Feiyue Martial Arts Shoe Review
The brand Feiyue got its start in the 1920s in Shanghai, China. By the 1930s, Feiyue, which means “Great Leap Forward” or “Flying Forward” were producing a shoe that had gained a reputation for being flexible, comfortable and robust, perfect for athletes and martial artists. Feiyue shoes quickly became a popular choice. And they were even worn by performers during the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing to highlight Chinese culture. Today, they are still an immensely popular brand among martial artists, particularly wushu practitioners and Shaolin monks. And they still hold a prominent position in Chinese athletics.
Now you can add the parkour community to the list that has adopted this simple, highly flexible, low cost shoe. Although somewhat polarizing, Feiyues are absolutely adored by many traceurs. If you’ve been in the parkour community for any length of time, it is hard to not come across them or hear them being recommended by someone.
Continue on to the rest of the review to find out why they’ve become so popular.
Feiyues are certainly far different from the average running shoe. Due to the lack of cushioning (we’ll talk more about this later) your feet may be sore from wearing them simply because they aren’t strong enough. If you aren’t used to minimalist shoes, give it some time for your feet to get stronger and adapt. Otherwise, I find them to be quite comfortable and so do most others. They do have a somewhat wider fit. If you find that they aren’t quite snug enough a trick is to lace them up with the “over and under” method rather than the typical criss cross style. The canvas upper provides acceptable breathability. The laces end further down on the foot than most other shoes, around the top of the arch of your foot. This isn’t uncomfortable, but it does give them a different feel.
Flexibility / Sensitivity
Feiyues are incredibly flexible. This is one of their biggest strengths. You can bend, twist, and crumple the sole up in any way you want. Similarly, the thin canvas upper provides unimpeded ankle flexibility. However, this obviously comes at the cost of no ankle support. This is an advantage to most that are looking to buy this type of shoe though.
Feiyues are also incredibly sensitive compared to your run of the mill running shoes. You can feel pretty much everything underneath them. This sensitivity makes balancing on rails very fun when you combine it with the incredible flexibility they exhibit. To a small extent, the shoe is capable of bending around rails. They are also great for precision, provided you have good landing technique.
Zero. Okay, technically there is a little bit of cushioning provided. However, Feiyues are going to do very little in regards to absorbing shock. It’s not what they were designed for. If your parkour training includes lots of drops and heavy impacts your technique will need to be spot on to avoid injury. Because Feiyues won’t cover up any mistakes in technique, they can be very useful for practicing landings, even if don’t use them as your primary parkour shoe. This is largely what I’ve used them for in the past.
If you are just transitioning to a shoe with this minimal level of padding, please take it very slow at first. If you want a pair of shoes that will give you a little more protection but are still minimalist leaning, check out Asics’ Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate 81s.
Given the simplicity and minimalist nature of Feiyues, you would be correct in assuming that they are very light. However, they definitely aren’t the absolute lightest out there you could find. This is because of the slab of rubber they use for the sole. The balance of the shoe is actually a little more exaggerated than normal running shoes as there is really no weight above the sole of the shoe. For martial artists, balance is everything. Without it, it’s hard to achieve proper stance, which makes executing moves more complicated. In addition, the light weight of the shoes allow for faster footwork and leg speed, a must for martial arts.
Overall, the grip on Feiyues is pretty good to great, but don’t expect something like Five Ten rubber. They grip well on most surfaces, although they struggle a lot in wet conditions. If you have good technique the grip will be more than enough though. After all, grip is seriously important in parkour if you are making more difficult and riskier jumps. One slip could result in major bodily harm, so finding a shoe with great grip is crucial. That’s why Feiyue shoes are one of the best in the business. The real issue with the sole is the durability.
The grip wears down quickly with any sort of heavy training, especially cat leaps and wall runs. The rest of the shoe is pretty durable and includes metal eyelets. Nothing is likely to cause you any real problems before the grip is completely destroyed, which isn’t necessarily saying very much. In isolation, I would rate the durability as poor, but for the price you can’t really expect very much. Considering you could buy several pairs of Feiyues for the same price as most other parkour shoes, the durability issue disappears.
In the parkour world, Feiyues are pretty unique. It’s hard to find a comparable shoe with the same combination of flexibility, sensitivity, and grip at such a low cost. The durability is poor, but for the price it doesn’t really matter all that much. Given this, it is easy to recommend trying Feiyues out, but beginners should be very cautious or perhaps wait until they are a little more experienced. Those who have more experience should give Feiyues a try. You never know, you might like them much better than the shoes you normally wear, whether they are for martial arts or for parkour. If anything else, you can use them as a reliable practice shoe that will take the brunt of wear and tear, all while being inexpensive to replace. For those looking for an affordable alternative to Vibrams, Feiyues are nearly unbeatable.
Note: Opt for the black version. The white ones look horrible after a very short time.