We train in a large gym hall and do not have enough mats to cover the whole floor. Even if we did, there are too many dangers (radiators, bars, etc...) around the edge. So, we train in the centre which is fine apart from the mats sliding and gaps developing. There is too much time spend pushing the mats back into place.

We use 2x1m tatami mats and have no square ones. Currently, our stacking is two length, two vertical and below that two vertical and two length. The cube is then repeated.

An additional complication is that we have to clear and store them after each session so cannot just screw in a wooden boarder. Besides, wooden boarders have problems of their own.

Is there a better stacking solution?

Is there another way to stop the mats from sliding?

Just in case, the image below is not from us, but we use the same type of mats. We even have the same (garish⸮) colours.

a stack of mats

4 Answers 4


In judo contests I have seen square steel tubing holding the mats together.

Rigid, 5cm x 5cm steel tubes going around the tatami, tightened together by several tie-down-straps (ratchet strap is the correct name?) that go under the tatami. The whole package stays together just by gravity and the tension on the straps. The ratchets need to be covered though, to avoid people hurting themselves on them.

Steel tubes are about 5 meters long each, and may or may not be connected to each other on all 4 sides. The straps are more important though.

Notice the straps have a loop on the other end, you may need to do some custom (sewing) work on this.

To disassemble, loosen the straps, lift mats away and carry the steel tubes to storage.

The steel tubes and straps on the photos are 20 years old, so I guess they serve the purpose well.

Strap loop on one side Ratchet on the other side Pieces of foam mats covering the ratchets

  • Could I ask for some photos if you can? Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 14:22
  • The coach was not present today, so I'll have to ask a later time, sorry. I would have had a chance to take photos of such competition assembly last weekend when my son was in a contest, but unfortunately I did not as I read your question just today. I am quite amazed there aren't any photos of such build, try asking someone who is organizing contests as they must have some kind of system for temporary tatamis.
    – diynevala
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 19:00
  • My son has a competition coming up in two weeks, I will take photos and ask about assembling the "ad hoc tatami". Sorry about the delay, I've totally forgotten about this thing - somebody woke me up by voting this answer up. :D
    – diynevala
    Commented Mar 25, 2016 at 20:27
  • 1
    Added photos and added specific info, I hope it helps. I was fortunate enough to be there in time so I had a chance to take photos and get some info from the organizers. Steel tubing can also be replaced with L-profile steel. BTW: My son got bronze medal.
    – diynevala
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 6:25

Zebra mats has suggested layouts for 2m x 1m mats depending on the area you want to cover. It sounds like you are repeating layout A to cover your area. The problem with this is that when any mat is pushed (up, down, left, or right), only those mats directly in that line are affected. In layout B, for example, a push will be distributed among more mats.

This improves the sliding situation, but does not fix it, particularly because mats around the edge will still separate relatively easily.

Zebra mats suggested layouts

I have no affiliation with Zebra mats but have used their products.

  • You assumed correctly, we are using a repeat of pattern A. Maybe what I wrote was clearer than it sounded in my head... ^_~ Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 13:18
  • Our organization uses Zebra mats at both Nationals tournaments as well as Worlds. They don't have borders, and I can tell you that within a few rounds of sparring or workshops gaps develop, even with their recommended layouts.
    – JohnP
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 15:41
  • Wikipedia has a mention on Tatami layout, and there's even a belief that creating cross junctions bring bad fortune.. I think this serves as a reminder to how tatamis are supposed to be laid out. :)
    – diynevala
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 6:17

There's no interlocking with a quad cube layout. Try laying in a herringbone pattern instead, see if it helps.

This is why the 40mm jigsaw mats have become so popular, I don't remember how we laid out the old ones but do remember similar problems.


Are your mats actual zebra mats? They should have a latex "waffle" grid on the bottoms. The mats should not move one bit (on a concrete floor) as this grid creates a suction, holding the mats in place. I was actually at the zebra warehouse today and witnessed this personally.

  • This is really not my experience with "waffle" grids. We do have those. The mats still slide. ☹ Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 8:19

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