Do You Wear Shoes in Taekwondo?

When you walk in for your first Taekwondo class it’s natural to want to be wearing the right shoes for the training. Some martial arts are done barefoot and others are done with shoes, so should you wear shoes for Taekwondo?

Most Taekwondo schools train barefoot. You can ask the instructor if you want to know what the standards are for footwear at their school. Wearing a martial arts shoe is usually acceptable if you are training on hard floors and not soft mats.

Now that we know that most Taekwondo schools do training barefoot, let’s go over some other information about barefoot training.

Do You Wear Shoes in Taekwondo?

Wearing shoes in Taekwondo is uncommon, and most students train in Taekwondo barefoot. Many schools will allow you to train in martial arts shoes if you need them to support your feet or ankles due to health conditions or injuries.

Taekwondo training that occurs on hard floors or that occurs outside is more likely to have shoes as a normal part of training. Hard floors can cause a lot of extra impacts that could be cushioned with the presence of a martial arts shoe.

This is a great martial arts shoe (available on if your school allows the use of a martial arts shoe.

There are a host of benefits to training martial arts barefoot, so I would opt for training barefoot whenever it is feasible, I even wrote an article detailing the benefits of barefoot martial arts training here.

Bring Shoes or Flip-Flops to Wear Off the Mats

Other footwear should be brought for use outside of the training area. This helps to keep the training area clean and safer by limiting the potential bacterial and fungal infections associated with walking on unclean surfaces like bathrooms with bare feet or the same shoe worn in the training area.

What Does a Martial Arts Shoe Do?

Martial arts shoes are durable, supportive shoes that help to protect the feet by lowering impacts absorbed during kicks. They have rubber soles and can help to support and cover up injuries, warts, or other foot ailments. The cushion helps to lessen the impacts of more acrobatic kicking techniques.

The covered laces also prevent equipment and sparring partners from taking unnecessary damage that might happen in a more traditional shoe.

Another thing to keep in mind is that a normal athletic shoe is not designed to have traction through pivoting motions the way a good martial arts shoe does. This is a critical feature that is especially important in Taekwondo due to the nature of kicking techniques.

Do You Wear Shoes in Taekwondo Tournaments?

Taekwondo tournaments almost always require combatants to be barefoot. In some Taekwondo tournaments, however, the athletes will wear contact sensor socks to help to allocate points based on contact with their kicks.

What are the Benefits of Training Taekwondo Barefoot?

Three important benefits of training Taekwondo barefoot are being able to have more instructor visibility to correct your form, building stabilizing muscles in your body, and getting better feedback from your body than when you are wearing shoes.

1. Full Visibility of Techniques

There are a lot of things that go into perfecting a kicking technique, and your instructor will be better able to help you to correct any technical flaws if they can see your feet and make sure they are positioned properly for the techniques.

2. Building Stabilizing Muscles and Strong Flexible Feet

Building up strong flexible feet alongside other stabilizing muscles for Taekwondo techniques will help make you a better athlete. Somebody who trains barefoot will have better core muscle engagement and posture since your body has to work to cushion landings without the padding offered by a shoe.

3. Better Feedback From Your Body

When martial artists are training barefoot they tend to be better aware of their surroundings and especially the placement of their feet. Getting feedback directly from your barefoot will help an athlete to learn nuance for kicking.

Another interesting benefit of training barefoot is that your landing quality and control will be forced to become better in acrobatic kicking techniques since your muscles will have to work to absorb impact.

Final Thoughts

For the most part, Taekwondo is not trained barefoot, but shoes can be used in cases of foot ailments or injuries. Even if training in shoes is an option, training barefoot provides a lot of benefits to the martial artist that should be factored in when making a choice on whether or not to train with a martial arts shoe or training barefoot.

For more check out Should You Wear a Cup in Taekwondo?.


Hi, I'm Andre and I am the author of this website. I currently train primarily in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu but supplement with other grappling martial arts as well as help to coach my kid's blended grappling program.

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