Judo Mats Guide – How to Select Mats for Your Dojo

When martial artists or even non-martial artists think about the purpose of mats in the martial arts, hard landings are what comes to mind. There are few martial arts other than Judo where this is more true. Let’s face it, we like to slam each other into the mat here and there, especially at tournaments! Your uke hitting the mat in a tournament is the sweet sound of a precursor to victory. You’re standing, he isn’t.

With all of this power, energy, and weight going down hard, mats are vital to the safety of Judo practitioners, including your students. Let’s take a quick look at some of the risks associated with mats in Judo.

Risks Related to Mats in Judo

Hard falls

As we have already looked at, hard falls are inevitable in Judo and can play a huge part in protecting our practitioners, especially new practitioners. It’s worth mentioning that training and skill go a long way in protecting ourselves when rolling and being thrown. The new practitioner is at an extreme disadvantage in this regard, so mats with great absorbency go a long way.

Absorbency in mats shouldn’t be measured by how “soft” they are. Soft mats that sink may not be good either, but more on that later. Good absorbency should be measured in how well they take hard impact. It’s a fine balance of the mats taking impact and holding up, but not so stiff that they are painful to the practitioner.

foot injury
Source: Pixabay

Pivoting

Like most grappling martial arts, pivoting is a common action in Judo. When training on softer mats, the uke’s foot can become stationary and trapped within the curvature of the mat. When weighted and with a pivoting motion, the foot can become accidentally damaged at the ankle. To make matters worse, the toes can get caught in mats with a loose vinyl covering. This has been known to cause compound spiral fractures.

With these considerations in mind, the mats need to also be somewhat firm. The more the mats sink down when weighted, the greater the risks of this type of injury.

Slipping & Mat Burn

While mat burn may be more common in arts like Jiu Jitsu, it can still be a real concern in Judo. At the same time, mat texture is still important, as you don’t want to slip on the mats. Fortunately, heavy amounts of sitting sweat on the mats is much less of a problem in Judo than some other grappling arts.

In reality, the texture is really up to personal preference. I like textured mats, as long as the texture isn’t too much. However, I started training in Judo on high school wrestling mats, which have some grip, provided there isn’t sweat. Whichever you prefer is what you should go with, but just understand both sides of this coin when considering which mats you want to purchase for your dojo.

 

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Our Top 3 Judo Mats

Alright, now for our mat selections for our fellow Judokas:

swain sectional mats
Source: Dollamur

Swain Tatami Sectional Mats

You knew this one was on the list, right? With it being a product from Mike Swain, four-time Olympic medal winner, two-time Black Belt Hall of Fame inductee, and the fact that they are great mats, how couldn’t they be?

These mats are an excellent balance of absorbency, firmness, and texture. You really can’t go wrong with these mats. The only drawback I have seen is that every now and again someone gets a toe jammed in between the mat sections. For this, just use tape on the seams.

Roll-out

Roll-out mats are great. You can use the traditional foam roll-out mats or the more modern roll-out mats. Either way, roll-out mats are a valid mat for practicing Judo. If you are planning to get the modern roll-out mats, keep in mind that they come in 6 foot sections and will probably need to be taped at the seams.

Source: FujiMats

Spring Flooring

Regardless of which type of mat you choose, there has arguably never been a better martial art for justifying the use of spring flooring under your mats. With aforementioned weight of the uke landing in the mat, having this extra give is never going to be a bad thing. Fuji Mats sells these and they are worth the money for a Judo dojo.

By the Way…

Finally, this is a quick blog post that highlights what we believe are the best mats for Judo, but that isn’t to say that other mats couldn’t be used, such as puzzle mats. To get our complete guide on martial arts mats, including all the pros and cons, fill out the form below to get access!

 

To get our full breakdown on Martial Arts Mats, fill out the form:

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Disclaimer: Everything written herein should be taken as our opinion and should not be construed as advice. Further, we are not liable for any accidents or injury on mats purchased based on the content of this page.

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