreading worldwide now. 

Feiyue is a Chinese classic that has been around since the 1920's.  It is most commonly known as the shoe for the Shaolin monks but it has experienced a resurgence and is quickly becoming a worldwide classic much like Chuck Taylors 

feiyue shaolin-training-shoes

These shoes come in 2 different quality levels.  The original classic is available as a private label through martial art supply companies like Tiger Claw starting at about $23.  Amazon abounds with knock-offs from China and often will claim to be genuine Feiyue but they are not and they fall apart pretty quickly.  That being said this is an inexpensive canvas shoe made with many imperfections that won't last as long as your Chucks but they are comfortable and the sole is a very soft pliable rubber that bends with your foot giving you great gripping power.  Thus why the Parkour community has adopted them as the inexpensive shoe of choice for beginners.

More recently a European designer has noted the popular resurgence in all things classic and Feiyue caught their eyes and they have licensed the name and design and have begun making a better higher quality version for the fashion conscious.  Websites and magazines have published photos of actor Orlando Bloom and model Poppy Delevingne wearing the brand. They come in all kinds of designs now both classic and modern and can cost upwards of $70-$100.  These are much sturdier shoes with a more rigid sole and still make great training shoes but it hard to beat the $23 classics especially for martial arts.

https://www.feiyue-shoes.com/en/

Martial Arts, Kick-boxing, Striking, Running or Sprinting

Next up is one of my favorites for both strength and conditioning, my endurance work like sprinting and all my martial arts.  This is my go to training shoe for gym, martial arts, comfort, and looks! 

Onitsuka Tiger is another classic dating back to the 60's but it is back with a vengeance!

Onitsuka Tiger, the forerunner of ASICS, was born in 1949.  Its most popular shoe was created in 1966 during the pre-olympic trials but it really started getting noticed during the 1968 Mexico Olympics from which they became mainstream. These legendary lines remain, unchanged, on every pair of Onitsuka Tigers and ASICS today.

Asics Mexico 68-training-shoes

This shoe is available today in many styles and colors but I prefer the classic white with red and blue stripes that have remained popular for decades.  To me it is the perfect blend of shoe if you want to train martial arts and strength and conditioning at the same time or if you just want to punch and kick things with your shoes on rather than go barefoot.  In fact I am in good company here as well as these were the shoes of choice for Bruce Lee.  Recently an old pair of his white Onitsuka Tigers that he used for training were sold for $20,000 

BruceLee-training-shoes-Asics

Or this pair of vintage Asics sneakers worn during his 1972 unfinished film Game of Death. He wore these sneakers during his fight scenes with Abdul-Jabbar, and they were later sent as a gift to his student and friend George Lee. They were sold at auction through Julien's in 2014 for $12,160.

BruceLee-training-shoes-Game-of-Death

When I feel I need some extra inspiration then I put on my Gold Asics made famous by Bruce Lee during his filming of the Game of Death and again by Uma Thurman in Kill Bill.  This training shoe makes me a ninja and a better Scholar Warrior!

kill-bill-uma-thurman-training-shoes

More modern styles with high quality workmanship is available from $70-$100 typically.

Mexico66-shoes

http://www.onitsukatiger.com/us/en-us/mexico66

A little known fact... Phil Knight, an American middle distance runner and protegee of Bill Bowerman, co-founder of Nike, spoke to Mr Onitsuka as part of his MBA in marketing athletic shoes and loved the new TIGER CORTEZ that had just been released. Blue Ribbon Sports, the company he set up to bring Onitsuka Tigers to the USA, would later become Nike.

My last solution that I haven't wore for some time but having been a former wrestler always liked for both my fitness training and my martial arts is a classic wrestling shoe.  Asics has some of the biggest selection here as well and makes some very affordable options.

Asics-wrestling-shoes

You can't go wrong with any of the above choice and for that matter there are probably many more all purpose shoes that we could argue about here but I wanted to give you some classic options that have been around for decades, are still popular and specifically used by weightlifters and martial artists worldwide. 

There is also one last standard that you can always turn to that has been around for centuries... Just go barefoot!

Dean
A graduate of Loyola University and MBA from The University of Chicago.
Pre-med LSU and post graduate at A.T. Still University.

His love of technology started right out of school. As a new hire for Arthur Andersen's Consulting group, the largest accounting and consulting firm in the world at that time, he led the first implementation of one of the very first IBM and Apple personal computers ever used in the business environment quickly becoming the world wide expert in analytical implementation of personal computers for business. Eventually moving on to a widely successful leveraged buy-out and then returning to Arthur Andersen and becoming a Partner in the Chicago office, he specialized in health, fitness, nutritional and food businesses managing some of the largest strategic food industry restructuring deals at the time. As COO of a successful Midwest Venture Capital firm, he was responsible for the operational management and success of over 25 investments each averaging $2-5 million over 5 years yielding returns in excess of 1000%.

He served on the board of many businesses in the health and nutrition sector as well as the educational and certification industries, including the board of Nutrisystems and one of the largest licensing and certifying bodies in the US. Achieving a modest level of success he decided return to school to increase his scientific and technical knowledge and launch an investment company targeting startups in the health and fitness sectors. During this time he became one of Infusionsoft's first Certified Partners providing digital marketing consultation and implementation for many industries including the health, fitness and hospitality service sectors. Having custom developed some of the very first website to Infusionsoft CRM integrations, he implemented over 50 Infusionsoft installations and one of the first website membership systems providing targeted content to clients based on funnel tagging and online behaviors. While UltraFit Systems has incubated and exited several fitness concepts, he noted a need for better digital marketing and client management systems as well as analytical tools for health practitioners to use to chart a scientifically valid path to achieving their goals and objectives.

He is a founding member of Six Sigma Fitness (SSF), an online science and technology company with multiple distribution channels. SSF is a Cloud based SaaS health technology platform for Athlete Management and sub-clinical Health, Wellness and Fitness evaluations for the Health and Fitness industry. It is also a health practitioner educational resource that certifies practitioners in the SSF proprietary methods and business processes. He has created proprietary scientific algorithms, custom CRMs and integrated technologies using API integrations and behavioral logic for marketing and conversion strategies in the health sector. This platform and technology is currently being adopted and customized for a small muti-location mobile technology retail organization as well and B to B telcom provider.

A wrestler in high school and for a brief time in college until realizing the challenges of studying and playing sports at a high level while constantly having to cut weight, he decided to coach and master the challenges of health and fitness through weightlifting and martial arts while pursuing careers in consulting and eventually the venture capital and private equity business specializing in food and nutrition industries.

He is a multiple blackbelt having studied martial arts for over 30 years including kickboxing, Muay Thai, BJJ, Krav Maga, Kenpo Karate, Kung Fu, Northern (Longfist) and Southern Shaolin (Hung Gar Tiger and Crane), Tai Chi, Qigong, Traditional Weapons and Chinese philosophical studies including Taoism, internal arts and energy systems from an Eastern medicine perspective.

He has had the good fortune to train with and or under the direct lineage of some of the greatest martial artists in the world including Master Ed Parker, Master Jinheng Li, Kru Pol and Master Eddie Cha.

He is also the author of the Six Sigma Fitness™ Scholar Warrior Program which brings together the Eastern and Western sciences as well as the training of both traditional strength and conditioning with martial arts programming.

He is currently the Research Physiologist with UltraFit Systems, Physiologist/Consultant to many professional athletes specializing in combat sports, weight cutting and physiological adaptation. Authored and developed The Scholar Warrior Program for Six Sigma Fitness™ and The Six Sigma Fitness™ Methodology.

Past certifications are too numerous to list but more include Six Sigma Fitness™ Certified Practitioner, Certified Personal Trainer (C.P.T.), CrossFit Level 1, Precision Nutrition, Poliquin Biosignature, Poliquin PICP, BioForce HRV, BioForce Certified Conditioning Coach

He is available for consults, private self-defense training and speaking engagements.

Related Articles

>