Re: Should obese aikidoka do break falls?
FWIW... I've been falling in judo, and other martial practices since I was six years old and that adds up to 59 years now. I've started 17 dojo in different parts of the globe, one of 'em without mats of any kind where we fell on a wooden floor that gave just a bit. I've never used thick spongy mats because in my view I've never liked falling on them in other people's dojo. They don't give you a chance to distribute the weight properly when they're that soft. I've use regular sport tatami on concrete, hardwood floors, or sprung floors for many years since they were invented in the early sixties. The first time I was on them was in the Budokan and Kodokan a couple of years after they appeared in the Olympics for judo. I've also built three really nice mats out of compressed sawdust enclosed in a heavy plastic bladder in a four inch frame with a layer of half inch foam on top of that with a stretched heavy canvas cover that was custom made. Paint the canvas (tatami greyish green is best in my view). Let it dry, which stretches the canvas, and then sand it lightly without cutting into the canvas and it's a fine mat.
Many people think soft mats make better falls... not true. I've seen many injuries that were attributable to soft mats over the years. Probably more happened but weren't understood to be because of the soft mats. Firm mats that absorb shock well and distribute it safely are the best. Tatami or sport tatami on a floating sprung floor that just barely gives when you jump up and down are the best in my opinion.
These types of mats have served me and my dojo well over the years without any reported injuries or conditions attributed to the mats.