I’ve trained on a lot of different types of mat in my day: wrestling mats, foam core mats, puzzle mats, and rock hard old school Judo straw tatami, just to name a few.
And I’ve also rolled around on a lot of non-matted surfaces including concrete, wood and carpet.
(Of all those surfaces, carpet is the WORST by far!! The carpet burns you can get on your head, back and elbows are unbelievable, take forever to heal, and give your friends an infinite amount of snigger-material if they tend to reach dirty-minded conclusions anyway…)
Here’s how to make a mat in 3 steps for less than $20 broken down for you in a 62 second video…
If you do BJJ or submission grappling it’s very convenient to have a mat handy so you can squeeze in some drilling or a sparring session even when the place you normally train at is closed.
That’s why I’m sharing something that has worked really well for mel. It’s a perfectly serviceable grappling mat, but is also cheap, super portable, and a lot of fun!
First, get a large tarp and some tent pegs that you can get at any hardware or camping store. The minimum practical size is probably 8′ x 10′, and this is one case where bigger is probably better…
Then find a level grassy area and do a quick sweep to remove any rocks, sticks, nails or other unpleasant surprises in the grass. Then stake out the tarp.
Drive the pegs all the way down in to the ground, because you don’t want to impale yourself or your training partner onto one of those puppies at the end of a particularly spectacular guard sweep!
Next comes an optional step. In the interests of preventing the aforementioned skewering you might want to cover the ends of the pegs with something.
On the day that I took this photo I was using metal tent pegs with a sharp edge, so I placed a small orange traffic cones over top of each peg.
If you’re going to do this regularly you might want to find flat-topped-and-rounded plastic tent pegs, or put a small slit into tennis balls and fit them over top of the pegs.
Now go and train! The grass provides cushioning, and the tarp prevents you from having to pick twigs and dirt off of your face all the time.
If it’s a nice sunny day, then so much the better.
Just take it easy, keep an eye on those tent pegs for both you and your partner’s sake, and remember that although this is a surprisingly soft surface it still just isn’t a good time to practice your suplexing.
Tent pegs: $10.
Being able to train outside on a sunny day and dismay people passing by: PRICELESS!
Initially published on Aug 22, 2011. Revised Aug 23, 2020
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