8 - Your Feet

8.1 - In The Dojang

We try — very hard — to maintain a clean, effective workout surface. That means that it is wood based and springy, clean, and covered with a tightly woven industrial rug surface that serves to both give you the traction you need to practice and a mildly coarse texture that will generate calluses quickly, but not so quickly as to burn the tender feet of new students (if they follow instructions!)

So your job is to help us keep that surface clean, free of debris, germs, oils and ungents. Sabumnim will take a very dim view of anyone who treats the workout floor with less than the respect it deserves. That won't work out well for you, trust us.

8.2 - Foot Ailments

Pay attention to your feet!

First of all, if you have a foot problem, is it contagious? Because if it is, then you must not bring your bare feet into the school! Everyone in the class depends on your common sense in this matter. Being thoughtless here can ruin everyone's class experience, and worse.

Secondly, no matter what is wrong, you need to do something active to solve the situation. Your feet can cause you severe problems throughout the day if you don't take very good care of them, and some problems can become permanent, leading to foot deformation, severe extended infections and even bone injury. Fungal problems are of great concern; most are highly contagious and require extended treatment which can be both expensive and inconvenient.

Not only do the students feet touch the floor, but both Tae Kwon Do and aerobics students touch the floor with other parts of their bodies — THINK!

8.3 - Calluses, Blisters and Tears

Over the course of training, students will develop calluses on their feet as a result of the friction with the floor. This is normal, and furthermore it is intentional. You need calluses to perform many martial arts techniques. These calluses require care both to maintain them, and to prevent them from causing problems.

Ideally, you will develop and maintain a medium thickness callus, which will serve as a tough yet flexible foot shield that prevents injury and provides optimum traction.

However, if you simply ignore your calluses, they will become so thick that they will begin to split, and then to tear. This is extremely painful and will degrade your performance immediately. Furthermore, a split or tear is an avenue for infection, and that, if it happens, will be a horrible experience.

To maintain your calluses, purchase a "pumice stone" set from the drug store. These are only a couple of dollars, yet they are one of the best investments you can make for your feet. Use the stone to keep the edges of your calluses smooth and rounded so they cannot catch on a rug. Also use the stone to keep the overall thickness down.

8.4 - Foot Salves, Powders & Creams

These are not allowed on the floor of the school. They destroy the uniform texture and tractive surface of the rug, and in some cases increase risk to the students due to either slipping or sticking.

You may find that treating your feet with creams or medication is called for; if so, this is to be done after class is completed, and without walking on the floor with cream or powder on your feet.

8.5 - Shoes

For a martial artist, shoes are often not a matter of fashion. That is because fashions, especially "sneaker" fashions, are created and promoted by people who have absolutely no concern for your foot health. There are some very simple rules of thumb you can apply to figure out how to take good care of your feet. Here they are; it is up to you to use them:

  • When you take off your shoes, are your feet wet with sweat? If so, stop wearing those shoes.
  • When you take off your shoes, are your feet hot to the touch, and does the first touch of air feel like a cool breeze to your feet? If so, stop wearing those shoes.
  • Do your feet smell when you take them out of your shoes? If so, stop wearing those shoes.
  • Wear socks one time only, then wash them.
  • Keep the floor of your house clean, and go barefoot at home. This will help keep your feet conditioned.
  • Do not go barefoot on public sidewalks. Fools and drunks spit there, dogs defecate there, broken glass and worse is just waiting for you to step on it. There is no honor or glory in running around barefoot all the time. Shoes or at least sandals are a good idea. Wear them. Just don't let them do you harm instead of good. Listen to your feet.
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