Thoughts on mats

Discussion in 'Jujutsu / Judo' started by gpseymour, Aug 28, 2017.

  1. gpseymour

    gpseymour Grandmaster

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    I'm posting this here, because my primary art (Nihon Goshin Aikido) has more in common with Jujutsu and Judo than Ueshiba's Aikido. We primarily use Judo falls (nearly identical to those I learned in Judo in the 1980's), and have Judo-style throws (from clinch, etc.) that don't seem to show up in Aikido. That said, I'd be interested in hearing from Aikido folks, as well.

    I've been pondering mats lately. I came up through the ranks in Nihon Goshin Aikido training on a couple of different types. Early on, it was the folding gymnastics mats. Later (and for the longest period) it was the tatami-look mats that Swain and Zebra make (the 2" grappling mats). I always liked those. The surface firmness of the tatami-style mats makes for better footing, and I like them pretty well for falls. The mats I use now (provided by the rec center I teach at) are a bit firmer on top for rolls, but reasonably similar for falls.

    For a while I used some cheaper mats I purchased. They are 2", and fairly soft. Harder to move well on, and softer for falls and rolls.

    As I age, and as I see adults learning the art (and taking their falls, which are more punishing early on, until you get better at them), I see more benefit in softer mats. I know a couple of instructors who advocate some version of sprung floor, to reduce the felt impact.

    So, my question is this: have you ever been on a flooring/mat combo that you really liked? If so, what was it? What would you put in if you had the choice?
     
  2. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    The tatami style, firmer zebra mats are much better for what we do. The softer mats (such as wrestling mats) are fine, but you're much more likely to catch a toe on them. My little toes look like Vienna sausages they were broken so many times when I first started. Once we moved to a new space and away from the wrestling mats, I never broke another toe. The only disadvantage is that mat burns are more likely on the tatami styles. but I'd rather have a mat burn than a broken toe any day.
     
  3. gpseymour

    gpseymour Grandmaster

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    You guys don't do much hard falling, do you (I assume you're talking about BJJ, though I may have forgotten other training you do)? I ask because I MUCH prefer a firm mat for softer falls and the shorter (even sometimes hard) falls from kneeling distance, and a bit less for harder falls. That said, I don't really mind the firmer mats even on things like shoulder throws and high hip throws, but that may simply be because it's what I'm used to.

    EDIT: Oh, and I definitely agree about the mat burns. I've gotten a few hundred, and they heal pretty fast. Take those over a real injury any day.
     
  4. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    Mats are the most difficult thing to provide when opening a dojo. The damn mat companies seem to stick together and keep their prices expensive. Good mats, especially covering a fairly large area, are a tough nut to crack. I suppose cheap mats are an alternative, but I hate cheap mats, really can't do a lot with them.
     
  5. gpseymour

    gpseymour Grandmaster

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    I found some cheap mats that served well for about a year. I still break some of them out when we're doing hip throws and such, and toss them on top of the regular mats. They are soft and gushy, yet don't let me penetrate (feel the ground) on hard falls. Much better than I expected for the price, but still not nearly as good as a good mat (which is more than 4 times the price). I'd love to know what the margin is on those nice mats.
     
  6. JP3

    JP3 Master Black Belt

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    The floor at my place is a "sprung floor," in design but not material. It's a design I heard someone call "The Denver Floor" before, but I have no idea why.

    The way it's made is you lay out an array of 4'x8' particle board sheets, and adhere foam blocks (we used 3'x3'x4' ones) stuck to the "underside" of the particle board (usually the 3/4" thickness, with the foam block "side" now oriented Down. You lay out the floor completely with this arrangement. Then, using similar 4'x8' sheets of either 1/2" or 3/8" sheets, but arranged in the opposite pattern on top of the thicker bottom underlayment sheets (witht he foam) to create the "floating floor" aspect, securing these only at the ends to the next set, with overlapping links so as to not bind up upon impact.

    Then, when all of that is done, you put some sort of foam topper on it (this is where your "feel" for what type of surface you want can be customized, I personally like a good, solid surface for quick movement of feet and to hold people up so they don't damage ankles), and the last thing is the very top, which can be either a canvas (my favorite but pretty expensive) or vinyl.

    Shoot me a PM and I can get the specifics for anyone who wants to know exactly how to put one of these floors together, including where to order the best (we've found) foam blocks.
     
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  7. Anarax

    Anarax Orange Belt

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    My school has changed mat types several times, we use them to spar, roll and fall on. I personally like the firmer mats, I dislike the feeling of sinking into the floor on softer mats. I understand your point on aging and the different mat firmness makes. I believe thick firmer mats provide more traction and overall support than softer ones.
     
  8. gpseymour

    gpseymour Grandmaster

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    Yeah, me too. That's why I'm leaning more toward the idea of a sprung floor or something like that, when I have a chance to make a choice. I love falling on soft mats, but I hate throwing on them. And sparring or any live practice is just no fun on them. My old instructor has soft mats on top of firm ones (he decided the firm ones were costing him new students). I think he would be better served with the reverse.
     
  9. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    I thought real training is in concrete or at least a wood floor. You can't train self defense in a mat.
     
  10. gpseymour

    gpseymour Grandmaster

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    You can't train self-defense without one, IMO.
     
  11. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    More importantly. Is that the flamingo guy?
     
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  12. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    That's an enlightened attitude. :)
     
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