The Onitsuka Tiger Tai Chi: Hollywood’s Favourite Sneaker

Onitsuka Tiger History

The history of Onitsuka Tiger dates back to 1949, when Kihachiro Onitsuka founded the company in Kobe, Japan. The brand initially focused on producing basketball shoes and quickly became popular among athletes due to its innovative details and designs and high-quality materials. In the following years, Onitsuka expanded its product line to include a selection of running shoes and other sports footwear.

Onitsuka Tiger has now been partially renamed Asics (which stands for “Anima Sana In Corpore Sano,” or “a sound mind in a sound body”), and it continues this tradition as one of the world’s leading producers of performance footwear.

Onitsuka’s early access and commitment to innovation has led to numerous advancements in athletic footwear technology over the years. For example, they were one of the first brands to incorporate gel cushioning into their shoes, with the release of their Gel-Lyte model in 1987.

One of the most iconic models produced by Onitsuka is the Tai Chi. Originally designed as a martial arts shoe in 1974, it gained popularity among casual wearers for its sleek design and comfortable fit. It had an leather upper and flat sole with the infamous tiger stripes.

Originally 3400 pairs in the famous yellow and black colour wave were made and have gone on to become one of the world’s most recognisable training shoes. Despite being discontinued in recent years, the Onitsuka Tiger Tai Chi remains a beloved classic among sneaker enthusiasts.

Onitsuka Tiger Tai Chi

The Onitsuka Tiger Tai Chi is a classic lightweight shoe that has existed since the 1970s. Initially designed for martial arts practitioners, it quickly became popular as a casual shoe due to its comfortable fit and stylish design. The Tai Chi features a low profile with a leather upper and gum rubber outsole.

One of the unique aspects of the Onitsuka Tiger Tai Chi is its distinctive contrasting tiger stripes branding. The stripes represent the energy flow in traditional Chinese philosophy, which aligns with the focus on balance and movement in martial arts practices. In addition to this symbolic meaning, the stripes add an eye-catching element to the shoe’s overall aesthetic.

Despite being discontinued at one point, there has been renewed interest in recent years in bringing back classic styles like the Onitsuka Tiger Tai Chi. This reflects a growing trend towards nostalgia and appreciation for vintage fashion and streetwear among younger generations. As such, these shoes remain relevant even decades after their initial release, demonstrating their enduring appeal and timeless style.

The Tai Chi Reb And Mexico ’66

Asics are not a brand known to look backwards but have reissued a version of the original Onitsuka Tiger Tai Chi, known as the Tai Chi Reb, due to the popularity of the movies.

Colours are available, but there is a slight difference in the sole. Whilst the lightweight original had an ultra-thin gum rubber outsole, the Tai Chi Reb has a corrugated rubber sole that provides more grip than the originals but has a slightly more chunky silhouette, but with the same perfect style, fit and details you would imagine from such a great shoemaker.

Asics have also recently introduced the classic yellow and black colour wave to their Mexico 66 trainers as the demand for the Tai Chi is so strong amongst sneaker enthusiasts that they eventually relented as a nod to not just the beauty of the sneakers but in part due to its amazing Hollywood connection.

Bruce Lee's star on the Hollywood walk of fame
The man, The legend

Hollywood Calling

The first time the classic yellow and black design of Tai Chi came to the world’s attention was when the iconic Bruce Lee wore them in his final film, Game Of Death, in 1978. The design features a yellow upper with black stripes on both sides and a black sole.

He had decided to go for a particular colour scheme in the movie designed to make him stand out from the other actors.

The iconic yellow jumpsuit Bruce Lee wore in the film, Game of Death has become a staple in popular culture. The suit was designed by Bruce Lee himself and featured black stripes on the sleeves and legs. It is often replicated for Halloween costumes or sold as merchandise.

The popularity of the Game of Death jumpsuit and sneaker combination has led to other clothing items inspired by Bruce Lee’s style. T-shirts with images of him performing martial arts moves and hoodies featuring his face or quotes from his films are common. Some brands have even created their own versions of the yellow jumpsuit, putting their own spin on it.

Despite its popularity, some fans criticise the commercialisation of Bruce Lee’s image through clothing sales. They argue that it takes away from his martial artist and actor legacy. However, others see it as a way to keep his memory alive and inspire new generations to learn about him and his contributions to the world of martial arts.

Uma Thurman Kill Bill Sneakers

As a nod to the infamous Bruce Lee, the director of Kill Bill, Quentin Tarantino, a big fan of martial arts movies decided to reinstate not just the yellow and black outfit from Game Of Death but a pair of the sneakers too.

The iconic yellow and black sneakers worn by Uma Thurman in the movie Kill Bill have become a cult classic among sneaker enthusiasts. The shoes were custom-made by Onitsuka Tiger, now known as ASICS, for the film’s production.

Although originally created for a film, these sneakers have transcended their fictional origins to become an iconic piece of pop culture fashion. From cosplay events to streetwear outfits, Uma Thurman’s Kill Bill sneakers continue to impact fashion trends today.

Onitsuka Tiger Tai Chi Discontinued

The Onitsuka Tiger Tai Chi was a popular sneaker model that gained immense popularity during the 1970s. The traditional Chinese martial art, Tai Chi, inspired the shoe’s design. These sneakers’ unique style and comfort made them an instant hit among sports enthusiasts and fashion lovers alike.

However, despite its popularity, Onitsuka Tiger discontinued production of Tai Chi in recent years. This decision came as a surprise to many loyal customers who were disappointed with this news. Some speculate that it may have been due to rising production costs or changing consumer preferences.

While it may no longer be available for purchase, new, vintage pairs can still be found online or at speciality stores for those looking to add this classic shoe to their collection.

Tai Chi Price

The Onitsuka Tiger Tai Chi is a perfect, classic sneaker that has been around for decades. It was first introduced in the 1970s and quickly became popular among martial artists and athletes alike. The shoe has a unique design that allows maximum flexibility and comfort, making it perfect for training or casual wear.

Sotheby’s currently have a pair without a box, made in 2003, and the price tag is $2000, which goes to show how sought after these iconic sneakers continue to be.

The price for a pair of the recently rereleased Onitsuka Tiger Tai Chi Reb varies depending on where you purchase it from. Some retailers may sell it for as low as £90, while others may charge upwards of £150 or more for an original pair. However, despite its varying price points, the quality and feeling of this shoe remains consistent across all sellers.

If you’re looking to invest in a pair of sneakers that will last you for years, then the Onitsuka Tiger Tai Chi is worth considering. While it may be more expensive than other athletic shoes on the market, it’s durability and timeless design make it a worthwhile investment. Plus, with so many different colourways available to choose from, there’s sure to be a style that fits your personal taste!

Uma Thurman wearing The tai chi with its contrasting tiger stripes branding
The tai chi with its contrasting tiger stripes branding and silhouette

The Future Of Onitsuka Tiger

Onitsuka Tiger has been around for over 70 years, and it is a brand that has remained relevant throughout the decades. The future of Onitsuka Tiger and the tai chi reb looks very bright as the company continues to innovate stock and create new sneaker products that appeal to a wide range of customers.

One area where Onitsuka Tiger is focusing its efforts in the future is sustainability. The company recognises the importance of reducing its environmental impact and has already taken steps towards achieving this goal. For example, Onitsuka Tiger uses recycled materials in some products, such as shoes made from recycled plastic bottles.

Another area where Onitsuka Tiger is looking to expand is technology. The company understands that technology is increasingly important in our lives and is working on incorporating new technologies into its products.

For example, they recently released a shoe with embedded sensors in the heel that can track your running performance and provide feedback on how you can improve your technique. This type of innovation will likely be vital in keeping up with competitors in an ever-evolving market.

In summary, there’s no doubt that Onitsuka Tiger has a bright, amazing future ahead of them. By focusing on sustainability and innovation, they are positioning themselves as leaders in the fashion industry while also making positive contributions to society.

As consumers become more conscious about their impact on the environment and demand for high-tech features increases, we can expect Onitsuka Tiger continuing to remain at the forefront of these trends for many years to come.