I've been preparing for the summer, I plan to do Karate at home, and I have been wondering if I can cross-train Judo afterwards. Since there's a global pandemic going around, I don't necessarily want to go to a martial arts dojo, so I've given thought to making one myself. If I wanted to make one, say, in my yard, how much would it cost, including tatami floors and walls, and what would be the best material to make it out of, say, wood or concrete, as an example.

Assuming this can be answered here, thanks in advance!


Costs for materials vary wildly from one place to another, as well as depending on the size you want, so I'll mostly give you options for construction and you can check on local availability and costs according to your personal requirements.

Whatever you're going to be using, you'll need a flat base. A concrete slab would work, but so would a well crafted wooden platform raised on pier blocks. The most important part is how you make your sub-floor springy before putting in the tatami. Tatami is great, but with the high impacts certain throws can generate, extra spring is never bad.

Also, it's usually cheaper to design your sub-floor with extra spring and use cheaper tatami mats than it would be to use high-end tatami mats by themselves. Of course, if your budget allows, spring floor + high end tatami is the best option. Either way, there are two main options to go with for the springy sub-floor.

Recycled tires

Basically, you find as many tires of the same width as possible and spread them evenly on your training area. Then you put a layer of plywood, which you then cover with thick puzzle mats (the really thick ones made for martial arts, not the thin ones for kiddy play).

Here's an example of such a construction.

High density foam blocks

A more "standard" approach would be to use blocks of high density foam instead of tires. They are easy to manipulate and work with, and are probably more uniform in nature than a bunch of random tires. However, they likely can't be sourced for free. Most Judo and BJJ gyms will use something like that, however.

Here's an example of such a construction.

Finishing touches

As for the tatami mats themselves, if you get a decent subfloor going on, you can probably use generic martial arts foam puzzle mats such as those you would find in most karate places. The thicker ones (like, 2 inches thick) are great, and still cost much less than an actual tatami would cost (like 25% of the price, really).

I've seen some people use gymnastic mats to great effect, but most dojos will use specialized 2in thick puzzle mats (or 2 layers of 1in thick ones, sometimes). Combined with the spring floor, you should be safe enough for judo, and definitely overprotected for karate.

  • Gymnastic mats don't look so bad. do they work as well as tatami in aiding falls?
    – Questioner
    May 14 '21 at 18:21
  • Do I use tires on the walls or floors? Sorry, YouTube isn't loading for me. i'm not looking to Troubleshoot for answers, I just want you to describe the training area in more detail.
    – Questioner
    May 14 '21 at 18:34
  • @Questioner Gymnastic mats are usually designed to allow for tumbling and rolling on a standard gymnasium floor. It's a more controlled setting than what you'd find in a judo dojo where you get thrown against your will, but the impact level can be similar. In other words, with a proper spring floor and a thick gymnastic mat, I'd personally feel safe enough to practice judo. But do practice breakfalls extensively before throwing people, no matter what surface you are using...
    – Dungarth
    May 14 '21 at 18:35
  • @Questioner Most judo and BJJ gyms I've visited never bothered with mats on the wall. When practicing techniques, it's a controlled environment and no one should be in a position where crashing in a wall is a possibility. When sparring, students usually line up on the walls while half the group spars in the middle, and they also act as advance warning ("careful guys, you're awfully close to the wall!"). In a smaller home dojo, I guess putting in a layer of foam puzzle mats on the wall (like, maybe a meter high, doesn't have to go from floor to ceiling) would be a good idea.
    – Dungarth
    May 14 '21 at 18:39
  • Okay, thanks so much!
    – Questioner
    May 14 '21 at 18:42

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