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How to Use a Wooden Dummy for Martial Arts Training

Shroud of Mystery
The kung fu training tool often called, a “wooden dummy,” is surrounded by mystique and misunderstanding due to lack of good quality information. Read further to find out what the dummy’s real form and function is all about.
What It Looks Like
A wooden dummy is usually made from a 5 or 6 foot long hardwood log that is 9 inches in diameter. It has three arms; 2 at chest level that point away from the center, and 1 arm at bellybutton level pointing straight out from the log. There is also a leg included that should be at, or just above, knee height. Wooden dummies are either mounted on a wall, or supported by a freestanding framework depending on your available space.
What a Wooden Dummy Isn’t
A wooden dummy is not used for strength training, or solely toughing your forearms through hard strikes like you would use on a makiwara. The dummy is not a magical device that will instantly make you a martial art master like Bruce Lee. It also isn’t a tool to show off with. If you train with the wrong mindset, you’re not going to get the results that are possible with it.
What a Wooden Dummy Is
A wooden dummy can be an extremely valuable training tool and partner if approached in the right way. It never gets tired. It won’t get mad if you get a good shot in, nor will it sucker punch you (but will still knock you around sometimes). And it is a training partner that has better defense than any human being could possibly have. The arms and leg are laid out in a particular fashion that mimic the best angles of defense used in close quarters combat. If you learn to use the dummy properly, you will be well versed in how to deal with a strong defensive opponent.
So How Do You Train?
You want to train with the mindset that you are developing an understanding of the basics of close quarters combat. These elements are composed of angles of attack, connection sensitivity, proper distances for various attacks, and developing the ability to execute simultaneous actions which could include attacking, blocking and kicking all at the same time. So while you’re training with the wooden dummy, be sure to remind yourself the goal is not to abuse the dummy and build tough forearms by hitting it hard. Instead, treat the tool like the precision instrument it is, and use it as a laboratory to cultivate your skills with a partner that will never call in sick.…