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Judo Mat Safety Testing

Testing Involved in NF EN 12503-3 06/2001 Standard and IJF Certification Requirements

NF EN 12503-3 06/2001 Standard

The NF EN 12503-3 06/2001 standard outlines specific requirements and testing methods for sports mats, particularly those used in judo. Here are the key components of the testing involved:

  1. Dimensions and Tolerances:
    • Length, Width, and Thickness: Mats are measured to ensure they meet specified dimensions with acceptable tolerances. For example, a 1m x 1m mat must be within ±5mm, and thickness tolerances are typically ±3%.
  2. Shock Absorption:
    • Critical Fall Height: This test measures the height from which a weight can be dropped onto the mat without exceeding a specific g-force on impact. For NF EN 12503-3, a critical fall height of 1.6 meters is a typical requirement.
    • Homogeneity: Ensures consistent shock absorption across the mat’s surface by testing multiple points.
  3. Static Rigidity:
    • Deformation Measurement: Evaluates how much the mat deforms under a specified load to ensure it provides adequate support and stability without being too rigid.
  4. Friction Characteristics:
    • Base Friction: The mat’s base must provide enough friction to prevent it from slipping during use.
    • Top Surface Friction: The surface must offer enough grip to prevent users from slipping during movements.
  5. Markings:
    • Standard Number and Manufacturer Information: Mats must be marked with the standard number (NF EN 12503-3), the manufacturer’s name, and the year of manufacture to ensure traceability and compliance.

IJF Certification Requirements

The International Judo Federation (IJF) has additional specific requirements for mats used in official competitions. These requirements ensure the highest levels of safety and performance:

  1. Dimensions and Thickness:
    • IJF-approved mats are typically 1m x 1m or 2m x 1m in size and have a thickness of 50mm to provide adequate cushioning.
  2. Density and Material:
    • The core material usually consists of high-density foam, such as chip foam or cross-linked polyethylene foam, with a density of around 230-240kg/m³. This provides a balance of firmness and shock absorption.
  3. Shock Absorption:
    • Similar to NF EN 12503-3, the critical fall height is a crucial factor. IJF requires a critical fall height of at least 1.5 meters, meaning the mat can absorb impacts from falls up to this height without exceeding safe g-force limits.
  4. Anti-Slip Properties:
    • The mat’s top surface must provide enough grip to prevent slipping, usually achieved through a rice-straw embossing pattern or similar texture.
    • The base must also prevent the mat from moving during use, typically through a waffle pattern or similar design.
  5. Durability and Construction:
    • Mats must be durable enough to withstand regular use in training and competition. This includes features like heat-sealed welded corners and heavy-duty PVC finishes.
    • Mats must be waterproof, anti-bacterial, and easy to clean to maintain hygiene standards.
  6. Certification and Testing:
    • To achieve IJF certification, mats must undergo rigorous testing by authorized bodies to ensure they meet all the outlined requirements. This includes repeated drop tests, friction tests, and material assessments.


While both the NF EN 12503-3 06/2001 standard and IJF certification focus on ensuring the safety and performance of judo mats, IJF certification involves additional specific requirements and rigorous testing to meet the standards necessary for international competition use. Compliance with these standards ensures that mats provide optimal protection and performance for athletes.

BMAM Judo mats comply with NF EN 12503-3 06/2001 standard and achieved a critical fall height of 1.5m, aligning with IJF requirements despite lacking official certification.

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