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PVC vs Wood

We've had a number of questions from people asking to know the benefits of purchasing a PVC dummy vs. a traditional wooden dummy. We know that you're probably asking this, too, so here are our thoughts on PVC vs. Wood.

The primary purpose of a WC dummy is to teach "perfect" position relative to an opponent. The function of the dummy is to allow the arms, leg(s), and body do this by acting as stops to keep you from over-stepping or over-shifting when you practice your techniques and form on the jong. This comes from the primary guiding principle in Wing Chun which is "economy of motion," i.e., doing the most in the quickest time with the least amount of energy. The composition of the dummy is relevant only as to regarding tradition. In the past, the old masters only had wood to work with. In modern times, we have a variety of materials in which to construct our jongs to achieve the same results.

Now some will say that the weight of the PVC dummy should "feel" the same as a wooden dummy. What has the "feel" of the dummy got to do with position relative to an opponent? Position involves the body structure and distance between you and your opponent. "Feel" is somethng you get from chi sao with a live partner, and it is meant to develop a high degree of sensitivity to your opponent's movements, which in turn helps guide you to your next technique.  That's not something you get from a dummy. You cannot develop any meaningful "feel" or cultivate sensitivity from a dummy. 

Additionally, the dummy should not be enshrined, worshipped, or restricted in use. It was specifically invented for students to "play" with. There is nothing sacred or magical about wood or dummies. It is an excellent learning tool created by the old masters to facilitate the passage of knowledge from master to student. In particular, a jong at home allows the student to practice and play without restriction, away from probing critical eyes.

There is no difference between a well-constructed PVC dummy, that is, one with a capped PVC body, wooden arms, and steel or wooden leg, and a traditional wooden dummy, except the weight, and, if there is concern, it is easily remedied by adding fill to the hollow PVC body to make it heavier. Those who already have experience practicing on a wooden dummy may notice that the PVC dummy gives a different "feel" or give than that of its wooden counterpart, but only "if" you have already had some experience working out on a traditional wooden jong. Even so, the transition will not take long, as long as the student is open-mined and adaptable to the new situation.

Adding additonal weight is easy. Any type of fill will do---sand, rocks, marbles, concrete, etc.---but concrete is the heaviest fill per inch and it is easy to mix and pour. We recommend either concrete or cement.

The most obvious advantage in purchasing a PVC dummy is price. A PVC jong costs a great deal less than a traditional wooden dummy, and you still get the same benefits -- and more. On our freestanding jongs, the optional lock wheels give it added mobility as well as a more interesting workout. By unlocking the wheels, you give the jong more mobility which will enhance your ability to practice advanced footwork and learn to "move" and "stick" with your opponent.

Keep in mind that the main reason for using a dummy is to help you teach youself Wing Chun without the necessity of having a live partner. It is in this manner that the Jong acts as a "second sifu," guiding you through the fabled "Wing Chun door."

Footnote: Keep in mind, the wooden dummy is not designed to replace an real live qualified instructor. It is simply meant as an additional aid to learning the art.