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The Hillbilly Mook Jong
Building & Training with the SwampTech DIY PVC Wing Chun Dummy
By Pete Kautz, 2007

While I was in Chicago after the Western Martial Arts Workshop I had the pleasure of getting to train in Wing Chun with Sifu Phil Nearing.  Phil has a lifetime of experience in this art and learned it direct from the source, so when the opportunity to stay at his place and trade lessons arose I was eager to jump on it.  Sleeping on a pile of folding mats in the corner of a kwoon (school) never seemed quite as attractive!  As I bedded down for the night under the smiling portrait of Yip Man and the watchful eyes of General Guan I was eager for what the next morning would bring.

Over breakfast, Phil said that he wanted me to learn the wooden dummy set.  Not owning a mook jong (wooden dummy) at first I thought  this was kind of a strange place to start but quickly put those kind of thoughts out of my mind.  I reminded myself that Phil was a consummate professional and it was his job to diagnose and proscribe the cure for my ignorance in his art - so if he said I should learn the dummy set first then I was going to go for it 110% and get as much as I could out of it.

So, when we got back and got down to business, I went into 'mental recording mode'.  This is a kind of eyes-open trance state I use for speed-learning.  2 hours later I was doing the first half of the set from memory.  Phil kindly gave me an old video tape to get the rest of the set from and using mind training sessions in the morning and evening combined with a number of short physical training sessions (~10 minutes each) throughout the day and multiple viewings of the relevant sections of the video tape (roughly another hour a day of 'active watching') it took me 3 days to get the wooden dummy set from start to end.

Still not having a mook jong to train the set on, I started by using the rattan hoop to practice with.  Jim Keating had often said how the hoop was used in place of the wooden dummy by the Red Boat branch of Wing Chun and demonstrate numerous trapping techniques with the hoop on his Iron & Rattan Hoop DVD.  I'd worked with these exercises for years but wasn't sure how easy it was going to be to do the longer dummy set.

Luckily, as it turned out the whole wooden dummy form works with the hoop quite easily.  The same structure that the dummy forces is maintained by the hoop - like a governor on your actions to insure they are correct, hands not too far apart, and so on.  You have to imagine the leg and maintain the correct footwork like you'd use in moving around the dummy but otherwise it's a very literal translation.

Still, the desire to have something more 'mook-like' to train with burned inside of me!  Spying the pile of PVC in the corner of my school I knew what must be done and in a few minutes had put together this sweet little hillbilly mook-jong to train with.

As you can see, it's pretty simple construction!

A total of 4 'T' connectors were used since I had them laying around.  You could use 2 T's and 2 L's to build one too.  I set it into one of our universal bases, like used on the man-shaped dummy, so it could be swapped out as needed.  There's a shim of carpeting to keep the body of the dummy steady inside the metal pipe base that you can't see here.

I didn't add a leg to this dummy because it would probably weaken the body too much.  So I just kick the body of the dummy for all the kicks in the set and put a focus mitt on the floor to force me to move around where the leg would be.  If I do another out of larger PVC or metal perhaps I'll add the leg.

Using 1 1/2" PVC like this the hillbilly mook jong isn't going to stand up to huge power slam-and-jam kind of work, but for getting the correct techniques combined with mobility it works just fine.  And you can build this for well under 20 bucks as opposed to nearly a grand for a real wooden dummy!

Bon Sao Double Pull & Kick
When grabbed from the side you might flinch and instinctively throw your hands up like this Then pull and apply the kick, according to the pressure and angle of the opponent's attack

This technique is very famous in Wing Chun because it's what the late Grandmaster Yip Man used in a challenge match to defeat an opponent skilled in the phoenix-eye fist.  As this much-anticipated match began - in public, on a stage, in front of a huge crowd - the phoenix-eye master attacked and instantly Yip Man used this technique to throw his opponent head-first off of the raised stage onto a table where the man broke several ribs and was unable to continue!  To prevent a riot from the assembled crowd who'd come to see a protracted fight Yip Man and his students gave a long demonstration of Wing Chun instead.

History, as usual, is much more interesting than fiction...

All my very best to you,

Pete Kautz

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