Wing Chun Dummy: Its History and Practical Use

Wing Chun Dummy

People have seen Wing Chun practitioners train on a Wing Chun dummy. It is the iconic symbol of the martial art of Wing Chun. 

The Wing Chun dummy has an interesting story and we’re going to share its story with you. We’ll also list offshoots of the dummy used by other martial arts and detail techniques for using a Wing Chun dummy.

The history of the Wing Chun dummy

A Wing Chun dummy actually isn’t the name used for this training dummy. Its real name is Mu ren Zhuang, which translates to “wooden man post.”

The legend behind how the idea for the dummy dates back centuries. One of the 5 elder Shaolin monks, Ng Mui was said to have created the original Mu ren Zhuang.

Mui allegedly made it from 108 different other training dummies to make the Mu ren Zhuang. There’s no proof to back this up, but it’s a nice legend to tell.

Before Wing Chun, various forms of Kung Fu used some version of a wooden Mu ren Zhuang

The modern Wing Chun design as we know it today was created by Wing Chun founder Ip Man. Master Ip Man lived in Hong Kong, where everyone lives in small apartments.

Ip Man realized that he and his students did not have the space to train in their homes. This would lead him to design the Wing Chun version of the Mu ren Zhuang.

A wooden pole with three poles protruding out from the pole. Two in the middle to mimic arms and one at the bottom to mimic a kick.

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Rope was also wrapped around the top and bottom of the main pole as padding to strike the dummy.

This Wing Chun dummy revolutionized the martial art and would influence other martial arts to adopt the dummy for training purposes.

Types of Wing Chun Dummies

There are actually two versions of the Wing Chun dummy. People refer to these dummies as either “alive” or “dead.”

The versions that are referred to as alive get the name due to how they’re mounted. The wooden slats that they’re mounted on have a bounce and spring to them that sort of mimics a person.

Types of Wing Chun dummies that are mounted on solid slats that don’t move are referred to as dead. 

Most Wing Chun practitioners now use alive dummies due to it feeling like you’re sparring a real person. Wing Chun dummies now come either the original wooden pole or wall mounts.

Variations of Wing Chun Dummies in other martial arts

Wing Chun isn’t the only martial art that uses a Mu ren Zhang dummy for training. Here are the other martial arts that use a variation of the Wing Chun dummy.

Jeet Kune Do

Jeet Kune Do founder Bruce Lee was a student of Wing Chun founder Ip Man. Lee trained directly under Master Man and took many of the principles of Wing Chun to create Jeet Kune Do.

Lee would also implement the Wing Chun dummy into Jeet Kune Do training variations. The most notable difference in the Jeet Kune Do version of the dummy is that the wooden leg is metal. Its neck is also modified to be a little longer to mimic an opponent’s head.

Ching Jong

The Chinese martial art of Ching Jong’s variation of Mu ren Zhang is a bit different. In the Ching Jong version, the top arm moves up and down thanks to an anchored pulley system.

This dummy’s bottom arms stick out like a V and optional sandbags can be added to sides or top. Ching Jong practitioners use these sandbags for hand and finger conditioning.

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Sui Sau Jong

A Sui Sau Jong or a “break hand dummy” features swinging arms that mimic punches. Similar to the rotating punch bar that many MMA and some of the best kickboxers work with today.

This dummy was designed for its users to evade or block attacks and deliver counter attacks.

Ma Jong

A Ma Jong or horse dummy looks like a wooden horse that is moveable. Training partners can move this dummy towards you like an opponent charging and you can counter attack and push it back. 

Choy Lee Fut Dummies

The Wing Chun is a style of Wu Shu mainly uses two different types of dummies similar to the Wing Chun dummy.

A Quiang Bao Zhuang or a wall mounted sandbag and the Sha Bao Zhuang. Another sandbag apparatus with two weighted sandbags that moves the main sandbag up and down.

Modern Wing Chun Dummies

Today, Wing Chun dummies come in three types of material. The original version being wood and now they are available in metal or a cheaper version of plastic.

Of course, the preferred version of the Wing Chun dummy is still the traditional wooden style.

Guidelines for using a Wing Chun Dummy

If you have interest in using a Wing Chun dummy, there is one specific guideline that you must follow. Do not treat this dummy like a punching bag.

Meaning do not punch a Wing Chun dummy full force. This piece of equipment is more for blocking and counter attacking.

You can strike a Wing Chun dummy, but do not hit them with full force punches. Otherwise, you could break the dummy or more likely break your hand(s).

Basic Wing Chun Dummy techniques

For those interested in using a Wing Chun Dummy, here are three basic techniques you can practice on one.

Huen Sou

A Huen Sou is the most basic technique you can do on a Wing Chun dummy. You start the technique with one arm between the arms, swim it under one side, and strike upward towards the head.

It’s a quick motion that involves swimming your arm through like a pummel, while pivoting your feet back and forth.

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Once you get down the motion with one hand, you can add the other into the movement. Pivoting your feet as you swim in and out to strike the inside and outside of the dummy.

Pok Sou/Low Jeung

The first movements of this technique are the exact same as a parry followed up with a counter body punch. Your lead hand swats the dummy arm to the inside as you step and palm strike the body.

Once you go one way, you repeat the movement to the other way and gain a rhythm going left to right. It is also your choice if you want to strike with your palm or your fist. Just remember not to hit the dummy full force with a fist.

The advanced version of this movement is where you strike up to the head. At the same, you swing your leg behind the dummy leg to mimic a trip. Very similar movements to a superman punch.

Huen Sou & Pok Sou mixed together

Once you get down the movements of these two basic movements, you can then start moving them together. You’ll start to get a fluid flow going and you’ll just naturally connect these movements together.

Where to buy a Wing Chun Dummy?

Like most everything, you can buy a Wing Chun dummy on Amazon. They have various different brands, but here are some of the best rated ones currently available on the site.