CLEAN bare feet in the Dojo

 in Bradenton - Ancient Ways Martial Arts Academy

Why Bare Feet in the Dojo
Weird Dojo Rules

Many of the rules we follow in the martial arts training hall, or Dojo (dojo means: place of the way), are based on Asian traditions, but few, if any don’t also hold some common sense values too. For instance, we don’t wear shoes on the training floor and we encourage all students to have clean feet before stepping on the training floor.

In some Asian cultures it is bad manners (and bad luck) to track in outside filth to a building, especially a home, so shoes are left outside. It makes sense though. If everyone comes in with super clean bare feet, then the house stays cleaner. If your bare feet are dirty, then you might as well wear your filthy shoes. Some cultures even wash the feet of a traveler as they enter, as a sign of welcoming and to be sure they are clean.

In the training hall, we are often on the ground with a partner, either being thrown or ground fighting, maybe even being pressed down into the flooring as we train. It is a much more enjoyable if the flooring is super clean, as well as our opponent.

Some dojos use mats for their flooring and just like a gymnastics gym, being barefoot helps the mats to last longer and to stay clean longer.

Some students might wear shoes in the dojo for medical reasons, we make sure that they only wear those shoes in the dojo and never outside. Some styles of martial arts wear shoes as part of their training, like Kung Fu, again, those shoes are worn only inside the training hall.

There are other reasons in martial arts that we want our students to have bare feet. Being bare footed allows the instructors to make sure students have correct foot posture, flexing the ankle and toes the right way and to hit with the correct part of the foot. It also allows us to illustrate how to pivot and apply torque to every strike and kick we throw. Pivoting to throw a proper kick should be done on the ball of the foot, shoes hinder the development of this skill. Shoes can hinder a lot of muscle development as they change the way we flex our muscles and tendons.

The flooring here at Ancient Ways has been made especially for us by Shaw Industries. The pad isn’t rolled out under the carpet, it is built into it so it will never breakdown and is easier to keep clean. The flooring is cleaned once per day by a human and three times per day by a robot (we call him Chairman Moe). Once per month the carpet is completely steam cleaned and treated with Odoban and with grapefruit seed extract which is what hospitals use to kill MRSA. Schools who use mats as their flooring take them out once or twice per year and pressure wash them. Not only do they give a less realistic training experience, and hinder proper pivot development, but they are impossible to keep as clean as our flooring.

So that was a long way to go to get to this point, but it is summer, and many Florida kids don’t wear shoes during the day. Parents, please make sure your child’s feet are clean and that they wear shoes to their classes to keep the training hall clean and safe for everyone. It is not uncommon for my staff to be seen cleaning their own feet using cleaning wipes or moist paper towels, and although not the best option, they are safe to use on your feet to clean them up. If we notice a student’s feet aren’t clean, we will ask them to step off the floor and clean their feet. We appreciate your support.

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