View Full Version : What's underneath your dojo's floor?

15th January 2003, 23:57

I have recently been put in charge of helping my dojo find a way to put some bounce in our floor. I am looking everywhere for choices and thought I would like to ask for the opinions and/or experiences of some of you here.

We have about a 30' x 30' surface at the moment. We have very 'quick' mats that were apparently donated to us from the Kodokan. They are a little stiffer than the kind of mats that you would find at a shiai nowadays, but they do have a fair bit of give. We are convinced that it is more a matter of what's underneath them that is causing us such discomfort. I believe right now it is layered as such:

Bottom: some kind of honeycomb shaped 'sponges' layed out in a pattern. They do not have very much give.

second layer: There are actually 2 layers of plywood here, the top layer being layed perpendicular to the one underneath it. I am no engineer or carpenter for that matter, but this seems to me that it would increase the stiffness of the floor alot as the two layers would work against each other and hardly move.

Third Layer: Some kind of silver coated carpet underpadding, approximately 1/3 of an inch thick.

Top Layer: The old Kodokan mats.

Please believe me when I say it's akin to breakfalling on mats that have been layed on concrete. You get some padding from the top layer, but there is absolutely no give.

So far I have managed to find a very good article on Judo America's website as well as visiting a local Gymnastic's club and bouncing around on their floor. The Judo America dojo I believe is in San Diego and they claim to have been through over a dozen different floors before settling on old car tires that were collected from a scrap yard. The gymnastic club that I visited uses a product from Spieth Anderson (a gymnastic supply company) and it was a very nice landing indeed. (the owner was nice enough to let me take off my socks and take a few breakfalls on the surface) They basically use these sponge 'cubes' that have about 4 different layers of density in them, some of the layers are to absorb the shock, some of them are to help the floor rebound. A plywood flooring is then laid over top of the cubes and the gymnastic mats are laid down on top of this. I believe this would be the ideal underpadding for us but I am worried about cost and whether or not the dojo will fork out the money necessary.

And so I am reaching out to everyone here to please share with me the methods and materials that you use in your current setup and the experiences you have with them.

Thank you for reading this and I look forward to your replies,

ps, I originaly posted this in the judo forum, but I decided to post in here as well in case some of you don't read that forum.

16th January 2003, 06:57
Not actually in our dojo (don't know exactly what underneath the mat there, but I've taken a few falls on one of these spring mat (http://www.judoamerica.com/helpforclubs/springmat/)

and I've gotta say they're great

16th January 2003, 12:46
thanks for the response Rogier, but i believe that using tires is now considered illegal. It has something to do with the breakdown of their chemical composition and/or the likelyhood of a very poisonous fire should an accident occur.

Don Cunningham
16th January 2003, 14:19
We built a similar spring floor at our dojo in Raleigh, NC. It worked great. However, I've heard these are also a fire hazard and may not be allowed under present building codes. Now we share a gymnastic spring loaded floor with the gymnastic club at the community center and place regular folding mats on top of it. If it wasn't for the carpeting and potential rug burn during ne-waza, we wouldn't even need mats. Most of the seniors use the areas without mats for nage-waza practice. The cost is about $6,000 for a 40X40 area.

Aaron T
16th January 2003, 23:51
I have several methods of springing a floor cheaply. Feel free to contact me directly at batakhan@speakeasy.net The eaisest way for me to explain is over the phone so we could set up a time to talk.

30th January 2003, 13:10
I work out at a jujutsu dojo that uses wrestling (Resilite) mats ontop of plywood set across 2x4's on edge. The 2x4's rest on concrete (this is a college wrestling room in the basement of the athletic facility). It has its moments. Before starting my own dojo and when I was there for each and every class, it didn't bother me much. Now it's starting to a little bit (although the aging process, while I'm still relatively early on in it, could have something to do with that too!).

My sensei's sensei uses gymnastics mats (REALLY REALLY good ones) ontop of a hard plywood floor. There is little give to that floor. The mats are about 2 to 2.5" mats. The falling is great. I've worked out on gymnastics floors, and, to be honest, my personal opinion is that they are too bouncy. It's hard to work with transitions from nage to shime or ne-waza when the uke has to bounce like a super ball for a moment or two until you can work with them.:laugh:

I guess I have a preference for more firm falling surfaces(within reason). I prefer the enhanced footing(squishy mats = broken toes and sprained ankles), and the ability to work through transitions from standing to ground and back up again.

Just my 2 cents worth (or whatever you think it's worth!)...


will szlemko
3rd February 2003, 16:47
hi all,

We have a member who built an outdoor dojo using long 2x4's to suspend his floor. No mats but enough give. Other than that tires, or some other such device are the nicest I have fallen on.


11th February 2003, 15:19
Thanks for all the replies..
we are still looking around, but we think we are going to settle on a plan that another local dojo has shared with us.. they purchased a very resilient foam product which they cut into uniform squares and put a wooden frame down on top of. They then laid plywood on top of this and finished it up with their tatami.
Unfortunately, as per the Ontario Building Code, Tires and/or shredded rubber cannot be used as a building material due to fire regulations.

11th February 2003, 18:23
Originally posted by stir
they purchased a very resilient foam product which they cut into uniform squares and put a wooden frame down on top of. They then laid plywood on top of this and finished it up with their tatami.

Can you tell us what kind of foam they used? I have looked at foam blocks sold by Tiffin, but if I could get something cheaper I would be interested.


David Russell
11th February 2003, 19:03
When I built my floor I did the same thing.
The foam type is "closed cell foam"
Closed cell foam doesn't absorb water and it also returns to it's shape after pressure is put on it.

I bought 4"x4"x2" blocks from the folks at zebra mats.
Glued them to the plywood with "liquid nails". Space them about 2 feet apart.

I took pictures of how I put my floor together if anyone is interested let me know and I'll send the pictures to you.

David Russell

11th February 2003, 22:12
Originally posted by mamboking

Can you tell us what kind of foam they used? I have looked at foam blocks sold by Tiffin, but if I could get something cheaper I would be interested.


I'll definately let you know as soon as i find out.
Just so you know, this stuff wasn't in squares.. it was really big.. like the size of a tatami, and they cut their own 9"x9" squares out of it.
For a 150 tatami dojo, it costed them around $2,800 canadian dollars, which is like $100 USD ;)

12th February 2003, 01:54
Originally posted by David Russell

I took pictures of how I put my floor together if anyone is interested let me know and I'll send the pictures to you.


I would be very interested in seeing those pictures. You can email them to mambos@adelphia.net.


12th February 2003, 23:03

Thanks for the pictures. You did a great job on your floor! I hope mine turns out half as good.

One question though, how much were the blocks from Zebra? They aren't listed on their website.

Thanks again,

12th February 2003, 23:05
Sorry, duplicate post.

David Russell
12th February 2003, 23:24
Hi Kevin,

The blocks cost me an average of $1.50 each.

I made a mistake and didn't order enough blocks the first time (actually it was because I decided to order a few more mats after I had bought the first order of mats and foam). If I had ordered them all at once they would have been cheaper.

There is a minimum processing cost whereever he gets the foam.
There is only a $1 difference between buying 25 blocks or 50 blocks. The price per block will be cheaper depending on how many you get.

You may be able to find a local foam manufacturer and save some money or you can contact Chuck at Zebra and tell him how many you need and he will get a quote for you. Make sure you buy a few more blocks than you think you need. :)

David Russell

14th February 2003, 21:50
Where I began practicing Aikido, there are folding mats placed over a tiled floor of concrete. Where I teach I have folding mats that are placed over a carpeted conctete floor. I don't know what type of mats are at my sensei's dojo, but I purchased mats, relatively inexpensive mats, a couple of years ago. They are wonderful for breakfalls and offer a real firm walking surface as well. I don't have the company's information on me as I am at work, but if you would like to e-mail me I would be more than happy to give you their name and number.