Home Dojo

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Home Dojo

Postby jajima » Mon Sep 21, 1998 10:01 pm

I just moved into a new home with a large basement. Would like to hear pro's and con's of running a small dojo out of the house. Any thoughts about cheap flooring or will a concrete slab do?
-Josh Ajima
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Home Dojo

Postby RACastanet » Tue Sep 22, 1998 1:21 am

Josh sensei: Good to see your name.

Having visited Nestor Folta sensei's dojo I'd say go for it. You need to see how he put a fine suspended wood floor over his concrete floor. Nice on the feet and the eye. I visited Bruce Hirabayashi sensei a couple of times last year and after two workouts on his cement basement floor I was walking very slowly. I suppose you would be tougher for it but it was unforgiving.

Come see us in Richmond someday.

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Postby Bill Glasheen » Tue Sep 22, 1998 1:26 am


Wow, coming up (or down??) in the world with a basement, eh??

I have seen a number of home dojos. Here is a worst-case scenario that I learned aikido on: concrete floor with a shag carpet and carpet pad. I earned a separated shoulder on that floor!

The good news is that hi-tech comes to the rescue in the nineties. I highly recommend a type of interlocking spongy tile sold by many of the martial art houses (Century, Kwon, etc). This stuff isn't exactly cheap but it has a number of advantages that really make it absolutely perfect for basement dojos:

1) It comes in about 40 inch square pieces (varies by manufacturer) that fit together. The individual pieces can be trimmed to fit against the wall, around ceiling supports, etc. You can actually get them in different colors if you have a dojo floor scheme in mind.

2) The tiles can be gotten in different thicknesses so you can get anything from a mild cushion to a virtually standard judo or aikido grade shock absorption ability.

3) All of them have some degree of shock absorption that is actually better than the standard wooden floor. This actually makes it possible to PRACTICE all those throws that most Uechi-ka never practice (because they don't know how and/or they can't fall on hard surfaces). Thus one might argue that this is a better "standard" for Uechi Ryu than the traditional wooden floor.

4) Sooner or later, all basements leak. Period. What happens to your carpet floor? Your precious wooden floor? Yes, you can come up with a number of neat options to redirect water from walls and corners if the worst imaginable happens, but even that isn't 100% foolproof. Last winter with El Nino rains, I actually had dampness seeping up from the tiny cracks in the FLOOR of my concrete basement floor. Well if your floor ends up with water on it for a few days (or more), you can just pull the tiles apart, wipe them with a little bleach in water, put it back together after things dry, and you are back in business!

By the way, you have seen such floors, Josh. Mark Roscoe had such a floor in his old dojo where you took your shodan test. There was another similar floor at the Maryland dojo in our Mid-Atlantic regional where Sensei Spencer was guest.

A word of advice - shop around and haggle. And ask around about the quality of various mats. I get the impression that they are not all created equal. But anyhow I see them on sale in various catalogues. And some of the companies suggest that you can haggle if you order a large quantity. But most definitely mooch off of someone's discounted dojo account (it's about time you got your own!!).

Also ask around about tricks to keep basement floors dry.

Good luck!

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Home Dojo

Postby David Elkins » Sun Sep 27, 1998 8:15 pm

Hi Josh,
I moved from Pa. to Georgia and like my good friend, Bruce Hirabayashi, have a home dojo which is in the basement and has a concrete floor. Although I do Wing Chun on the concrete, I was leary of training karate where of course we don't wear shoes. The good news is that I have had no joint discomfort at all and at this point would not really want to put flooring in for all the reasons that Bill enumerated. My suggestion would be to give the naked concrete a try and see how it goes. You can always add on. A dehumidifier probably will help. Good luck!
ps. any chance of getting some of the photos that you took in Gaithersburg. I didn't have e-mail then and couldn't receive but now can. thanks!
David Elkins
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Postby JohnC » Mon Sep 28, 1998 6:01 am


Like David Elkins, I train both Uechi and Wing Chun. At both dojo and kwoon, a concrete flooring lies underneath judo mats. At the dojo, is the older and much thicker material, while at the kwoon is the newer, much thinner material.

At the dojo, both judo and aikido take place, so that the mats are more required.
However, I echo what Bill G. suggests that it really helps the Uechi training too. No hesitation to practice sweeps, takedowns, etc. I might add that it is nice on my old knees and back!

At the kwoon, jujitsu is practiced too, so that mats are also more required. Having been swept or launched by some of my sihings in chi sao, it was much easier on the old bod hitting mats than wood or concrete! We are a bit unique in that we train barefoot in WC without kung fu shoes/slippers.

(The kwoon is a double garage that has been enclosed. To cover this space with the newer, high quality judo material, apparently ran $1500-$2000.)

Good luck!

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Postby Rick Wilson » Tue Sep 29, 1998 6:37 am

Don't know what ages you will be teaching but I didn't like having kids run around on concrete. Didn't want to take the chance that they would fall and hit their heads. I would put something down. The suggestions above are good ones.

Rick Wilson

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