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I tried looking for grappling mats online and they are really pricey, ranging from ~150 to $600 or more. Or for puzzle mats, each square is about $35 and the two sites I went to (one was fighters warehouse) had a minimum order I could not meet.

This is for home use for my two boys, ages 6 & 8, who are beginning Brazilian jiu-jitsu students. I'm thinking something around 10'x 10'. Something we can take out onto the living room when needed and practice various techniques including takedowns.

Where can I find affordable grappling mats? Or are there other cheap alternatives? I was hoping to stay under $100. Is that even possible?

btw I tried craigslist by searching: "grappling mats" and "sparring mats". No dice though.

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What is the surface like in your living room? Carpet with a pad, tile, wood? –  JohnP Aug 1 '12 at 20:19
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Your BJJ club teaches takedowns? Is the instructor a skilled wrestler or at least a brown belt in judo as well? –  Robin Ashe Aug 1 '12 at 23:07
    
Be aware that asking for shopping recommendations can be problematic: price, locale, budget, etc. –  Matt Chan Aug 2 '12 at 3:22
    
@MattChan I will keep that in mind as I begin to use this and other stack sites. I guess I was just hoping to get names of other websites that martial artists use to buy cheap equipment such as grappling mats. Or to get other alternatives for a grappling mat such as what Wayne suggests below--horse stall mats (at least to explore). –  daniellopez46 Aug 2 '12 at 14:53
    
@JohnP the living room is carpeted. –  daniellopez46 Aug 2 '12 at 14:54
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10 Answers

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While I understand the desire and even need these days to be frugal, I would be very careful buying mats from a Dollar Store or Box Store like Wal-Mart. Safety is of greatest concern. I have also used the gym style folding mats as mentioned above and they are problematic in that they do not stay together but easily slide apart when using them. Your best quality will be the interlocking "puzzle" style mats. You should be able to cover a ten foot by ten foot area for around $300. Look for sales at places like Century Martial Arts and other reputable Martial Arts outlets if you are unable to purchase a used set. Generally you would need 3x3 or 9 mat squares to cover a 12 foot square area.

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Thanks for the reality check from you and everyone. Appreciate the website reference you and others have provided. –  daniellopez46 Sep 9 '13 at 16:12
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I live in a city with a training facility of the national Judo team (i think that's what it is) since Judo is olympic they receive quite a lot of funding. This leads to them perceiving mats as 'old' quite quickly and so they buy new one and get rid of the old ones frequently. I got a bunch of slightly used mats for cheap from there.

TL'DR: A well funded training facility may be willing to sell used materials cheaply.

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http://secure.gracieacademy.com/categories/grappling-mats/

The Gracie Academy often has sales of their style of grappling mats. Not knowing much about BJJ, I don't know anything else to suggest but wait for these to go on sale, and then order some.

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I got a good deal on used mats on craigslist, but it took some persistence. I use craigslist a lot, and here's some things I've found helpful:

  • Use a craigslist tool that shows pictures with the search results, e.g., a Firefox plugin (e.g., craigslist fusion), or smartphone app (e.g., cMobile)
  • Be creative about search terms, and include misspellings, e.g., martial, wrestling, gymnastics, exercise, cheer leading, mats, matts
  • I only buy things at a very good price on craigslist. This is essential in the long run, to make-up for the occasional bad purchases, e.g., things that prove to not work well or not last long
  • I often have to drive an hour when buying uncommon things (e.g., mats). I try to get a lot of info over the phone first, to avoid wasted trips. Some people exaggerate how good of condition things are in, but most don't.
  • Find good sellers--people you can trust. Most sellers are like that in my experience.
  • I usually stay away from "too good to be true" sales, and esp. from shady people. I don't want to buy stolen stuff, nor transact with thieves.

The mats I got were from a dojo that held a huge weekend tournament, and afterwards, they had hundreds of puzzle mats to get rid of. I got a good price ($15 each for 3x3 ft mats), and they were barely used.

Wrestling mats are very heavy and thus hard to transport (need truck or van) and move around in your house. Puzzle mats are better in those regards, but you may need to get two layers, to get enough cushion.

BTW: A friend is a wrestling coach, and he strongly discourages people from getting home mats. The main reason is that, in his experience, most people don't use them much, once they get them.

Good luck! Jim

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Great advice onf Craigslist searching. Will try it. –  daniellopez46 Sep 9 '13 at 16:13
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I'm in construction and like to grapple in my spare time.

I read somewhere on here someone recommended Horse Stall Mats.. thats a no-no.. falling on Vulcanized rubber is like landing on concrete, but you get a nice skid burn on top of that.

I saw someone else say to make your own out of plywood, styrofoam, carpet underlay foam and drape your own vinyl... after buying all that material he would be well over $100 and still have an unsafe training area.

Your only chance to stay around the $100 is to get 1" Puzzle martial arts mats from places like zebramats.com and be careful with takedowns or throws.

But honestly, if it's that hard to find 'cheap' martial arts mats, don't you think that would mean there is a reason they are priced what they are for a reason? Like can you really be frugal when it comes to your safety? Can you put a price on a dislocated shoulder?

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Going back through some of my files, I found a box on making your own mats in M. A. Training magazine, Summer 1988, by Jack Herman (p.55). His plan shows a plywood backing board, a 2 inch thick sheet of styrofoam over that, then two layers of 9/8-inch thick foam carpet padding, covered with a tough fabric. He points out that if you need to use thinner carpet padding, you need to use more layers.

I would suggest using 1/4-inch plywood for relatively light weight (25 lbs per 4 x 8 sheet) and connecting two of these together with a fabric hinge on the bottom to keep them together in use, but allowing you to fold them up for storage (4 x 8 feet is still pretty big in most houses, so you might want to make them smaller, say half sheets (4x4), and make more of them, if you don't have room).

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That's awesome. Any chance you could get a pic or two? –  Dave Liepmann Aug 14 '12 at 15:35
    
There wasn't anything but a very rough sketch of how to assemble the parts in the piece, it didn't add much to the description. –  William B Swift Aug 14 '12 at 16:43
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How about building your own? It used to be commonplace.

http://www.wattaa.com/equipment/building-your-own-tatami-mat/

Also, since they'll be grappling, they really won't need much in the way of protection. Carpet is probably fine for now.

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Could you paste and quote the information from that site and use the link as a reference? –  Matt Chan Aug 12 '12 at 5:21
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Your best bet is to buy them used from a tournament like grapplers quest. They bring in new mats for every tournament, and sell them after at a steep discount. A lot of tournaments re-use their mats though, so this might not be an option in your area.

Do not attempt things like take downs on the cheap mats you can get at the dollar store, or even departments store puzzle mats, some one will get hurt. Kids are pretty tough and resilient, and the carpet and carpet padding will help, but That is a recipe for separated shoulders and whatnot.

The puzzle mats and other cheap ones you can find are perfectly fine for drilling ground techniques and maybe even rolling. Your best bet is to go with them, and save the take down practice for in class.

something like these would be enough for drilling ground techniques: http://www.walmart.com/ip/CAP-Barbell-Anti-Microbial-12pc-Puzzle-Mat/15561928

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x2 on this. ATA has a Spring and Fall Nationals each year, and Zebra provides the mats which you can purchase at a discount after it's over. –  JohnP Aug 2 '12 at 14:47
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I see plenty of cheap play mats for kids in those cheap $2 shops. They are 1 foot square, so not big, and they aren't thick. But if it just for home with the kids doing a bit of rolling, they could do the job. I wouldn't try doing throws on them. As I recall, the ones I've seen are the jigsaw type that lock at the edge.

As an added bonus, some of them have nice colourful animals and letters and numbers in them :)

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LOL. I actually was contemplating that last night. I knew they were thin but didn't realize how thin they were until yesterday. But we do need to also practice takedowns so that's not going to work. –  daniellopez46 Aug 2 '12 at 15:09
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You can get 1" or 2" thick folding mats from a gymnasium supply (think school gym) store, but they're still not really cheap, especially to cover a large area. You wouldn't have to pay for shipping that way, at least.

While you can get puzzle mats in some sports equipment stores, they're not generally thick enough to offer a lot of protection.

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Horse stall mats (should not need to say new ones) also can work. –  Wayne In Yak Aug 1 '12 at 21:43
    
@WayneInML how expensive are they? Horses are pretty expensive, I'd expect related equipment to be similarly cost prohibitive –  Robin Ashe Aug 12 '12 at 6:06
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You want to be careful with that. Some stall mats may be soft enough, but most I have seen are very solid rubber; soft for a horses hoof is not the same as soft to fall on. –  William B Swift Aug 12 '12 at 21:30
    
I'd have to check, but I remember when seeing them on sale the price was pretty reasonable. I'd have to check the prices. And yes, always good to verify that they meet your hardness/softness needs. The ones I've seen I've found "acceptable" for my uses, YMMV. –  Wayne In Yak Aug 13 '12 at 16:21
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protected by slugster Sep 7 '13 at 4:59

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