When I was sixteen years old, my father had a local carpenter make for me a Wing Chun Doll. It’s used in training of trapping and striking, sort of a bridge between forms and actual sparring, not unlike a punch bag but for more complex technical work. The doll cost a small fortune, but it was custom made, most notably to accomodate my six feet of height. Most kids, if they’re lucky, get a car for their sixteenth birthday. I got a sparring partner. In the grand scheme of things, I think I came out better.
The problem is that, over a decade later, carting that dummy around has become cumbersome. It’s big, it’s heavy, it takes up more space than it seems like it should. It doesn’t collapse easily. And worst of all, it’s not very well made. Most traditional dummies are wooden posts with multiple supports built into the actual design. The carpenter in this case elected to essentially screw half a telephone pole into a wooden platform and covered said platform with carpeting. This means the dummy can’t sustain particularly severe blows, lest it rip away from the screws, and thus the purpose of the dummy is partially negated.
Despite most wing chun dummies costing hundreds, even thousands, of dollars and a fervent desire to have better equipment to train with, I know I’ll never replace this dummy and will likely hand it down to a nephew or niece.
For while it isn’t a well-made tool, it was made specifically for me. And nothing could make me give that up.