A Mat of My Very Own

Disclaimer: Although I am an engineer and therefor use the metric system, this is America, where the Imperial unit still reigns. This was edited on 03/02/2012 to account for a sizing error which assumed about half the space for a home mat.

I’m looking into making a mat area in my home. I’m pretty sure that’s every grappler’s dream. A space that you can do technique with just a couple of friends or a spouse or a grappling dummy any time you want.

So then there’s a few things to consider:


An official competition judo mat is actually 14m x 14m. Do you know how big that is? 2109.73 square feet. That’s a good sized house let alone a single mat for two competitors. On the judo mat, 10m x 10 m (a minimum of 8m x 8m) is the area you play in. That’s still 1076.39 square feet. Who has an extra 33′ x 33′ room in their house just for the legal play area? To be honest, at local tournaments we get by with an 8m x 8m mat with a 6m x 6m play area. So, you need a 27′ x 27′ room for the size mat you’ll get to compete on if you want the safety area. So, given that your average bedroom is like 12′ x 12′ we’d be looking at only a 3m x 3m mat space if we were converting an extra bedroom. Boooooooooo.

3m x 3m – Enough space to do techniques in, but not nearly enough to roll in.
4m x 4m – I’d really consider this to be the minimum. Our judo club started with 4 people on a 3m x 4m mat area. If it’s not a walled in area you can get away with this for two people.
6m x 6m – Ideal.

So, to do light randori you’re going to want a 4m x 4m space without walls (or a 6m x 6m space with walls). Where are you going to find an extra living room that your spouse will let you turn into a mat area? Basement. If you have low ceilings high-flying throws become a non-option (not that you should do a German suplex on your training partner in your house for obvious insurance reasons), but you can definitely get away with BJJ and most wrestling takedowns in your newly found 6m x 6m area with at least a 10 foot ceiling.


Our 6m x 6m mat area is going to be pricey. That’s 18 mats. Since we’ll be building a flooring system (trust me on this) you’re going to want 1.5″ mats. Zebra mats are $134 each for tatami, $147 each for smooth surface. Swain mats are $130 each (and only come in tatami). So if we want judo mats our cost is at least $2340 just for mats, and that’s not even counting shipping.

FlexRoll? We’re building a flooring system so you could probably go down to 1.25″ mats. It’s $249 per 5′ x 10′ area so now with FlexRoll we’re looking at $2000 for a 20′ x 20′ area. There’s not a marked safety area and they’re not quite as nice, but hey, it’s $340 cheaper and through Swain it includes shipping in the lower 48.

Puzzle mats? GreatMats has thicker grappling ones at $32.00 per square meter (roughly). So $1152 plus shipping for the 36 puzzle pieces you’ll need. They say they can go directly on concrete for MMA, jiu jitsu, or judo. I don’t buy it. To be honest, I don’t even like 2″ thick tatami directly on concrete, that’s why we’re building a flooring system.

So this flooring system, what’s it do and what’s it made of? Well, it provides an extra level of protection and makes falls super nice to take (seriously, I’d let you throw me as hard as you want up on Welcome Mat’s flooring system). So here’s the instructions: http://judoinfo.com/tatami.htm or http://www.judocalendar.com/denverdojo/Floorsystem.htm . A lot of judo schools have had great success with this flooring system. It’s not too costly (cheaper for me because the foam place – http://www.wifoam.com/ – is in Madison so I don’t have to ship anything other than the mats). It’s going to run you around $120 plus shipping for the foam if Colorado’s numbers are to be believed. Price out the plywood, for me the 25 plywood boards (4′ x 8′) would be like $200 total. So now I’m looking at maybe $350 with hardware and some framing beams. Considering the tatami would have been $2400+ this is the much smaller cost.


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