PVC or Iron vs Wood
We've had a number of questions from people asking to know the benefits of purchasing a PVC or Iron dummy vs. a traditional wooden dummy. We know that you're probably asking this, too, so here are our thoughts on PVC or Iron vs. Wood.
The primary purpose of a Wooden dummy is to teach "perfect" position relative to an opponent. The arms, leg(s), and body do this by acting as stops to keep you from over-stepping or over-shifting when you practice your techniques and form on the Jong. This encompasses the primary guiding principle in Wing Chun which is "economy of motion," i.e., doing the most in the quickest time with the least amount of energy. In the past, the old masters only had wood to work with. In modern times, we have a variety of materials in which to construct our Jongs to achieve the same results, including stainless steel legs.
Additionally, the dummy should not be enshrined or restricted in use. It was specifically invented for students to play with. There is nothing sacred or magical about wood or dummies. It is an excellent learning tool created by the old masters to facilitate the knowledge of Wing Chun students in the art. In particular, a Jong at home allows the student to practice and play without restriction, away from probing eyes.
The only difference between a well-constructed Iron dummy i.e one with a capped Iron (or PVC) body, wooden arms, and steel or wooden leg; and a traditional wooden dummy is the weight. Those who already have experience practicing on a wooden dummy may notice that the PVC dummy gives a different "feel" than that of its wooden counterpart, but only "if" you have already had some experience working out on a traditional wooden Jong.
Adding additional weight is easy. Any type of fill will do---sand, rocks, marbles, concrete, etc.---but concrete is the heaviest fill per inch, at about 2 lbs. per linear inch, and it is easy to mix and pour.
The most obvious advantage in purchasing an Iron or PVC dummy is the reduced price. A PVC or Iron Jong costs a great deal less than a traditional wooden dummy and you still get the same benefits.
Keep in mind that the primary function of the dummy is to help teach you Wing Chun without the necessity of having a live partner. It is in this manner that the Jong acts as a "second sifu," guiding you through the fabled "Wing Chun door."