Breakin’ is an energetic form of dance, which is largely improvised. It involves quite a bit of athleticism to perform the difficult dance moves, transitioning from standing up to tumbling, and everything in between. Because of the rigours of the dancing, you’re going to need specialised mats to perform on. Putting down a simple vinyl sheet won’t be enough to cushion against falls, slips, and dance moves where you come into contact with the ground.
As a result, the best mats that you can use for breakin’ are foam mats. We offer several types of mats which may fit your needs and help you create your own dance space inside your home. Before we take a look at the mats, we’re going to investigate the history of breakin’ and talk about the most important things that you will need to think about when you’re buying dance flooring.
Some of the most important questions to ask yourself include:
- Will you be practising outside?
- Are you going to need to move all the mats?
- How often will you be performing on the mats?
- These are all things to keep in mind when purchasing mats.
Our goal is to help you create your own dance space, one that’s comfortable, with good grip, and adds a splash of colour to any room it’s in.
The Background of Breakin’
Breakin’ or B-boying—or as it commonly known breakdancing—is a style of dance that originated on the streets of New York City during the early 1970s. Over the last 50 years, it has spread throughout the world, gaining popularity in regions as diverse as South Korea, Germany, France, Russia, Japan and the United Kingdom. Each region brings its own unique flair, incorporating dances and moves that are popular in their area. The major difference between breakin’ and other different dances is that it is primarily set to hip-hop and funk music, and especially break beat music, a type of electronic music.
Some stars in the B-boy scene in the UK include La Familia Crew and Soul Mavericks. La Familia is an Islington-based crew who reinvigorated the breakin’ scene in 2002. Another crew that revolutionised breakin’ was the Soul Mavericks, who have represented the UK at the World B-Boy Championship 7 times. Soul Mavericks also had the privilege of performing at the 2012 London Olympics.
As a matter of fact, breakdancing continues to grow in popularity, and has been incorporated in the event programme for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
There are four major elements in breakin: toprock, downrock, power moves, and freezes. Toprock movements are usually performed from a standing position, incorporating many other dance styles like popping, locking, tap dance, or even house dance. Dancers then transition into downrock, which involves dancing on the floor with your hand supporting you. During this movement, you’re going to need something underneath of you that will protect you from falls and slips, something with proper cushioning ability to protect your bottom.
Power moves are fast moves that require quite a bit of endurance, strength, and coordination to properly execute. One great example of a power move is the windmill. Some dancers incorporate gymnastics moves and martial arts moves as power moves in their dance routine. Freezes are poses where a dancer suspends themselves off the ground with upper body strength.
Best Things to Look for When Purchasing Breakin’ Mats
The best dance floors are those that provide traction, giving you the ability to make quick, delicate movements and turn on a dime. That’s why when purchasing flooring for dance floors, the greatest quality to look for is does it have an anti-slip surface. Some flooring options look nice but don’t offer the same level of traction as other options. Take, for example, bamboo, which is stunning to look at but doesn’t take anti-slip coatings very well. Depending on the finish, wood floors run into the same issues.
There’s nothing worse than practising on slippery floors, slipping and sliding around and not being able to gain your footing. One of the best surfaces to dance on is the tatami grip EVA foam mats, which offer a spectacular grip.
It’s great to have mats that will put up with all the abuse that you’re in a throw at it. Whether you’re performing quick power moves or intricate downrock footwork, you’re going to want a mat that will continue to perform every time you’re dancing on it. This is where XPE mats really shine, as they can reach ‘zero’, the point at which a mat compresses to the floor, and still keeps their original shape. Repeatedly, XPE mats hold up under the stress of absorbing impacts.
Another thing that you should consider is the shock absorbing ability of the mats. Our foam mats are offered in two different types of foam, EVA and XPE. XPE mats are firmer and more resistant to heat when compared to EVA. Yet, XPE also offers a little bit of springiness, cushioning blows and protecting against falls.
Easy to Install
Of the two major types of mats offered at British Martial Arts Mats — jigsaw puzzle mats and rollout mats—the rollout mats are the easiest to set up. All it takes is one other person, and you can rollout out 12m of matt. Available in three different lengths, 3m, 6m, and 12m, you can customise the size of the dance floor that you want. And with as little as four mats, you can create a 6 m x 6 m dance floor.
Alternatively, jigsaw puzzle mats are a little more cumbersome to layout when compared to rollout mats. Each individual 1m x 1m tile has to be placed and pushed into bordering tiles to create one large dance floor. However, jigsaw puzzle mats offer a more permanent solution than rollout mats and are much less expensive than rollout mats.
Jigsaw mats are also significantly lighter than rolls of rollout mats, and if you’ve got to carry the mats over long distances without a trolley, then jigsaw puzzle mats might be just what you’re looking for.
Portable and Easy to Store.
Another thing to consider when purchasing mats for breakdancing is whether they are portable. This is especially important if you’re planning on creating your own dance studio outside.
Rollout mats are incredibly easy to transport. Rollout mats are long sections of high-density foam mats that, like the name suggests, are rolled up into an easy to move cylinder. Once again, with a simple trolley, you can easily deliver several rollout mats to location and create your own dance floor. Rollout mats are usually connected to one another with Velcro straps to prevent the mat separating.
Rollout mats are also incredibly easy to story. With the help of one dance partner, you can roll the mat up tightly, and easy to handle mat roll. These mat cylinders can be easily stacked one on top of one another or stored on a shelf.
The Best Mats for Break Dancing
Now that we’ve examined the different things you’ll need to look for when purchasing a mat, let’s run through some mats that are offered at British Martial Arts Mats. Although you can use mats ranging in thicknesses between 25 mm and 40 mm, the mats that we’re going to look at all fall into the 40 mm range. These mats offer the best protection against falls, helping to absorb impacts. And when you’re trying out new moves and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, you want to have something underneath of you to protect you if you slip and fall.
Here are some of the best mats for Breakin’ competitions:
These mats are rated as high impact and are made from high density EVA foam. Boasting a tatami grip which offers a superior anti-slip surface, these mats are some of the easiest to perform difficult manoeuvres on. One of the best things about these mats is that they have two different colours on either side, allowing you to bring a splash of colour to your dance floor. Some of the most popular colour combinations for mats offered on British Martial Arts Mats include: red/blue, black/blue, black/green and red/black. Mix and match different mats to utilise multiple different colours rather than just two.
As mentioned above, these mats are incredibly easy to deploy and help to cut set up and tear down time in half when compared to jigsaw puzzle mats. Rollout mats are made from XPE foam, which is odourless. And this means that the first time you set the mats up in your house you won’t have to deal with the offputting odour that you would for EVA mats. Easy to use Velcro connectors, allow the mats to stay together even during the most intense dance sessions.
Conclusion One of the best things that you can do is set up your own dance studio in your home. It becomes your own space, the place where you can translate your feelings into movement and perfect your B-boying skills. If you’re looking to set up a more permanent spot, then your best option might be to purchase enough jigsaw puzzle mats to cover the entire space you want to use for a dance studio. However, if you are getting together with a group of b-boys and b-girls outside, consider purchasing a few rollout mats with the sturdy trolley to transport them.
Author: David Van Kooten