Meet Gregory, a writer and the brains behind Face Dragons. He's the go-to guy for getting things done. Gregory's been living the digital nomad life in Asia for as long as anyone can remember, helping clients smash their goals. He writes on topics like software, personal knowledge management (PKM), and personal development. When he's not writing, you'll catch him at the local MMA gym, nose buried in a book, or just chilling with the family.
After decades of kung fu practice, there is only one kung fu shoe I wear to train now. You need the right footwear when you’re working out, no matter what you’re doing, but when you’re practicing martial arts, it’s critical. Don’t wear your sneakers. Get the best kung fu shoes and train like a master!
Search kung fu shoes on Amazon, and you’ll find hundreds of companies all selling variations of the same thing, the humble Kung Fu sneaker. But there is one brand that stands out from the crowd.
What to Look for in the Best Kung Fu Shoes
If you’re just starting your kung fu journey or getting back into it after a long time off, you might be unsure what makes a good kung fu shoe.
You should consider going barefoot when training inside, as it’s good for your feet and makes training easier. But if you want to train outside or just can’t work out barefoot for whatever reason, you want a shoe that won’t get in the way when training. You want something minimal.
Look for Flat Kung Shoes With No Heel
Most sneakers you buy in the store, like your average pair of Nike or Adidas, have a raised heel. This is to give extra padding beneath the heel of your foot, which supports all your weight. However, recent studies have shown that a raised heel is bad for stability and foot health: “Hapsari and colleagues found that when footwear is elevated under the heel by 7 cm, functional stability was significantly compromised.”
A Thin Sole for Kung Fu
Many kung fu schools train barefoot. It teaches the foot to grip the ground and maximizes flexibility and agility. Training barefoot also strengthens your foot, improving your heel arch and making your foot less likely to get injured when you kick things.
So when you look for a shoe to train in, you want something as close to being barefoot as possible – this means a very thin heel with some space in the toe box.
It can be tempting to buy a slip-on shoe, but unless they are the perfect size and fit tight, they will slip off, especially at the heel.
When you’re moving about, twisting at the foot, kicking things, etc., the last thing you want is a shoe moving about or flying off!
So look for lace-ups, and lace them up to the top.
The Best Kung Fu Shoes
After 30+ years of martial arts and 16 years of training in China, there is only one pair of training shoes I use – Fei Yue.
Go to Fei Yue website here (no affiliate.)
- Canvas Shoe for lightweight flexibility
- Rubber Toe cap for durability
- Thin, flat heels
- Plenty of Room in the toe box
Why I Chose Fei Yue
Most people who learn and practice kung fu don’t do so because it’s the best martial art for self-defense or fighting – it almost probably isn’t. Instead, they like the cultural aspects, the history, the different styles, and ancient masters, or they get caught up watching the best kung fu movies ever made; I did.
So, if you spend your time learning a martial art because you love its culture, why would you choose a shoe made by Addidas or some other company that isn’t part of the culture?
Aside from watching Bruce Lee movies, my most significant kung fu influence was going to see the Shaolin Monks for their Wheel of Life tour. I saw it twice, then started training at the Shaolin Temple in London before they had the temple building in North London.
Ultimately, those experiences were the reason I moved my life to China, where I lived and trained for 16 years.
In case you haven’t worked it out yet, Fei Yue is the shoe the Shaolin Monks train in.
They tick all the boxes,
- They are flat
- Thin heels
But most importantly, they remind me to train hard like a Shaolin Monk when I wear them.
A Second Choice for Kung Fu Shoes
Other than Fei Yues, another shoe fulfills everything you could want from a Kung Fu Sneaker – Onitsuka Tiger’s Mexico 66.
On first look, they are very similar to the Fei Yues, a minimal shoe, flat and thin. In terms of their Kung Fu culture credibility, these are the shoes that Bruce Lee wore!
The price tag is the only reason I don’t use them as training shoes. This shoe usually costs $120, whereas you can buy a pair of FeiYues for $30 and even less in China.
Even if think Kung Fu is one of the worst martials arts for self defense, it’s still one of the deepest in terms of history and tradition and it’s still worth learning!