View Full Version : Rebuilding Mat

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Ed Tanner
08-07-2003, 01:06 PM
Last week our dojo was flooded by a broken water heater. The damage was extensive and insurance will pay for most of the repair cost. We pulled together as a community to minimize the damage and affect repairs. During the demolition work I noted that the mat seemed to have been assembled in strata over many years. The foundation was plywood joisted on-the-flat over a concrete floor. At the bottom was a layer of durable-looking closed cell foam. The foam was covered by a good canvas tarp. Plywood was laid over the tarp with metal connectors on its edges. Synthetic tatami were arranged over the plywood. A second, newer but somewhat damaged tarp lay over the tatami. Finally, a second, newer set of tatami coverd the second canvas.
Sensei has indicated he didn't like the arrangement because it was too soft. He didn't change it because we share the space with an elderly judo sensei. Since we are starting from the ground up, I was wondering if the forum had any insight on the best way to build these things. We will definitely rebuild the foundation since it was done poorly. So far, we have been discussing a mat of sprung gymnastics-type flooring covered with tatami and then a tarp on top. If it makes any difference, we typically do not do weapons practice at the dojo.


08-07-2003, 01:13 PM
wow, that sounds like quite some mat structure that you are replacing! Your teacher should give guidance as to how firm s/he wants the mat to be, but I can tell you about one that I was involved in building years ago that is really nice, and firm but not too hard;

this mat is made up of 2x4's laid on edge and nailed together. On top of this is flat rubber hosing (the type you find for sprinklers in gardens), and on top of that plywood. On top of the plywood is a dense foam mat, and over that is canvas. It was put together around 1994, and is still holding up very well, although the canvas had to be replaced already once. Very nice mat to train on, however if you get used to it, tatami are no fun.

best wishes on this, and sorry to hear about the flood.

Larry Feldman
08-07-2003, 10:20 PM
I used to practice on a gymnastic mat. They moved to springs - to get 'bounce' off the floor and spring back up. The springs were attached to plywood sheets. A second set of plywood sheets were overlayed over the first. (The first set was done lengthwise, the second width-wise to avoid anyone falling in the cracks that happen with just one layer of plywood) They used drywall screws to attach the plywood. Mats - foam on plywood, then cover with canvas (preferred), or gymnastic 'carpet'.Before that they used foam blocks instead of springs- which are still available. The blocks are better for absorbing falls than the springs. Talk to a local - or natonal gymnastic supply house - they should be able to give you guidence. How many foam blocks to glue to plywood sheets...etc.

C. Emerson
08-08-2003, 01:16 AM
I used the gymnastics floor for years and I liked it. It was fast and very forgiving, although you would get rug burns from time to time because of the carpet covering.


08-08-2003, 01:53 AM
We used to practice on gymnastic sprung mat at a leisure centre once a week. I don't reccommend it at all. Yes, it is very forgiving, can be fun, and may help new practicioners gain confidence in ukemi a bit quicker. However, if you use it long term it will create a false perspective, and will be a lot more uncomfortable when you go back to real tatami.

I also concur with Chad re the rug burns, particularly bad for shikko.



Larry Feldman
08-08-2003, 08:15 PM
Agreed - the carpet surface will give you rug burns. If you build a 'sandbox' around the edges you can get a canvas mat and put it over the foam. A better fit for Aikido practice.

C. Emerson
08-12-2003, 11:14 AM
I agree about beginners and a spring floor. I would also say that having a forgiving floor will extend your years of training and the quality of training. Quality meaning your enjoyment.

I have many friends in the martial arts. Judo players and others, as they get older battle injuries and just the pains of being thrown for many years. They all say the same thing. Take care of your body, have good mats. By getting bigger, softer mats and by improving their floor, they have extended their years of training and their body tells them so.

Theres an old saying, "theres only so much tread on a tire, and when its gone, it's gone." Think about that saying, some preservation of your body maybe good in the end.

In football, the players that play on grass, are ten times healthier and their body's are in much better shape than artificial turf. The same thing applies, the surface that you train on.

I try to keep the tread on my tire. I try not to recklessly abuse my body, I'm carefull about the types of training that I do. I think that if we all keep an ear to modern medicine and how to change our training styles for the betterment of our bodies, we can really enjoy training like our ancestor's never could because of the lack of knowledge about what's really good for our bodies.