Anytime that I start a new martial art I want to know details about what I should bring or what I should wear, all the way down to the footwear. So naturally, I investigated whether or not I needed to wear shoes to my first Judo class.
Judo training is done barefoot and shoes are taken off before you get on the mats. Judo is a traditional Japanese martial art developed for indoor training. In Asian culture, it is customary to take off your shoes when entering a building, so naturally, this extends to indoor Judo training.
Now that we know that Judo training is performed barefoot, let’s look into some specifics on why training is done without shoes and some other related considerations.
Do You Wear Shoes in Judo Training?
Since Judo is of Japanese origin and practiced indoors it is practiced barefoot. This is part of Asian tradition. During normal training lessons, you will be expected to practice barefoot and leave your shoes by the mat.
If you have minor cuts or injuries around the ankle or foot you could talk to your instructor and potentially wear a sock or a brace. In some circumstances with blended martial arts schools, you will see people wearing wrestling shoes to protect their ankles, but for the most part, Judo will follow the Asian tradition of training barefoot.
I do not personally recommend ever using a wrestling shoe in Judo because it gives a high amount of traction and could potentially get caught on the mat during training in a way that could be injurious to either yourself or your training partners. This is more likely to happen since training with a shoe is unlikely to be something you or your training partners will have experience practicing with.
There are also benefits to barefoot training. For details on the benefits of barefoot training in martial arts check out my post 7 Benefits of Training Martial Arts Barefoot.
Bring Shoes or Slippers to Wear Off the Mats
While you cannot wear shoes onto the mats, it is important to bring shoes or slippers for sanitary reasons to keep the mats clean. When you step off the mats you should put on your slippers or shoes so that your bare feet will not bring outside germs from the bathroom or elsewhere onto the training mats.
Do You Wear Shoes in Judo Tournaments?
According to the International Freestyle Judo Alliance, you cannot wear shoes. This ruleset is somewhat common and used in many Judo competitions. If you watch Judo at the Olympics, you will also notice that every athlete is barefoot in the tournament.
Judo is performed barefoot mostly due to tradition. The techniques were also developed with bare feet in mind so adding in shoes might cause some issues in training if there is a lot more traction than normal and a foot gets caught in a movement that would normally sweep the foot and it just sticks there and transfers into a joint and causes damage.
Socks and footwear could be worn on a case-by-case basis for specific reasons, but it should be avoided and everybody you train with needs to be aware of it and make sure everybody stays safe in training.
For more check out Should You Wear a Cup in Judo?