The wing chun wooden dummy or Muk Jong is a traditional training tool of the wing chun system. To look at it it looks like a basic upturned log with three pieces of wood sticking it out of its base and a fourth wooden le g sticking out of it. But don’t be fooled this little beauty is a benchmark of your training and puts into practical application all that you learn from your forms and your training. The good news is unlike an opponent your can beat the crap out of it BUT it wont hit back!
All of the concepts that are taught in WIng Chun training is applied to the dummy. It is generally regarded that in its completion the dummy has 108 moves. As with many things in Wing Chun training this is a little contentious, however as at this stage this is a brief overview- we will stay with the common convention. As you progress through the system you build upon the moves in the Dummy.
One of the key concepts when learning wing chun dummy is to imagine that it is an opponent and actually going through a fighting sequence. As in any normal situation when confronted with an opponent you need to bridge the gap(link) between you and them —this is where what is known as an entry technique is used and it is the first move of the dummy. This opens up a series of techniques where you defend and attack against your imaginary opponent. This is where the practical application of hand moves such as Bill Sao , tan sao, & garn sao are used. Most of these moves are learnt in the Shil Lim tao form and as you graduate to the other forms these new moves are introduced. One of my favourites is cheun sau –aka seeking hand. This little concept has enormous applications as it is the precursor of many wing chun trapping moves. When you block with a straight punch with a pak sao it is usually followed up with a churn sao to cover the attacking arm so you can follow up. The real beauty behind training on the wing chun dummy is that it teaches you the correct movements of the system, but importantly it teaches you correct positioning.
How to execute a strike on an opponents and be positioned in a way where you are out of their reach. This all comes down to the basic of most basics: your footwork. Making sure you are positioned correctly so you are not too front on with your opponent -you never want to be in a situation where you are using force on force. It also teaches how to correctly defend – bill sao is the most common move -primarily against round punches. Think of it as extending your arm outward with your elbow lightly raised pointed out ward. The idea is to meet the oncoming round punch and defends sou yo are blockage at wrist on wrist…..and not to extend too far out from the shoulder level. This technique is taught during the many sequences of the wing chun dummy. A side effect of your practise on the Wing Chun Dummy is that your arms will become well conditioned during this time ( as they should ) ans much stronger.
So much so that they should be like iron bars when facing your opponents ( I embellish a little but you get the point).
As you continue to learn THE DUMMY you will get a feel of the the amount of force needed when applying the wing chun training techniques…too soft and its ineffective. Trying to be too forceful you will overcompensate and not strike cleanly.
There are many nuances when training in the dummy : for example it teaches you two arm defence and attack …how to position yourself in close quarter attacks..how to use certain chi sao moves and defensive techniques. One of the most challenging things to keep in mind is for your strikes to be made in a forward motion. Even when defending against a punch you should not strike across your body..the strikes should be made in a forward motion towards your opponents central line. This helps you keep your form and reinforces the simultaneous defensive attacking philosophy of wing chun.
Also keep in mind there is a rhythm to using the Wing chun Dummy it is not just a step by step paint by numbers approach. There is a flow that needs to be taken and a rhythm to the whole process. My old master use to say he can tell how you are performing the wing chun dummy just by hearing the sounds you are making..He did not need to see your technique.
The longer you practice, the more you will develop this rhythm and combined with your correct footwork you will gain the correct positioning needed to make your kung fu training a success… But keep note this is just a training mechanism against a static tool/opponent… the idea is to grasp these concept and use them in you training , sparring and chi sao. With a practical understanding of these concepts and applied to your training you will be flexible enough to use them in a dynamic situation.