Thursday, 29 March 2012

Self Defense Training at Home

I swear by this device.  Anyone who wants to practise self defense but can’t attend a martial arts class should try building (or buying) one of these things.

The device I’m writing about is called the mook jong or “wooden dummy” when translated from Cantonese into English.  The classical design is usually made from wood but I find some modern examples being made from a variety of materials – plastics, foam…whatever comes in handy and is easy to move around and store.


A typical wooden dummy has a center post to which two or three shorter poles are attached.  The center post represents the body of an attacker; the poles sticking out act as the attacker’s arms. There will usually be another pole attached further down the center post. This pole represents the attacker’s leg and usually slopes down on a diagonal from the center post.

Source: Choy Li Fut San Diego

Lots of people customize the mook jong for their own purposes. Starting with the top of the center post (the “head” of the dummy) you can place some foam around the post to soften the impact on your hands when striking. You can draw eyes, a mouth or even a complete face on the dummy.

You can also draw key targets on the rest of the dummy – a spot indicating the hollow of the throat; a point where the solar plexus should be; a point on the “arms” representing the elbows. I also suggest attaching a foam target where the groin should be. You’ll probably strike that area a lot!

Here are some some training ideas to get you started –

1.  Slap the dummy’s arm while shifting to one side. The slap symbolizes a block or a parry. Follow with a side kick to the dummy’s knee.

2.  Move all around the dummy. See how many times you can hit the dummy within 30 seconds.

3.   Wear a blindfold."Stick" to the dummy with your arms. Shift around, constantly striking and kicking the dummy but never losing physical contact with it.

For further training ideas, visit YouTube and go to clips featuring the following martial arts - Wing Chun, Choy Li Fut and Hung Gar.

Training with the wooden dummy can help build confidence, speed and precision in your self defense techniques.

One cautionary note: from my own experience, please don't strike the dummy as hard as possible. Every time you drive your energy hard into the dummy a certain amount of pressure will rebound up your arms, travel into the spine and then into your head. That's not healthy.

Learn to strike and kick with a relaxed and "soft" type of power, one that sticks to the dummy. This type of strike is a lot safer, and - believe it or not - has a more devastating effect on an attacker if you ever have to use your skills in self defense.

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