Making your own throwing dummy is a great DIY project for anyone who is starting to set up a home gym. Grappling and throwing dummies are a useful tool for any martial art with a grappling component, including MMA, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling, and Judo. Throwing dummies are fairly easy to store, which also makes them a good option for at-home martial arts training setups where space is an issue.
DIY grappling and throwing dummies are also a little more budgetfriendly than their professionally made counterparts. The raw materials for a homemade throwing dummy might cost around $40 or $50 USD at most. There’s even a beginner version that you can make out of materials that you probably have at home already, like an old gi that will only cost you the time you invest in making it. An adult throwing dummy, like the Proforce® Grappling & Throwing Dummy, retails for $249.95 USD, and the youth version is $199.95 USD. Those models are a solid investment for anyone who is serious about their solo martial arts training. With all due respect to your DIY skills, these grappling dummies will be more effective and last longer. But they’re definitely not am impulse purchase. A homemade throwing dummy is a great way to test that you like training with a throwing dummy before you commit to purchasing one. If you’re working on a budget, it’s also a great way to advance your solo martial arts training while you save up for a higher end version.
To get you started, let’s take a look at what grappling and throwing dummies are good for, who should use them, and a couple of different options for making your own throwing dummy.
What is a throwing dummy?
A throwing dummy, also known as a grappling dummy, is basically a human-shaped heavy bag with manipulatable arms, legs, neck, and head. As the names suggest, they can be thrown and wrestled with, which allows martial artists to work on their grappling techniques in an at-home or solo training setting. Throwing dummies generally come in both adult and youth sizes. The adult Proforce® Grappling & Throwing Dummy is 68” tall and weighs 90 lbs. The youth version is 44” tall and weighs 50 lbs.
Who should use grappling and throwing dummies?
Throwing dummies aren’t for everyone. Some martial arts instructors don’t believe that they’re an effective training tool and that grapplers should train with other grapplers instead. But just because they’re no replacement for working on throws, takedowns, position, and submission techniques with a human training partner doesn’t mean that they’re not a great source of additional training. Boxers and kickboxers frequently include working with heavy bags and speed bags along with sparring and doing pad sessions with a training partner. They use them in tandem with all of the above to improve their striking and conditioning on their own. In that same spirit, martial artists who train in wrestling, Judo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA can use grappling and throwing dummies to develop their strength, agility, precision, speed, and cardio.
Recently, though, throwing dummies have become an even more important piece of martial arts training gear for many grapplers. With the popularity of virtual martial arts training quickly growing, and with social distancing measures still drastically altering how we can practice martial arts in many parts of the world, many grapplers are stuck without any in-person training partners at all. In these situations, a grappling dummy can help martial artists maintain and refine their techniques and conditioning until they can return to the gym and work with other humans again.
For more information on grappling and throwing dummies, check out our blog post, “Solo Training and Throwing Dummies.”
How to make a throwing dummy: the easy version.
This easy and extremely affordable homemade throwing dummy idea comes from Rener Gracie himself!
What you’ll need: 1 gi top, 2 towels, 1 teddy bear or other large plushie, 1 pillow (or 2 pillow if you don’t have access to a stuffed animal suitable for this purpose), 1 zip-up hoodie, and 1 martial arts belt.
Instructions: Place the gi top on on the floor and open it. Open the hoodie and place it on top of the gi. Place one towel on top of the other and roll both together into a tube shape. (These will be your throwing dummy’s arms!) Stuff the rolled towels through the sleeves of the hoodie, and place the stuffie and the pillow in the middle of the hoodie. Once everything is in place, zip up the hoodie, stuff the sleeves into the gi top sleeves. Wrap the gi top around stuffie/pillow/hoodie combination and securely fasten the martial arts belt in place around the waist. Start rolling with your new training partner!
How to make a throwing dummy: the intermediate version.
This homemade throwing dummy from the BJJ Project is a good option for anyone looking for training partner with a little more malleability— and a lower half.
What you’ll need: thick cable, PVC pipes, PVC joints, PVC elbows, rope, a lighter (or other source of fire), duct tape, wadding, saw, fabric, pen, masking, tape, and scissors. If you want to work on grip training, you will also need a martial arts uniform for the throwing dummy to wear.
For exact, measurements and step-by-step instructions, see the video: