Tatami: Meaning, protocols, origin and types

Tatami: Meaning, protocols, origin and types

In this guide about the tatami, we want to talk in depth about its meaning, protocols, origin and types of tatami that exist. Every martial arts practitioner must be clear about the meaning of this concept, which is much broader than it may seem a priori. 

First of all, we will see what the meaning of tatamis. Although it may seem very simple, there is much more behind “a mattress”, “a protection that is placed on the floor”; and other attributes that commonly define it. Next, we are going to show you all about a tatami; everything you need to know before buying it.

The Meaning and types of Tatami

What is a tatami? Discover its meaning and origin 

The floor mats, called tatami, originally have the meaning of “folded and stacked.” It has not been linked to martial arts by chance nor began to be seen in this area, because the tatami has always been a characteristic element of Japanese houses

The tatami has always been used to cover the floor of the main rooms of Japanese houses. That is, tatamis were not used to cover rooms such as the kitchen and the bathroom, but to cover some main places in the house.

What types of tatami exist? 

Originally, we could find tatamis with thatch fabric. However, today we can find all types of tatamis. That is, now you can find expanded polystyrene tatamis, although they are not the most common in Japan. And the details have always been taken care of, because these tatamis had brocades (a dark green cloth) on the edges of the mats. 

As you can see, tatamis have a lot of history, since they have not been used only in martial arts, but also in Japanese houses as a signal to highlight the different rooms of the houses. Therefore, they are so important and have always been so. 

Tatamis mats always have the same size and shape. In general, Japanese rooms are ready to put tatamis in them. Let’s say room sizes are given by the number of tatamis that can fit in them. Usually, stores are designed to measure 5.5 mats. And tea rooms’ measures are about 4.5 mats. 

It’s a curious way to measure the rooms, right? Probably, it would never have come to our minds to measure them this way. But, “every country is a world.” So if you travel to Japan, you already know one more curiosity we have told you. 

But, what are the traditional dimensions of tatami? Usually, we have carpets of about 90 cm x 180 cm x 5 cm. They are quite considerable dimensions.

And as we told you, it is the fixed size. They always have this same size; hence they are used to measure the rooms with them. Therefore, the rooms of the traditional Japanese constructions are built in multiples of 90 centimeters. 

But this does not end here. Kyoto carpets, in addition to other from regions of western Japan, are longer than those from Tokyo. Come on, it is not met in the same way for all places. 

In its origins, the tatami was a luxury accessory. Originally, tatamis were considered a luxury accessory for rich people. In addition, they have always been an essential luxury accessory for traditional Japanese ceremonies, such as tea.

How are tatamis placed? What is their protocol? 

There are many rules that influence the number and placement of tatamis. For example, you should know that they should not be placed in a grid. Nor should match 3 or 4 mats’ corners at any of the points. 

The placement of tatamis is usually done in 2 ways, which are as follows: 

  • Shügijik: This way of placing the tatamis is to join them vertically or horizontally, making up something like non-square grids.
  • Fushügijiki: They are placed in a unique sense, by means of parallel strips.
The Meaning and types of Tatami
  • These are the two usual ways to place tatamis. Normally, in the houses it is common to talk about rooms with “8 tatamis”. But, what we are primarily interested in knowing is how tatamis in martial arts are. 
  • For example, for karate, the norm of the World Karate is to use a 10 mm x 1000 mm x 1 closed cell polyethylene foam sheet. Currently, practitioners train with mattress sheets. They are the usual ones that are always seen in gyms and sports centers, where martial arts are practiced.

Tatami protocol for training 

For training, there is no rule to follow for dimensions or color distribution. Usually, tatamis are blue and red, or green and red. However, a “rule” is not followed. We could say that it is not mandatory, since what is taken into account is always the level of competition.

Tatami protocol for competition 

How are tatamis for competition? They must be 8×8 pieces, plus an extra security perimeter of 2 pieces. In the case of color distribution, tatamis should have 6×6 blue pieces in the center, plus a red stripe of 8×8 pieces around. The security zone is blue or green.

The Meaning and types of Tatami

Is traditional Japanese tatami still used? No, since today the steps of sports karate are followed, above the traditional one.

Where to buy tatamis at the best price? 

On SoloArtesMarciales.com we have a section where you can buy tatamis for martial arts. Specifically, you will be able to do it through (LINK)

Surely you have heard about tatami puzzle. This type of tatami is widely used today and is selling very well. It is ideal for practicing martial arts. Also, it is important that you take into account the different types of thicknesses and disciplines we have, depending on the tatamis to choose, as approved and non-approved

Whenever you buy a tatami, you should be clear about your goal. In case of training, you do not need an approved tatami. However, in case of competition, you do. Here are some types of tatamis that you can buy in our store.

According to the previous image, you can get an idea of the tatamis we have in the store, e.g. the floor tatami puzzle of 3 or 4 cm.

The Meaning and types of Tatami

What influences the thickness of tatamis? 

Basically, safety is influenced by thickness when practicing martial arts. For example, for Judo and Aikido, 4 cm thick foam sheets with a density from 200 kg / m3 are recommended. This is due to the large number of striking techniques that are practiced, which are usually 2 meters x 1 meter to give you an idea. 

Thickness is important when falls and striking techniques are performed. So, you will have to buy the tatami that you consider appropriate based on your practice. And if you have questions about which tatami to choose, you can always contact and ask us without obligation. So, based on your specialty, we can advise you one or another. 

We also recommend, if necessary, that you line them with a tarp that covers the mattresses that are sold unlined. 

For example, to give you an idea, a 4 cm thickness is ideal for training and practice of strong and usual falls. It would be good to buy a 4 cm puzzle tatami for MMA, Judo, Hapkido, etc. Since usually, for practicing these types of disciplines tatamis are stronger.

On the other hand, a 2 cm or 2.5 cm thickness is perfect for other activities such as Boxing, Karate, Yoga, Taekwondo, playgrounds, sports or activities in which the falls are less violent; and even a harder ground  is needed.

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This is the main difference to choose puzzle tatamis of different thicknesses, depending on the type of activity you are going to practice. If you practice martial arts or less dangerous and less strokes activities, you had better buy the 2-centimeter thickness tatami, because you will save more money and it will be enough for you. For stronger martial arts in which falls are common, you had better buy tatamis with greater thickness (4 cm) so that you are more protected in case of hits or falls.

Tatami puzzle, the best option by its price 

The puzzle tatamis are very comfortable because the price is cheaper than the traditional foam sheets of a lifetime. In addition, you do not need to cover them, so you will not have to spend larger sums of money. You will find tatami foam sheets both lined and unlined, the first ones are more expensive. 

So, if you do not have in mind to put a tarp to cover the foam sheets because you have to remove and put them again, what we recommend is to buy the puzzle tatamis. They are cheap; you can find them at good prices and they do not open on their own. So they are safe and affordable. Moreover, in our online store you can buy them approved, which are perfect for competitions.  

Buy tatamis always based on the martial art / activity you are going to practice 

It is important that if you are going to practice any activity or martial art, consider how the tatamis you need to buy are, based on the activity you are going to carry out and why it is important that it is approved. Everything counts when considering our security. 

Remember that on SoloArtesMarciales.com you can always buy everything you need to practice martial arts. We offer you the best materials and the best equipment, whether you want to set up a gym or if you want to practice any martial art on your own. You will always find everything you need and at the best price!

If you want to buy tatami or mat puzzle, you will find everything in our online store. Remember to take a look at our section of Tatamis; and see all the tatamis we have available, with the different prices, materials, approved, not approved, etc. You will succeed with your purchase!

Now that you know the meaning, types, protocol and origin of tatamis…

What has surprised you the most? What tatamis are you going to buy? Remember that if you have doubts, we can advise you without any problem and/or commitment so that you can choose tatamis successfully.

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