Wooden Dummy Question

Xue Sheng

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I will admit right here and now the furthest I ever got in Wing Chun was Sil Lim Tao, and sadly with my limited time these days I no longer train that, but one of the things that got into Wing Chun in the first place was the wooden dummy form. I was just reading another post that mentioned the wooden dummy and I was wondering at what point does one learn the wooden dummy forms in Wing Chun? Do you need to know all three of the main forms first or does it come sooner?

I am not going back to Wing Chun, I still do not have the time, I am simply curious.

I’m not sure if this makes a difference or not as to when the wooden dummy form is taught but just in case I should mention that my Sifu’s teacher was Ip Ching
 

Tensei85

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I will admit right here and now the furthest I ever got in Wing Chun was Sil Lim Tao, and sadly with my limited time these days I no longer train that, but one of the things that got into Wing Chun in the first place was the wooden dummy form. I was just reading another post that mentioned the wooden dummy and I was wondering at what point does one learn the wooden dummy forms in Wing Chun? Do you need to know all three of the main forms first or does it come sooner?

I am not going back to Wing Chun, I still do not have the time, I am simply curious.

I’m not sure if this makes a difference or not as to when the wooden dummy form is taught but just in case I should mention that my Sifu’s teacher was Ip Ching

Hey Xue,

From my line: We started the student with dummy training soon after SNT to train the San Sau techniques. But we didn't incorporate the Muk Yan Jong form til after the completion of either Cham Kiu or Biu Ji. To make a long story short I think the methods vary based on the Sifu and how he tailors the curriculum to meet his standards. (so it varies)

On a side note: certain lineages of 7 star praying mantis also incorporate muk jong training as well. (more san sau based)
 

geezer

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I was wondering at what point does one learn the wooden dummy forms in Wing Chun? Do you need to know all three of the main forms first or does it come sooner?

In my branch, (WT) the normal progression is Siu Nim Tau, Chum Kiu, Biu Tze, the Mook Yang Jong set, then the Long Pole, and finally the Bart Cham Dao set.

Actually, that isn't a lot of material compared to what many folks train. I was checking out the postings on a thread asking about what forms you know? I was astounded at how much some people take on. I certainly do not have the physical or mental gifts to ever attempt to learn so many forms... not by a long shot. A while back I read one of your posts, Xue, discussing your decision to scale back your training so you could really focus on what was important to you. That post showed a lot of wisdom IMHO.

So, getting back to your question, normally a good Wing Chun/Tsun instructor would not teach the dummy set in the first five years of training. Many do teach drills to practice on the dummy, but usually the full set is kept for later. Of course, as you know so well, many folks pick up the outward aspects of the set from books and videos and falsely claim mastery. These guys will gladly "teach" (or more accurately, "rip-off") anyone with money.

Note that when I said that people can pick up the outward aspects of the form, I do not mean to imply that there is a secret or hidden mystical side to this form. It's just that the important things in the form are subtle and take time to develop. They can't be learned quickly from videos, even by an accomplished kung-fu practitioner.

On the other hand Xue, remember that this is the normal progression. If you are interested in understanding more about the dummy, you have a great deal of experience and knowledge that might open doors for you.
 

mook jong man

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Who knows these days , it seems to be anything goes in some places.
I think some unscrupulous schools probably teach it very early because they recognise that people have seen it in some movies and may only join up so that they can play around on the exotic wooden dummy .

They think you get on it and smash it around like they do in the movies and break the arms off lol.

In our lineage it was taught very late and you only learnt the first half of the form at first. If I remember correctly it was sometime after I had started learning Bil Jee. Basically I think it went Sil Lum Tao , Chum Kiu , Bil Jee and wooden dummy , then weapons.

Supposedly all the different concepts and theories practiced in the three empty hand forms , merge together and are honed on the dummy.
So I would say that it would probably be better to have a rudimentary understanding of the empty hand forms before using the dummy.

But I wouldn't say it was absolutely crucial , a lot of the time in a class you will have odd numbers , so I used to give the odd person out something to do on the dummy and sometimes they would pick up bits and pieces of the form that way.
 
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Xue Sheng

Xue Sheng

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In my branch, (WT) the normal progression is Siu Nim Tau, Chum Kiu, Biu Tze, the Mook Yang Jong set, then the Long Pole, and finally the Bart Cham Dao set.

Actually, that isn't a lot of material compared to what many folks train. I was checking out the postings on a thread asking about what forms you know? I was astounded at how much some people take on. I certainly do not have the physical or mental gifts to ever attempt to learn so many forms... not by a long shot. A while back I read one of your posts, Xue, discussing your decision to scale back your training so you could really focus on what was important to you. That post showed a lot of wisdom IMHO.

So, getting back to your question, normally a good Wing Chun/Tsun instructor would not teach the dummy set in the first five years of training. Many do teach drills to practice on the dummy, but usually the full set is kept for later. Of course, as you know so well, many folks pick up the outward aspects of the set from books and videos and falsely claim mastery. These guys will gladly "teach" (or more accurately, "rip-off") anyone with money.

Note that when I said that people can pick up the outward aspects of the form, I do not mean to imply that there is a secret or hidden mystical side to this form. It's just that the important things in the form are subtle and take time to develop. They can't be learned quickly from videos, even by an accomplished kung-fu practitioner.

On the other hand Xue, remember that this is the normal progression. If you are interested in understanding more about the dummy, you have a great deal of experience and knowledge that might open doors for you.

I may return to it someday when and if I have time and if my Taiji Sifu ever retires and moves to California as he threatens to do from time to time. I always felt that the wooden dummy would be a good part of any training if for no other reason to toughen up the arms for actual blocks. But then Wing Chun has a lot of these drills with out that which will toughen up the arms and I have had the painful wrists and arms to prove it :EG:.

If I remember correctly my Sifu taught (and I do not know the progression) the 3 empty had forms, wooden dummy form, staff and the butterfly knives but I am not sure if there was more or not since I was never there long enough to get past Sil Lim Tao, and I tried more than once.

I really like wing Chun and I do feel there is a lot more to it than it is given credit for and if my Taiji Sifu were not here it is likely that is what I would be training today but serious training takes time and I have little of that these days.
 

profesormental

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Greetings.

It's the 3 empty hand forms, the dummy, pole and knives.

Some people teach SLT, CK, half the mook jong form, BJ, the second half of the mook jong form, pole and knives.

I think you can learn the pole before that just for the strengthening and explosiveness it can build.

The Mook jong training has many subtleties that can rarely be understood without serious work on the empty hand forms and thier teachings.

Even doing the void dummy form (without dummy), there is a lot that can be learned and taught from it.

Hope that helps.

Juan M. Mercado
 

geezer

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I think you can learn the pole before that just for the strengthening and explosiveness it can build.

In the WT system, the pole is taught after the dummy... which means waiting for many years (although some pole exercises may be taught earlier). A couple of WC guys whose opinions I respect said the same thing as you. Now, after finally having learned the form, I find that agree with you too.

I suspect that holding it back so long in WT is done for other reasons. In part for money. But also, just as a reward for those who stick with it. Either way, it is a big step from just learning the form to becoming proficient with the pole. I say that as one who has a long way to go yet.
 

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My si-fu said he had heard that Yip Man would say that if his students knew the SNT, CK and dummy they should never lose a fight. Is this to say then that Yip Man's students learned the dummy before the Biu Tse form?
Coming from a WT lineage I had it programmed in my head SNT,CK, BT,Dummy, Pole and then knives. Now seeing the material as a whole (except the stinking knives!!!!I'll never learn them, who am I kidding?????)
I'm thinking more along the lines of teaching the pole after CK to develop more strength and stamina and explosiveness in the student. Then dummy and then BT. Any thoughts on this or is it simply 6 of one and half a dozen of the other?
 

geezer

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Coming from a WT lineage I had it programmed in my head SNT,CK, BT,Dummy, Pole and then knives. Now seeing the material as a whole (except the stinking knives!!!!I'll never learn them, who am I kidding?????)
I'm thinking more along the lines of teaching the pole after CK to develop more strength and stamina and explosiveness in the student. Then dummy and then BT. Any thoughts on this or is it simply 6 of one and half a dozen of the other?

Thoughts? Absolutely. I'm finding out that the WT progression is very logical. The order in which the forms are trained not only makes sense in terms of structure and technique, but also in terms of sequentially conditioning your body, from the bridges to the core. Skipping ahead can have harmful consequences. My own impatience has been rewarded with chronic tendonitis and other issues. The problem is that in the IWTA-NAS the training has become excessively prolonged and expensive... to the point where students become understandably suspicious.

(except the stinking knives!!!!I'll never learn them, who am I kidding?????)

Boy do I hear ya! I came to the same sad conclusion. Talk about stretching out the training! I had been a personal student of LT for about 12 years and hadn't done any of the weapons, except some exercises, when I dropped out in the early 90's. I really gave up on ever getting the WT version of the advanced stuff, and that was a real disappointment. But now I belong to a new WT association and things are very different. My training is progressing again... and my instructor is very generous in sharing his knowledge. You might want to PM me.
 

yak sao

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[


Boy do I hear ya! I came to the same sad conclusion. Talk about stretching out the training! I had been a personal student of LT for about 12 years and hadn't done any of the weapons, except some exercises, when I dropped out in the early 90's. I really gave up on ever getting the WT version of the advanced stuff, and that was a real disappointment. But now I belong to a new WT association and things are very different. My training is progressing again... and my instructor is very generous in sharing his knowledge. You might want to PM me.[/quote]


Were these exercises the pole lifting, etc?
 

yak sao

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Does Jeff Webb follow the old cirriculum pretty closely?
 
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yak sao

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I think that's why I'm looking to teach the material in a differnt order.
The WT material is stretched out so ridiculously long that by the time you get to the weapons you're too old to lift the damn things.

I didn't want to perpetuate that on my guys. But at the same time I do think the material is logically presented, so the answer must be to teach it in a more reasonable timely manner.
 

geezer

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Were these exercises the pole lifting, etc?

Exactly. And also some training movements with the knives, very rudimentary stuff. Not sufficient for any real self-defense applications. I'd have to fall back on Escrima if I ever had to save my butt.

You know, people tell me that LT's reluctance to teach WT's weapons sets early on is precisely why Keith Kernspecht originally began offering Escrima training along with WT in Europe.

I got into Escrima separately with Rene Latosa here in the States. It was just something I wanted to do. Now I'm working with Martin Torres. Its all good stuff.
 

geezer

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Does Jeff Webb follow the old cirriculum pretty closely?

He trained with LT here and also with Master Kernspecht and others in Europe. His approach is influenced by the German approach, but probably a bit more flexible (I've never trained in Europe). Also, because he's trained here, in Europe and in Hong Kong, he's really got a wide breadth of materials, and somehow is able to retain it all! It's wierd how some people have certain abilities. My wife for example can remember complex musical arrangements in her head, on one hearing. I've been told that this ability is not especially rare among musicians, but I could never do it. Sifu Jeff has a similar ability to remember WT sequences. And more importantly, he really understands what's behind them.

You know, Yak, maybe you should ask him these questions. Google Austin Wing Tsun and shoot him an email or call him. He's pretty open and easy to talk to.
 

profesormental

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Greetings.

The progression that was taught, and is still taught in many place, even in the official VTAA curriculum is to divide the dummy form into 2 parts, teach one half first, then BJ, then the second half.

With good training in SLT, CK and good Chi Sao training, including the explicit integration of Chi Sao into San Da/Self Defense situations, yes, many names should be taken and asses kicked.

The pole form and knives are to many the icing on the cake to symbolize transmission, yet they are what they are... simple collections of fundamental drills that you practice many times to get ridiculous strength without looking like you have it.

My 6 1/2 pt. pole training is simple, practice the form a few times, then practice each step of the form 10 to 25 times while doing Qi Gong (which consists of me swearing loudly, huffing and puffing and saying "DAMN, this pole is getting heavy!!"). Sorta like "Ok... biu Kwun. step back to previous position. Biu kwun...." etc. Again with Pak kwun, bong kwun, jut kwun, tie kwun, huen kwun, etc.

The partner drills are simple applications and controlling the distance to your advantage. Same for the knives.

The knives I just go through the form and make sure that the added weight doesn't affect my structure. While the knives have interesting applications because of the anatomy of the weapon, fencing with them in real life would be a big no-no for legal reasons. So in this I have mixed feelings.

Yet it is another story.

Going back to the topic at hand, the dummy introduces more sequences of movements taht can have a lot more application to fighting than SLT and CK. Yet in SLT and CK you learn HOW to do your movements in a way that makes your strikes and defenses strong. The dummy is a way to perfect this performance learned in the forms and apply it.

Again, without the learnings of SLT and CK, the dummy form is virtually a dance routine, not a training and leaning vehicle.

Juan M. Mercado
 

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Many many years ago I built a dummy. I built the trunk with the help of a friend that had his own woodshop. We cut the edges of boards on his tablesaw so that that fit together in an octagon shape for the trunk. Then glued them and used belt clamps until the glue dried. Then I took a "draw-knife" and stripped all the edges off of the octagon to start making it round. When I had it close, then I took a power sander and finished it off to make it perfectly rounded.

The arms were a different story. I didn't have access to my friend's woodshop at that point. For these I took 4 x 4's and cut them to the length I wanted. Then I traced out the pattern of the arm on the 4 x 4 section. I then took a handsaw and started cutting downward from the end to make the squared off back of the arm. Then I cut downward with the handsaw from the other end at more of an angle to start shaping the front of the arm. Then I took a wood rasp and sandpaper spent hours shaping the front part of the arm to what I wanted it to be. The back part of the arms are somewhat uneven and ugly, but it doesn't matter because they don't show anyway. The front part of the arms that project forward from the trunk turned out very well. I like them because they are not perfectly round like arms turned on a lathe. I left them with a little bit of a "squared" effect.

It was a lot of work, and the more power tools you can use the better!
 

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I will admit right here and now the furthest I ever got in Wing Chun was Sil Lim Tao, and sadly with my limited time these days I no longer train that, but one of the things that got into Wing Chun in the first place was the wooden dummy form. I was just reading another post that mentioned the wooden dummy and I was wondering at what point does one learn the wooden dummy forms in Wing Chun? Do you need to know all three of the main forms first or does it come sooner?

I am not going back to Wing Chun, I still do not have the time, I am simply curious.

I’m not sure if this makes a difference or not as to when the wooden dummy form is taught but just in case I should mention that my Sifu’s teacher was Ip Ching
Great question Xue Sheng. With your limited knowledge of Wing Chun having only learned the first form, the wooden dummy cannot help you further your knowledge of Wing Chun very much. We start our students on the dummy from day 1, but with very simple movements, not even any subset, but a sub set of a sub set. Much like if the dummy form were a paragraph and the subset a sentence and the sentence made up of words, we teach our students words only until they have shown they can perform Sil Lim Tao, single arm, and Lap Sau. The main point of the dummy form is to be your teacher when your teacher is not present or training you. It teaches you correct position, energy, footwork, center line, arm position, stance and movement while engaging a physical object. Now having said that, the dummy is not useless to someone without a teacher, but you will not be advancing in WC just because you obtain a dummy with little to no instruction. Even if you watched videos and read books, you cannot correct the mistakes you make if you do not get feedback from a skilled instructor.
 

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So, some "unscrupulous" people teach it straight away so their students won't get bored with their instruction, others seem to want string it out as long as possible , perhaps to keep students coming back and paying dues for as extended a period as possible. You can't win. TCMA pedagogy, a contradiction in terms.

At my instructor's academy, the dummy is taught in regular seminars. All grades can attend. You're usually getting pretty competent with it around the same time you're getting decent at Bil Jee.

I don't buy the "you have to learn it in a specific order, if you are shown anything too early it's going to damage you irreparably" credo myself. If you're not ready for it, it'll go right over your head, but it won't really do you any harm. Any student with half a brain can recognise if material is a bit too advanced for him, he can pick it up again later.
 

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I teach CK concepts from day one, so I start it between SLT and CK, but sometimes it depends on the student. I will teach a panting puppy that has already purchased a Jong, the closing set early on.. as this move is in all 11 of our sets, and it takes more than a little practice to get it down correctly.
What was passed down to me was, most WC concepts are found in the 1st set. Perhaps this is why Ip taught everyone who reached that point, the first set himself?

As for the 3 forms. Teaching WC today is different than the 60's, and it appears Ip didn't teach Bil Jee to very many students.. as in just a handful. Here is a back story, agree with it or not. I was around, and active in the MA world at the time Ip Man died. The Bruce Lee phenomenon was getting up steam when he died, and people were just learning who IM was.. then he died a year later. You'd have to be Helen Keller [Google her -lol ] not to know that there was lots of money to be made riding BL's coattails. Behind the scenes, Who was going to be Ip Man's successor, was being hotly debated by many. [still is!]

The Oriental way is, 'stay in the family', but after re-uniting, only one son trained hard, and he hadn't the years and knowledge of others. Another opportunist, a lo-fan no less [who wasn't a direct student, but claimed he was] said Ip told Him on his deathbed, that He was successor.. and that guy hooked up with Ip's other son. Then, people began copy-writing names.. WC, VT, WT, VC, etc. [THAT'S why those exist], for their business names. It became a poo-storm!
Then.. a longtime student living in Australia wrote an open letter to the others, stating that while living with Ip Man, during the last two years of his living in Hong Kong, He and only he, was taught the secrets of dim-mak within the 3rd form, and He and only he was the real successor. Well, all hell broke lose. He was disavowed, with almost everyone claiming he was just a part time student, just mainly hanging around and no one remembered. Especially hostile was the lo-fan.

That student in Australia's reply is what I still find interesting. After reproving the lo-fan by telling him he was still in diapers when he was training with IM, he claimed no one on the panel knew the 3rd form? He also said if they disputed him to let him know and he would fly out to Hong Kong and kick all their as*es. They didn't reply. [-I have a copy of both the HK reply and his response] He also made an 8mm film of BJ, out of order, that was sent with his last reply. [Although someone put it in order, both can be seen on YT]

Now, today I know at least one person on that panel also knew BJ, as well as another, elsewhere. I just find that comment from the early 70's, fascinating, in that it wasn't disputed. [no, I don't advocate his lineage] Today, anyone can find a third form or a Knife form on YT. This may also be why Ip only made reference to the first two forms, and why a lot of weirdness regarding the 3rd?
Anyway, hope it wasn't boring. Another cool WC story.
Also, Bruce Lee stated, most of Muk Jong teaching was before Chum Kil. 'Tiger and the Dragon' -Campbell
 

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