How to choose the right tatami mat?
How to choose the right tatami mat?

Are you looking for a flooring solution for your gym? There are countless combinations of finishes, thicknesses and densities so it can be tricky working out which tatami mat is best for you. We're going to help you get to grips with these combinations so you get the right product for your requirements. Come this way!

Which finish should I pick?

There are two types of tatami finishes: smooth and rice straw mats. Which is for you? It depends on which sport you're using it for.

  • The smooth finish is mainly for combat sports that don't require a kimono (No-Gi) and frequent ground techniques. You choose this finish to avoid skin irritation caused by rubbing against the mat. This finish applies to mats for combat or MMA for example. These sports use kit that exposes the skin and because there's a lot of ground movement involved, the smooth aspect is best.
  • The rice straw finish (classic tatami mat) is more for sports that require a kimono and use mainly standing techniques. It's anti-slip so it's easier for fighters to grip. It's the traditional tatami mat for judo. It's also used for sports like karate, aikido and taekwondo.

Now I know about finishes, which thickness should I go for?

Tatami mats come in 4 different thicknesses: 3cm, 4cm, 5cm and 6cm. Again, the thickness depends on the sport and how you use it (training, competition, Gi or No-Gi).

  • For sports that mainly involve standing and require foot support (e.g. karate), it's best to go for slimmer 3 and 4cm mats for improved stability. The 4cm thickness is best for training whilst the 5cm is popular for competitions.
  • For sports with "throws" (drops from a certain height), mats that are 5 and 6cm thick provide the best cushioning. These thicknesses appear in sports such as judo and jiu-jitsu. 4cm tatami mats are most popular for martial arts training.  

Good to know: for overly hard ground, you can add a 2 or 3cm underlay under the tatamis or even a rubber floating floor. (view our recycled rubber tiles)

Now I know my finish and thickness. How about density?

Density is described in kilograms per cubic metre. There are 3 different densities: 200kg/m3, 230kg/m3 and 270kg/m3.

Again, your choice depends on several factors, the average age of fighters and what the tatami is used for.

  • The first 200kg/m3 density is most used for young users as it provides sufficient cushioning for lighter weights such as children.
  • The 230kg/m3 density is the so-called "standard" density. It is ideal for children and adults. It's the most popular option in clubs or gyms where people regularly train.
  • The 270kg/m3 is the hardest of the three. It's the regular density for Olympic athletes. It complies with this kind of competition's standards.

Good to know: There are two types of tatami underlay: bare or anti-slip. If you don't have a pit or fitting rail, you'll need an anti-slip underlay for better grip.

If your gym gets damp, go for an anti-slip tatami mat with vinyl around the entire mat.

If your combat area is less than a metre from a wall, European standards require wall protection at least 1.8m high to protect users when they're thrown.

Now you have all the information, come this way to choose your tatami!

If your gym or space is modular then you can also provide interlocking mats and flexi-roll. For further information, please contact our team who are delighted to answer your questions