Sunday, July 15, 2007

Choy Lee Fut Wooden Dummies - Shaolin Hall of Wooden Men

The legendary Shaolin temple and its famed martial arts remain shrouded in mystery and mystique. One of the most enigmatic and controversial of the Shaolin methods is the wooden dummy training and the legendary Hall of wooden men. Did the hall of wooden men really exist? There is no evidence of wooden dummy training or of a wooden men hall in what is now the Shaolin Temple. Further, there is no wooden dummy training in modern Shaolin Kung Fu. Could wooden dummy training be a more recent introduction or even a fabrication?

We see some evidence of the authenticity of Shaolin wooden dummy training in the many styles of kung fu that trace their roots, their inheritance to the Shaolin temple. The folklore of many styles speaks of the Shaolin Wooden men. Further, there are many styles that have retained and that still use wooden dummies of various designs, in their training. The Mook Jong can be found not only in Wing Chun but also in Hung Gar, Praying Mantis and with variations, in other styles. Chow Gar praying mantis retains the inheritance in their exceptional variety of training drills which are termed “jongs”. In fact, if you look deep enough, you will find some remnant of wooden dummy training in most of Shaolin derived systems of kung fu. This is strong indication that there was a wooden dummy system of training that originated in the Shaolin Temple.

Occasionally we find that legends and folklore are based on ancient truth and this is one of those cases. An extensive system of wooden dummy training was developed at Shaolin and used for advancing and improving specific kung fu skills. The most tangible evidence of this is found in Choy Lee Fut’s wooden dummy system.

Chan Heung, Founder of the Choy Lee Fut system of kung fu learned the wooden dummy system from his teacher, the Shaolin Monk Choy Fok and incorporated this as a key aspect of training in Choy Lee Fut. Thus a system of wooden dummy training going back to the Shaolin temple has been preserved, documented and passed on within Choy Lee Fut kung fu to this day.

This article will outline the format and organization of this system, address the overall logic and training concepts behind it, and highlight several of the unique dummies that are used.

For the complete article, please visit the Shen Martial Arts article section at This article is titled "Hall of Pain - 9/07.