Historical Fencing Footwear: “What shoes to train in?” Ask instead, what did Medieval and Renaissance fighters wear?

Historical Fencing Footwear: “What shoes to train in?” Ask instead, what did Medieval and Renaissance fighters wear?

Clements, John

ARMA, The Association of Medieval and Renaissance Martial Arts


Footwear is important. It directly affects how you move and what kinds of motions you can perform. Since the footwork of Renaissance martial arts is particular, and as I interpret and teach it, very agile, the shoes you wear become crucial to what you can learn correctly and perform effectively. I have always stressed footwork in my practice and am known personally for being quick footed and very agile in my stepping. Over the years, I have tried out all sorts of different makes and brands of modern footwear, from Crocs to Keds, from dancewear to sneakers and sport shoes of all kinds. I have collected a wide range of types and wasted good money on assorted styles over the decades that I have been active. I continue to do so. I have also trained in various styles of historical and non-historical boots. I believe I have a pretty good feel for what kind of shoes are best for our craft — and they are not the ones suited to the needs of playing football, baseball, and soccer, nor those designed for the requirements of basketball or track.


Nothing reveals mediocre skills quicker in my opinion than noting what a student wears on their feet when training in these skills. Countless times I have lamented practitioners who insisted on wearing ridiculous work boots or modern combat boots (and their teachers as well!).

Click here to read this article from ARMA