MAKE YOUR WOODEN DUMMY - A GUIDE
Edited Excerpt From My Book "The Invincible Man"
There are hundreds of plans and pages and videos on the internet ... However, like purchasing your dummy online, that is the “one size fits all” approach. By all means use those available plans as a guide, but understand that there are no exact measurements for a wooden dummy.
What I will do is suggest some guidelines that will help you to construct your own wooden dummy tailor-made for you. Before you begin however, you need to make a decision on where and how you are going to mount the post, or trunk of the dummy. This is important, since the placement of your dummy will determine whether you are going to require say a three meter post for burying in a hole in the garden, or a short post for wall mounting Hong Kong style. Do you require a heavy dummy or a lightweight one? Do you want your dummy to remain fixed to a wall, or do you want it
to be fixed in a movable frame?
Regardless of the mounting method and weight of post you use, the three arms and
the leg of your wooden dummy will remain the same in their specification. That specification is you. In other words the wooden dummy should be a mirror image of your own build - and not the build of some other person who is much smaller than you or perhaps twice your size. While ultimately any dimension of dummy will do, building or altering one to your own specification will make for easier and more comfortable training in the beginning.
It is possible that you have already purchased a one size fits all dummy and it really suits you. If so, great. However If you have purchased a one size fits all dummy or a home-built one from a friend and it doesn’t feel right, you may use my method as a guide to make any alterations needed. Here is the method I suggest that you use to build your own custom-tailored dummy:
Measure your arm from the tip of your elbow to your wrist then add an inch, being the distance the dummy arms should extend from the face of the dummy. (You can shorten if required). Be sure to leave enough length at the opposite end of the arm to go through the post and be fastened at the back. As to the circumference and the taper of the arms, they should approximate the dimension of your forearm. The height of the third arm (the lower arm) should approximate your navel height when you are standing with your knees bent as in the Yee Jee Kim Ying Ma. The height of the two upper arms should be about your chest nipple height or a little higher, (or midway between your nipple and your clavicle) when standing with your knees bent. But not higher than your shoulders.
The distance between the two upper arms at their extremity should preferably be no narrower than the chest nipples, but no wider than the outside of your shoulders.
(If your dummy arms are too long and/or too wide apart at the ends, you may be training too far away from the post and will need to make gross movements to get around the arms of the dummy. If the dummy arms are too short and/or too close together at the extremity you will likely become constricted in your joints, jamming yourself up when attempting to enter inside.
The forward leg of the dummy should protrude forward (the same distance as the arms) to the knee, on a slight downward angle to meet your knee height, then dropping down toward the ground, similar to the shape and the positioning of your own leg if you were standing in say a forward stance, or the martial “bow and arrow” stance.
Face your dummy square on in the neutral chi sau position, your bong and tahn in contact with the dummy arms. Not too far away - close enough that you can touch the “face” of the dummy post with both palms while your arms are slightly bent. You should feel comfortable. If you feel either constricted or too open in this position make the necessary adjustments to the limbs of the dummy. Finally, I prefer to finish my dummies with Tung oil.
When training on a friends dummy, if it doesn’t feel right for you he may not be to happy if you take to it with skill-saw or a hammer and chisel, but don’t conform to artificial limitations imposed by the specifications of your friends dummy; instead, simply make adjustments to your maneuvering as you would in a real-life situation, for you cannot pick and choose the size or dimensions of an assailant. Likewise you should be able to train on any dummy! (From "The Invincible Man" by Kevin Earle)
The Student trianing wooden dummy
Sifu Greg took his student to Hong Kong
to meet GM Yip Man (circa 1970)
Muk Jong workshop with Sifu Jim Fung
I built my first wooden dummy 1975
dummy construction Sydney 1979
My Student training dummy in my High Street school - Christchurch 1978