One of the most frequent questions we get from Parents and Students here at Freedom in Motion is about footwear for Parkour.
Shoes are the only real equipment to consider when preparing for your Parkour training. You want to make sure you’re making an informed decision before you lay down your hard-earned cash for something you hope to keep you safe and propel your training forward. Today, let’s take a look at the Feiyue, a martial arts shoe that happens to be a popular pick amongst Parkour athletes.
Pronounced, Fay-you … we think.
Collectively, we at Freedom in Motion have tried just about every shoe out there, and have discovered the top shoes for parkour. We think Feiyues are one of those top-tier shoes. Keep reading to find out why, and to see if its right for you.
Who is Feiyue?
Feiyue originated in Shangai, China as a shoe company founded in 1920. Feiyue got their start making shoes for martial artists. Their shoes and brand caught an edge in the general market. In 2006 Feiyue sold their design to a French company who made some design changes. Today both the French and Chinese company operate independently of each other producing slightly different shoes. Overall the Chinese versions are designed as martial arts shoes, with thinner materials for greater sensitivity, while the French versions are meant to be fashionable shoes, with more colors and textures available.
As recently at late 2019 The higher quality module has dropped in price and is not marketing directly to parkour consumers. See what updates to the shoe and company we noticed in 2020 here.
Feiyue became popular in the parkour world back in 2009 when some popular parkour athletes started advocating for the shoe as a well-balanced minimalistic training shoe. Some parkour companies even sell them on their websites, which lends to their credibility.
Durability: 2.5 Stars
Feiyue’s durability isn’t anything to write home about. The shoes are particularly vulnerable to cat leaps and wall climbs. Anything that forces a scraping action on the grip will quickly wear away the lightweight rubber sole. The Chinese version of the shoes last 3-4 months on average for athletes who tend to be “Parkour heavy” on their shoes, meaning you climb and leap to surfaces often. The higher quality modes last a few months longer.
Feiyues easily have the flexibility to match any type of flexion the foot may experience during training. The photo says it all. Note the high-quality shoes have the red circle rubber trade mark.
The grip is, on average, pretty good. Some shoes suffer on metal hand railings or smooth concrete, whereas the Feiyue tends to perform evenly across most surfaces. Out of the box, Feiyues have a waxy coating on their rubber which will need to be worn away. As they shoe age, their grip strengthens until the shoes ultimately rip through the lifespan of its lone rubber sole. Feiyues lose one star due to the rubber wearing away so quickly, sometimes even leaving visible rubber-dust marks on some walls. Feiyues lose the second star because the grip is prone to failure when nearing the end of the shoe lifespan, which can bring a sudden stop to your training session if your shoe blows a hole right where your foot would connect with a wall. Bummer.
Near to barefoot training. These shoes are very thin, which can be a good or bad thing depending on the athlete’s preferences. We think Feiyues are great for beginners, as the thin padding will help teach proper technique and decrease injury in the long haul. Feiyues can also be a great choice for higher level athletes who want to keep their movements sounding light and their landing technique on point. On the flip side, for athletes who tend to favor large running jumps or flips on concrete, these shoes might be a bit too thin, leaving athletes with an endless supply of bruised heels. This is completely up to your personal preference. If you learn the proper technique, the thin shoes can handle whatever you throw at them, even tumbling passes on concrete
The average black Feiyue with the red stripe is nothing special in the fashion department. If we left it at that, the shoe would get a 2.5-star rating. However, one really cool thing about Feiyues is that you can get them in a huge variety of colors and textures. If you’re willing to pay a bit more, you can find some really slick looking Feiyues.
Weight: Light Weight
Complimenting the shoes thin soles and flexible design are the shoes lightweight stats. the only thing lighter than a Feiyue might be some of those bare-foot 5 finger shoes. You can hardly even feel them on your feet.
Price: $25 – $70
It’s possible to find Feiyues for as low as $14 online, however, these versions of the Feiyue are slightly lower quality than some of the more expensive versions of the shoe. There are multiple factories which make Feiyues, which result in the inconsistent quality when shopping in mixed market sites like Amazon. The Chinese shoes have a Triangle on the bottom, while the French/ US ones have a rubber circle on the sole of the shoe. Honestly, the difference is pretty noticeable. We recommend these authentic Red Circle Stamped shoes.
Additional Benefits of the Feiyue
- 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 is often referred to as the drop of a shoe. This low 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.
Further Drawbacks of the Feiyue
- The toe box is narrow
Some athletes find that their toes feel compacted, while the rest of the foot fits nicely. I personally did not experience this but everyone’s foot is a slightly different shape, so it’s worth considering if you know you need a wide toe box.
- They fit loosely around the ankle
While the front and middle of the shoe fits well, we have seen reports of athletes thinking the feel of the back of the shoe around the ankle and heel fits a bit loosely. Again, this may be due to the specific foot shape and preference. 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. In my experience, I thought the shoe fit well. Perhaps looking at some of the high-top options will fix this issue in some athletes?
Conclusion: Well worth the price.
Feiyues were my shoe of choice for a few years and remains the number one shoe I personally recommend to beginner athletes. If you’re curious about testing these shoes out, pick up a pair for around $20 online and give them a try! Like them? Consider picking up a sexier version from a French shoe vendor.
Where to purchase?
We’ll make this easy on you.
>>Click here to see the authentic $25 shoes
The Double Star Mingren is another Chinese minimalist shoe that closely resembles the Feiyue. It has slightly better durability, but some other tradeoffs. Check out our review of the Mingrens for more info.
What do you think?
We want to know what the community has to say. What was your experience with the Feiyue? Did you love them, or hate them? Let us know in the comments below!