Monday, 5 August 2013

Introducing: Flavio

In the midst of being injured, I became so bored that I confided in Google to tell me what to do. That's surely a new low..
After a few searches, I came across a video which showed you how to make your own grappling dummy.
So, wonderful people, here is my step-by-step guide on how to make a
budget grappling dummy
if you ever find yourself really, really bored.
To begin:
Here is a picture of all the crap you'll need:
Ta-daah (some crap, not included in the picture)
  • 5m of PVC tube stuff
  • 2 x "T" shaped connector bits of PV
  • Bendy wire stuff (the red stuff- can be substituted for wire coat-hangers
  • 4 x Foam noodles
  • Any old spare cloth/pillows
  • Plastic bags
  • 6 bajillion x rolls of industrial strength duct tape (ok, about 6 rolls)
  • A marker pens
  • Measuring tape
I went out and bought the foam noodles. The rest of the stuff I stole from my Dad. He's like a hoarder. Holds onto anything and everything. It's finally come in useful.

STEP 1- Making the skeleton

The video I watched shared the measurements for each body part, which really helped. I followed it exactly (that way I figure if it went wrong, I could take zero blame, whatsoever, I wouldn't feel remotely like a failure):


2 x hand @ 5.5inches
2 x forearm @ 10.5 inches
2 x upper arm @12 inches
1 x head @10 inches
1 x shoulders @15 inches
1 x torso @17.5 inches
1 x hips @ 11 inches
2 x femur @18 inches
2 x tibia @14.5 inches
2 x feet @10 inches
I marked out each body part on the PVC tubing, using a marker pen. I then began to violently saw the hell out of it.

I was the proud owner of some immense tan lines at the end of this day..

Once I was done, I lay them out like so:

STEP 2- Making him bendy

This is where the bendy wire stuff/hangers come in. I did this in 2 parts:

1) Hips and legs
2) Shoulders and arms

I cut enough wire to go from the hips to the feet (and shoulders to the hands) on each side (I also doubled the thickness of the wire by doing this with 2 wires- if you're using wire hangers, you might want to use 5/6 straightened out wires for thickness). I then duct taped it at the ends of the feet/hands, and in the middle of the hips/shoulder.

I'm not entirely convinced that last paragraph made any sense, but have a look at this picture and see if it helps: 

STEP 3- Tape up his joints

Every elbow, knee, ankle, shoulder and hip was then covered in duct tape to cover any exposed wires.

Ready for his head to go on

 STEP 4- Padding him out

From this picture, you can see where I added my foam noodles (after cutting them to size) HOWEVER, I would recommend using something less huuuuge when padding out the lower arms and legs. My guys forearms are the same size as his biceps, and getting a spare gi on him at the end of all of this was a right mission. Alas, hindsight is a wonderful thing..
Phase 1 of padding

STEP 5- Duct Tape Time

Once I had added the foam noodles, I used spare cushions and pillows to pad out areas that were still lacking any cushioning. Mainly the torso and thighs (as well as his butt). Duct tape all that on, leaving no gaps.

Phase 2 of padding

Once you've finished that, you should have a...


Now, you must name him. This stage is not optional. Its name must be Brazilian. This is compulsory. Fernando? Ricardo? I know people with these names, and I'd like them to remain my friends, so I opted for Flavio.

At this stage, I'd like to share some valuable feedback from friends on Facebook:
Saz: "Is it some rolling around, friend, thingy?"
Dan Strauss: "...That thing is f***ing terrifying"
Darren Yeoman (my coach): "It's interesting to see how you interpret human physiology... that thing will definitely kill you when you fall asleep"
Mr Scramble, Ben Tong: "That's the stuff of nightmares.."
Fellow scrambler, Miha: "Pray nobody has the voodoo powers to make it come alive"
Longtime friend, Charlie: "Art"
I think you'll agree that, overall, the feedback was largely positive (that's what I'll continue to tell myself anyway).


I have actually used him a lot recently whilst I am rehabbing my shitty injured knee. He's come in very useful. I've been able to look at techniques online and practise them on him instead of my unwilling brother/mother/partner.

Should you ever feel the need to make a grappling dummy then, you now know how to. I've basically provided you with a service. You should pay me. No? Ok.

The end.



  1. Great tips. very well-written, keyword-oriented and incredibly useful. its really interesting to many readers. I really appreciate this, thanks

    Plastic Ducting

  2. That is awesome! I've been out of training a couple months now since my wife had a baby, so this would be great to go over some technique while I can't get to class to actually roll.

  3. Great stuff! Only thing I wanted to ask was what is the link to the vid you mentioned?

    Oh, and you now have further testimonials, thanks to reddit. ;)

    1. Sorry Can- only just seen your comment!

      Here ya go:

  4. Can you update us on what things work well with this dummy and what things aren't feasible? Looks great btw.

    1. Hi Ruben.

      What works well:
      Attacks from mount
      Attacks from side control
      Attacks from the back
      Passing (controlling knees/feet)
      I do a lot of knee slide/kick back passes on him, as well as half guard passes. Top game stuff.

      What doesnt work quite so good:
      Guard attacks. He can sort of kneel. But not well. So sweeps from guard aren't that great.

      To be totally honest, I use the dummy to practise my top game stuff :)