The Capoeira Blog

Shoes or No Shoes?
February 26, 2008, 11:24 am
Filed under: Capoeira Life, Questions

Photo by Allison McCarthy (Flickr)

I’ve hardly ever worn shoes while playing capoeira (unless it’s on concrete).

I feel a lot more liberated and unrestricted when I play barefoot.  This may be because I’ve never gone out and bought a pair of martial arts type shoes to play in; but playing in Adidas sneakers feels very clunky and awkward.

But there are some people who wear shoes all the time, whenever they play.  Most of these shoes are lightweight, have thin soles, and don’t really seem to get in the way.

I’ve seen a few different places online where they sell “capoeira shoes” but I have no experience with any of them, and I don’t want to buy a pair and have them end up being crappy.  I also know a few people who wear Puma or Adidas martial art shoes or just light sneakers.

I would love to write up a resource or review of capoeira shoes around the internet, but I really just don’t have the experience.  So I’m going to put it out there to you, my faithful and knowledgeable readers.

What’s your take on playing capoeira with shoes on?

I guess this might just go for regionalistas, because (correct me if I’m wrong) it’s common for angolerios to play with shoes.  Though, I’d love to hear from any angola players out there on what shoes they prefer.  And if you’re a regional player I’d like to know if you play with or without shoes.  If you do play with shoes, what kind do you find to be the best fit for capoeira?


30 Comments so far
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I train with a Contemporena group and I have never worn shoes, simply because no one was wearing shoes at my first class.

Unless I am playing outside and it is very cold I would never wear shoes.

Comment by Highlander

I played with shoes and without and I like no shoes better

Comment by vinnie

I play in Pumas inside or on hard surfaces and in bare feet when I’m on soft surfaces (sand, grass, springboard floors, etc.) Pumas are great because they are so light and form fitting. However, they sometimes offer TOO much grip and I’ll end up boffing my armadas or screwing up a mei-lua.

Great question! Keep em coming!

Comment by Pipoca

well, i usually play barefoot, but for our street rodas sometimes it’s not possible, it wouldnt be safe … Although i dont think much about going with my hands or head on the ground 😀
Anyway there is only one kind of shoes i have tried that are light enough, have some grip but not too much, and also have a soft (but not too thick) sole.
I dont know what’s the model is, but they are made just out of the sole and a thin fabric with small holes in it.

Comment by MeMorY LosT

Swim shoes are also a great shoe to use! They are inexpensive and you can get them at Wal-mart, surf shops, Target, or wherever! My instructor often uses them. they have a sole that is a little more slick than the rubber on tennis shoes so it makes for easier spins. just a thought!

Comment by Pipoca

i always wear shoes, for i feel mor balanced and stable when playing. my shoes are “adidas kundo”, i took the taek won do shoes from adidas for a closer look, but i felt more happy witch this shoe because i like shoelaces more than slippers. some capoeiristas give me strange looks for wearing shoes, but i don’t care. at the workshops almost every instructor or mestre is wearing shoes 🙂

Comment by Aranha

Well, ever since of my first year of playing capoeira, i’ve seen capoeiristas playing with Chuck Taylor Converse All Stars shoes… I tried them and they work pretty well for capoeira! I play both regional and angola, barefoot and with shoes. I think it all depends on where and when you’re playing capoeira. I once had a demonstration at an old school with old cracked blacktop with broken glasses on a hot day, it wasn’t a pretty sight for my feet, plus it was scalding hot! It’d be wise to wear shoes throughout these kinds of stuff.

Comment by DeafCapoeirista

I’ve just ordered a pair of shoes from these guys:

They’ve had a stall at the last couple of London Vegan Fairs, so I’ve been able to have a good look at them before buying. They seem absolutely lovely! Will check back in and let you know how I get on with them.

As I’m only very new to capoeira I’m not sure whether I’ll prefer playing barefoot or in shoes. I had a barefoot lesson a week ago and ended up ripping my feet to shreds on what should have been a fairly safe wooden floor. Leaving bloody footprints all over the church hall = not a good thing. I’ll be sticking to shoes on for the time being.

Comment by Mem

Playing capoeira in Chuck T’s would be awesome. But the sole seems to me that it would be a little too clunky (as with many other types of sneakers, including Pumas).

I never thought of water shoes, but I suppose that could work.

Mem, your feet will usually get blisters and cuts the first few times you play capoeira barefoot. But after a while your feet will become so accustomed to playing capoeira that they’ll be good to go. That’s what we like to call “capoeira feet” haha.

I always thought/felt that playing without shoes was like the “traditional” way to play, that’s why I never wore shoes. (I always think it’s funny when I see mestres wearing shoes, but it’s really not a big deal.) And like I said, now I just feel weird wearing them. But it would be nice to have a pair to wear for demos on concrete or whatever. I’ll have to look into some of the suggestions.

Comment by faisca

I played contemporanea for 4 years, training almost every day, and my feet never got tough enough to escape blisters. It sucked.

When I switched to angola, it took me a little while to get used to the shoes, but now I’m totally comfortable with them and feel weird playing without. And I never have blisters/tears/etc. in my feet.

Here’s the thing about the “barefoot is traditional” reasoning… yes, the slaves played barefoot, but it was because they didn’t HAVE shoes. If they had them, I’m betting they’d have worn them!

Comment by Shayna

I always wear shoes, because this is the traditional way of playing Capoeira.
Grande, de Mestre Joao Grande

Comment by Grande

My Mestre uses chuck taylor sneakers sometimes and Ive seen other mestres and professors with other sneakers/wrestling shoes/martial art shoes. I wear ascics matflex and I also play barefoot. The grip on the shoes are good, but it can pick up too much dust from the floor and end up being too slippery, and I cant tell when its reached that point of being slippery. Being barefoot, i can feel the dust covering my foot and dust it off.

Comment by Sean

Oh, Faisca. My Jinga Shoes got here are they’re wonderful. They’re flexible enough that I can fold them in half to stuff into my handbag, they’re light, the soles have juuuust enough grip to keep me from slipping all over the place but do not hinder any spinny moves in any way. They’re so light and comfy, too – it’s like playing in slippers!

Really can’t recommend them enough, and the fact that they’re such an awesome company ethically makes them even better. Woo!

Comment by Mem

I know it’s not very common, but I actually wear dance shoes. Not full dance shoes like ballet slippers or jazz sneakers… but what are called Foot Undeez or Toe Thongs. They’re little dance shoes that cover ONLY the balls of your feet. They’re very minimal and barely noticeable, but compliment my practice. I don’t get blisters, and have very comfortable spins.

Comment by CapoeiristaCO

Hi all! I’m new to capoeira and loving it. The students in my class are 1/2 divided between wearing shoes and not. I am very femenine and love wearing sandals, thus I don’t want to get blisters on my feet, so I’m looking into getting a pair of light sneaks. Thanks to all for your great suggestions. I’ll be looking into all the options!

Comment by ivonne

I wear Asics wrestling shoes. My feet aren’t quite used to the movements yet, as I’m a beginner. First couple of classes I did barefoot and got some bad blisters. From then on I’ve been wearing my Asics and it’s been working well for me.

Comment by Mauby

Lemme tell ya, Mauby, the more you go barefoot the more used to it your feet will become. You’ll get some nasty blisters at first, but eventually you’ll get nice rough capoeira feet and the blisters will be few and far between (hopefully…).

Comment by faisca

I have been playing barefoot for several months now, and even though I walk around barefoot whenever I can to toughen up my feet, I still get wicked blisters on my feet every time we train on the gym floor, so I’m thinking of wearing shoes. I’d want the shoes to be very light-weight and close-fitting though.

Comment by hieronymous

I have just had my second class of Capoeira and have a beauty of a blood blister on the soul of my foot. I was wondering if there are any orthopedic foot supports I could wear that are small and supple. Just so that Ican concentrate onthe movements and nothow much my feet hurt.Any ideas?

Comment by charley

Well, from my 5 years of training Capoeira…..I found that indoor soccer shoes work very well. The shoes are made to take sharp, quick movements. Most are very light weight. I wear mine in street rodas and in class(if I have a blister). Indoor soccer shoes have better support than pumas or asics. Plus they will not restrict your foot placement; like wrestling shoe will doing different kicks or rasterias.

Comment by Kamikazee

I bought a pair of those jinga shoes and I find them way too slippery for use on a gym floor. I like them for practicing on grass when it’s cold though.

Comment by hieronymous

No shoes all the way, you have more balance and stability. Although I did an Angola class today and my feet bled…

Comment by Ching ching ching

Barefoot on surfaces that aren’t abbressive.

I’ve being practing on concrete lately and it’s almost impossible to be barefoot, I had my feet hurting after only 10 minutes of light moves. I use chuck taylors, their sole is actually not very grippy so its perfect.

Comment by Mario

i used taekwondo training shoe when training in rough floor.

Comment by leandro

Unfortunately, I must wear shoes due to a medical condition, lymphedema, that requires I wear compression socks all the time. When I didn’t have to wear these I wouldn’t even think to wear shoes indoors. I would use Johnson & Johnson coaches tape to cover blisters and sores. For street rodas and outdoors I would usually wear Teva or Chaco sandals. I’m still searching for the right shoe now. That’s how I found this blog.

Comment by Jamie

I train regional and play barefoot. I actually have a layer of callouses (developed from another sport) on the soles of my feet so playing barefoot isn’t much of a problem. I don’t think I’ve ever had blisters..

Comment by Fran

I prefer to train without shoes since it toughens up the balls of my feet. I have been trying to build up my heel tolerance for years now since it makes stretches on the heels less painful when they are done on hard floors. I have only worn shoes when we have done demonstrations on cement. I want to eventually accustom my feet to that ground so I can always play in the roda bare foot.

Comment by Gafonhoto

I don’t like to play with shoes. Only when we play on concrete or asphalt i use shoes, but it feels so weird.

Comment by Folha

I’ve been training regional for just two short years, and all of this time I’ve played barefoot, except for one winter performance outdoors and one event on blacktop. But I’ve come here looking for shoe recommendations because while I don’t mind my own blistering so much (I like my feet toughening up), I just don’t think it’s a good idea to expose myself to other people’s blood so much. The floor where we train is in crappy condition, and it’s just not that infrequent that someone’s blood-blister pops and we wipe it up and keep playing. That’s okay, but many blood-borne pathogens aren’t taken care of by a wet paper-towel, and I just don’t feel safe fluid-bonding with all my capoeirista family.

Thanks for all the suggestions, I’ll keep looking. I just wanted to toss out there that even while one’s own feet get tough, if you constantly have new students in your group, *someone* is going to be shedding blood. and um… yeah, that’s just not safe.

Comment by Concha

It is somewhat easier to maintain balance and control if you play barefoot, but as you get older you may develop small internal injuries from the high impact of acrobatic movements on pavement. The padding in shoes may help avoid that problem.

As you get older, orthotics may become necessary (some of the older mestres you see wearing shoes are doing so for medical reasons). I’m aproaching 40, and I now have bursitis (bone spurs jabbing into the achilles tendons). Now, I will be wearing orthotics for life. I am trying to find a shoe that is light, offers just the right amount of grip/spin, a thin enough sole to not take me off balance, AND space for the orthotic insoles. Any advice is welcome.

Comment by Gigante

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