Tuesday, May 5, 2009

This Morning's RX - Rest, Relaxation and Writing.

It’s Tuesday morning and I still have that last little bit of a head cold hanging on. I’ve got about a pint of grapefruit juice in the fridge and I expect it will be gone by the time I finish this.

I might try a light workout this afternoon after I bring my kid home from school. If I do, it’ll probably emphasize stretching, a key and often neglected part of any athletic training. It’s also good to do if you are getting over a cold. It’ll help wring out those lymph nodes and get things moving again.

So instead of a morning workout, I’ll try to satisfy a request for information on the mook yan johng, AKA, the wooden dummy.

The dummy plays a great role in martial arts, not just Wing Chun or Jeet Kune Do, two arts normally associated with the wooden dummy. Taiji Tanglang (Tai Chi Preying Mantis) Kung Fu has a form on the dummy. I have a manual of that set and studied it on Youtube many times. Though I haven’t yet learned the whole form, I have incorporated parts of that form into my training.

The Yip Man version of the dummy form has also been incorporated into Bak Mei (White Eyebrow) and Yau Kung Mun (Soft Power) styles of Kung Fu. And there are also several mainland Chinese versions of the Wing Chun dummy set.

In my experience, I found that the dummy can be used to practice techniques from a variety of arts, including Shaolin, Xingyiquan, Muay Thai, Silat, Escrima, Kali, Arnis and even classical and sport versions of Karate.

It is one of the greatest training aids. You can practice real techniques on it, as opposed to just generating power like you would with a makiwara or a heavy bag. (Not that there’s anything wrong with either of those training aids. I use them, too.)

It teaches about angles, placement, develops coordination and yes, even speed and power. And you will develop good, hard hands, feet and forearms, though that should not be the primary use of the dummy.

Almost 12 years ago, I wrote an article about my experiences making a wooden dummy for INSIDE KUNG FU. That article was reprinted in the book, ULTIMATE TRAINING FOR THE MARTIAL ARTS. Since I’ve seen versions of that article floating around in cyberspace, I’m not going to repeat it here. The book is also on sale very cheaply at Amazon.com.

But I do wish to say that at the time, I built the dummy body out of a telephone pole. After coming across this video on Youtube, I look forward to making my own dummy body using the method shown by laminating hardwood.

(My apologies. I haven't yet learned to post Youtube videos to my blog. If you have any suggestions, let me know).

One last thing. As much as I love the wooden dummy, don’t stick with just the usual Wing Chun or Jeet Kune Do exercises on it. Use your imagination and try to see how you can incorporate into your other arts as well.

Don’t let the experience of building a mook be a chore. Let it be a learning experience. There’s always things laying around, things that can be used to improve your martial arts or your fitness training. Improvise.

Above all, don’t let yourself become a slave to an art, a method, or a routine.


  1. Ahh, things are picking up at the Kwoon!
    I will be reviewing your wooden dummy stuff, I am planning on building on myself. Thanks for posting pictures and links, it works better.
    To post Youtube videos, look at the little sidebar next to the video that says "embed". Highlight that embed, press control + "C", then go to the blog post you are writing and insert it by pressing control + "V". (Cut and paste). Good to see a little more action!

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  3. Great Post Sean! Yes, besides the standard WC/JKD drills I also incorporate a number of Kali empty hand techniques on it and even use a soft stick and a rubber knife to work weapon drills. Some day or another when I run out of money I'll probably put out a DVD on the Kali use of the Mook Jong.

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