August 06, 2007


*** WARNING ***

Memphis Kendo Club has been very fortunate in the past couple of years to have many people start kendo and, more importantly, stick with it long enough to get into bogu.

Since we have so many newbies now taking part in full keiko practice, this seems to be a good time to explore the most common type of "injury" in kendo --- BLISTERS (aka "kendo foot").

No matter who you are, you WILL deal with this at some point although you may actually be fortunate enough not to experience the full glory of the pictures I've attached below.
At the end of this, I'll provide some information on how to deal with these minor inconveniences so that you can get back to practice as soon as possible.

You can click on the pictures below to expand them. I've labeled 3 areas of the foot for ease of reference. While kendo foot is not limited to the left foot, blisters and well-developed calluses typically occur there.

(A) big toe
(B) ball of the foot
(C) the whole area of the upper foot, beneath the toes

(A) is unremarkable and typical of a well-developed callus on the big toe. By expanding the picture, you may also notice a very nice callus in the crease of the big toe. This is also a common area for blisters to form... think of that area as "(A), Jr."
(C) reflects a relatively large blister that formed and either ruptured on its own or was popped/sliced by the foot's owner. In any case, the skin has dried and this is -- in my experience at least -- the best way to deal with blisters of all sizes. Pop the blister and get all the pus out of the thing, allow it to dry and then cut away the dead skin. The time it takes for this to occur will vary from person to person. More details to follow...

Now, this is a real beauty. Every kenshi should WANT to get one like this at some point in his career. (Insert gratuitous comment about "REAL kendo people..")

The area at (A) is slightly remarkable in that the toe has a callus, yet a blister still managed to form. It is starting to heal very nicely with this foot's owner routinely removing dead/dried skin from the area. This will help in the callus-building process.

Area (C) is really choice. In the previous picture, it was obvious that a blister was formed and properly addressed when there was no significant ripping of the skin. In THIS picture, the blister may have ruptured significantly on its own such that the foot's owner needed to actually clip it off. Major tearing of the skin can happen in the course of practice and on this point, I speak from personal experience. It is NOT cool. If you experience this and there's just a small rupture, you might be best served to leave it alone and let it dry out (per picture 1). If you've got a flapper, best thing is to just clip off the skin and follow these steps:

To help with the drying process, be sure to clean your blister with hydrogen peroxide first. Follow that up with a nice bandage, making use of an antibiotic gel like Neosporin, for example. This is good for when you have to wear shoes all day long at work. At night, take off any bandaging and let the blister dry. Repeat this as often as necessary. You should be good to go for practice the following week.

If by the time you get back to practice the blister hasn't healed (or healed well enough), you're probably going to need some kind of protection if you want to take part in class. Some people like to use a tabi-like thing such as this:

These things are designed with a small patch of leather on the bottom to help grip the floor a little bit. The one time I used one, I didn't like it because it was actually slippery and made pushing off with the left foot virtually impossible. Your mileage may vary on the use of this thing.

Without question, though, a time-tested solution is plain ol' athletic tape.

This website: shows step-by-step a very effective way of taping up blisters that occur in the middle of your foot. Be careful to follow the instruction on placing tape in between the toes. If you just wrap tape around your foot, it will tend to move up or down during the course of practice. Using the method from the provided link will prevent this from happening, however.

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