A continuing side-effect of my kendo training is that my feet have continued to get wider over the years. I have seen no scientific evidence that kendo makes feet spread, but I am sure mine were normal when I started and now are becoming almost as wide as they are long.
I confidently continue to add to my collection of unworn shoes believing that after a few days of “wearing in” they will become comfortable, only to find that there is not enough stretch in any of them to encompass my feet without causing pain. While they hide unloved at the bottom of the wardrobe, I invariably flop around in trainers which I buy a size too big. I do occasionally have to wear “proper” shoes and I have a black pair and brown pair which do the job without making me limp. Both have been repaired nearly as many times as my kote due to my paranoia that I will never find new ones that fit.
I have tried to solve the problem. I sent my foot measurements to a specialist on-line supplier of wide shoes; they told me that they had nothing suitable and that I should try contacting a surgical boot maker.
I don’t however think that I am alone in suffering from this problem. When I visit Japan I notice that most of the shoes that I see in the “genkan” of dojo or friend’s houses seem to be on the wide side. I have also started to take crafty peeks at colleague’s feet in the changing rooms. Forgive me if you have noticed me doing this, but my interest is more scientific than perverse. I am sure that somewhere a kendo loving orthopaedic surgeon, podiatrist or sports scientist has developed an equation that measures the hours of keiko required to add a centimetre of width to each of a kendoka’s feet.
It might be that his or her study is even more complicated and that the constant pressure on the left foot outweighs the effect of fumikomi on the right foot and that the feet broaden at a different rate.
However in terms of hard evidence, I do not have a foot to stand on. Perhaps I am unique in experiencing this phenomenon and my fellow male kendoka can get away with wearing the narrowest of “fandangos” and the girls still fit nicely into their Laboutin’s and Jimmy Choo’s. It would be interesting to hear if this problem affects others or whether it is just me that will eventually have to wear flip-flops with formal wear.