Best Shoes for Tai Chi
If you’re in a hurry and just want to find out what the best shoes for tai chi are, then I recommend the FitKicks Original Men’s Edition Foldable Footwear as the best pair for men and the APIKA Chinese Traditional Old Beijing Shoes as the best pair for women.
Tai chi was first invented in the 17th century in China and is known to have numerous health and well-being benefits and is especially helpful for senior citizens and those suffering from heart and knee problems. If you’re wondering which is the better exercise out of tai chi vs yoga, both are known to be excellent forms of exercise.
Since perfecting the movements of tai chi has a lot to do with footwork, it goes without saying that picking the best tai chi shoes is vital.
The best shoes for tai chi are:
- FitKicks Original Men’s Edition Foldable Footwear
- APIKA Chinese Traditional Old Beijing Shoes
- Mooto Wings
- UNOW Chinese Traditional Cloth Shoes
- DoGeek Kung Fu Tai Chi Shoes
How to Pick the Right Tai Chi Shoes
It isn’t advisable to wear sneakers while practicing tai chi because the art form requires full contact between your feet, toes and the ground. Sneakers have thicker soles that are sometimes contoured, thereby preventing you from achieving the right form. It also makes subtle tai chi movements, such as twisting, difficult to execute.
Here are some helpful pointers to help you pick out the right tai chi shoes based on your needs:
Grip and Sole
Since tai chi has a lot to do with footwork and form, it demands precise foot movements and stretches your flexibility and coordination to the limit. To execute your tai chi form correctly, you should wear a pair of shoes with a sturdy grip but not one that’s too overbearing to restrict movement.
Although most kung fu and tai chi shoes are thought to be interchangeable, there are some subtle differences in the soles of these shoes. Tai chi soles are considerably harder, are built to support wide feet, and they tend to have more complex patterns on the sole with wave patterns and suction cups. Make sure to look out for these differences when picking out your footwear.
When it comes to the soles of Tai Chi shoes, there are three major options for the materials:
- Hard plastic.
- Soft rubber.
Hard plastic is often used in tai chi slippers more than with shoes, and this is the preferred option when you’re practicing indoors, as it has a mediocre grip.
The shoes should have a flexible rubber sole so they can adjust to the needs of your subtle movements. At certain points, you’ll need to move only your forefoot, while other actions require you to stay on your heels. All of these actions can be precisely executed if you have a rubber sole. These are also best for outdoor sessions.
If you’re practicing on a wooden floor, carpeted floor or a surface with a natural grip, such as stones, then opt for a pair with cotton soles. These are extremely comfortable and offer uncompromised flexibility for your feet.
Traditional tai chi shoes are designed in such a way where the soles are large. This will allow you to gain a stable lower body posture while practicing.
Tai chi shoes are often made out of two materials:
Leather shoes tend to be more expensive but are also far more comfortable. They also offer better protection for your toes and feet. It is, however, important that you pick a soft leather shoe to maintain flexibility with your footwork.
Canvas tai chi shoes are best when you’re looking for a soft and breathable material on your feet. They aren’t as durable as leather shoes but are far less expensive and are most-suited when you’re in a warm or humid environment.
The breathability of your Tai Chi shoes is extremely important to let heat out while you practice and to maintain comfort levels. You’ll find breathable variants in both leather and canvas, although breathable leather shoes are far more expensive as it’s complicated to make this material porous.
Best Tai Chi Shoes Reviews
For all your tai chi shoe needs, check out these top 5 pairs below.
1. FitKicks Original Men’s Edition Foldable Footwear
This is my top pick for the best tai chi shoes and is definitely one of the most comfortable and durable models available.
The rubber sole provides maximum durability and flexibility while you move into each pose. It also has a slip-on design and a minimalist aqua shoe look to help you feel free and unencumbered.
It’s designed to conform to the shape of your feet to improve on your comfort and mobility. The Flex Form sole technology used in this model allows for complete foldability, allowing you to simply wrap up these shoes for optimal transport but without compromising shoe integrity.
These shoes are completely compatible with tai chi, but they can also be used for low-impact workouts, swimming, daily errands, yoga, traveling and water sports.
You can find this shoe in small, medium, large and extra-large sizes.
- Minimalist design and ergonomic fit.
- Flex Form sole for flexibility.
- Slip-on design.
- Flexible rubber sole.
- Poor traction and hence can’t be used to practice tai chi outdoors.
2. Apika Chinese Traditional Old Beijing Shoes
If you’re looking for a pair of traditional Chinese tai chi cloth shoes, then the APIKA brand has just the product.
This is a minimally designed model that’s extremely comfortable. It’s modeled after traditional Chinese shoes and has a stylish feel despite its old-school roots.
It’s top is made out of canvas, making it light and highly breathable. It has an anti-slip rubber sole that provides ample grip, thereby allowing you to practice tai chi indoors and outdoors. The shoe is highly durable in general, and you can expect it to last for a substantial amount of time.
The slip-on style helps maximize your comfort levels as you can get these on and off without a fuss.
If you’re into other martial arts, this is great for tai chi, kung fu, wushu and even extreme sports like parkour.
These shoes are available in women’s 8 through 12.
- Simple design that’s focused on comfort.
- Modeled after traditional Old Beijing cloth shoes.
- Light and breathable canvas top.
- Flexible rubber sole with excellent grip.
- Easy slip-on style.
- Size tends to run small.
3. Mooto Wings
This is the only offering in my selection that’s made out of synthetic leather and is, therefore, the perfect choice of footwear when you want to practice tai chi across a wide range of environments. Weighing only 240 g, this is a lightweight pair of shoes, despite its highly sturdy build.
A tough exterior is offered to endure difficult training regimes, thereby extending the use of these shoes beyond tai chi. The choice of synthetic leather is perfect for this model as it greatly extends its durability and versatility without compromising on its lightweight design and comfort levels.
These shoes are available in sizes 4.5 to 11.
- Made out of synthetic leather.
- Lightweight, durable and comfortable.
- Excellent use of adhesive to keep the shoe together.
- Individuals with wide feet will need a larger size.
4. Unow Chinese Traditional Cloth Shoes
An upper cloth layer allows you to enjoy your practice sessions without feeling the burden of hefty shoes weighing you down. It almost feels like you’re barefooted thanks to the cotton lining and rubber soles. This is the best feeling to have when practicing tai chi, as it was traditionally done without footwear.
This simple and flexible pair of Tai Chi shoes can be used for other martial arts, too, including kung fu and wushu. You can also use this pair casually, thanks to its conventional and trendy design.
This model is available in sizes 6.5 to 11.
- Modeled after traditional Chinese shoes.
- Upper layer made out of a light and breathable cloth material.
- Comfortable cotton lining.
- Flexible rubber soles.
- Compatible with other martial arts.
- Fabric can stretch over time.
5. DoGeek Kung Fu Tai Chi Shoes
This is a canvas top version of traditional Chinese shoes. Canvas is an excellent material of choice for tai chi shoes, and this pair is no different, being extremely light, flexible and breathable.
An anti-slip rubber sole offers plenty of grip for practicing outdoors or on slippery indoor flooring. Also, DoGeek has paid close attention to your comfort levels while designing these shoes, offering a cotton lining and a soft cotton insole that allows you to easily wear these shoes for extended periods.
They’re also designed with a wider toe space and a moderately opening width to prevent the shoes from pressing against your feet. A wide toe space is vital in helping you perfect your tai chi forms.
You can pick these up in sizes 6.5 to 12 for women.
- Light, breathable canvas top.
- Anti-slip rubber sole.
- Comfortable cotton lining and insole.
- Wide toe space.
- Compatible with other martial art forms.
- Not suitable for individuals with wide feet.
If you’ve just started practicing tai chi, then it’s even more important to get a high-quality pair of shoes, leaving you to focus on your form, breathing and movement.
For the guys, if you intend to practice tai chi indoors, and you need a light and flexible shoe, then the FitKicks Original Men’s Edition Foldable Footwear would be a good fit for you. It’ll allow for a steady grounding so you can focus all your attention on grounding your mind while you practice.
The APIKA Chinese Traditional Old Beijing Shoes are the best tai chi shoes for women. They’re modelled after ancient Chinese shoes, which is a popular choice for many. The lightweight canvas material, minimalistic look and comfortable feel complete this pair of tai chi shoes really well.