Are Fencing Shoes Worth It?

Do you need to buy special fencing shoes if you want to perform your best in a match? The answer is – not necessarily.

Are Fencing Shoes Worth It?

Fencing specific shoes are popular and work well of course, but there are also alternatives which even the best fencers use, some of which can be considerably cheaper options!

When you’re looking for the best shoes to use for fencing, the most important thing is to make sure the shoes you use match a few key requirements.

Fencing Specific Shoes

Several major shoe companies offer fencing specific shoes, some of the most popular being the Nike Ballestras, the Adidas D’artagnans, and the Kempa Pros, shown below.

However many beginners (and experienced fencers too!) aren’t able to buy shoes they use just for fencing, as they can be quite expensive, with examples costing from 100 up to 300 dollars.

Adidas

Nike

Kempa

Major fencing retailers will have a variety of fencing-specific shoes available, such as the ones above and from other major brands.

The links below show the shoe pages of major fencing vendors and their market area (although they will all ship internationally anyway).

These shoes and other fencing shoes on offer will definitely all work very well and allow you to fence your best, and are also all used commonly at a high level.

But especially if you’re buying shoes for a growing child fencer, replacing these can get quite expensive.

There are actually quite a lot of other options available that perform just as well which you can see below.

As usual, the most reliable and trustworthy place to look when it comes to fencing performance is to see what the elite fencers are doing.

Olympians sometimes use fencing-specific shoes like the ones mentioned here of course, but in fact they are not as common & ubiquitous as you might think.

Shoes from various other sports are used all the time, from badminton, tennis, and squash for example, as they all require a similar type of movement to fencing.

This means a high number of direction changes, sudden starts and stops, and lots of force being exerted through the foot both laterally and vertically.

Here are some examples of common shoe models from outside fencing used by elite fencers:

Asics Gel Rockets

Yonex Aerus 3

General link for indoor court shoe examples.

The Asics Gel Rockets are sold as a general purpose “Indoor Court Shoe” which is exactly what you want to look for when getting good shoes for fencing.

The Yonex is sold as a badminton shoe, and as mentioned badminton is an indoor court sport with a lot of footwork and so the shoe is used for fencing too.

Below is French Olympian Cecelia Berder wearing the Yonex shoes in the semifinal of the Budapest World Cup in 2021:

Features Of Good Fencing Shoes

There are a few key aspects which all of these shoes have in common which makes them a good choice for fencing.

  1. They have a sole that’s not too thick.
  2. They have a rounded heel.
  3. They’re made to grip on hard surfaces

Let’s go into why each one of these features is important to make a shoe good for fencing:

Sole Not Too Thick

A thick sole means that your foot is further away from the ground when you do fencing footwork.

This is the main reason why running shoes are actually one of the worst choices for fencing shoes.

Shoes for fencing should have a thin sole, which doesn’t squish very much when you try to move.

The more squish or give the shoes have, the worse they are going to be for changing direction, and so you want to have thin and non-squish soles.

This also keeps your ankles as close to the ground as possible. A low centre of gravity is key in fencing, and this helps to maintain that.

Rounded Heel

Rounded Heel

A rounded heel is essential for lunging in fencing, as the heel hits the ground first when doing a lunge.

Trying to fence without a rounded heel will mess up your ability to lunge properly.

If you check both the fencing and non-fencing shoes above, you’ll see that they all have a rounded heel, allowing your foot to smoothly rotate from heel to toe when it lands on the floor in a lunge.

In the gif below, you can see the importance of having a round heel in shoes if you look at the front foot of the fencers landing.

Sydnesabre, a major fencing club with top coaches has written at length in this link about this aspect of footwork and not fighting the natural movement of the foot.

Made To Grip On Hard Surfaces

Fencing training is done on indoor gym floors, or on metal pistes or “strips” at a higher level.

This means you should look for shoes designed to be worn on indoor courts and hardwood floor surfaces.

This means again either using fencing specific shoes, or using shoes for an indoor sport with lots of movement like badminton.

Shoes with a particularly rubbery grip won’t work quite as well, and shoes designed for grip on softer surfaces like football shoes on grass for example also should be avoided.

One major benefit that using shoes from other sports provides aside from the price is that shoe stores will usually stock indoor sport shoes like the ones mentioned above.

This means you can go in person and try them on, to see what sort of fit suits your foot shape the best and get a good feel for the shoes.

Fencing-specific shoes are only sold online, so you can’t get a hands-on comparison of different shoes.

While any shoe that meets the standard described above will work as a fencing shoe, there is also one more factor to account for.

Different shoes are cut in a different way, just like clothes. Some fit people with a longer, thinner foot, and some are cut more for a wider foot.

For the most comfort, it’s best to try on at least a few different options if possible to find out which one fits your specific feet the best.

Due to the force put on the heel when lunging and doing other fencing footwork, many fencers also use heel cups like the ones shown below.

These can be inserted into your shoes’ heel to provide additional cushioning and reduce pain in your heel from fencing, particularly if you train or compete over the course of many hours, or over multiple days.

These are just standard heel cups like you might find on amazon for example.

To find the best shoes for fencing in your local shoe shop or online, the best keywords to use are “indoor court shoes”, “court shoes” or use the names of a sport which will do the job such as squash, volleyball, or badminton.

If at all possible the ideal approach would be to shop in person, as it just gives you certain information about the shoe that

Overall, for most people fencing or looking to start fencing, fencing-specific shoes are probably not worth the money you would have to spend on them.

A similar shoe designed for similar indoor sports can be just as effective, and are commonly used by fencers at all levels.

These shoes can usually be picked up for much cheaper prices, in the 30-60 dollar range which is far more affordable for hobbyists and people looking to pick up something new..

This approach, bearing in mind the “rules” for a good fencing shoe listed above, is the best recommendation for any beginners looking to start fencing and considering the different shoe options available to them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTPEg8nSoJ4
Christopher Anderson

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.