Traditionally, martial artists at home will perform their training drills in their basement, garage, or any other room large enough to handle a wide range of movements. In many of these rooms, a hardwood or concrete floor is present which is not the friendliest of flooring surfaces to practice on. To fix this problem, a soft and sometimes portable martial art mat or flooring surface can be used to create an at home martial arts environment. Professional schools that train in any of the mixed martial arts use a variety of flooring surfaces in their dojos and training facilities. In this article, we will take a look at the different types of mats used by the professionals for each kind of martial art and identify what the best options are for the homeowner who would like to do some training at home.
The most traditional type of mat, found in most Japanese homes as well as Japanese martial arts studios, is the tatami mat. While these mats aren’t very soft, due to the fact that they are only an inch thick and made of woven straw, it proves to be a good choice when training a more standing oriented martial art style. These mats also tend to be rather abrasive. Many dojos in Japan use this style of mat due to its distinctive look and feel however the traditional tatami mat is rarely used in the U.S. What is now used in its place is a foam tile that has the surface appearance of a tatami mat. These tiles absorb shocks from falls, insulate well, are easy to install, and completely water proof.
Wrestling or Folding Mats are more common in use of a grappling style of martial arts. This soft, easy to clean and easy to customize mat is made a layer of high-impact foam and is coated with a protective, non-stick vinyl. Generally, these types of mats are only good for styles such as wrestling, aikido, jiu jitsu, and judo. When practicing Judo on these mats, it is best to avoid too many slams to the ground. Due to the softness of the mats, you tend to feel the impact all the way to the floor. Also, the softness of the mat will give way to your feet and they will easily sink into the mats and make it harder to maneuver around, outside of basic movement. Minor injuries can occur easier if training in a kicking art on these mats. The most popular grappling mat solution that can be laid down when needed at home is the folding mat. These mats are expandable and can easily be velcroed or taped together to form larger training surfaces.
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