What are Martial Shoes?

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Martial arts shoes are a recent invention, with older Asian movies showing more accurate depictions of martial artists wearing shoes. James M. Richardson patented a new type of martial arts shoe in 1981, but it still lacked traction and had concerns about the Velcro strap. Modern shoe designers have evolved martial arts shoes for a trendy look, but quality and basic needs for martial artists must still be met.

Martial arts shoes are a relatively new invention. The television images of the barefoot Kung Fu fighter are unrealistic; although martial artists by definition have strong and often calloused feet, they are just as susceptible to injury as anyone else wandering the streets barefoot.
Older Asian movies depict a much more accurate view of martial artists. Japan’s samurai warriors didn’t walk around barefoot. Instead, they wore martial arts shoes that might be more like a foot cloth than a legitimate foot protector. Fighting in these shoes was dangerous whether a punch was thrown or not. Made from cheap material, the shoes may tear easily or cause your foot to slip inside the shoe after a kick. They also became unstable when they got wet.

When James M. Richardson first filed a patent for a “new” type of martial arts shoe in 1981, martial arts shoes had evolved to include at least minimal foot protection. The design of him in Velcro® left the ball of the foot and the heel open, protecting the arch. This martial arts shoe brand worked on one level, providing support and range of motion that hadn’t been offered before, yet there was still little to stop a martial artist from slipping after a kick due to lack of traction . Additionally, there was concern that the Velcro® strap used to hold the shoe together around the ankle could come loose while the martial artist was fighting, causing injury.

In modern American society, self-defense has become more of a pastime than a necessary component of life. Possessing a morbid need to over-accessorize, modern shoe designers have nearly evolved martial arts shoes. But a trendy look doesn’t increase the quality of the shoe; Martial arts shoes still have to meet the basic needs of the martial artist, which means they must be able to provide the artist with greater freedom of movement and decent protection for the foot. Among the overpriced martial arts shoes that are attracting the attention of middle-class self-defense fanatics, quality martial arts shoes are now available that offer the martial artist more than just a stylish look.

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