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How to Make a Homemade Self-defense Dummy From PVC

Updated July 19, 2017

Training dummies and pads are important for improving your self-defence skills. Your primary self-defence work should come from a licensed martial arts gym, but if you want some extra training after class and don't have a training partner available, a training dummy can act as an effective substitute. You can purchase training dummies from martial arts equipment providers. These dummies are convenient for at-home use, but they tend to be expensive. You can make your own training dummy from PVC and other simple household products. According to "The Living Example," it only takes a few hours to produce a PVC self-defence dummy.

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  1. Cut the electrical wire with the wire cutters. Make two 6-foot lengths of wire and one of 3-foot length.

  2. Bend each 6-foot wire into a U-shape. Keep them separate.

  3. Tape the 3-foot wire to the trough of one of the U-shapes. Use the duct tape.

  4. Tape the other end of the 3-foot wire to the second U-shape. This must also connect at the trough of the U. The two U-shapes act as the arms and legs of the dummy; the 3-foot wire is the backbone. The wire acts as a skeleton.

  5. Place the PVC pipe over one of the "arms" of the dummy. Use your marker to measure the length of the arm. Mark where the arm ends.

  6. Cut the PVC pipe according to your measurements. Repeat this measurement process for the remaining three limbs.

  7. Cut the PVC limbs in half. These will become the elbow and knee joints.

  8. Insert the PVC pipes over the wire "skeleton."

  9. Wrap the limbs in the high-density foam. Use the electric knife to cut the foam to the shape of the limbs. Do not cover the elbow and knee joints with foam. Leave the joint area open to facilitate movement.

  10. Tape the exposed foam to the PVC pipe. Cover all the exposed PVC pipe with duct tape. No white should be visible.

  11. Wrap the pillow to the 3-foot long spine and tape it in place with duct tape. The pillow acts as the dummy's torso.

  12. Place the mop head on top of the torso and spine. Tape the head in place, covering it totally with duct tape. The head should be sturdy, so use a liberal amount of tape.

  13. Tip

    Use thick foam and pillows to make the dummy seem more lifelike. Without thick padding, the dummy is too skinny and does not provide a realistic training experience. Practice your holds, throws and submissions with this self-defence dummy. PVC dummies are practical for grappling practice because of their hard parts and rigid structure according to "the Living Example." But, you can add thick clothing that allows you to strike the dummy with occasional punches and kicks. Clothe your dummy with thick winter clothing and stuff this "winter suit" with rags and towels to make a striking dummy. Only strike the dummy when it is laying on the ground, this prevents it from flying all over the room.


    Do not strike your training dummy to the head. The neck joint is weak and reinforced only with duct tape. Strike to the body and limbs so your dummy lasts.

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Things You'll Need

  • Wire cutters
  • Heavy-gauge electrical wire, 15 feet
  • 3/4-inch PVC pipe, 12 feet
  • Hand saw
  • Duct tape, 5 rolls
  • High-density foam, 1 by 8 feet
  • Pillow
  • Mop head
  • Electric knife
  • Permanent marker
  • Tape measure

About the Author

Based in Washington, D.C., Jacob Burney has been writing professionally since 2005. He has written articles for "Broncos GameDay" magazine and the 2007 "South Pacific Games." He has also written several approved grant proposals. He is a former Peace Corps volunteer and holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Bucknell University with minors in philosophy and religion.

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