View Full Version : Flooring recommendations

14th September 2006, 12:05

I've been lurking around here for a few months and finally got a membership yesterday. I am looking for input on what y'all recommend for a training surface.

The training will be shorin-ryu but not all punch kick block. I also enjoy incorporating ju-jutsu, aiki-jutsu, etc type techniques into my training.

I wouldn't have novices tumbling so I can go with a harder surface. (I'll prob have supplemental mats for that.)

Basically, I'm looking for a good karate surface that will have a little bit of give.

I've never been on a Swain or Zebra mat. I was thinking maybe the Zebra cardio mat would be good?

Can any striking artists vouch for the Zebra cardio mat?

Considering my needs, what should I put under the mat?

How are the seams on these mats?

Thanks in advance!

14th September 2006, 15:45

I have played on the puzzle mats that are abundant on the net.
They are firm but cushion on a really hard impact. The density
is like used on sparring gear but a bit firmer. If you are half
decent at break falls, they are fine.

I was in Manheim last month. My wife's family is there.
Are you affiliated with Miyahira's group? I know there is a
group that I always try to see but never get around to it
when I am there.


18th September 2006, 07:02
Thanks for mentioning the puzzle mats. I now remember that I attended a seminar where the puzzle mats were used on concrete. That was a good consistency.
I wonder how the puzzle mat hardness compares to the zebra cardio mats. ??
I am interested in the zebra mats because I have heard so many positive things about their durability and I want to invest in a flooring that will last.

Whatever mat I select, it will be on a suspended plywood floor so it won't be freezing in the winter!

So you were just in Mannheim? Wow, small world! Of what discipline is Miyahira's group? I have been putting more effort into getting myself set up to instruct over here so I haven't really looked around at the local schools. I'm definitely interested if you know of a good school in the area.

18th September 2006, 16:41
Hi Ken,

My wife has family in Limburgerhof, near Speyer. Mannheim is one of my
favorite shopping districts. We get out there every few years.

Miyahira is Chibana lineage. His representitive in Germany can be found here:

I screwed-up, there is a group in Frankfurt, not Mannheim.

I have no experience with Zebra mats. I understand that they are very
good though. I'm using the puzzle mats because they are more economical
and if my school is successful, I'll save-up for better.


21st September 2006, 21:23
One could go for a combination of puzzle mats plus a crash mat/throwing mat for teaching hard falls to beginners.

Just a thought.

Chris McLean
25th September 2006, 18:19
Puzzle is fine unless your going into randori. There ok for light controled falling. I preferr Swain gold medal. There great for Karate too. You get what you pay for.

5th October 2006, 20:27
I have seen puzzle mats pop out i.e. one mat sticking out of the lock/puzzle causing people to lose their balance a bit. This may be something you need to be aware of before buying the mat.

11th October 2006, 15:06
I use the Puzzle Mats at our Ryoshin-Kan Dojo in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The Puzzle Mats are good for Kata, Kobudo and Goshinjitsu. For new students I recommend using Gymnastic folding mats on top of the puzzle mats to absorb the shock of the fall or roll.
My Demo Team performs all their routines on the puzzle mats at our Dojo. We use the gymnastic mats for certain martial arts stunts and when we do demos at other sites. Most national Tournaments used the puzzle mats on the stage. This year my Dragon Force National Demo Team competed on the main stages that were covered with puzzle mats at the World Cup, US Open and Sidekick International Martial Arts Championships.
I would check online for the best mats / price. Check out a Lowe's store near you they sometimes carry puzzle mats. Like someone said in another post.."You get what you pay for."
Sensei Tim Thompson
Dragon Force National Karate Team (http://dragonduetkarateteam.tripod.com)

15th October 2006, 02:14



Not all puzzle mats are created equal. :) Above are a few different types.

15th October 2006, 15:26
Thanks for posting those links to Mats.

15th October 2006, 15:34
No worries.

I know I've taken falls on puzzle mats and thought "Wow! These are great." and other times "You must be joking! Somebody is going to get injured... and it is going to be today!" :)

25th October 2006, 17:13
I may be the lone voice who is anti-mat, but I don't like mats, or I should say I don't like mats that stay down all the time.

With the training I do we slide our feet, and "spongy" mats sometimes will make your toes stick and roll under your foot and it hurts like heck.

This is mainly a problem with beginers or people who are not used to mats.

The problem is you will have beginer student walking around with black toes if you do this type of foot work. I like industrial type carpent with a medium (carpet) pad under it (like a 4 or 6 pound pad). It is easy to clean, cheaper than mats (like $2 a sqft) and if you do need to do any heavy falls you can always have mats you throw down for that purpose. Plus this type of flooring gives you a more "real world" feel to your training.

I may be labeled a "heritic" for this, but I also do about half my training with shoes on so that I will be used to moving around and doing techique wearing shoes because I am almost never bare foot in day to day life.

Jason Click
2nd November 2006, 13:40
I'd second the point about beginners and sticky mats. I've worked out at a dogo with the puzzle mats before and someone actually broke their toe from it getting caught on the mat. :(

2nd November 2006, 14:38
I started training in my youth and I remember we practiced on
hard wooden floors.

Mats, IMO are an insurance issue. If someone gets knocked back
and hits thier head, it's like wearing head gear. They won't crack
it on the floor. You can trip on anything, anywhere. Sounds to me
like there could be worse injuries without them.

They are a large investment. There's also a psychological effect
to them. Looking at it from a business point of view, it makes the place
SEEM safer.

Aaron T
2nd November 2006, 15:18
It sounds like you are on the right track, spring your floor and use either zebra or swain. We use Zebra and have had nothing but good to say. The question of how much spring in your floor is dependant upon how you build the floor. Like you mentioned, keep the mats off the freezing floor.

If it was me, I would not go on the cheap. Get the nice mats, your body will last longer and so will the mats.

If you have any questions on building your floor, feel free to contact me directly. I have consulted on a number of floors, in addition to my building two of my own.

Aaron Fields

Chris McLean
2nd November 2006, 20:05
Mats also help improve the small stabilizers in joints and help develope better core stability making the athlete have better balance and joint integrity.

7th November 2006, 20:09
depending on your dojo, many prefer to go with a wooden floor. Many wooden floors are built with rubber underneath to achieve the same or close to the same give and take that a typical rubber matted floor would have but it still looks like a traditional wooden floor.

K. Allen

7th November 2006, 21:25
Nothing wrong with a sprung wooden floor, mats are for big girls blouses.


9th November 2006, 05:49
Speaking as a big girls blouse :)

For the vertical aspect of our training they have little benefit at all and I could probably cope without them - aside from my childrens class where some have an uncanny ability to fall over thin air. For the groundwork and throws aspect you need mats - especially if you're dropping someone from 4ft onto the floor and landing on them for a hold.

I originally had 40mm judo mats and whilst they were great on the floor, the surface was slightly on the spongy side. When it was time to replace the mats, I opted for 40mm jigsaw mats. Prior to being getting worn in, they were rock hard and we might just as well have landed on concrete, but now i'm happy. Not too springy, not too hard. Ideal for both vertical and horizontal.

Regarding toes being caught. I have two observations. Firstly, having pulled up and laid down my mats more times than I can recall (I don't have a permanent venue, and as such transport my mats between venues) I can tell you that if the outside edges are not in a straight line, there will be gaps further in. Simply kicking the edges gets rid of the gaps. Also, I have a friend with a full time dojo who also has jigsaw mats. He does suffer from a couple of gaps in the mat. It turns out that whilst they were fine originally, the sunlight through the window has heated the mats and distorted their shape in places so this is worth considering.

Hope that helps.

9th November 2006, 08:01
Just out of interest, how do folk prepare themselves for being thrown on concrete pavements ?

9th November 2006, 09:22
Just out of interest, how do folk prepare themselves for being thrown on concrete pavements ?

Within my club we deal with this outside of standard dojo training on an irregular basis. In essence, we dress in normal clothing and land on the concrete in the car park outside. I found it to be of great use in finding out the difference between a dojo breakfall and a street breakfall. Naturally I wouldn't expect everyone to follow me blindly and it's entirely optional. We also only do this with over 16's before anyone comments. The falls we use are the same ones taught to the military, excluding the ones taking into consideration 40lbs of kit on their back and/or 15k worth of comms unit!

I know it's drifting the thread a bit, but I once met a guy who trained in Sidcup, Kent (UK). The club in question (can't remeber the name, I'm afraid) used to get drunk off their face and then do a load of full contact sparring to take into consideration the effects of alcohol on the body and mind. They would also attack each other without warning as well a la Inspector Clouseau/Cato!

I appreciate your question though. Whatever we do must have grounding in reality. However, safety must also be a factor in these litigious times.

9th November 2006, 12:23
A welcome dose of reality.