Speed training with the wooden dummy

A wooden dummy cannot move

Before starting, it is important to stress that:

  • This is not a classical training and this is not the Wing Chun or Jeet Kune Do’s wooden dummy (read The 6 Dragons Kung Fu’s wooden dummy)
  • The practice with the wooden dummy is an extension of one of the core technical practices of our school, the Poles Training (read Basic tools: the pole)
  • In 6 Dragons Kung Fu, alongside the classical methods, we add variations based on experimentation and rational practice (what works remains, what not exits read The use of unorthodox methods)
  • This is not a core practice, it is only an alternative setting useful to stress our reflexes, spatial intelligence (etc.) in an unusual way
  • The biggest limit of any training dummy is that, unlike human opponents, it remains always equal to itself; in our school, we constantly add variations to let us not get too used to artificial / unreal dynamics (read Same exercises, different execution)

How to make the wooden dummy able to move

Our wooden dummy is already in itself a very suitable tool for the development of precision matched with speed, the only “defect” is its non-reactivity (read All the training dummies): even if we should imagine it as a moving opponent, it stills an inert object.

To solve the problem, we (occasionally) insert a speed training variant to the classic type of practice, let’s see how it works:

  • Let’s take a strap (or one of the elastic ropes we use for training, read The basic equipment for training in 6DKF) and let’s fix it to the “head” of the wooden dummy
  • Using an elastic rope and a few carabineers, let’s then connect a speedball to the strap; if the rope is not doubled (as in the photo) the exercise becomes much harder
  • The speedball must be not too big and almost deflated; if it is inflated too much the exercise loses part of its value (let’s make our adjustments)
  • The speedball must fall at a height that is close but not touching the leg of the dummy (otherwise the swing will be hampered)
  • Let’s temporarily extract the third central arm of the dummy (it would hinder the motion of speedball)
  • Unlike the Wing Chun dummy, our version is mobile (not attached to the wall, to the ground or supporting bars); let’s move it far away from all the other eventual obstacles, making sure we can move even behind it

An exercise to develop speed and precision

Let’s see how to perform the exercise:

  • Without going far away from the dummy, we have to hit both the speedball, both the upper arms; the idea is to maintain an uninterrupted flow at the highest possible speed
  • Hitting the speedball we are forced to manage all its unexpected reactions (bounces, windings, etc.)
  • We have to parry, control, deviate (etc.) imagining to face real punches, kicks, elbows, knees (etc.)
  • The only unallowed option is to stop the flow (eg. grabbing the speedball)
  • We have to focus on the upper limbs of the dummy and only after having managed their hypothetical attacks (as they were more dangerous) we can manage the speedball
  • Every time the speedball arrives, we have to discontinue our scheme, strike it and return to manage the rigid limbs
  • The speedball must be hit while it is in the air and/or in motion (even several times in sequence, if we are able)
  • Let’s try as much as possible to bring sequential/multiple combinations (eg. making simultaneous parries)
  • In terms of distance, we have to remain in the rage of the speedball  but not standing still (we must advance, step back, get in, get out, etc.)
  • We have to try to do everything as fast as our body allows us to effectively hit (with precision and releasing the right amount of power)
  • We have to maintain a high speed (let’s use the breath to force our fighting pace, read A breathing exercise to develop the 6DKF’s muscle chain)
  • We never have to stop fighting until the time of exercise ends (from 1 minute to 2 hours) even if the speedball will be locked by the wooden dummy arms

At an intermediate level:

  • We can add protections to the trunk of the dummy (and/or wear gloves) to insert attacks to the abs between the controlling movements
  • Once we have gained practice with the action-reaction drill, we can also begin to struggle with different patterns (but always with the idea to fight with a real opponent)
  • If we want to make the exercise more interesting, we can also remove the back blocks of the wooden dummy limbs as they will slip out during the “combat” (the idea is to stop them from going down in real-time)

At an advanced level:

  • If we are basically conditioned (start reading Iron Palm conditioning (for beginners)), we are able to dose our power and we are very precise, we can avoid the protections directly hitting the trunk of the dummy
  • If we are strongly conditioned we can also attack the head (let’s start using a very low power)
  • We can even actively include our lower limbs (the rules of action are the same that we have mentioned for the the upper limbs)

Final notes

  • This is an advanced level exercise (especially without protections), not good for beginners
  • Who has not conditioned his body needs to wear gloves and / or to cover with soft protection the wooden dummy (hitting a knotty trunk without conditioning means breaking our knuckles)
  • At the highest level, we should release only explosive power (Fa Jing), let’s opt for whiplash blows (let’s do not accompany the hits in this exercise)
  • We have chosen to add a speedball to the wooden dummy not only to improve on speed, reflexes and precision but especially to force the practitioner to work with simultaneous state changes (hitting at the same time 2 types of materials with very different reactions)

In the next article of this series, we will see a practical demostration on how to perform this exercise with our wooden dummy.

In-depth video courses

In-depth articles

  • Basic tools: the Hanging Speedball – The way we normally implement the speedballs in our training
  • Trapping – The reason why we train to the states changes (solid, liquid, etc.) is to make our mind and our limbs fast, precise and flexible for combat


Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • Do you possess a wooden dummy?

Author: Master Kongling

Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.

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