The perfect martial art mats absorb your impacts

What are martial arts mats for? And what type is best?

If it's taekwondo or karate - a thinner mat is fine.

But you grapple or throw - you need a thicker base to work on.

Here's our guide to the perfect mats for your chosen martial art.

Mats for standing martial arts

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Mats for standing up martial arts like taekwondo and karate are around 20mm (1 inch) thick.

They are made from high density foam.

The idea is that the foam matting reduces impact on your joints (especially your knees) when you jump and run.

Often taekwondo mats fit together like a big jigsaw.

This type of floor can be taken up after the class if the dojang is needed for other activities.

Watch out for any missing teeth in the foam jigsaw. If you catch your toe in the hole you could have a nasty injury.

If the foam floor is not covered with a vinyl seal it's often quite grippy underfoot. The grippiness makes it hard to turn your bottom foot when you kick. It's important in taekwondo to turn your bottom foot properly- otherwise you can strain your knees.

Newer jigsaw mats have a vinyl covering on them.

The dojangs we trained at in Korea have fantastic floors. There is a layer of sealed vinyl over the top of the foam. The surface is cushioned, clean and comfortable to train on.

Mats for the throwing arts

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For the throwing marital arts like judo, BJJ, Hapkido and Jujitsu.

Martial art mats are more like 40mm (2 inches) thick.

Again they are high density foam.

The foam helps to cushion your body from the impacts of the throws.

Again washable mats are more hygienic.

We use mats like this when we are practising cat rolls.

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Throwing mats 150mm thick (6 inches) thick are great when you are learning your throws and break-falls.

In Korea we were very grateful for thick mats when a judo 4th Dan started throwing us around!

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