I really wish I could give credit where due, but several weeks ago, I was reading on someone's BJJ blog about Vibram Fivefinger shoes. I can't remember which blog it was and haven't had any luck finding that post again. So, whoever you are, thanks! Leave me a comment so I can give you credit. I immediately thought to myself, "Those are totally RAD." (My internal voice was looking forward to my 20th High School reunion, I guess).
Anyway, I immediately began doing some research online on "barefooting" and the benefits of walking around without foot mittens on our feet all the time. While Eric Cartman would definitely condemn this site and its writers as a bunch of " damnedhippies," they do have some good information on the health benefits to be gained from walking without shoes on. Parts of the FAQ get a little defensive for my taste (for example, the entire section on how to answer peoples' questions about why you are barefoot ), but the health benefits they list just sound reasonable to me.
As a kid, I spent a lot of time barefoot. Not to a crazy degree, but I have a lot of memories of high stepping on the sidewalks at the heights of a Texas Summer, rushing to the grass for relief and generally being barefoot and enjoying it.
So, after reading all of that information about how good being barefoot is, how fun being barefoot is, how healthful being barefoot is, I did the only logical thing. I bought a pair of shoes.
I know. I know. Shut up. I've had a pair of the Fivefinger KSOs for about 3 or 4 weeks now. I wore them when travelling to Baltimore and have been basically wearing them all the time outside of work. They're extremely comfortable. AND I get to use my toes again. The piggies are totally stoked. In all seriousness, what I've found (and my wife has corroborated) is that I walk differently now in those shoes than I do in shoes. I'm up on the balls of my feet more. While I don't do a lot of outdoorsy type stuff like hiking or white water rafting, I would imagine that these would be good for those activities.
You WILL get some strange looks and the occassional question, particularly if you happen to be wearing a Grapple Monster shirt. But I guess in the last several years I've stopped really giving a damn about that sort of thing and have accepted the fact that I'm a bit of an eccentric.
For me, I swear that this is going to make my jiu-jitsu better. I'll be able to do a cross collar choke from spider guard... with my feet. It's going to be great. When I get the transition from Spider Guard to a cross collar foot choke perfected, I'll post an instructional on YouTube. Until then, take a look at these shoes and let me know what you think.