With a few inexpensive items, plenty of duct tape, and some ingenuity, you can make a self-defense training dummy that will outdo the best striking bags on the market. This bag will allow you to work two different targets most common in self defense and combat sports (the head and body), and it will also improve your timing and speed.
Things You'll Need
- Duct tape
- Cleated mooring-type plastic buoy(s) and/or volley/soccer ball(s)
- Bungee cords (small and large)
- Basketball nets, 2 to 4
- Cotton fabric roll, 4 to 6 feet
- Pool noodle section, 4 to 6 inches
- Step ladder
- Nylon rope
- Porch swing brackets/swivels
- Thick wooden stake
Secure the plastic cleats of the buoys together with bungee cords (cut off the hooks at the end) and duct tape. Use two nets on each piece for ultimate durability, and make sure the bigger buoy is on the bottom with the smaller one on the top. Leave some loose ends at the top and bottom of the netting. Make a good-size loop with a small bungee cord to connect all the net loops for later mounting, and then tape all those loops together tightly.
Alternatively, place each soccer or volleyball into the basketball netting and secure each open end with duct tape so the ball is held tightly and looks like a piece of candy wrapped in a piece of cellophane twisted at the ends. Connect the bottom side of the netting on the head piece to the top side of the netting on the body piece with small bungee cords with the end hooks cut off.
Wrap each ball or buoy tightly with the cotton fabric. Pad the punching areas completely. Use duct tape to keep things in place as you wrap. Once both the head and body pieces have been sufficiently wrapped so they are not too hard to punch and/or kick, completely envelope the whole apparatus in duct tape. Place sections of a pool noodle (the type with a hole through the middle is best) around the area between the two balls or buoys and shape it about as thick as a human neck by wrapping tape and/or more cotton fabric around the area. Use waterproof duct tape on the outermost skin of the whole setup.
For outdoor use, find a good tree with a branch overhanging some flat ground. Tie one end of your nylon rope to the tree branch, keeping it about 6 to 10 feet away from the tree trunk for full range of motion. Let the rope hang down until it's about 10 to 12 feet off the ground. Use a stepladder to tie one end of a long bungee cord to the looped end of the rope. Pass the other end of the bungee cord through the top loops of the basketball netting above the head piece that you connected with a small bungee cord. Wrap the tops of the loops in duct tape to prevent friction from wearing through these cotton net loops over time. Pass the lower end of the bungee cord through the loop on the hanging rope. Tie it off when the head piece looks about a foot or two above your eye level. Make the first tie loose so you can adjust it later.
Drive a thick wooden stake deep into the ground. Screw a porch swing bracket, which has a long screw attached to an eyelet and a rubber-coated chain-link attachment for easier swiveling and twisting, tightly to the top of the stake or post. Attach the bottom loops of netting hanging from the body piece to another few bungee cords. Loop the other ends of these through the porch swing chain link. You can even use the hooks on the bungee cords if they fit. Cinch them around the link with a pair of pliers for a lasting hold if they are metal hooks, and tape them shut if they are plastic hooks. Adjust the tightness of the top cord so the body piece lines up roughly with your own and the middle of the head is around your eye level.
Use duct tape to protect the bungee cords from the elements and fasten them all together tightly.
Indoor mounting requires two porch swing brackets and bungee cords unless you are dealing with a really high cathedral ceiling. In that case, you might need the rope again. Screw one porch swing bracket into the floor and one in the ceiling where you want the bag to hang, and connect the top and bottom pieces to the brackets with bungee cords alone. Again, adjust the top rope in the end for height adjustments.
The bungee cords introduce a unique movement style when each strike lands, forcing you to adjust for the next strike in the blink of an eye. The more you use, the faster the bag will move and rebound when you hit it.
Tips & Warnings
- Two plastic mooring buoys with rounded plastic cleats are ideal for this project, but you can use one or even two volleyballs or soccer balls. Try to get buoys of different sizes with a small one for the head and a larger one for the body.
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