Master Macy recently forwarded a blog post that should interest every student of the martial arts. It’s about the benefits of going barefoot, especially for kids. Turns out that exposing your soles to the turf has benefits for the body and the brain.
In the words of author and child development expert Rae Pica:
“Feet … have sentient qualities. They can be used to grip the floor for strength and balance, and their different parts (toes, ball, sole, heel) can be more easily felt and used when bare…. Young children feel a natural affinity for the ground that can be enhanced by removing all the barriers between it and the feet.”
As a parent, you’ve helped your kids struggle out of their shoes and socks tens of hundreds of thousands of times: coming inside the house to bare their soles on the carpet or linoleum; headed out to run barefoot in the grass; stepping into the karate school to scuff their bare feet across the mat.
It’s all sensation for the sole, but you maybe didn’t know how beneficial that sensation is for the whole person.
“[T]he feet are the most nerve-rich parts of the human body, which means they contribute to the building of neurological pathways in the brain. Covering them in shoes, therefore, means we’re eliminating all kinds of opportunities for children’s brains to grow new neural connections.” Rae Pica
Think about a back stance. Where do you feel your weight? 80 percent on the back foot, 20 percent on the front.
Now when you’re on the mat, your feet are free. You’re able to feel the tingle between your toes, the precision of your stance, the rootedness of it, your ability to throw a front kick without shifting, leaning, moving, repositioning.
When you step off the mat and re-don your shoes and head back out to the car, the barefoot sense remains, it lingers. It guides. It’s real.
Go barefoot to Black Belt.