One of the most common questions we are asked is, “How high do I mount my dummy”, or “How high off the ground do my dummy arms need to be?”. So we thought we would answer that question here for you.
First, I must say that if you have a Sifu teaching you the dummy form, please ask them first, as each lineage is a bit different.
For Wing Chun, you want to be in your stance (Yee Gee Kim Yeung Ma) facing the dummy when taking any measurement.
The correct height for the top 2 dummy arms will be the distance from the floor to either your collarbone/shoulder level or to the mid-chest/nipple level depending on your lineage. Based on our research the Wing Chun community is kind of split in 2 as to which measurement is used (shoulder or nipple level). Some lineages purposefully split the difference and go armpit level. The measurement does not have to be exact, it is a rule of thumb.
Really, the height is a matter of preference for most people. I, for example, prefer the arms to be set higher. I think it is more realistic to train with higher arms because people tend to punch at your head these days, not your body. Plus, raising your arms higher builds your shoulder strength more. And it really does not compromise my technique at all. Other people really like the arms lower for technical or structural reasons.
If you are mounting a dummy to a wall, we recommend using a stand that has multiple settings for the height, so you can raise and lower the dummy as you see fit in the future.
If you are buying a free-standing dummy that has to have the arm-level pre-made then the considerations become more complicated.
If you have a school or multiple people using the dummy, then a lower height setting might be better, because you can easily raise a dummy up. for example, if you have a free-standing dummy you can easily make a platform 2-4″ high to sit the dummy on for under $10. That allows you to have both shorter and taller people work on the dummy. Whereas if you get a free-standing dummy with a high arm setting, you cannot really lower the dummy for shorter people. You will have to buy multiple dummies.
This is also true if you are at home and want to work on a dummy that is multiple heights. Go for a lower arm setting and just raise the dummy up via spacers.
If you are really tall and want to use a free-standing dummy, then you can request from the carpenters used at Everything Wing Chun that they make your arms to your required height. If you want to get very specific you can tell them where to place each arm and leg hole (in inches) from the floor. You can also, just simply, build a little platform out of 4×4’s and set your dummy stand on it. That is what I do.
Hope this helps some of you figure out how height to set your dummy when mounting it or ordering a free-standing version. If you have any questions, please ask.