Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The Home Dojo

Ever want to build a home dojo? For those interested in a martial art which is based on throws and grappling, a show stopper is usually mats. They can be very expensive.

Below is an excerpt from an article on how to build inexpensive yet serviceable mats. The whole article may be read here.

Building a mat on a tight budget.

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.

When selecting the type of mat you need, there are many questions you’ll have to ask yourself. What are the requirements of my space, should be your first question. Do you need a mat that can be put away after every training, or will it be permanent? Do you need to use the space for something other than Aikido. Often times people will run their Aikido school out of a church or youth group building. In a case like this you cannot use a permanent mat because you’ll need to remove the mat for the other functions that the space is being used for.

The size of your space and the cost to “mat” it is important as well. If you have a large space, filling it with real tatami, or faux-tatami is going to get expensive fast. Common tatami size is 71″ by 35.5″ (180cm by 90cm), close to 6 feet by 3 feet. The price range of tatami is going to be between $150 and $1000 (USD) per mat.

At that price 8 mats (only 12 feet by 12 feet) is not cheap, let alone a large 100-200 mat space.

When we built our mat these questions became very important. Cost turned out to be the most prohibitive factor for us. The mat we built was based on a mat we had trained on at Aikido of Fresno for years. The design is hard enough so that it doesn’t feel mushy and hard to move on. Yet flexible so you can fall on it over and over without injury. The mat is softer then faux tatami on concrete, but much firmer then a sprung floor covered in tatami. It’s a permanent mat, so not ideal for spaces that must be used for other purposes. But the cost is insanely low. By far the least expensive of all the options we found.

We built our mat for $450, and it’s about 350 sq ft. Covering the same space with faux tatami would have cost us around $2850 (not including shipping). The best thing is it doesn’t cost much more as the mat’s size increases. It’s a perfect mat for your garage dojo at home, or for your commercial school in a large warehouse. You can build a really large, quality mat with this design for very little money, and for most of us that’s pretty important.

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