There was a time in the 1980s when everyone – or at least it seemed that way – was wearing those black karate shoes that were all the rage for ten minutes.
You couldn’t throw a rock without hitting someone rocking those karate shoes.
For some reason, I never got the bug to sport these things. I don’t know why, as I was into all things cool and had the money to buy them.
But that’s why I’m writing this review, rather than wearing them.
Karate Shoes: What Were They?
The Karate shoe trend didn’t start in the 1980s. It actually began in 1972 when Bruce Lee wore a pair of white canvas Chuck Taylor All-Stars with black trim and a red stripe during his fight scenes in “Enter The Dragon.” But it wasn’t until he wore them again in “Game Of Death” (1979) that they became popular and they remained so until well after his death on July 20th, 1973.
Although he only made 5 movies in his brief career, Lee’s death only served to increase his popularity.
The popularity of karate films increased with Lee’s fame and other martial arts stars began to emerge as well. These stars included Japanese martial arts masters such as Sonny Chiba who starred in numerous karate films. In addition to Chiba, Shô Kosugi was also a Japanese star of karate films in the 1970s and 1980s.
The Chuck Taylor All-Star is an iconic sneaker created by Converse in 1917 as a basketball shoe with 13 small holes to allow for ventilation and a non-skid sole. Chuck Taylor, a basketball player from the 1920’s, wore the shoe during his time playing for Converse. Since then it has become one of the most recognizable sneakers ever.
Bruce Lee’s kicks were made by Converse and became so popular they started manufacturing their own version with the same style and name as Bruce’s original shoes. They were dubbed “Chucks” and many people continued to wear them as part of their everyday style because of the popularity of Bruce Lee, who symbolized everything cool during that time period.
The cool factor of these shoes led to a line of shoes made specifically for martial arts, which was the beginning of karate shoes.
Today, those shoes are an oddity, and though I have seen a few pairs of them, you don’t see them much anymore. I was reminded of this when I saw the picture of a guy in the Karate Shoe Museum wearing a pair of these shoes.
It got me thinking about what happened to the karate shoe trend and why it ended.
What Is A Karate Shoe?
As I mentioned earlier, a karate shoe is a type of sneaker that is worn primarily for the purpose of practicing martial arts. They were created for this purpose because they are lightweight, have minimal tread to prevent slipping, and they provide good support without a lot of bulk. There are also karate-specific designs that include extra padding at pressure points on the foot or in specially designed areas to help with kicks.
What Types Of Karate Shoes Are There?
There are only two types: canvas and leather. While there are hundreds of brands out there, they all fall into one of these two categories; very few companies make both styles. As I said earlier, I don’t really understand why because the canvas style seems like it would be harder to make or more uncomfortable than leather ones. But as my grandpa would say: “That’s just my opinion.” You may have your own opinion on this but that’s neither here nor there.
Canvas Karate Shoes
These shoes are made of canvas and come in a wide variety of colors and styles. The canvas style is the most popular, as it’s light, has good support and doesn’t take long to break in. They’re also inexpensive.
The disadvantage of canvas shoes is that they wear out faster than leather ones.
Leather Karate Shoes
Leather karate shoes are more expensive than canvas but they last longer, making them a better investment. They also have better traction and are more comfortable than their canvas counterpart. Leather shoes are preferred by many people who practice martial arts because they can be worn for extended periods without being uncomfortable or distracting from the task at hand.
What Are The Best Karate Shoes?
Considering the number of brands and styles available, picking one pair from the hundreds available can be very difficult so I’m going to tell you what I think are two of the best karate shoes on the market today: Adidas Sambas. They make high quality karate shoes that won’t disappoint you if you choose them as your preferred brand. They make them in a variety of colors and styles, too, so there’s something to suit everyone’s taste.
The Adidas Sambas shoes are very popular among practitioners of martial arts because they’re comfortable, have good support and provide good traction. They also come in quite a few different styles so there’s something to suit everyone’s taste or needs. They’re not cheap but they’re worth the price if you go with this brand.
There are many other brands out there that make karate shoes but these two stand out as being high quality, comfortable and durable – all important qualities for any type of shoe, especially one meant for martial arts!