THE SECRET TO WING CHUN’S ROOTING POWER: Best Wing Chun Training Wall Bags 2020

In order to fight, you need to train and train correctly. Wing Chun’s effectiveness boils down to structure and power. Wall bag training gives you both; to neglect this mode of training is to invite defeat.

I have said this so many times thus far, and I will continue to do so until my tongue falls off and I puke up thumbtacks: Wing Chun as an art is based off of structure.

Everything you will do in Wing Chun has its root- literally-in the structure of your body. From solidifying the Wing Chun yee jee kim yeung ma stance to the body unity expressed through the forms, from the reinforcement of basic concepts through the weapons of the long pole and butterfly swords to the application of Wing Chun theory and technique in a combative sense by way of chi sau and sparring training, everything boils down to one thing: structure.

A key component in training your structure is the use of the wall bag. The wall bag is to Wing Chun what the heavy bag is to a boxer.  Boxers use a heavy bag to develop power, structure and rooting which forms the bedrock foundation of their entire game plan in applying their skill set.  Wing Chun is no different; we need a tool to reinforce our body’s structure, rooting and power generation which will then bleed over into all aspects of training, from our forms to applying the techniques of the Wing Chun system to chi sau, weapons training and sparring.  That tool is the Wing Chun wall bag.  

Much care should therefore be put into choosing wall bags that most accurately and completely reinforce your structure in Wing Chun training, since the rooting and structure you develop will bleed into every area of your Wing Chun fight game, without exception.


How To Choose the Right Wall Bag For Your Training Needs

When choosing the best wall bags for your training and Wing Chun application needs, the following 3 questions must be asked and honestly answered:

  • PURPOSE – What are you using these for? Wing Chun wall bags hold a twofold purpose: conditioning and structure.  Several wall bags are made of canvas, which is very durable and tough yet is murder on your knuckles.  While this process is effective towards conditioning the knuckles, the use of a leather bag provides a less abrasive and more long-lasting alternative for continued use.  All of the bags listed in this review will be of the leather variety.
  • LOCATION – Where will you be hanging the wall bag? The wall bag in, order to be properly trained, needs a solid stable surface.  In other words, you can’t just hang a bag on a bedroom wall and not expect your wall to get completely jacked up.  Wall bags are designed to hang against brick walls or other solid, permanent structures.
  • PRICE/COST – How much are you willing to invest in a quality wall bag? There are countless discount varieties of wall bags out there-I have bought damn near all of them.  Without exception, after sometimes as little as 2 weeks of hardcore training, a zipper breaks, a corner stitching comes loose or a grommet (one of the brass rings around the edge of the bag that you can hang a nail from) pops out.  I’ve learned my lesson, and know by now that any way you church it up you get what you pay for.  Take this into consideration when making your purchase.  It’s not just the product you are investing in-it’s the years of training you will reap  from investing in quality.

Before we get into the list, let’s just take a look at why the wall bag is such a crucial aspect of Wing Chun training.


What Makes the Wall Bag So Important to TRUE Wing Chun Training?

A punch is only as good as the structure behind it, as the body’s unity and structure is the vehicle that delivers the punch. Anyone who has seen somebody who has absolutely no clue as to how to throw a punch take a swing at a heavy bag can attest to this fact. Think back to before you knew how to punch correctly: if you ever punched a hard surface such as a punching bag or a focus mitt, one of two things happened:

  • SCENARIO 1:Your wrist gave out when it made contact with the bag and bent sharply, causing a lot of pain. 
  • SCENARIO 2: You overextended your hit and leaned into the strike excessively so, when the bag swayed, your lack of rooting and structure prohibited you from generating power from from the ground up.  Rather than generating force from your solid and stable rooting and deploying that force through the knees and the hips while rotating with your torso and keeping your elbows in to deliver a solid shot, your body reacted like a collective bag of bones jumbling around.  The result? Your punch ended up as a feeble attempt to generate power, becoming a glorified push instead of a well-placed, piercing strike.

One of the best explanations of how to properly hit the wall bag the right way, with attention placed on structure and rooting as a vehicle to maximum power generation in the shortest distance, can be seen in the folowing clip from Sifu John Smith of Australia.  Check it out here:

Training on the wall bag literally trains your body to root itself from the ground in what is called in fitness and kinesiology circles a “kinetic chain.” A kinetic chain is basically a fancy term for the alignment of your body to generate maximum power and force in a movement.

Punching is no different and in fact depends completely on this kinetic chain. How to properly hit a wall bag requires solid rooting in your Wing Chun stance, body unity from the head to the feet and tight structure throughout to deliver all of the force of your whole body borrowing force from the ground up through the legs and the hip outward to the last two knuckles of your fist.

One can see this “kinetic chain” at work when watching a talented Wing Chun person perform the mok yan jong or wooden dummy form. Watching a good Wing Chun stylist work the dummy, you will notice that it looks as though they basically sneezed or shivered slightly and the dummy moves considerably.  This occurs because they are not “hitting” or striking the dummy per se; this is a stupid idea to begin with since the dummy is not made for conditioning but rather positioning.  Conditioning will in fact occur training the dummy, but it is a byproduct of proper training not the end result.

Check out the video clip below of Sifu Juan Manuel Sanz Oro  of PVT Spain, and pay particularly close attention to how his body moves and how he transmits energy to each motion of the dummy form with (seemingly) minimal muscular output.  Pay particular attention to his body structure and the way he roots from the ground each time he touches the dummy, and not striking the dummy with his arms only. 

This rooting and power generation is developed first and foremost from wall bag training and later applied to all facets of Wing Chun, including the dummy as shown here.  Think of this as a “proof is in the pudding” verification of proper wall bag training.

Ya Gotta Have Structure

How you acquire such structure is contingent upon how much emphasis you place on a routing and structure in all phases of training. It is true that forms are a fantastic way to develop such structure however at some point if the rubber needs to meet the road contact needs to be made and I have found no better way to reinforce key concepts of structure and body unity in all phases of Wing Chun, from the forms to chi sau to weapons and sparring, then hitting the wall bag.  Any way you slice it, the wall bag is where it’s at for power generation, period.

Anyways, here we go with my personal picks for the best Wing Chun wall bags of 2020.  Each one of the items on this list has one thing in common: they are all excellent choices to further your training.

NOTE: All bags, unless otherwise specified, come unfilled.  If you are unsure as to what to fill your wall bag with or how much you should fill, everything is laid out in detail HERE.


The Best Wing Chun Wall Bags of 2020

Wall bags can be separated into 2 distinct categories: 1-section and 3-section.  I have found that one-section wall bags are best for your own training: you know how tall you are, so it makes sense that having a wall bag tailored to your exact height makes sense.

Three-section wall bags are ideal for a school environment as there are several students of different body types using the same equipment.  3-section wall bags also work very well for drilling specific sequences from the forms such as the elbow from the Cham Kiu form or the palm strikes from the Siu Nim Tau or the fingertip strikes & low-line raking punches extracted from the Biu Jee set.

1-SECTION WALL BAGS

Single section wall bags are the most common and oldest form of wall bag. They are great to hang on the wall and some can lay flat for Iron Palm type training.

Ultimate Double-Sided Wall Bag (Leather)

These single-section wall bags are, by far, the most popular wall bags in the world today. They have garnered nothing but positive feedback since they were introduced in 2003.

The bag has a base material of heavy-duty canvas, with a front striking surface of genuine leather which aids in its’ longevity and durability.  It also has a reversible rear striking surface of heavy canvas, for a different feel for the knuckles.

What I like most about this bag is the return policy.  If the bag rips, splits or breaks (under normal conditions) it carries a 2 year warranty where a replacement will be sent to you free of charge, and if you simply don’t feel the bag meets your training conditions or expectations, there is a 60 day return policy, no questions asked.

You can hang the bag either way and use it. The design gives you one striking surface on the front and another on the rear, which gives you options and on top of the base material quadruples the lifetime of your bag.

The zipper, D-rings, base material, and striking surfaces are all top-of-the-line materials.

The one-piece bottom, a wide mouth for filling, using D-Rings, double stitching, and double-layered striking surfaces are just a few of the innovative elements of this bag.

Aesthetically, having the Red Wing Chun letters on the front just plain makes this bag look extra good on your wall.

This is a top-notch bag made by a top-notch company geared up for no-bullshit training.  Very simple, very to the point…very Wing Chun!

– Height: approx 31 cm (12.5 inches). D-Rings add 3.5 cm (1.5 inches).
– Width: approx 31 cm (12.5 inches).
– Width between tops of D-Rings: is 28 cm (11 inches).
– Measurements were taken on an unfilled bag.


Heavy-Duty Double-Sided Wall Bag (Leather on Nylon)

What makes the Heavy-Duty Wall Bag so unique is the fact that it builds on the specifications of the Ultimate Wall Bag listed above, with a few key modifications designed to make it the longest-lasting, most punishment-absorbent wall bag I have ever seen or worked on.
Just like the Ultimate Wall Bag, this bag features the double-sided design, allowing you to flip the bag around and effectively quadruple the life of the bag.  Unlike the Ultimate Bag, the base material on this is a nylon/canvas mix, designed for durability and longevity.
The striking surfaces for the front and rear remain at genuine leather and heavy-duty canvas, respectively.Having a canvas interior coupled with a nylon exterior to form the base material of the bag adds toughness, helps increase your ability to penetrate with your punches, reduces dust particles even more.
This bag is 3 LAYERS THICK on each side! It is absolutely the toughest wall-bag on the planet.
The same warranty to the Ultimate Wall Bag applies to this one as well: if the bag rips, splits or breaks (under normal conditions) it carries a 2 year warranty where a replacement will be sent to you free of charge, and if you simply don’t feel the bag meets your training conditions or expectations, there is a 60 day return policy, no questions asked.

The zipper, D-rings, base material, and striking surfaces are all top-of-the-line materials.  The one-piece bottom, a wide mouth for filling, using D-Rings, double stitching, and double-layered striking surfaces are just a few of the innovative elements of this bag.  Aesthetically, having the Red Wing Chun letters on the front just plain makes this bag look extra good on your wall.

This wall bag takes the Ultimate Wall Bag listed above and pimps it out for extra heavy duty usage.  Go ahead and try to mess this thing up-I dare you!

– Height: approx 31 cm (12.5 inches). D-Rings add 3.5 cm (1.5 inches).
– Width: approx 31 cm (12.5 inches).
– Width between tops of D-Rings: is 28 cm (11 inches).
– Measurements were taken on an unfilled bag.


3-SECTION WALL BAGS

Three-section bags allow you to train a full range of strikes and kicks. At a school it allows students of different heights to work out at the same station – and/or at home, it allows you to punch at different heights in order to better train your punch (Typically the head, mid-chest, and bladder areas).

Ultimate 3-Section Wall Bag (Leather)

As I stated earlier, the Ultimate Wall Bag line of bags are the best selling wall bags in the Wing Chun community and in fact are, by far, the most popular wall bags in the world today. Wing Chun folks as well as martial artists from all styles have been putting these bags through hell since 2003 and they are still very impressed, myself included.

The front striking surface of this bag is genuine leather, and the base material is heavy-duty canvas.  Having a leather striking surface has many advantages over canvas, especially in terms of being able to clean it off and keep it sanitary.  I don’t know about you but I have trained on more than my fair share of sweat and blood-stained canvas bags and, though I am far from a powder puff, I would prefer to train on a cleaner piece of equipment.

Here are some key points that make this bag such a valuable training resource:

You get an extra striking surface over the base material which gives you options and more than doubles the lifetime of your bag.

Inside the top of the bag there is a steel rod to help with weight distribution so the bags stays even/flat and so you can hang the bag by either 2 or 3 D-Rings depending on the weight of the filler.

The zipper, D-rings, base material, and striking surfaces are all top-of-the-line materials.

The zipper placement on the rear, velcro flap, a wide mouth for filling, using D-Rings, double stitching, and double-layered striking surfaces are just a few of the innovative features that evolved in this line of heavy-duty bags since 2003 and in fact these unique features  were the first to offer on wall bags.

An extra added bonus to the design of this bag are the 2 D-Rings on the bottom of the bag, which are there for those who have unique mounting situations.

As always, the red Wing Chun letters on the front (written left to right for Westerners) adds an air of class and sophistication to the look and feel of a proper training environment.

If you train multi-level strikes or are interested in a quality, top-flight bag for a school or group training environment, problem solved!  Pick one of these up today and get to whacking.

– Height: approx 92cm (3 feet). D-Rings add 3.5 cm (1.5 inches).
– Width: approx 26cm (10 inches).
– Width between tops of outside D-Rings: is 20 cm (8 inches).
– Measurements were taken on an unfilled bag.


Heavy Duty 3-Section Wall Bag (Leather on Nylon)

Just like the Heavy-Duty 1-Section Wall Bag listed above, the Heavy-Duty 3 Section Wall Bag takes the design and structure of the Ultimate 3 Section wall Bag an adds its’ unique 3 layer design for triple the longevity and durability, as well as substituting the canvas base material with a nylon/canvas mixture for extra stability and resistance to tears, rips and loose stitching.

If you are looking for a one-stop fix for a three section wall bag, this is the bag for you.  In group training or school environments, the wall bag will be subject to exponentially more abuse as students of all different ages, strength levels and heights will be using the same piece of equipment.

The only way to remedy this is to either replace a poorer quality bag on regular intervals or invest in a product that can survive anything short of a bomb blast.  This bag fits the bill nicely!

Give yourself and your training partners the gift that keeps on giving.  This bag will take you from beginner to master and then some!

Bag Dimensions:

– Height: approx 92cm (3 feet). D-Rings add 3.5 cm (1.5 inches).
– Width: approx 26cm (10 inches).
– Width between tops of outside D-Rings: is 20 cm (8 inches).
– Measurements were taken on an unfilled bag.


SPRING-ARM DUMMY WALL BAGS

Spring-Arm Warrior

This centerline training trapping arm dummy is designed for Wing Chun trapping and sensitivity drills for when a partner is not available. This station is 44 inches tall and easily mounts to a wall, wooden post, or even a tree if you prefer to go old-school, Shaw Bros. movie-style!

Starting from the top you have two 11 inch rice filled canvas bags mounted at head and body level. Next you a padded spring arm designed for trapping, sticking and pulling. Last you have an 11-inch foam filled Makiwara board mounted at an angle ideal for knee striking.

This type of wall bag unit fills the gap between a mere striking pad and a fully functioning simulated partner for those times when no one is available to train or if other students in class are working on a different skill or technique.

IMPORTANT

Please be aware that as this is a very specific training unit, it will be hand made to order to ensure quality and attention to detail.  Build times do vary based on season and order queue. We will send you an email after you order with the estimated wait time. Plan on the longer end of the estimate, as 95% of the time it is a longer wait.

Training stations generally take 4-6 weeks to construct and ship.

Bottom line:  if you are looking for an interactive wall bag that combines the structure and durability of a wall bag with the “live fire” nature of a dummy or training partner, you would do well by looking into picking one of these units up and integrating it into your own training regimen.

I recommend picking up either a single or 3 -section Heavy Duty wall bag as listed above strictly for developing structure and rooting as well as this unit for more complex and drill-specific training for a complete and thorough training experience.


Spring-Arm Warrior Free-Standing

This is a free-standing version of the famous Rice Bag Trainer. Easy to assemble, this version is perfect for those in an apartment or who can’t mount the normal trainer to a wall.

This centerline training trapping arm dummy is designed for Wing Chun trapping and sensitivity drills for when a partner is not available.

Just as with the unit mentioned above, starting from the top you have two 11 inch rice filled canvas bags mounted at head and body level. Next you a padded spring arm designed for trapping, sticking and pulling. Last you have an 11 inch foam filled Makiwara board mounted at an angle ideal for knee striking.

The stand is 67 inches high x 42 deep x 44 wide.
The height of bags are determined by how high or low you choose to mount them to the stand.

The same guidelines on building time and shipping for standard Spring Arm Warrior listed above apply here as well: training stations generally take 4-6 weeks to construct and ship, and build times do vary based on season and order queue. We will send you an email after you order with the estimated wait time. Plan on the longer end of the estimate, as 95% of the time it is a longer wait.

Please email for shipping quote to Canada or Worldwide.


How To Properly Use The Wall Bag In Your Training

Make sure your centerline is directly in line with the center of the wall bag. Using duct tape on the floor is a very useful reminder not only for wall bag training, but for any technique training such as your pak/lop/gum sau entries or the stepping drill.

Learning how to use the wall bag is as simple as getting into your yee jee kim yeung ma Wing Chun goat-gripping stance (the cornerstone of any good Wing Chun training), chambering your fists and delivering a straight punch from your centerline with the elbows tight to the body.

You will notice when you first do this that if you are not on-point with the inward tension on your thighs, there will  be a tendency to rock back and forth as you hit the wall bag.  This will lead to one of 2 structural errors you need to avoid and fix, pronto, before moving on to actual wall bag training:

  • You will rock backward as your punch lands against the wall  bag, leaning back like you were going under a limbo stick.
  • In an effort to combat this rocking you will be leaning forward into your strike.

Both of these boo-boo’s can be remedied by going back to the source of all of your problems: your STANCE and STRUCTURE.

Getting Into The Groove

Taking this info in, here is a more detailed breakdown of how to properly use the wall bag to further your Wing Chun training.  Make sure each of the following points are addressed and most importantly, FEEL each step of this process.  Once your body etches these key points into your muscle memory, you will then be able to replicate this process in each and every training session.

  • There should be a slight s-curve as you get into your Wing Chun stance.  You will need to slouch your shoulders and slightly round your upper back, not like an 80 year old with rheumatoid, but just enough to slouch and sink your weight down to your heels. think of the way Charlie Brown slouches when he walks almost like he let out a heavy sigh and just gave up on something. That slouchy effect is exactly the feel you want to have.  Once you curve your shoulders and sink your chest a bit, feel the rooting into your heels.  Got it?  Good.  Now sit there for a second and feel what it feels like to root to the ground.
  • The inward tension tension on your thighs should be constant but not overbearing.  You should not have a vein pop out in your forehead from squeezing your legs too tightly. Constant steady pressure on the inner thigh is necessary think of trying to grip the ground with your legs and slide your legs together without overexerting yourself.
  • Your hips should be tucked in and slightly tilted.  Put your hands on your hips with index fingers pointing forward and thumbs facing behind you and imagine holding your hips as you would a giant soup bowl before tipping it towards you to drink.  Now tuck your hips forward so that the index finger is higher than your thumb.  At this point, if you are not in proper structure you will merely be sticking your pelvis forward and leaning back to remedy this and to allow that kinetic chain to work by redirecting the force from your punch down into your heels and not straight back.
  • Make sure your position is spot-on before throwing a single punch.  Before you actually fire off the first punch, extend your fist to where you still have a few degrees of bend, or “potential energy” for you physics geeks, left in your elbow when you touch the wall bag.  Press from your fist into the wall bag as you generate power from the floor.
  • Flow your energy.  Feel the energy that would be generated from the strike travel back from the wall bag itself up through your arm to your shoulder down your torso through your hips, down your legs and into your heels to the ground.  That is exactly the feel you should have each time your punch lands squarely in the center of the wall bag.  You should be able to maintain constant pressure or, as Bruce Lee said, “flow your energy” through your fist into the wall bag while the same time feeling the push off of the ground.
  • Fire one off.  Once all of the preceding steps have been performed, it’s time to let ‘er rip.  Chamber your other fist to your chest, ride that imaginary centerline until you slide your fist over your extended forearm and then replace it with the next punch.  When punching the wall bag, your strikes need to be penetrating; they need to be going through the wall bag.  You are not “climbing” or punching over each punch; that leads to a wheel-type motion which does no good for us as Wing Chun people since our arsenal is based solely on penetrating the opponent’s centerline.
  • Repeat with full intention and awareness as to body unity and structure.  Start with one punch at a time done well, and build.  In fact, that is exactly the way you should start-building on one punch at a time.  Resist the urge to begin hitting too fast or too quick I would rather perform 50 good solid penetrating and structurally sound Wing Chun punches than 500 so so wheel motion piss poor structure punches.

It’s a s simple-and as profound-as that.


In Conclusion

In conclusion, the martial art of Wing Chun as a system of combat and self-defense-when applied correctly-is a perfect system. I realize that maybe coming off a tad ethnocentric so let me please clarify and extend a proverbial olive branch to those who might find this statement broad, sweeping or just plain arrogant:

Wing Chun theory and application are both technically flawless.  The big caveat in this statement is that, as I have said so many times before, people apply the art and thus the art is only as effective as the person applying it. In order to shore up as it were any weaknesses in your structure in your Wing Chun foundation you need to remember that the structure of your body and the degree of body unity you possess in any motion of Wing Chun is the greatest factor in determining your successful application of any Wing Chun technique.

Training a close-quarters self defense technique against a sucker punch known as a “dive entry.” Had I not developed such a high degree of structure and rooting from my Wing Chun training, things may have gone differently. How did I get so rooted? You guessed it-wall bag training.

The wall bag provides a one-stop shop for all of your training needs structure-wise. A good boxer knows the value of a heavy bag.  The heavy bag is not there to just wail on or just to see how hard one can hit it; quite the opposite.  The heavy bag is there for you to actively train your body’s structure, power generation and rooting while being applied to the litmus test of making contact.  In that same vein, this is why the wall bag is such an integral part of Wing Chun training for those interested in making their art functional, practical and effective for real-world self-defense or the combat sports arena for activities such as boxing, kickboxing, sanshou/sanda or lei tai fighting.

Given that this is such a valuable and versatile training tool, it must be stressed once more that the decision to purchase a wall bag is one that should not be taken lightly. The wall bag is not just an aside or novelty to the Wing Chun stylist; something to hang on the wall to make it look cool.  Nope.  The wall bag is every bit as crucial to your Wing Chun training as the right shoes are to a track and field athlete. 

Using MMA Competition Gloves against a padded opponent wearing boxing gloves for some full-contact applied Wing Chun scenario training, my root and base is spot-on to deliver piercing blows to his face and knock him on his ass.  Thanks, Wall Bag!

Good boxers know every aspect and purpose for every different heavy bag they use. For example, when training at the Old Chicago Boxing Club on 35th and Halsted there were about 15 different heavy bags of different sizes, weights and styles hanging around the gym.  Each one was designed to work on a very specific aspect of the boxing game.

Unlike boxing, Wing Chun only has one – the wall bag, designed to generate the maximum force in every strike from a rooted Wing Chun stance.

Now is this always going to be the case? Absolutely not.  Last time I checked, some dirtbag isn’t going to stand there and let you drive your fist through his nose, however, how can you expect to apply a solid Wing Chun punch or hunt down an opponent while they are zig-zagging and trying to get out of your range in a very dynamic live-fire scenario if you cannot effectively apply the Wing Chun punch from a stationary position?

I am not saying that the wall bag is the end-all-be-all to Wing Chun training, for just like any skill set-be it martial arts,  gymnastics, baseball, dance or any other physical activity, several factors need to come and play and work together.

Wing Chun wall bag training provides the most sound and efficient way to train the core component of any aspect of your Wing Chun fight game. That is your structure. This is why choosing the right Wing Chun wall bag is so important to your training the right wall bag can help you reap the greatest rewards bye cutting down the time spent trying to figure out how to gain the best structure and putting you in the greatest position to maximize the development of the structure.

As I always say, start back at the top and re-read this review, decide on what your needs are and choose the right bag or bags to best suit those needs.  Once you’ve made your choice-get ’em coming and get to rooting!  Remember, Wing Chun only works if YOU do.

 

Train Smart, Stay Safe

Sifu Bobby

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