Wooden Dummy Training
When you hunger for going deeper in you Martial Arts training, you want your sessions to be the most fight-alike possible. Sparring is indeed the best way to improve aspects like focus, adaptability, technique efficiency and courage, but there is a way, the best way in my opinion, to prepare your body to get rid of that annoying thought you might have when facing your opponent -should it be in a ring or in real life-:
Will it hurt…?
The Wooden Dummy (Chinese 木人樁, pinyin “Mu ren zhuang”) literally means “a piece of log looking like a human” and its purpose in life is to serve you. As tough as you want to go.
The out-of-discussion advantage of the Wooden Dummy is to share with you the real meaning of sparring: on the one hand it’s you, throwing fists and techniques to him, trying not to think about pain; on the other hand it’s him, standing immobile, same expression, never getting tired of being punched and hit. This is the real and ultimate exchange in learning between you two: being able to maintain that Martial Spirit throughout the whole match, even if it hurts, because you don’t want your opponent to gain confidence and think he is close to causing you pain.
The Wooden dummy is the best mate for serving this purpose, and it won’t ever say “no” to your hits.
Limits of Wooden Dummy.
Technically speaking, Wooden Dummy can offer the Martial Artist the ability to perform a limited set of techniques, and the reason is simple: it doesn’t move: his arms are motionless, his leg too, and the main log just oscillates when hit. Of course there are versions out there that offer some degree of dynamism, but that’s way too far from a real human body.
Why the Wooden Dummy then?
The Wooden Dummy is the bible for Martial Arts styles such as Wing Chun and Jeet Kune Do, as it’s the best way to simulate a close combat situation where the above styles can unleash their full potential. Unfortunately, the wooden dummy cannot take in consideration the whole range of movements and techniques a human body can perform, resulting, in the end, very limited under this point of view, while still being the best training tool for improving your B.M.C.© level.
Note for Designing your own Wooden Dummy:
You may notice that, in the above wooden dummy training pictures and videos, displacement of upper arms is not in line like in a traditional wodden dummy that has been designed uniquely for technique training. The reason of this is that the purpose of this type of dummy (5 holes instead of 3) is the ability to detach a specific arm and install it at a specific height, according to the type of exercise you want to perform. This way you have freedom to choose whether a “wooden arm” has to align with your face rather than your chest, hence giving you multiple training set-up’s.
Everybody knows Pinocchio: a tale by Carlo Collodi, telling the story of Master Geppetto, an Italian wood-artisan who wished a son so bad that his wish was heard in the night by a holy Fairy who took under consideration that deep dream of Geppetto and thought “well, I will give life to one of your best creation” -a wooden marionette called Pinocchio-. This marionette was just like a real kid, with the only difference that he was made of timber.
With this exemplification I personally invite Martial Artists to consider this when you are about to build your own Wooden Dummy: make it the way you want, make it of the size you want your training companion to be, but above all: make it in a way that looks real. When I designed my dummy back in 2004 I was just 22 years old and I built my dummy according to the body size and mass of my 22 year old body: I forgot to consider that everything changes, so did my training, and now, when I look at my dummy, it’s still there watching me with the eyes of a 22 year old young man. Please accept my advice: when you design your Wooden Dummy, build it a little bit bigger (while keeping proportions) as you, as a Martial Artist, know well that your Opponent will always be bigger and tougher than you, so it’s better to prepare your body accordingly.