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The decision to offer a martial arts class is an exciting step for new teachers. Aside from rent, advertising, and other expenses, getting this kind of business off the ground requires investing in good mats. While traditional options are still available, like vinyl covered or canvas mats, more instructors are turning to interlocking ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) foam mats to cover their practice areas. EVA foam offers the benefits of impact, vibration, and sound absorption while still retaining its rigidity and form. The ProForce® product line encompasses EVA foam puzzle and jigsaw mats for boxing and mixed martial arts applications where the impact from doing drills or jumping requires extra cushioning.

Selecting the Right Mat

ProForce® Jigsaw mats are cut in 40-inch by 40-inch square blocks with a 1-inch thickness and 40-inch by 40-inch square blocks with a 7/8-inch thickness. You can flip over or change a section as needed without having to flip the entire training area. These mats feature a textured finish to allow for better traction. To make it easier to create a finished border, each mat has one edge piece that can be used to form a single, unbroken edge to the training area. ProForce® Jigsaw mats are available in five colors.

Regardless of which mat you choose, there is a simple method to figure out how many mats you will need:

Total Square Feet of Training Space / 11.09 = Number of Mats Needed

Pros and Cons of Foam Mats

The benefits of interlocking mats become clear when they are compared to more traditional mats. Traditional mats include permanently installed vinyl sheet and canvas types that are placed over foam. Another traditional option is the fold-up, vinyl-covered foam mat, which has hook-and-loop fasteners that allow you to attach several of them together.

• Installation: Traditional vinyl and canvas mats are custom made to each training space and can be quite expensive to install. Interlocking foam mats are pieced together for an easier installation. With traditional mats, once they are installed it is difficult to move them. Interlocking foam mats, on the other hand, can be repositioned or removed very quickly. This can be a good feature for instructors who are sharing a space that isn't normally used for martial arts practice, such as dance studios.

• Portability: Fold-up foam mats are certainly portable and may make sense in some applications. However, once they are folded, these mats become bulky to handle and take up space in your training area. At 6 pounds in weight, ProForce® jigsaw mats are lighter and easier to transport.

• Patterns and Borders: however, creating patterns and borders with foam mats is cheaper, easier, and more fun. For example, creating a black and blue checkerboard pattern using the reversible feature of AWMA's jigsaw mats can be a fun aspect of training for children. Reversible mats can also be used to create borders for organizing classes into groups or to make a square area in the center of the training space for competitions.

• Damage: Foam mats can and will show damage over time. The foam flakes off a little from overuse and needs to be replaced. However, the low cost to replace a block is much less than the high expense of repairing a vinyl sheet or canvas mat.

Creating a Safe Space

ProForce® jigsaw mats from AWMA are perfect for a variety of training environments, including boxing, kickboxing, aerobics, grappling, karate, and taekwondo. The mats should be cleaned and kept free of debris on a regular basis.

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