Making a grappling/throwing dummy

I never get a chance to practice throws except at the dojo, and then only a little bit of the time. (I'm too low-skill for the adult brown belts to work with, and too big for the high-school kids, who prefer to hang out and work with their own age group, anyway.) My kids have each other to practice on, but realistically, that works for maybe ten throws and then they don't want to get thrown any more. Dummies seem to be the answer.

Since my sprung floor is on a weeklong hold, I've bought some PVC, rebar and sand with the intention to make a dummy. I want a throwing dummy and maybe a grappling dummy (or one that can be used for both). I have a basic plan drawn up that uses rebar-reinforced PVC for the "skeleton" and sand bags for the "muscles" and most of the mass; then rags for the "flesh" and duct tape for the "skin".

Does anyone have any advice? Anyone made these? I have made a test joint for knees/elbows/hips/shoulders. It seems to work okay, but it's a lot of work to make (plywood, a spring, and a bunch of carriage bolts). Before I dive into this, I'd like to get any feedback anyone has. I've seen a couple of internet sites that talk about this, but nothing much like what I'm doing. Any help/advice appreciated.

throwing dummy: it is difficult to think of a satisfactory method of standing it up. maybe it would work to hang it by a heavy-dute velcro strap on the top of its head or shoulders.

i wouldn't make it too heavy, err on the light side -- the dead-weight hanging there makes it seem much heavier than it is.

joints: have you seen the news about heavy-duty alumuminium-cored service cable? that seems like a very simple yet very effective solution, much easier, quicker, and perhaps better than your elaborate creations. there is a guy with a webpage all about it, and the differences he feels are important between throwing & newaza dummies.

keep things simple, and make an Al-cable ground-dummy first, which you'll definitely all get heaps of use with. Then try a suspended throwing dummy. good luck!

Just went to Home Depot and got 30' of 1/0 copper cable, about as thick as my little finger. I'm going to line the PVC pipes with this at the joints. I'll let you know how it goes. Thanks for the suggestion!


i think you've made a big mistake! my friend tried it with copper cable, and was very disappointed -- i've heard other similar reports too. you need very thick _Aluminium_ cable, 25mm or so. go and study this page:

Okay, you convinced me. I took the copper cable back (which was super-cheap because it was a 30' remnant) and still paid 30% LESS for stiffer, lighter-weight aluminum 2/0 cable. So far, I'm happy.

25 mm is an inch across -- that's some nasty cable! The stuff I got is 2/0 electrical cable, roughly the thickness of my little finger. Hope it works...

See Bubbamaker's U.S. Patent #6,139,328 for the grappling dummy at ... has both PDF and HTML versions.

Spoxjox ,

of course you can always use two strands of your thinner cable to get the right total thickness. but maybe for child-size dummies, pinkie-width would be ok.

did you decide to use long strands for entire limbs, or try to use short segments only as joints, somehow attached to wooden 'bones' ?

please can you email me when you're done?

charlie (

For my first dummy (the size of my six-year-old, so he has an uke to practice on), the skeleton will be entirely made of aluminum cable threaded through 1/2" pvc pipe. If it works out well, I may do the same for the adult size, or I may only use cable for the joints and fill the "bones" with rebar instead. At this point, it's way too early to debate that point.