All right! After all this work we’re finally in the home stretch – it’s time to assemble the frame!
When we left off last time, the two frame halves had been completed. The next step was to tie them together into a rigid framework that will hold the support slats that run through the dummy body. These slats, made of 1×2 (actual) hickory, act as shock absorbers as well as supports, an give the dummy a “live” feel in use. For this reason, most specifications call for the slats to have 5 feet of free span between the supports.
I played with various ideas for cross-braces for the frame halves, but decided on 3/4″ plywood as the simplest (plus, I had some leftovers that would be perfect). Since the two frame halves are 3″ thick, and each support bracket would be 1 1/2″ thick, the total length of the plywood pieces would be 5’9″. A bit of experimentation showed that making the pieces 8″ wide should provide plenty of stiffness without becoming unwieldy.
I cut three pieces to size, and then attached them with lag bolts. One went to the top of the verticals, one to the bottom, and a third to the lower end of the diagonal braces. I would have preferred to place the lower one on the rear of the vertical post, but didn’t plan ahead and drill the holes before assembly, and that was now impossible. Fortunately, it still cleared the bottom end of the dummy body. Once everything was bolted together, I had a very solid support structure.
The next step was to make the support brackets. I had originally thought to simply chop mortises through the verticals, but decided that this would be too limiting. Instead, I cut a 10’ 4×8 in half to make two brackets, and then cut a pair of L-shaped recesses in each one. This would allow the support slats to simply be dropped in place while inserted through the dummy, rather than threaded through from the end as would be the case with a rectangular mortise. Additionally, this would give me a way to change the mounting brackets completely should the need arise. These cutouts were a great chance to try out my newly made turning saw with the coarse blade, and it performed beautifully. These brackets were then attached to the frame with lag bolts, and the dummy was lifted into place.
And here we have the finished product. You can now clearly see how the hickory slats support the body and provide a “springy” action that will give some sensation of how impact would affect a human body. Also, you can see how the log angles forward at the bottom. While I don’t use a Wing Chun – type leg, this angle in the body somewhat replicates the slant of an attacker’s leg and allows strikes to that area of the body in a more realistic manner. If you look carefully in the picture above, you can see the slats extending further to the left than the right. These actually float in the slots, sometimes too much. I’ve got to secure them in some way to limit their travel. I may end up putting a bolt through the ends as a stop, but for now I’ve just added C-clamps to serve the same purpose.
In one final photograph below, I pose with the dummy to give you something of a sense of scale. While the dummy may look small, remember that I’m 6’4″ tall, and weigh in at about 260 lbs. The dummy’s size and mounting approximates an average-sized man’s head height and arm positions, and gives me a more realistic sense of opponent. Remember, the arm positions are a guide that allows for many different interpretations and uses.
That’s it for the dummy. Whether you call it a wing chun dummy, mook jong, or something else, it’s a fantastic piece of training equipment, and I hope this series has inspired you to make your own.
If you’re interested, the style I’m training in is the Slam Set invented by Joseph Simonet. You can watch a YouTube sample of this style here. For more information about him and his other martial arts offerings, his website can be found at: http://www.kifightingconcepts.tv/