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Product review: Feiyue kung fu/wushu shoes

Feiyue shoes are one of those strange product lines that seem to go on forever. You might have seen then being worn by Shaolin monks, but these shoes are the staple of kung fu/wushu shoes all over China. They are also popular with Wudang priests and Tai Chi practitioners all over the world. So what's the appeal? Firstly, is the price. In the UK, you're looking at just under £20 a pair, in China they would cost a lot less. I know they are less than £10 in Hong Kong. These are simple tennis shoes with a padded rubber sole. They are mass produced and little care in put into the end product, so no two pairs are identical. But these shoes were not made to be a fashion item, but made to train in. For the money, they really are good value for money. You could get modern martial arts shoes, but they will not last as long. In terms of packaging, you don't even get a shoe box, just a brown paper bag.

Feiyue shoes have actually been around since the 1920's. Not a lot has changed to the design and you get the choice of white or black. Although in recent years, they have branched out to make iconic shoes in other colours and also in a high top boot style. Oddly, they have found a cult following amongst parquer enthusiast. An the French like Feiyue so much they have designed their own line. So whilst, they were never made to be fashionable, they have become so. The way to tell the Chinese and French versions apart is the price (on par with other branded canvas tennis shoes) and the French versions have a better finish.

So what are they like to wear? Well they are to begin with very padded and every step is a bit bouncy. After a while, they feel a bit like barefoot shoes in terms of flexibility, but still having the comfort of the padding. Contact with the ground is very important in terms of sensitivity, but this is really down to personal preference. Longevity of the a pair of Feiyue shoes is pretty much dependent on the style of martial arts you do. Some people like to show off the holes on the sole as a badge of honour.

My own pair, which I had for many years, have finally bitten the dust. They have been through a lot of abuse over the years and they have become my preferred training shoes. The pictures on this page are of my new pair. I rather like them, they are comfortable and have an air of retro chic.

Thanks for reading and any comments you have, please let me know.

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