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I am looking for an online store (preferably) or a store with a physical location in northern New Jersey (if possible, otherwise central works too) that sells either tatami or beach mats (they can be combined to get a similar feel to tatami) for cheap, for the purpose of tameshigiri (cutting) practice.

A friend of mine can buy two beach mats for $6 (no shipping costs). Most people who do cutting say that two beach mats roughly match one tatami -- so that's the kind of price range we're looking at.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

There are a number of decent options I've used in the past... Keep in mind that I do use a genuine stand, but as for materials, these are reasonable facsimiles:

Tatami Omote – The real deal. I've got a supplier here in Orange, CA at that sells them rolled for $7.95 each (minimum 5, sold in lots of 5), or unrolled for $5.95 each (minimum 5, sold in lots of 5). They also offer them in bales of 30, for as low as $3.65 each. I've never used nihonzashi but I've had great luck with tameshigirimats and avoided shipping based on being able to pick up.

Woven Beach Mats – Walmart (or similar) puts woven beach mats (similar to this) on clearance at the end of each summer. These things cost them about $0.15/each, they sell for about $10/each during the season, and go on clearance for about $0.99 each. Cut the fabric off the ends (it's synthetic and doesn't cut cleanly), and roll.

Pool Noodles – If you're just looking to measure the cleanness of your cuts and your aim, pool noodles are great. Dollar Tree sells them for a dollar a piece if you order 32. These are great – if you aren't cutting properly, they'll flop about. If you are, you'll slice clean through. Similar and cheaper is buying bulk pipe insulation – cut to length and seal around a stand.

One tip: local instructors know local suppliers. I found by paying attention to a local shihan. Keep good relationships with others in your area, and chat them up about their suppliers. It's good business for both of you, especially if you name drop to the vendor (Small vendors often like to deal with a handshake – being able to create a connection gets you better supplies; keep in mind, however, that you have to treat them well going forward or it reflects on both of you).

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Pool noodles. What a great idea :) I saw these being used as targets at an archery place recently too. – nedlud Jul 10 '12 at 22:12
That's fascinating. I never would have thought of them for archery... – stslavik Jul 11 '12 at 15:25

I produce affordable cutting targets from beach mats, with a center of foam pipe insulation so that my mats fit easily over cutting stand pegs, no pounding in those sharpened stakes. My estimated cost is $4.50 each plus Ground shipping. Can send photos if desired.

Danno in Michigan

How it is made enter image description here

How it looks on my Midwest cutting stand

enter image description here

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Is there a way of getting in touch with you, or a website, or something? :) – Anon Jun 18 '13 at 22:00

I'd go to a place like Lowe's, Home Depot, etc. and see what they have that can be rolled to approximate the thickness/consistency of a tatami. I'm thinking possibly shower pan lining either rolled loosely or with spacers, possibly astroturf, things of that nature.

Another possibility (Especially when beginning or doing strict form practice) is to get 1" stryrofoam sheets and tape/glue them together, then cut to size.

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Based on this answer from reddit:

Young bamboo offers somewhat similar resistance to tatami, though it splinters easily if the cut is not right.

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Based on this answer from reddit:

Nihonzashi offers fairly cheap tatami and ships per box. One box of 10 sells (as of today) for $4.49, and boxes with more tatami are a little cheaper. The trick is, of course, shipping. If you live near them in St. Petersburg, Florida, you can just go and pick up your order at the store.

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