As somebody who trains regularly in an MMA-oriented gym, I see every day that most of my training partners train barefoot. Some do wear shoes, so I investigated why some people are wearing shoes in MMA classes.
MMA classes are trained barefoot since training is specifically tailored for success in MMA as a combat sport, which requires athletes to be barefoot in the cage. The only time wearing footwear is acceptable is when you are protecting an injury during training.
Now that we know that training is usually done barefoot, let’s look into some related details about footwear in the context of MMA classes.
Do You Wear Shoes in MMA Training?
You should not wear footwear in MMA training in almost every case. Some athletes may wear a wrestling shoe to support an existing injury, which is usually acceptable if you talk to your instructor beforehand.
Wearing shoes does somewhat diminish the effectiveness of your training since the additional traction provided by a wrestling shoe causes changes in the way movements might work in a fight setting. Since MMA happens barefoot, in order to benefit most from your training make every attempt to train barefoot.
There are also health benefits to training martial arts barefoot. For details on the benefits of barefoot training in martial arts check out my post 7 Benefits of Training Martial Arts Barefoot.
I personally use these shoes (available on Amazon.com) and feel that they offer the best value and have been quite comfortable and durable so far.
In fact, using athletic tape to create effective support for any ankle, foot, or toe injury can protect from aggravation of an injury as well as do a good job protecting cuts and abrasions. This allows you to reap the benefits of training without changing the training situation by adding shoes.
Bring Shoes or Flip Flops to Wear Off the Mats
While training on the mat should be done barefoot, bringing shoes or flip-flops for use off the mats is a good idea because it keeps the training space more sanitary. This reduces the chance of mat diseases and other potential illnesses.
Do You Wear Shoes in MMA Fights?
Unified rules for UFC fighters do not allow fighters to wear shoes. Most rulesets in other organizations follow similar guidance in regards to being barefoot. It would be a very rare circumstance to see an MMA fight happen with fighters wearing shoes.
Benefits of Practicing MMA Barefoot
Training mixed martial arts barefoot has a host of benefits. Practicing MMA barefoot has several physical benefits to muscle development in feet and ankles, training barefoot will also heighten awareness of your environment and of your body’s positioning in space.
Training mixed martial arts barefoot is not only the overwhelmingly most common way to train and compete, but it comes with some physical benefits as well. If an athlete needs to protect an injury, it is a good idea to try using tape first if possible, then graduate to the use of a wrestling shoe if necessary.
If you are interested in knowing about shoe use in other martial arts take a look at Do You Wear Shoes in Martial Arts?