Home made training aid(s)

Discussion in 'Gear Talk!' started by scubamatt, Feb 17, 2008.

  1. scubamatt

    scubamatt New Member

    I use a lot of homemade training gear, because I'm not exactly wealthy (ha!). I also live in an apartment, so I train outdoors most of the time, because my place is not exactly big, either. Anything I use for training has to be cheap, effective, and man portable.

    Practicing my strikes without a sparring partner is ok for form, but I needed a striking dummy so I get impact feedback and a chance to practice the correct range.

    During my years in the SCA, we would use a pell, which is basically a big pole stuck in the ground. You could make them as simple or elaborate as you like. The cheapest and most portable version was simply a big scrap of carpet and a roll of duct tape. Take it to the local park, pick out a tree that was about as thick as a man, wrap the carpet around it a couple times, then wrap tape around it in a couple of places. You could beat on the tree all day and not hurt the tree, then take it down and walk away. After a while, you throw away the scrap of carpet and get another one.

    Some guys would get a railroad tie, or an old telephone pole/log, and bury about 4 feet of it in the ground in their back yard. Some would hang ties on rope, or even stack tires up on a pole and use that. Unfortunately, as an apartmetn dweller I have no backyard to call my own, and the trees around here are surrounded by pesky flower beds.

    So I built one out of a plastic 5 gallon bucket, some concrete, and a cardboard core from a big roll of paper.


    The paint bucket I got for free from the trash at work, but you can buy one at Home Depot or some place similar for about 5 bucks. Restaraunts, construction sites, paint stores, and cleaning supply places all throw these away, so look around and you can find one for free. I measured my cardboard tube and cut a hole in the center of the lid, just a bit bigger than the core. I spent $3 on a 50 pound bag of quick setting concrete, and used it to fill the bucket around the core.

    The cardboard tube is the same kind used in rolls of paper, cardboard or vinyl. Check any carpet supplier, or anyplace that does large scale printing, like banners and billboards. My company throws away about 20 of these tubes (up to 18 feet long!) every day. It cost me nothing, I just had to cut it off to 6 foot long using a saw. The sidewalls of this tube are nearly a half inch thick, it is heavy and very tough. The black plastic plug is the same one that came with the tube when they shipped it. The other end has a similar plug, but it has a square base so the tube won't roll while laying on its side in the shipping truck. I asked for the plugs and got them for free too, since they do not reuse them. I used the square one as the base for my tube (inside the bucket) and the round one at the tip to reinforce the edge. I put a little glue around the edge before I put them in the tube, to make them permanent. The cute brown skin in the picture belongs to my beautiful (and patient) wife.:angel:


    This is the finished product. It is 6 foot tall, weighs 55 lbs (I can carry it by the bucket handle), and will not tip over no matter how hard you hit it with your sticks. It rocks slightly under each impact, and even open hand strikes do not tip it over (it will move away from you and then whip right back to upright, so pay attention if you are close!) I suppose if you really tried you could knock it over, but it has a pretty low center of gravity, and some pretty good mass.

    I marked the basic striking areas with duct tape (face, elbow, knee). When I stand with the tip of my shoe touching the bucket, I am just about perfect range for practicing close quarters strikes. I can store it in a corner of my room in the apartment, then carry it outside when I want to practice. It also fits in the back of my Jeep, if I put the back seat down. My wife says she is going to make me some fake palm leaves out of scrap green cloth, so I can disguise it as a potted palm in my room, lol!

    The flag bag is another scrounged item of gear. It used to be the bag a folding chair came in, now it carries my sticks and stuff. We bought the chair a couple years ago for 5 bucks at Walmart. The chair is on the patio for the wife, and the bag is mine. The shoes are my old bowling shoes, which I use for FMA - they have the smooth leather sole on the front half of the foot, and are very light. They are so much better than the sneakers or boots I usually wear (which all have heavy, aggressive tread soles). You can see my sticks and my training Ginuntings there on the floor, too. The other Ginunting is Dino's live steel one, with a beautiful wooden scabbard. I borrowed it from him for the weekend, for some research.

    Well there you have it, a cheap and effective pell, that cost me three dollars and some sweat to make. If you make one, here are some tips:

    1. Use concrete mix, not mortar mix (concrete has rocks in it and takes impact stress better). A 50 pound bag will fill a five gallon bucket just fine, to within 2 inches of the top. I used 'quick setting' concrete, which is normally used for fence posts and decks. It sets up in about 30 minutes, but you want to wait at least 4 hours before you try to move the pole. It fully cures in about 4 days, if you use the plastic bag to keep it moist.

    2. After you pour the mix into the bucket around the core, add water according to the instructions, then put a plastic bag on the top of the concrete. I used an old Walmart shopping bag, just stuffed it in around the top. It doesn't have to be airtight at all, just cover up the surface mostly. The idea is to let the concrete stay moist for a few days as it cures. Don't move the pole for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. I used my bathroom as the place to assemble it, because concrete dust kind of scatters when you pour it into the bucket. DO NOT USE A WET RAG TO CLEAN UP THE CONCRETE DUST. If you get it wet and fail to pick it all up off the floor, you will have a permanent gritty feeling floor. And an unhappy wife, too, come to think of it. Use a vacumn cleaner or a dust mop/dry rag.

    3. Check the original weight of the product shipped in the bucket, if its close to 50 lbs, then you should be OK. If your bucket doesn't have a heavy duty handle, you can make your own with a piece of rope or strapping and a couple of short sticks. Tie each end of the rope to a 3-4 inch piece of wood (like a chunk of broom handle), then bury the two little sticks in the concrete mix before you add water. Make sure the sticks are horizontal and the rope goes straight up out of the concrete mix. When the concrete sets you will have a permanent rope handle to carry the pell.
  2. gagimilo

    gagimilo Member

    Hey, very nice ideas and info! Thanx for sharing that one bro...
  3. madmicah

    madmicah New Member

    great stuff - thanks for posting and esp for the details of "how-to"....reminds me of a similar piece of gear my instructor made as a wing chun dummy.
  4. Phil Mar Nadela

    Phil Mar Nadela New Member Supporting Member

    Thanks, i too have a small space, this is a great alternative than a tire stack.
  5. pguinto

    pguinto New Member

    we'll be makin one for the roadhouse dojo, my buddy's 1 car garage
  6. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise Senior Member Supporting Member

    Excellent Pictures and a great training aid. I like you enjoy making different things to train with. Definately fun! [​IMG]
  7. Ron B

    Ron B Junior Member

    great idea thanks for sharing it
  8. Carol

    Carol <font color = blue><b>Technical Administrator</b><

    Holy cow that is a FANTASTIC idea! Thanks for sharing it!
  9. scubamatt

    scubamatt New Member


    Thanks for all the kind words, but its just a variation on something I've used in the SCA for years. We've been beating people senseless with rattan weapons for 30+ years, although its not FMA.

    You can substitute a pair of 2x4s or a 4x4 for the tube, if you can't find one, but the sharp edges on the lumber will need to be wrapped with carpet or shaved/sanded off. Otherwise you will break your rattan sticks if you hit it at the sharp edge. Another (better) alternative to the lumber is a landscape timber, the kind they stack on each other to make little walls around flowerbeds. They are green or tan in color (pressure treated for outdoor use) and look like a 4x4 with rounded edges, sort of oval in cross section. Those go for about 3 bucks at any Home Depot, Menard's, Lowes, 84 Lumber, etc. The only difference between using lumber and a heavy cardboard core is a little more weight and a higher center of gravity (a little easier to tip over). With the lumber more of the pole's weight is above the bucket, but its not much different.

    A friend of mine always sets his in the same place in his backyard, so he made a little frame of 2x4s, dug a shallow hole and put the frame around it, then filled it with a bag of sand. Its like a little 2 foot square sandbox. He puts the bucket in the sand and pushes it down a couple inches, to make it even more stable. Of course, he hits his with an axe, so he needed the extra anchoring. When he's done he just totes the pell back in the house. His son plays in the little sandbox when there's no pell in it.

    The tube is hollow, so it might make more noise than you want while you smack it. If so, you can glue a layer of carpet to the outside, or just stuff an old pillow (or bundle of rags) in the top end and tape it there. That muffles the sound a lot. Me, I like the sound, personally. I can tell if my strikes were flat or slicing, tip or middle, etc.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2008

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