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Brown Belt
Brown Belt

Joined: 08 Mar 2015
Posts: 630
Styles: Shotokan, Seido Juku

PostPosted: Fri Mar 24, 2017 4:51 pm    Post subject: Mats Reply with quote

Looking for opinions on "Jigsaw" style mats, any good? I have heard that some styles won't train on them. They seem a very versatile option to me, as well as not as expensive as a lot of the other types out there.

What are they like for doing kata?

Should they be put away and taken out only for takedown practise etc?

Is there a better option? I enjoy training on a wooden floor, but at 50+ I pay for it after practising take down drills directly onto the wooden floor....

The club is looking at options right now, the jigsaw ones seem a good option as they are stackable and light, so anyone can help put them away.

Supposedly some instructors refuse to take classes on such mats, anybody heard this? What reasoning might they have?
"We don't have any money, so we will have to think" - Ernest Rutherford
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KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 17 Jan 2007
Posts: 6197
Location: UK
Styles: Tae Kwon Do & Yang family Tai Chi

PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 12:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We're fully matted: The mats stay down all the time and we train on them throughout the year.

They take some getting used to but they are fine for kata and the like. I would say I've had less knee and ankle problems since switching to them from wooden floors and they are great for practising light takedowns and ground work (you would want something more for heavy practice).

At first you may find your calves will burn as the softness can take some getting used to and you will find it will sap your energy quicker, but over time you will get used to it. If you buy new mats, in the beginning you will find them very slippy. But this will go away in time; its just due to residual release agents from when they were manufactured.

One problem we find, and it may be due to our set up, but in summer they tend to expand due to the heat and raise up. But this won't be a problem if you set them up each time you train.

Overall they're great and a good alternative to harder floors. My preference would still be a sprung wooden floor though.
"Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it." ~ Confucius
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JR 137
KF Sempai
KF Sempai

Joined: 10 May 2015
Posts: 2396
Location: In the dojo
Styles: Seido Juku

PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 5:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My former sensei moved the dojo a few times when I was training under him. In the final location he had no choice but to use jigsaw mats. We didn't like them much at first as they were a bit slippery and just felt different under our feet.

The more we did intermediate self defenses (the same ones we currently do in Seido), the more we liked them. The more we swept during sparring and moreso got swept, the more we liked them. It was great for the guys who didn't want to get swept due to injuries, and it was great in that we didn't have to be as nice to each other when sweeping.

In a perfect world, half the dojo would be matted and half would be hardwood floors. I'm sure there's variation in the mats between manufacturers.
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KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 04 May 2008
Posts: 6852
Location: McHenry County, IL
Styles: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Bujin Bugei Jutsu, Gokei Ryu Kempo Jutsu, MMA, Shootfighting, boxing, kickboxing, JKD, Pekiti Tersia Kali

PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2017 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It really depends on what you want to use them for. I agree with DWx, if one is practicing kata regularly I'd stick with a sprung wood. If you're looking at them for takedowns I'd advise against it. They separate too easy, have minimal padding for takedowns of any kind, and are straight out no good for throws. Matting can be found pretty affordable if you keep and eye out. I'd wait, you'll just end up wanting to upgrade later.
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GojuRyu Bahrain
Orange Belt
Orange Belt

Joined: 26 May 2013
Posts: 123

Styles: Goju Ryu, Shotokan, Kobudo, Uechi Ryu

PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 11:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sprung wood floor is the best option for Kata and Kihon training. Adding jigsaw mats for Karate takedowns (self defense) and sparring is sufficient, in my experience, but not good enough for grappling arts.

I find any form of training on solid floor (concrete covered with any surface) terribly hard on my knees and ankles so that I currently use jigsaw mats consistently (no good floor available around here ).

On the downside, I find that even rigid jigsaw mats take some getting used to; there is a slightly higher chance to sprain a toe etc. due to having more grip.
Goju Ryu (Yushinkan since 1989), Shotokan (JKA since 2005)
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White Belt
White Belt

Joined: 03 Nov 2016
Posts: 13

PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2017 6:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been training for over 20 years and have used both surfaces, hardwood, and mats. I will admit that the majority of my time training has been on hardwood.

From my experience I've found positives and negatives for both.

Positives - Most traditional, less likely to have your foot 'stick' on hardwood and can slide your feet across it more easily.
Negatives - Hard on the joints and feet. Training on hardwood caused me some pretty sever foot problems over the years. Can be subject to environmental changes. In humid weather I've found they can become sticky whereas in dry weather I've found them to be very slippery. This depends somewhat on the finish applied to the hardwood though. It's also hard to find a well installed, sprung, hardwood floors.

Positives: Much easier on the joints and feet. My feet can withstand longer periods of work on the mats whereas they would be very sore/painful from the same training on hardwood.
Negatives: You can't slide your feet across them as easily and will tend to catch your toes in them if you're not careful. This has caused me to tear/strain ligaments in my toes on a number of occasions. They have more grip on your feet than hardwood so you have to be careful when turning that you don't twist your knees. I think that once you're used to working on the mats this is reduced. I alternate between mats and hardwood so I don't think that helps.

Currently I'm looking into getting some mats for my own dojo.

Do any other instructors have any suggestions on a brand name?
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Pre-Black Belt
Pre-Black Belt

Joined: 14 Dec 2007
Posts: 897

Styles: Matsubyashi-Ryu, Okinawan Kempo, wrestling, bits of BJJ

PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2017 5:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Depends on the "puzzle" mats you are looking at. What you will find in most sporting goods stores are not great for throws and take downs. Just not enough padding if they are over a hard surface.

We have Champion brand grappling mats, just over 2 inches thick (if I remember correctly could be just under). They hold up well for throws and grappling. They were far from cheap though and covering just over 300 square feet cost us quite a bit.
Kisshu fushin, Oni te hotoke kokoro. A demon's hand, a saint's heart. -- Osensei Shoshin Nagamine
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Jesi Boy
White Belt
White Belt

Joined: 24 Apr 2017
Posts: 15
Location: Western Australia
Styles: Goju-Kai

PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2017 7:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also used to train on a wooden floor, for 6 years actually. For the start of my competitive career, I competed on wooden floors as well.

It was not a heavily surfaced wooden floor, but more of a rough sanded one. The only advantage of this, was that it provided a good grip, which meant that if your feet were sweaty it wouldn't affect your training. But the negatives seemed endless. I actually developed ankle problems due to the constant stamping during Kata and Kumite, and initially the floor caused many blisters on my feet (but my feet toughened, and I eventually got used to it). Being wooden, they got very dirty and splinters were an often problem (but I am sure that dojos with better quality floors will not encounter this dilemma).

As I became more serious about sport karate, and started competing nationally and internationally, most of my training and competition was on mats.

From my personal view, mats are the much better option (but it depends on which one you get). If you get cheap, bad quality mats, they often have a plastic like feel under the feet and are very slippery (this can easily be fixed by getting a better quality). But beside that point, you can't really go wrong with mats! They are much better for Kata and Kumite, as they allow you to stomp without hurting your feet, practice throws and take downs, and train on a comfortable surface. Because of these reasons, they will definitely allow you to perform at a higher level, as my skill drastically improved when I switched to mats.

Hope I have been of help!
"It's what you do in the shadows that brings you into the light."
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