The 116 techniques that comprise the dummy form as taught by the late grandmaster Ip Man make up and important part of the Wing Chun learning curve. The ‘dummy form’ is often said to contain the fighting techniques of the Wing Chun system. This does not mean to say that the techniques learned in the 3 empty forms are not for fighting or combat, the difference is application. The empty hand forms have to be applied to a situation and cannot always be performed exactly as they appear in the form whereas the techniques in the Dummy form are performed against the ‘Jong’ or dummy, and therefore are being practiced in a way that applies them directly. This is because the techniques are performed against the physical arms, legs and body of the wooden dummy.
The wooden dummy itself represents a physical opponent; its arms can represent attacks that have to be blocked or obstacles for the practitioner to overcome in order to attack the trunk of the dummy. The leg of the dummy has to be manoeuvred around and attacked by the practitioner during the form.
The advantages of training on a wooden dummy are, that it can be hit as hard as the practitioner wishes, it can be trained on for long hours whereas a live partner might get bored and as the Dummy does not move much, the practitioner learns mobility while circling around the dummy in conjunction with blocking and striking hand techniques.
Along with some additional techniques like the neck pull and some additional kicks, and the angle and structure of the Dummy, the student is naturally drawn to execute his/her techniques with correct positioning. Because the dummy is a solid object any mistakes in the practitioner’s technique, like incorrect angle and position of block or wrong use of energy is easily identifiable. Mainly because it will result in a loss of balance or a clash of force causing pain and one mistake in the positioning on a block in the dummy form will often lead to the next move being harder to perform so eventually the positioning and use of energy becomes perfect from training on the dummy.