“Building a mat on a tight budget,” from

“For many of us the most time consuming and costly part of starting a dojo will be our mat. The ‘mat’ is the central focus of our physical Dojo, so it’s important that we have a robust mat we can be proud of. However for most of us, cost is an issue. Many start their schools out of their garages, basements, or inexpensive warehouse space. While a mat is definitely something we don’t want to ‘skimp’ on, a really nice ‘store bought’ mat can be staggeringly expensive. This is especially true if you are fortunate enough to have a large space.”

Click here to read entire article.


  1. A good way to raise money for mats is to conduct a seminar.
    What? Without mats?
    It’s possible. Conversely you can hire a hall with existing mats and price it in.
    That’s what I did and never looked back.
    You MUST consider the long term of trainee’s spinal health.
    I still have not been able to improve on Closed Cell foam EVA 45 – 45kg/m3 2000 x 1000mm 40mm ( 3ft x 6ft x 2inch)
    Jigsaw mats are considerably harder and less impact absorptive that EVA 45 and are not traditional tatami dimensions.
    The Olympics have been using EVA 45 as the inside of Judo Tatami for many years now.
    The reason?
    Tatami are good for budo for one year. Then they impact hard. They should then be either burnt or used as simple floor covering to walk on, as a new lot is made from the next rice harvest. (Traditional tatami are rice straw filled) Old tatami can become subject to a mould problem. Inhaling moulds can make you sick and even kill you in some cases.
    For many, many years I’ve trained on tatami which were from 20 to over 50 years old and concrete is more comfortable. I mean it.
    In any event, mats are a psychological device having littler bearing on good ukemi which can be conducted safely on any flat surface.
    However if you training overtly ukemicentric, an absorptive surface serves to prevent long term spinal damage, injuries and enervative exhaustion.
    Any mats with bumps and humps will reduce you to a chiropractic case, even if they are “soft.”
    Beach training on sand is likewise dangerous but immensely safe and satisfying in about a foot or two of water.
    The generally available uniform and firm blocks of EVA 45 (less than 45 are too soft and cannot be walked on without sinking in) are the nearest I’ve experienced to freshly made real tatami. The EVA has retained the low impact qualities identical to newly made tatami and are as good as new till now, over 25 years later. That’s got to be a good investment.
    If you do get EVA make sure to ask the vendor to leave the skin on both sides. That way you won’t have to spend money on a cover which can be immensely expensive.
    Don’t lend them out, EVER! I lent my first lot out to a retarded mushy artist who immediately damaged them. The excuse he had was that he “practiced weapons” on them. He never offered to compensate, but cut the ends off to make sport chambara sticks which he offered to sell to me. I think perhaps prudence dictates that I make no further comments in this regard.
    This meant I had to to re purchase another lot.
    When you first get new EVA mats they pong of acrylic. A good scrub with soap, hot water and a day in the sun will see the smell disappear in a few days.
    The best EVA is made in New Zealand and distributed globally via various agencies.
    Aikido careers last the full range of their lives as a result of the safest ukemi surface possible on a firm yet absorptive surface such as new tatami or the equivalent EVA 45.
    In my experience EVA 45 takes the cake in this regard.
    If you value your health and intend to train for the rest of your life, please consider EVA 45.
    It will be a worthwhile investment.

  2. A single Closed Cell Foam EVA 45 bun – 2000 x 1000mm 40mm (3ft x 6ft x 2inch) cost around $100 each. Considering that they look like lasting another 100 years or more, without losing any of the new qualities, despite solid daily training, I consider it money well spent when compared to other possibilities.
    Further, whether on concrete or a wooden floor, Closed Cell Foam EVA 45 absorb impact just the same, thereby doing away with the need for a tradional timber sprung-floor construction for the dojo.

  3. Read the article saved the pdf file, real interesting stuff, when we finally find the perfect empty buidling and build a new matted area this will come in real handy indeed.

    We use a room in our local leisure centre and have 40 mm jigsaw mats down, but a more raised area with extra cushioning underneath and a wood surround would be lovely.

    Many thanks, J

  4. …have found that if you really have no budget, you can go to a salvage place like “Urban Ore” and scrounge old carpet and carpet pad. might want to double the pad. if your floor is concrete and you can get the scratch to raise it with plywood and furring strips, that would be good. otherwise, have found that grass in the park is pretty kind to the body. watch for the doggie mines. awareness. don’t mind the grass stains. breakfalls on concrete are inadvisable except in real need (don’t slap), but a few rolls on concrete will help diagnose your flat spots. sidewalk concrete will almost always leave some road-rash, but typical smooth concrete flooring won’t.

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