Judo Mats for Training - A Simple Buying Guide
Judo mats play an essential role in judo training and can also be used in both home and Judo studios. There are various mat options on the market which can make it challenging to nail down exactly what you need.
Traditionally, judo was performed on rice mats which were costly to make and not particularly hard-wearing. Over the years, manufacturing and standards of judo mats have changed. They have now evolved to more durable surfaces made from materials such as foam, vinyl and rubber. These are easy to keep clean, low maintenance but most importantly, provide high protection and resilience for all Martial Arts disciplines.
In this article, we will look at the different types of Judo mat available on the market as well as the benefits of each to help you make an informed decision when selecting your own.
Table of Contents
Common Types of Judo Mats
Tatami EVA Interlocking Foam Tiles
Tatami EVA Foam Tiles are specifically designed for Judo as well as a wide range of other Martial arts disciplines. Tatami foam mats are the chosen material for Judo for a few specific reasons. EVA foam is a type of closed cell, high density foam which allows superior cushioning to the body as well as being extremely durable. The foam tile has a traditional basketweave texture to the surface allowing users who are performing Martial Arts, excellent traction. Most Tatami foam mats start at a thickness of 20mm but can go to 40mm.
The soft and comfortable material offers maximum protection from falls and friction burn while the foam has some resilience making them great for martial arts floor work and training.
Due to their puzzle shaped profile, the tiles interlock without the need for adhesive. This means they can be loose-laid and moved from venue to venue, particularly useful for mobile training or moving properties. Alternatively, the interlocking Judo mats can be permanently laid for a complete floor solution in a studio or training gym by glueing directly to the subfloor.
This style of Tatami mat is also popular in other Martial Arts, Boxing, Gymnastics, Fitness and Yoga. Similarly, a version of these mats are widely used for kid’s indoor play areas and nurseries due to their high protection qualities.
Vinyl Covered Foam Mats
Vinyl covered foam mats come in various size and colour options with a non-slip surface. They have a foam core covered with a hard-wearing PVC vinyl and usually have a textured underside to avoid slipping. These mats can be more expensive than Tatami foam Judo Mats and more difficult to fit as they are heavier to handle and require adhesive to keep tiles together and adhered to the subfloor (if used as a permanent solution).
Vinyl covered foam mats are mostly used in Gymnastics and tumbling but also popular for Judo and other Martial Arts.
Rollout Foam Judo Mats
A Rollout mat solution for Judo is handy if the space in which you train is multi-functional ie. the space is used for other sports and activities. This means the surface can be rolled out and stored away when not required. This mat is large and needs adequate storage so if you have limited space, it is not the most advisable choice.
Rollout mats are usually made from PVC vinyl and some have a foam core. This makes them durable but costly if they become damaged. This solution is the most costly due to the sizes available which tend to be large to accommodate tumbling, running and jumping.
You will see Rollout mats mostly in Gymnastic venues, Community Centres for multi-use as well as Martial Arts Studios.
Rubber Judo Mats
Rubber is an ultra durable, shock absorbent material widely used in fitness as it does an excellent job of protecting floors and equipment as well as users from injury. Rubber Judo tiles are simple to install using compression or adhesive and they are very low maintenance as they are resistant to moisture and dirt and easy to clean. In terms of thickness, a rubber mat used for Judo should be approx 20mm thick or above.
Although rubber tiles are non-slip and comfortable to train on, some Martial Arts disciplines may find rubber Judo mats not as soft to perform on as foam options, which is one of the drawbacks.
Affordable and versatile, rubber Judo mats are a great option for multi-use spaces and provide maximum protection from high impact activities.
Fitness Studios, Weight areas, Gyms, Martial Arts Studios and Boxing Gyms often use rubber mats.
Important Considerations for Judo Mats
Judo mats are essential for protection to the user. A well chosen Judo mat can optimise performance and provide a number of other benefits. Here we look at the factors to consider when investing in a Judo matting system.
In Martial Arts, athletes often train for long periods of time which can involve throws, grappling and falls. A proper Judo Mat has anti-fatigue properties which keeps them supported and comfortable throughout the duration of their training sessions. Foam Judo mats in particular, provide a soft and cushioned surface that is comfortable underfoot as well as preventing friction burn.
One of the main benefits of a Judo mat is protection against bodily injury. Good quality Judo mats have the ability to absorb impact from Martial Arts moves preventing injury to the joints, ligaments and muscles.
Damage Prevention & Sound Reduction
Judo mats should protect the subfloor and the environment from damage. A cushioned surface avoids damage to the underfloor from high impact, shoes and equipment. It also prevents the floor from getting scuffed and dirty from high footfall and repeated use. Likewise, a quality Judo mat should help to reduce noise and absorb sound. Options such as foam and rubber are the best choice for dampening sound from high impact exercise.
With any Martial Arts discipline, it is important to have good traction and grip for optimal performance as well as safety. Tatami foam Judo Mats have a raised, texturised surface to provide purchase with a little bit of resilience so that athletes can perform at their best and hone their technique without slipping or falling.
Easy to clean & Maintain
Busy Martial Arts studios and boxing gyms require a practical floor solution which is simple to keep clean. Good Judo matting should be easy to wipe down and keep hygienic without the need for specialist cleaning and consistent upkeep as this can be expensive. Foam and rubber tile options are the easiest to clean as they are naturally resistant to water, dirt and bacteria.
When you invest in a Judo mat solution you want it to last. There are various foam, rubber and vinyl options on the market at varying prices. The cheapest floor option may not withstand repeated use the way a more expensive product might. To avoid a false economy decision, try to invest in high quality materials that are renowned for their endurance and longevity.
Specialist installation can be costly and time-consuming. Judo mats that can be fitted DIY or are easy to reconfigure or store away are better options all-round although it all comes down to the type and condition of the space you intend to install your mats. Similarly, the permanence of your space and how you plan to practise Judo is an important consideration.
Some Judo mats are designed to be moved around from venue to venue. This is especially useful for those who train or practice in different places or who travel to competitions. If you require flexibility with your floor solution then consider Judo mats that have options for loose-laying and easy mobility.
Judo mats vary in costs. Foam and rubber Judo mats tend to be less expensive that foam covered vinyl or roll-out options due to the sizes and scales involved. If you have the right conditions and budget for a more expensive option then it is worth making an investment for the most suitable solution that will bring value to that space.
Choosing the right Judo mats for your space is an important part of judo training in terms of safety and performance. But it also comes down to the intended space, how you utilise the space and factors such as comfort, budget and maintenance. Keeping these points in mind when choosing a Judo matting system will help you to make an informed decision on what will work best for you.
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