Feiyue shoes are a shoe preferred by many in the parkour scene. They’re light-weight, slim, and best of all they look good in many situations not just as a training shoe.
Slipping on a pair and running up some walls makes you feel like a kung-fu master able to kickass and leap roof tops – as they’re the shoes worn by the Shaolin Monks. Feiyues also come in a variety of more fashion-orientated designs. These include mens, womens and even kids styles.
Two variations of the shoes exist, described as the ‘Chinese version’ and the ‘French version’. This results from the history of the branding rights: feiyues were originally produced in China since the 1920s. In 2006, the brand was sold to a French company and some changes were introduced to the design. Today both companies continue to produce shoes using the feiyue brand independently of each other. Overall the Chinese versions are designed as martial arts shoes, with thinner materials for greater sensitivity, while the French versions are meant to be casual shoes, with more colours and styles available. This review is of the Chinese version, as they are more suited for parkour.
I used to wear feiyues often when I was training parkour and I own a pair today which I use just as a casual shoe.
In my eyes the key benefits of feiyues for parkour are:
- The soles have good grip – grip is one of the main points for a parkour shoe. Good grip allows you to stick landings and run up walls. However with the rubber used in a sole I understand that it’s hard to balance grip with flexibility, but feiyues I think achieve both quite well.
- They’re flexible – if you wanted to, you could bend the shoe entirely in half long-ways. This flexibility of the whole shoe allows your ankle and toes to express a greater range of motion which can lead to a better performance in something like parkour or a martial art.
- They’re light-weight – they don’t feel like you’re wearing a cast over your foot. The shoes are small and can easily be stored in a backpack.
- They have minimal padding on the sole – some practitioners value a shoe that allows them to adapt to the ground, and feiyue soles are thin enough to offer a decent amount of sensitivity even through the rubber.
- They have minimal drop – the height change from the heel to the toe is minimal or even zero (I haven’t actually measured it) and this design has proposed benefits for movement: it may strengthen the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the foot and allow one to develop a more natural gait; may help stretch and strengthen the Achilles tendon and calf muscle which may reduce injuries; encourages forefoot or mid-foot landing rather then the heel landing which leads to lessor impact forces and allows the foot’s arches to act as natural shock absorbers.
- They’re affordable – parkour tears through pairs at a fast rate and so there’s some great shoes out there that don’t end up being used by too many practitioners because of their price tag. While feiyues wear out fairly fast, especially under the stresses of parkour, they are affordable enough that you can just buy a new pair when they get sent to the shoe graveyard.
The main drawbacks of feiyues for parkour are:
- They have limited durability – as discussed above, the soles wear out fairly fast especially if you use them for parkour. Perhaps because the soles are so flexible and provide good sensitivity, they have limited durability.
- The toe box is narrow – my toes feel uncomfortably compacted, while the rest of the foot fits nicely. But perhaps this is personal preference as I’ve switched over to minimalist shoes recently, many of which have a purposely wider toe box.
- They fit loosely around the ankle – while the front and middle of the shoe fits well, I feel that the back of the shoe around the ankle and heel fits quite loosely. But perhaps this is personal preference again. Feiyues don’t come with extra shoe lace holes at the top which allow you to tighten the laces around the heel with a heel-lock trick for a tighter fit (although apparently you can still tie laces in this way without the extra holes). However designing for flexibility of the shoe and free motion of the ankle may mean that the shoe has to fit loosely otherwise risk inhibiting the ankle joint’s movement.
Where to get them
While feiyues can be obtained from many martial arts shops, shoe shops, and online – we believe in supporting the parkour community where we can. As such we recommend the practitioner owned and operated Progression Apparel which imports and sells feiyues to the New Zealand parkour community.
This post was originally posted on Movement Unleashed.