A Wing Chun dummy is an essential training aid for anyone looking to master advanced techniques. They’re also a must-have for anyone who struggles to maintain a regular schedule of live sparring in a face-to-face setting. Although incredibly useful, a ready-made Wing Chun dummy is a costly investment. The best Wing Chun dummies can set you back several thousand dollars, while even the most budget-friendly of models can put a serious dent in your bank balance. If you’re looking for a cost-effective alternative and have some basic DIY skills under your belt, it might make sense to consider building your own from scratch.
How to Make a Wing Chun Dummy
Wing Chun Dummy Build Basics
The average Wing Chun dummy is made up of a body section, along with two arms positioned at shoulder level. A standard dummy should also include a lower arm, usually positioned at around the same height as the stomach of an average person. The final core element of a Wing Chun dummy is a leg, which should take on a slightly curved angle. Once completed, a Wing Chun dummy may look fairly simple, but there’s a considerable amount of engineering that goes into the design and build of one of these training aids.
In the past, premium hardwoods were the material of choice for Wing Chun dummies. Although teak is a great choice of material to use if you can afford it, working with this particularly robust wood can be difficult. You also don’t want to run the risk of damaging costly materials as you carry out your build project. As a general rule, any durable hardwood should be sufficient for a DIY Wing Chun dummy. When selecting suitable wood, avoid any materials with obvious cracks or impurities. This is less about aesthetics and more to do with the fact such imperfections are a sign of structural weakness. You should also avoid the temptation to purchase more affordable softwood to build your dummy. Softwoods are simply too brittle to stand up to the demanding requirements of a Wing Chun dummy.
Building the Body
Once you’ve selected your materials, you can move onto the build itself. Use a quality piece of hardwood for the dummy body, making sure you have a core piece that is close in weight to an actual human. This provides you with a more realistic weight simulation when training. Ideally, the overall height of this body section should be around 150 centimeters. You don’t have to carry out too much prep work with this section, but you should at least ensure the exposed surface is smoothed out and free of splinters to avoid minor injuries as you train. The outside edges should also be smoothed out to prevent injury.
When the dummy body has been prepped, you can start creating holes to mount the arms and leg. Use a circular drill to make pilot holes, before moving onto a manual chisel to shape square holes for the arms. As you’ll need to leave room for both of the higher arms to pass through the center of your dummy, the arm hole on the left-hand side of your dummy should be positioned slightly higher than the one on the right.
Installing the Arms and Leg
The arms of your dummy need to be incredibly strong, so make sure you’re using the same hardwood material that you’ve made your dummy body from. Although you can make the arms by hand, doing so is incredibly time-consuming. Instead, use a mechanical lathe or something similar to create the smooth edges required. Create three of these arms. Each arm needs to measure approximately 56 centimeters in total, although you’ll then need to cut each arm down into two identical halves. One half is slotted into the main dummy body, while the other is stuck in the front of the Wing Chun dummy itself. While the arms that slot fully into the dummy will need to be square, the halves that are protruding from the front of the dummy will need to be cylindrical. A slightly tapered profile is also ideal.
Crafting a leg for your Wing Chun dummy is a little more difficult. As with the arms, the leg needs to be divided into two distinct sections. One half makes up the bulk of the leg, culminating at an artificial knee. The second half curves slightly downwards, capping off at an artificial ankle. The upper half of the leg needs to be around 56 centimeters long. Half of this length is to be pushed through the wooden dummy, while the other half will extend outwards in front of the main body. When crafting your dummy leg, make sure the half that will be slotted through the body is thinner in profile than the exposed section. This will prevent the leg from becoming lodged in place when you make contact with it. A square profile is also essential as this will prevent the leg from rotating in place as you train.
Once you’ve taken care of all the hard work, you can think about framing your Wing Chun dummy so it can be used for training. An easy way to do this is to use two vertical posts. There’s no strict requirements when it comes to dimensions here, but the posts should be sturdy enough that they can take the full weight of your dummy. Once you’ve decided on your support posts, securely mount your dummy in place. You then to attach these posts to the wall, ceiling or floor. When framing your dummy, just ensure you’re not restricting access to it. A completed DIY Wing Chun dummy can be left untreated. However, if you don’t like an untreated aesthetic, consider applying a light coat of natural wax for a low-key finish.