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How Martial Arts Sparring Shoes Saved My Marriage

If you do any kind of martial arts sparring, you know that protective gear is of the utmost importance. Any man who has the stones to go into a sparring match without a cup on, won’t have them for very long. There’s protective gear like the heavily padded “foot gloves” that I wear when I’m teaching, so I don’t accidentally do a spin kick and take someone’s head off when they miss a block. But the protective gear I want to sing the praises of today are the martial arts sparring shoes. Now, I use the martial arts shoe for two very simple reasons. The first is that after I did a series of practice bits against a wooden “sparring dummy”, I walked out of the dojo on several bone-deep bruises in my feet.

Now, bruises are the price you pay for any contact sport, including martial arts. Even a little bit of padding would’ve kept me from walking funny for two days. My friends and co-workers were making fun of my little mincing steps to avoid putting weight on the tops of my feet from a particularly nasty bruise – almost a break in the bone. The foot has so many small bones. And almost no meat.

No fat. No protection. Poor bloodflow. At least mine do. Pain sticks attached to my ankles! I guess I’m a slow learner. Two weeks later, I did the same practice drill and about pulped my big toe when I mis-judged the distance to the wingchun wooden dummy on a kick – instead of hitting it with the arch of the foot, I did a direct “full force kick” with the point of contact centered on the toe. The joint popped, the toe swelled up to twice its size, and only pure blind luck kept me from having a fracture. OK, so kicking wooden dummies in bare feet is a dumb idea. I went looking for things to save me from my own stupidity and found martial arts sparring shoes.

Now, those sparring shoes are different from tourney foot pads. They’re light enough that you won’t develop compensatory habits to adjust for the weight…and while they don’t offer as much protection, it’s the difference between kicking a wooden dummy with your bare foot and kicking it with a pair of tennis shoes on. On top of that, they also improve traction on the ground, and stability when doing routines and drills. Given how much I like Kung Fu styles, and how acrobatic they are, that extra traction was very appealing. While it’s not fun to be thrown on your ass by a sparring partner, it’s even less fun to do it on your own because you slipped. Plus, to be honest, it was good to come home from a session in the dojo without feeling like I was being a sniveling, whiney brat because my feet hurt. Trust me, these things saved my marriage – my wife was making fun of my new “dance steps” when I was busy beating the crap out of my feet and whining about it when I had to take out the garbage. Didn't I mention I can dance? That's for another article. She saw Dancing With The Stars and it was over. I don't know what hurts more, learning to tango or kicking that wooden dummy!.


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