PDA

View Full Version : Puzzle Mats


Please visit our sponsor:
 

AikiWeb Sponsored Links - Place your Aikido link here for only $10!


Brian Gillaspie
06-25-2010, 09:38 PM
I'm thinking about buying some puzzle mats but not sure what thickness to get. So far I've seen 1/2 inch, 7/8 inch, 1 inch, and 1 5/8 inch thick options.

If you have experience with training on puzzle mats please let me what thickness you think is suitable for aikido. There's a pretty big price difference between the 1 inch and the 1 5/8 inch but I don't want to go cheap if it could lead to injuries.

Adam Huss
06-25-2010, 11:07 PM
Have you worked on these types of mats before? I was otomo to my teacher at a large seminar in Toronto and they had 1inch puzzle mats on some of the session areas we worked. They are not very forgiving. I have rather soft jumping break falls and I could sometimes 'feel' the concrete underneath. Additionally, I noticed that sweaty feet on the puzzle mats used at the seminar made a kind of hydroplane effect that would be detrimental to kata, kumibuki, and vigorous toshuwaza during a robust class.

The brand you are looking into may not have these problems, though, just giving you my one-time experience.

*Actually, an inch seems a little big for those puzzle mats, but its been five years so I'm not sure. I definitely remember the hydroplaning though.

Brian Gillaspie
06-26-2010, 09:21 AM
Thanks for you input. I have never trained on them. I'm just looking for a relative cheap set of mats but I'm just not sure if puzzle mats are a good way to go.

David Orange
06-26-2010, 09:32 AM
Thanks for you input. I have never trained on them. I'm just looking for a relative cheap set of mats but I'm just not sure if puzzle mats are a good way to go.

Look for sheets of 2" thick "ethafoam". I understand it's used as insulation on the outside of buried walls, as for a basement. Mine came in sheets about 4' X 8' or 10'. Very, very nice surface for falls and firm and not too bouncy for any kind of stand-up work. I covered mine with a large plasticized tarp, which was not too slick and was easy to clean. Best mats I ever worked on.

Good luck.

David

L. Camejo
06-26-2010, 10:30 AM
We trained on 1 inch thick eva foam puzzle mats for about 8 years on a variety of surfaces including concrete. They were generally unforgiving and one needed to have good ukemi for training on concrete. Imho 1-inch was ok for most Aikido type falls where one was thrown across the surface but would be dangerous for Judo-type hip and shoulder throws where one is projected straight down from a height.

I want to get some puzzle mats myself. Since we do Aikido and Jujutsu I'm getting the 1 5/8 ones. Puzzle mats are great when one wants to do demos at different locations as well - very portable.

My 2 cents.

LC

dps
06-26-2010, 11:43 AM
I'm thinking about buying some puzzle mats but not sure what thickness to get. So far I've seen 1/2 inch, 7/8 inch, 1 inch, and 1 5/8 inch thick options.

If you have experience with training on puzzle mats please let me what thickness you think is suitable for aikido. There's a pretty big price difference between the 1 inch and the 1 5/8 inch but I don't want to go cheap if it could lead to injuries.

I have trained on various types of mats and have found the 1 5/8 puzzle mats ( like these but not an endorsement for this company http://www.greatmats.com/products/martial-arts-mats-judo.php) to be best. Easy to pick up and place down, firm for walking on and great for rolls and breakfalls. The last place I used them was on top of a concrete floor. I took hundreds of breakfalls on them with no problem.

David

David

nekobaka
06-26-2010, 07:08 PM
the thinner mats can come apart easier too. I trained on them for several years, and had a foot caught in the mat on occasion. thicker the better, probably last longer anyway, the sticking out part got ripped off of some of them.

Rabih Shanshiry
06-26-2010, 07:25 PM
Go with the thicker 1 5/8" mats. 1" is generally OK for aikidoka already who are already comfortable with rolls. If you're doing jump breakfalls, it can be rough. For beginners, the 1" mats can be very intimidating and it will slow down their development. Yout dojo will be better off making the investment in the better mats.

John Matsushima
06-27-2010, 10:40 AM
I don't like puzzle mats. Some of the mats get squished down more than others resulting in an uneven surface. It is hard to get them to match up perfectly. In aikido, since we often slide our feet, it is important to have a smooth surface. Got my pinky toe caught in a ridge once. ouch.

Adam Huss
06-27-2010, 08:48 PM
John, my dojo used to have those super thick http://thumbs1.ebaystatic.com/m/mXO96phF5OB1i4THeBEOvOA/96.jpg brand mats (the blue ones) that connect via velcro on their underside flaps. My teacher was doing kata and his toe got caught in between the seems and broke his toe quite badly. Since we moved and refurnished our dojo location we now use more traditional style tatmi, which are perfect. Not sure of their cost variance when compared to puzzles though.

ruthmc
06-28-2010, 08:50 AM
We train on a set of puzzle (jig) mats at Tuesday class, and I dislike them!

Firstly they are black and they dye the soles of our feet. They are also rather ancient (we got them 2nd hand about 10 years ago) and disintegrating rather badly - I find bits of them trapped under my toenails after class and have to spend ages trying to get the bits out :blush:

A lot of the knobbly bits have come away from the sides, leaving gaps that have to be plugged - we keep a bag of these 'bits' specifically for this reason. During training they frequently dislodge and we have to put them back straightaway in order to avoid toe-breaking gaps.

Our mats are only about 1" thick (if that) and I'm glad we put them on a wooden floor - anything else would be very unforgiving!

Their only advantage is that they are light and portable, but if you want something that will last and look good then they are not a wise investment. Constant taking them up and putting them out (as we have to do, the class being in a community hall) shortens their life, negating their portability aspect IMHO.

I'd say go for foam sheets for preference :)

Ruth

Jory Boling
06-28-2010, 09:18 AM
i had some in an empty room wall to wall and they tended to stay in one place. in a different house they drifted all over the room. i never had any trouble for solo ukemi practice or moderately energetic tachiwaza. if your going to be doing anything too wild i'd think about the dangers of catching your toes in the ...puzzle teeth?

Adam Huss
06-28-2010, 12:38 PM
Most people I know with puzzle mats either use them for their home 'dojo' where they just train themselves (or with their family) for home-time training, or they just keep and store them for large events when extra mats are needed.

Ruth.....sounds gross. Lol. Hope you don't have to keep training on those mats!

Brian Gillaspie
06-29-2010, 06:31 AM
At this point I'm thinking puzzle mats may not be the best choice for Aikido. I'll look into some of the other suggestions you all gave me and see what I can come up with. I'll be teaching classes at a local YMCA so I'll need to get something portable since the room will be used for other activities throughout the week.

TreyPrice
06-29-2010, 09:02 AM
What density foam provides the best walking and falling surface?

My dojo has rolled foam covered with canvas. It is a great surface, a side from the occasional "mat burn" when you drag the back of your feet getting up. We have a 2X4 border with bungee cord loops holding the canvas tight. There is a polyethylene water barrier between the foam and canvas. It works nice, and we can use a carpet cleaner on the canvas to clean it.

Puzzle mats may be better if you got a canvas to cover them. I would also consider tapping the seams.

Train well!

Robert Calton
06-29-2010, 11:35 AM
I train in a dojo that uses puzzle mats, and I've also taken ukemi for a brief time on the blue, folding mats. I feel the puzzle mats provide a more realistic sensation for proper/improper ukemi. If, for example, you land "flat" versus "round," your body will know! These mats transmit that information better to the body than denser, foam mats. Conversely, the foam mats allow for more comfortable and forgiving ukemi. If you're just starting out teaching at a YMCA and only have a handful of students, you might want to consider the folding ones if budget allows, but puzzle mats aren't necessarily a bad choice by any means! :D

Larry Feldman
06-29-2010, 02:56 PM
Brian - If you are using folding mats, there are somethings to consider:
If you are on a concrete floor - go 2" thick. We practice on a hardwood aerobic floor but on the second story of a building and the 1 3/8" or 1 1/2" are enough.

4x8' mats will fit in the back seat of most cars - easy to transport.5x10' mats are a little more to 'handle' but create less seams on the mat when completed.

Get 18oz. vinyl covering at the least.

The wider the velcro the better for holding them together.

Brian Gillaspie
06-29-2010, 09:05 PM
Just wanted to give you all an update since you all took the time to help me out. The YMCA has two 5X10 folding mats I can use plus I came up with another 4X8 folding mat and a 10X18 section of a wrestling mat. I think I will purchase 2 more 5X10 folding mats and that will give me enough to get started without making a large financial investment. So it may not be pretty but it will get the job done.

RED
06-29-2010, 09:26 PM
Puzzle mats: hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate

With that said; yeah, they suck for beginners to learn ukemi on, unless you like 7th kyu to have messed up soldiers and quit. Went to a seminar once that had puzzle mat. 2 san dans caught their toes in the cracks and messed their feet up. Puzzle mat is really hard to clean, it absorbs sweat and dirt, and doesn't seem to react well to cleaners.(it absorbs them) And I don't want to imagine training for years, falling for years, making mistakes for years, on that stuff. It would make my Orthopedic rich on the bright side.

so again: hate hate hate hate hate

mickeygelum
06-29-2010, 09:44 PM
http://www.greatmats.com/products/martial-arts-mats-judo.php

I do endorse these mats and have a 90' x 50' competition area. If you are looking for economical and durable investment...consider these.

Email them, they will sent you a sample.

Wondering about ukemi? View this video. The base is a concrete slab, without any supplemental padding.

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=104091802949226

Train well,

Mickey

L. Camejo
06-29-2010, 11:18 PM
http://www.greatmats.com/products/martial-arts-mats-judo.php

I do endorse these mats and have a 90' x 50' competition area. If you are looking for economical and durable investment...consider these. I've trained on these at my Jujutsu hombu - they are very nice for high falls even with a concrete base. I recommend them also.

It's funny that folks talk about ppls toes getting caught in puzzle mats. Over the years I have never seen someone catch their foot in puzzle mats, but it became a regular occurrence when we moved to a dojo that had tatami and foam mats that don't have an interlocking edge. In either case a frame is best if one has permanent dojo space, which is not the case here.

Finally - if the speed of your tai sabaki and footwork is something that is important to your Aikido (it is in mine) there is no comparison in the speed of movement you can achieve between puzzle mats and foam mats. The puzzle mats tend to be much denser, providing more stability underfoot (does not compress as much), allowing for much faster footwork imho.

Just some thoughts that may help you in any future decisions.

Best
LC

dps
06-30-2010, 09:45 AM
I am 5' 8" and 240 lbs have been doing Aikido since 1985. I have trained on folding foam mats, wrestling mats, gymnastic mats, tatami mats, puzzle mats and have taken breakfalls on grass, carpetted floors, wooden floors and concrete floors. Some of the hardest breakfalls I have taken were on 1 5/8 " puzzle mats over a concrete floor.

They are the best.

I have never caught my toes on the puzzle mat. Maybe these people need to be more aware and pick their feet up.

David

Fred Little
06-30-2010, 09:58 AM
Look for sheets of 2" thick "ethafoam". I understand it's used as insulation on the outside of buried walls, as for a basement. Mine came in sheets about 4' X 8' or 10'. Very, very nice surface for falls and firm and not too bouncy for any kind of stand-up work. I covered mine with a large plasticized tarp, which was not too slick and was easy to clean. Best mats I ever worked on.

Good luck.

David

Ethafoam is also marketed under the name "Polylam."

Short of purpose-built judo tatami, the best mat surface I've used as well, although I would also say that a decade of ukemi on polylam laid directly on concrete was not beneficial to my body and required some aggressive counter-measures after I swapped out the polylam for judo tatami. In general, wood frame flooring under the mat surface is best, whatever surface you're using.

Best,

FL

ninjaqutie
06-30-2010, 12:57 PM
Most dojo I know who use the puzzle mats are karate or tae kwon do schools around here. I find them to be rather stiff, though like previously mentioned, it teaches you to land properly. In my previous style, we used blue fold up mats similar to those shown above. The floor was concrete, covered with a thin carpet and the mats went on that. The mats were only 1/2 inch thick. If you put the mats together well enough, the gaps can be minimized. We did a lot of hip throws and judo style throws and I found those mats plenty comfy to be slammed down upon :)

Larry Feldman
06-30-2010, 01:13 PM
Brian -

One last word of caution on the folding mats. One manufacturer (AAI) puts the velcro on their mats in the reverse manner of most of the other manufacturers. Ordering from the same manufacturer will keep you out of trouble, or just ask where the male/female velcro is on the mats.

Also try to match thickness of the mats, putting them snug next to each other will help with the 'cracks', but it is also a good idea to maintain the same thickness.

Larry