Amazing grip, “like claws for your feet.”
No ankle support.
Everything about the Feiyue (Chinese for “flying forward”) martial arts shoe screams, “USE ME FOR PARKOUR!” After the WFPF KOs, it’s probably the shoe most recommended for parkour by those in the know. A perusal of the shoe threads on just about any parkour forum will inevitably find someone (or several someones) extolling the virtues of Feiyues. Are they right? Let’s find out.
Looking at the Feiyues
This is a very simple shoe. The treads are tan rubber with deep grooves for grip. The uppers are black canvas. (Unless you get the white version, which I don’t recommend because the white tends to get filthy.) The toe box is reinforced with black rubber; the area around the meeting of the soles and the toe box is further reinforced with thicker black rubber. Speaking of toe boxes, it’s a relatively square one; it’s much rounder and less strangely oblong than the typical running shoe. This is good, especially for people with wide feet.
Putting them on
The first thing you notice when you handle the Feiyues is how floppy they are. They can be bent by just waving them back and forth. They’re very, very flexible.
After you play with them for a few minutes, contorting them into shapes that only this Chinese gymnast of a shoe can perform without damage, it’s time to put them on. The insoles isn’t slippery at all; as a matter of fact, they’re almost sticky. However, it’s easy enough to pull the tongue all the way forward to get your foot positioned, so this isn’t a bad thing. After you slide your foot in and start to tighten up, another feature of the Feiyues comes into play: excellent laces. They’re not super long, unlike so many other shoes. Nor are they rounded. They’re just simple flat black laces. They stay tied for as long as you need them to hold together. No double knots necessary. The laces do tend to get a little tangled, but the knots that may form won’t keep you from getting your foot out when it comes time to take the Feiyues off.
I think these little tabs that are underneath the laces are one of the neatest features.
This a very thoughtful addition, as the metal gussets would otherwise cut into your feet. Quite honestly, I wouldn’t have expected this level of detail in a $20 shoe.
When they’re worn for the first time, the most immediately noticeable thing is the slightly rounded padding in the center of the sole. That feeling only lasts for a few minutes the first time you wear them; after a few hours, they feel flat. I don’t know if that’s just because your feet adapt to them or if the soles flatten out. I think the soles flatten, because the rounded feeling only lasts the first few days of wear. After that, they just feel flat.
Aspects of the Feiyues
- Great on wood.
- Great on concrete and asphalt.
- Good on brick.
- Decent on painted surfaces.
- Not great on horizontal wallruns, because the treads are placed so that they don’t catch on anything sliding across them. Down yes, across no.
Unfortunately, the grip frankly sucks on wet surfaces, especially wood. Wet wood is the bane of the Feiyue-wearing traceur. Don’t even think about trying to train in a forest after a rain. You will fall repeatedly and painfully. I am speaking from experience. Seriously, don’t do it.
This is what they look like after a month of training, 70% of which was on wood and grass. The rest was mostly precisions and tricking on asphalt. You can see that they’ve been worn down a decent amount.
Then this is what they look like after 15–20 heavy scuffs against a brick wall.
As you can clearly tell, the grips aren’t too durable. If they’re used a lot on rough surfaces, the grip will probably only last a month, two if you’re lucky. But then, they’re $20. You can buy 2 pairs for the price of one pair of KOs, or 3 for the price of one of their main competitors, the Onitsuka Tigers. If you assume that a higher quality shoe like the Tigers will last 3–4 months of heavy usage, the Feiyues are an equivalent value, durability-wise. The KOs aren’t really competing with the Feiyues, as I will explain shortly.
Everything else seems to be well put-together. They were run through a cycle in the washing machine without any ill effects, so the glue is okay.
They’re extremely light. Perhaps they’re a little bit heavier than the KOs, but you really can’t feel them at all. The weight is all in the sole – everything above is just canvas and laces. Your feet feel freer and less restricted than in running shoes because there is no padding or cushioning above the sole.
I went over this already. The flexibility is extraordinary. I have never seen a shoe this flexible before; not even flip-flops come close.
They feel like very lightly padded slippers. Walking in them feels great, like you’re not wearing anything at all. Running and jumping… That’s up to how strong your feet are. If they’re well conditioned, you’ll love them. If not, your feet will hate you passionately.
The left shoe usually starts to pinch my little toe after a long session of training. The KOs do that as well, so I think it’s more the fault of my feet than my shoes. Possibly it’s the way I roll. (Pun unintentional.)
Since I’m reviewing these from the point of view of a traceur/freerunner, and that’s likely the perspective from which you are reading, it’ll be helpful to go over how the Feiyues perform in some typical parkour situations.
This is where the Feiyues really shine. I have never worn a shoe better for training precisions than the Feiyues. It’s almost like they were made for landing – and sticking – on small surfaces. The sticky insoles I mentioned before help keep your foot solid and seated in the shoe. The grip is just about perfect for wood and concrete; you won’t slide forward at all. The flexibility makes sure you land where on your foot you want to land.
Precisions are fun in these shoes. You absolutely have to have good technique. Good technique feels nice. Bad technique hurts.
Absolutely wonderful. The flexibility and thinness of the sole make them great for rails, QMs, etc. I haven’t had the opportunity to try them on a slackline yet, but I think they’ll perform very well.
Pretty grippy. I wouldn’t call them exactly “claw-like” – they’re not on the level of the KOs or the K-Swiss Ariakes, but they’re definitely better than your average Reebok. Unfortunately, they don’t last long; one or two rough sessions will wear the grips down to nothing.
There’s almost zero padding. It’s almost exactly like landing barefoot. Don’t take any big jumps in these unless you are very confident in your feet and ankles. Even then, be careful.
I like tricking in the Feiyues, especially on grass. That’s a pretty predictable conclusion, seeing as these shoes were made for wushu artists. They work pretty well on concrete; grippy enough that you won’t slip if you land awkwardly, but slippery enough that you can rotate on the toes if you’re coming out of kick and you want to spin to disperse momentum.
Flips on grass and sand are fine. Just be careful to land on the balls of your feet, or you will be in pain. I would not recommend flipping on concrete in the Feiyues. Yeah, it’s possible – but only for people who are comfortable doing the same movements without shoes. At my current skill level, it’s not worth the risk, so I haven’t tried it. If you can safely flip barefoot on concrete, you’ll be fine with the Feiyues. Although if your ankles are really that strong, why would you even need shoes!?!
Taking them off
For the first week or so, you’re going to have sore feet and ankles after using them for any long walks or intensive training. For this reason, you should not do either of those things until the second or third week, when your ankles and feet should be a little more conditioned. If you’ve just used them for short walks and/or small precision jumps, your feet should feel awesome. Sore enough to know that you’ve done some work, but not so sore that they actually hurt.
These shoes are essentially grooved rubber soles strapped to your feet. There is no padding. No support. No cushioning. It’s like being barefoot. Everything about these shoes revolves around that fact.
Other things I’ve noticed that haven’t already been covered…
- They squeak a lot on smooth surfaces, if you drag them backwards. Very annoying.
- You can very easily flex your feet, and the Feiyues will flex with them. Dogen’s ankle exercises without removing your shoes… Aww yes.
- The communicativeness of the sole puts every other shoe to shame. You can feel if you have even a tiny pebble under your foot. Sometimes I’ll just run my Feiyue-clad feet over the ground and marvel at how much I can feel. It’s great.
- Amazing for precisions
- Good grip
- Super flexible
- Very light
- Can really feel the ground under you
- Only $20
- No cushioning
- Not very durable
- No cushioning
To buy or not to buy?
A friend of mine asked me if she should get a pair since I raved to her about how awesome they were. I told her no, which was a mistake. If you’re beginner at parkour, the Feiyues can actually be dangerous. Their grip and the feeling that you’re wearing shoes may cause you to overestimate your abilities, leading to injury. I don’t recommend using them for training anything but balancing and short, technical precisions.
BUT! If you just use them for walking around at work/school, they’re fantastic. Superb conditioning for your ankles.
If you’re a more advanced traceur – a year or more of steady training under your belt – you should absolutely get the Feiyues. There is no downside. You’ll still have to be careful not to overtrain, but otherwise, the Feiyues are nothing but good. They won’t replace your “main” parkour shoes (i.e., padded running shoes like KOs, Kalenjis, Ariakes, etc.), but they’re simply amazing for ankle conditioning and training technique. And at $20, why not give them a try?
Note: the sizes listed are European, so use this chart to convert.
Have any questions? Leave them in the comments below!