How to Build a Shaolin Wooden Dummy

Written by max quigley | 13/05/2017
How to Build a Shaolin Wooden Dummy
Wooden dummies are an integral part of Shaolin Kung Fu training. (shaolin kungfu image by Liu Xiang from

Shaolin wooden dummies are commonly used in Asian martial arts. Hitting and slapping the wooden beams projecting from the dummy helps martial artists condition their limbs. The dummy also provides martial arts students with blocking and striking practice. A shaolin wooden dummy can cost £650, but you can build your own for much less. All you need are a few simple tools.

Start with a wooden beam that is 1 foot in diameter and 4 feet long. You can acquire this in a lumber yard or cut a beam to size using a power saw.

Cut three smaller wooden arms to size with a handsaw or power saw. The arms should be 3 inches in diameter and 2 and 1/2 feet long. Shape them with a rasp or a power sander so they are perfectly cylindrical.

Drill holes in the large beam using a large spade drill bit. The holes should be 3 inches wide and 2 inches deep. Drill two holes at shoulder height on the large beam and the third at about stomach height.

Fill these holes with a generous amount of heavy-duty wood adhesive. Slot the three arms into these holes and leave to dry.

Attach a 3-by-3-foot piece of plywood to the bottom of the wooden beam. Drill four 1/8-inch holes into the bottom of the beam and through the plywood and attach with number 5 gauge screws. Screw these in as tightly as possible. Now stand the entire structure upright so that the beam is standing on the plywood board. Place rocks, sandbags or other heavy objects on the plywood base to give extra support.


Wear eye protection while sanding wood as sawdust can damage eyes.

Tips and warnings

  • Wear eye protection while sanding wood as sawdust can damage eyes.

Things you need

  • Wooden beam 4 feet long and 1 foot in diameter
  • Three beams 2 and 1/2 foot long and 3 inches in diameter
  • Spade drill bits
  • Power saw or handsaw
  • Rasp or power sander
  • Heavy-duty wood adhesive
  • Plywood
  • 1/8 inch drill bit
  • Gauge 5 screws
  • Sandbags

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