We have all seen the offers and videos to sell a martial arts dummy or give away martial arts dummy instruction. There are many versions of martial arts dummies on the market. Some of these altered versions of the original ancient devices may have some benefit to a user if the user is realistic enough to know that this small device is not going to turn them into a master of martial arts overnight. The Chinese martial arts dummy has seen alterations from the original wooden construction to plastic, composites and even metal.
Several martial arts styles from China have wooden dummies as a piece of their training equipment. The designs vary from style to style of course. In Wing Tsun, the dummy is sometimes used as a training device for intermediate students to perfect certain techniques within their grade of study. However, the 116 Wing Tsun wooden dummy techniques and the associated sticky hands applications are reserved for 2nd Level to 4th Level Technician Wing Tsun instructors.
In Wing Tsun and presumably in other lineages, the art is put together precisely. Certain technique training must precede others in proper order. Gaining the actual skills is not possible without qualified instruction. Perspective is also very important. If your instructor only has a couple of years of training or has only learned bits and pieces, perspective on your future as a successful learner might be lacking if your instructor hasn’t been through it too. Bits and pieces without proper context cannot be successfully used as intended in real fights or altercations. This is a big reason why experienced instructors who care about their student’s future success will not “sell” sticky hands” training or wooden dummy training to somebody that has not had the requisite basic training first. One does not try to teach calculus to a student who has not learned algebra or arithmetic.
-Sifu Keith Sonnenberg