Those who practice Wing Chun will know the importance of owning the best wing chun dummy they can find.
If you have never practiced Wing Chun before, but are wanting to take up the sport, we have put together an essential guide to buying a wooden dummy.
- What is a Wooden Dummy?
- The Benefits of Using a Wooden Dummy
- Wooden Dummy Shopping Guide
- The Best Wing Chun Dummy Count-off
What is a Wooden Dummy?
Traditionally, wing chun instructors emphasize the need for practice by stressing the importance of improving on reflexes, to students of kung fu. Trainers insist, however on not relying on a given set of repetitive movements to develop your ability to defend yourself.
For optimal timing, accuracy and a wooden dummy to enhance your training, you need to learn the lessons of the wooden dummy and integrate it into your wing chun training.
A well-known story believes that approximately 3 centuries ago, the Shaolin Temple had a large room with 108 bespoke wooden dummies for the practitioner to train with until he was proficient in each technique he practiced.
The Mook Yan Jong (wooden dummy) is the classical Wing Chun training device that helped make the art famous. Used in place of a training partner to develop precision, form and greater power, a dummy is a must for any serious practitioner of Wing Chun.
The Jong, as it is referred to in Cantonese, is used to train the techniques for the Wing Chun system. These dummy plans are based on the specifications of Hong Kong Wall mounted Wooden Dummies.
The jong is traditionally made of wood which I believe to be the best despite dummies now being made from synthetic materials such as steel and plastic.
The Benefits of Using a Wooden Dummy
Now you know what wooden dummies are, you may be asking yourself if it is something that you really need.
I took a look at the benefits of using a dummy and how investing in a good dummy will enhance your Wing Chun skills.
The wooden dummy represents a person to train with. The design of the wooden dummy is such that nearly all Wing Chun techniques can be drilled on it.
Let’s look at the benefits:
- With good anchoring and bracing you can ensure that you practice at full strength, without worrying about hurting your opponent or yourself. Some hardwood training dummies may cause injury but these traditional dummies protect yourself whilst you get used to new moves and help you gauge your strength.
- Wooden dummies are great for aligning your body, especially your spine. If you curl your back or let your head face downwards, you will see how your power and balance is affected.
- A dummy will reinforce the alignment of the 5 centerlines of Practical Wing Chun. Our 4th centerline can be practiced and made sense of by the use of a wooden dummy from early on to greater strengthen your timing and power.
- It will also help with your strength and your skills levels, the more and more you practice. In harmony with your distance centerline, your individual techniques will improve in structure, angle and delivery. The jong’s trunk, arms and leg aren’t as pliable as a person’s, and this helps you learn to keep your shoulders relaxed and elbows in with forward, ‘sinking’ energy for speed and explosiveness.
- The dummy aids the learning process and allows you to focus and practice gentle power that flows through the trunk instead of the arms.
- You learn to deflect and can practice how to strike in harmony. Clashing is a common problem when learning wing chun but the dummy can help to strengthen blocking techniques, especially the conditioning of the leg.
- It is easy to neglect palm-strikes and strong palm-pushes but when applied to a wooden dummy, you can be very effective and can learn more moves than just fist punches.
- As you move through different techniques and sections of the wooden dummy, you develop the essential flexible moves and get used to the fluid movements in your body, that is required in the discipline of wing chun.
- After much practice, your accuracy will increase and you will achieve greater glance and power, especially when it comes to your kicks.
- There is no reliance on training partners as you can train for hours on end on your own. You can adjust your pressure and power, so that the dummy can replicate different opponent weights and skill levels, so you will never be stuck with a suitable training partner again.
- The wooden dummy will alleviate any chance of promoting harsh clashes, as it provides significant physical conditioning of your limbs throughout the hundred and eight moves and drills.
- Various fighting styles and equipment can be used on the jong to a very high standard. Fighters who use different styles will also gain advantage from using the wooden dummy include Hung and Choy Lay Fut, which means that the dummy goes a long way if you are interested in more than one martial art.
Wooden Dummy Shopping Guide
Shopping for a wooden dummy can be a little overwhelming, as there so many aspects to consider. Let’s take a look at some of the best dummies on the market further on in this article, but before that, you may want to do more research and look at what factors are important for you.
What is the best wing chun dummy, anyway?
Here’s what you need to look at when buying your best wing chun dummy:
1. Type of mount and location
The first thing to think about is where you will locate your jong. It may be in a spare bedroom or a training studio, if you are lucky. This is something you will need to consider greatly, as you will need to consider the type of dummy that will fit best for the size of your location and its surrounding.
If you need your dummy to be stationary then it is best to consider one that you can mount on your wall. On the other hand, if you think you will have to move your dummy about, to take it to practice sessions or to move about between rooms, then a dummy that is free standing will be required.
Self-standing dummies are similar to the traditional design, with the exception that they are built to stand on their frame without being mounted to the wall. Because of this, they are good for training soft and medium strength striking and blocking techniques, but full power strikes may cause it to slide or become “tipsy”.
These dummies are excellent for transport to demonstrations, as they are very close to the original dummy design while remaining portable.
2. Type of Wood
A jong that takes constant hits and that is practiced on a lot will need to be a lot stronger than a dummy for short periods of practice. Research on wood type is essential if you want your wooden dummy to stand the test of time, particularly as you grow in strength and begin to hit harder.
The type of wood that jongs are made out of is important to know because some wood fits individual techniques better than others. While some wood can be visibly stimulating, don’t let a “good looking” dummy sway your decision against stronger, longer lasting wood.
Before you buy a dummy, it’s not a bad idea to ask your dummy provider what type of wood you should get. An honest supplier will question your needs and steer you in the right direction.
3. Parallel or Off-Set Arms?
Depending on what type of training you intend on doing with your dummy, you should know if it has parallel or off-set arms.
It may depend on your training and Sifu’s advice, but understand the difference and know how the arms are set up on previous dummies you’ve trained on.
Arms are generally made from the hardwood RED OAK. They go through lamination process to ensure that they have “Maximum Strength”.
They’re incredibly strong and are able to withstand a beating. The wood is not stained or varnished, so you can stain them to match the color of your dummy.
4. Durability of the Dummy
The durability of the jong you purchase is paramount to know because it can be a fairly substantial hit to your wallet.
I would always recommend doing full market research and look at reviews of the dummy that you have your eye on, in terms of its strength and value for money.
You will need to take your height and weight into consideration when choosing your jong, so that it has a good lifespan and you do not need to throw it away after a few years (if you are starting wing chun at a young age).
You should be able to get expert advice on how a dummy would work best for your size from the dummy provider.
5. Size of the Dummy
As with anything, size can be deceptive when buying online, so make sure you look at the measurements carefully.
Make sure to read the fine print when it comes to exact measurements of the dummy you would like to purchase – there are wooden dummies made for children and can look the same online!
Now you know how complicated it can be when deciding on the best wing chun wooden dummy to buy.
The Best Wing Chun Dummy Count-off
There are thousands of wooden dummies on the market and, with so many to choose from, you may become overwhelmed. Let’s take a look at some of the best Wing Chun dummies currently on the market.
Standard Ip Man Dummy
It is tradition that wooden jongs are made from strong hardwood, to be able to withstand the impact of the practitioner.
Along with some additional techniques like the neck pull and some additional kicks, and the angle and structure of the Dummy, the student is naturally drawn to execute his/her techniques with correct positioning.
Because the dummy is a solid object any mistakes in the practitioner’s technique, like incorrect angle and position of block or wrong use of energy is easily identifiable.
Mainly because it will result in a loss of balance or a clash of force causing pain and one mistake in the positioning on a block in the dummy form will often lead to the next move being harder to perform so eventually the positioning and use of energy becomes perfect from training on the dummy.
A Compact Wall Mount Option
Let’s face it not all of us have our own training or workout room where we can fit a full-sized dummy and frame. As much as we might want one, we need to think about what is going to fit in a more limited space. This compact wall mountable dummy is just that choice.
This dummy is ideal for home training. Originally when Grandmaster Ip Man moved to Hong Kong from China there was no way to fix a dummy into the floor so a student of his came up with a wall mounted version.
The back bars allow the dummy to move when struct but the frame and wall mounting keep the dummy in place.
Since it’s creation the wall mounted Wing Chun dummy has become the most popular way to train the dummy form as it gives the best training experience.
The only downside is that you need a strong wall to mount it to. If you do not have a strong wall, or want something more portable, use a traditional stand.
Though the trunk and the wall frame are smaller than a traditional stand, the arm and leg proportions are exactly what they should be.
Wing Chun Dummy with Recoil Stand
The Recoil Reaction dummy stand is one of the most exciting training tools!
This design takes your wooden dummy training to the next level by applying tension and recoil to your dummy.
Little assembly is required and it easily mounts to your wall or wooden post.
The basic principles this stand offers is recoil and reaction. The “recoil” in that it will always recoil back to the center position after being released. This means the deflection of the arms when blocked provides energy back toward you as in defending an actual strike.
The “reaction” principle simply develops faster reflexes due to the fact that “it hits you back”. This is an excellent tool for the serious practitioner, who is looking to take their skills to the next level.
What really makes this unit different though is the creative recoil stand. Instead of having a training dummy that is completely dormant, this recoil stand absorbs your energy and then pushes back against your strikes.
It better recreates what real-life contact would feel like. Not only that, but this advanced design is actually incredibly space efficient.
I hope that I have helped you in your search for the best wing chun dummy. Happy shopping and practicing!