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Old 02-13-2010, 06:08 PM
jtothex
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Bubba Dummy: The Review

Right. So about a month ago, I got one of these: www.bubbadummy.com

...and I thought I'd write a review of it. I've been using it for about a month, which I think is about the minimum you need to review something grappling-related.

Full Disclosure, Part One: I train at RGA London. The quality of teachers and teaching (and other students) there are excellent, but if I've got one complaint it's that there isn't a huge amount of drilling there. At the most you'll probably get to do a move ten or fifteen times before you move on, and I'm not the sort of chap who can use a move in his game after doing it ten times. This has been the same at most places I've trained, so that it's almost an accident which moves end up as part of my grappling vocabulary. If I get the opportunity to hit them a couple of times after learning them: I remember them. If I don't, I don't. This was why I bought the dummy.

Full Disclosure, Part Two: I live on the ground floor and have a very tolerant girlfriend.

Construction: this thing is nicely put together. The poseable joints bend into pretty much every position you could put a real partner in, and will mostly stay in the positions you put them in. Cranking on them so far hasn't affected them, and although it seems to be put together from sturdy wires and duct tape, I have no idea how: I could not make one of these things. Its ribs are sturdy enough that you can happily sit on its chest, and its head even has a nose. It's also very heavy: I got it off eBay, and it's the 50kg version. That sounds light, but they only sell it at 30kg now and I can see why. It's already headbutted me once, and that *hurt*.

Training: You can probably imagine basically which moves it's possible to do with a dummy, but here's an extended take. Standing guard passes work really well, as you can basically bend the limbs out to mimic somebody spider-guarding you - although obviously you won't get the same pressure. Moves from mount and side mount are great. Leglocks (I've been working on some stuff from Reilly Bodycomb which are against BJJ rules) work great. Submissions from guard are more tricky, because it's difficult to get the right pressure from the dummy - but I've been practicing some rubber guard stuff with reasonable success. Sweeps from guard are tough, because you can't really get the dummy to posture up on its knees properly without tying its legs together. Guard breaks aren't that useful, although you can simulate a closed guard/halfguard by tying its legs together. Escapes from mount and sidemount aren't the best because you aren't getting proper pressure from your opponent. Moves that require the dummy to be on hands and knees (stuff from sprawl control, say) require you to tie the dummy's legs together. Anything with you on the ground and the dummy standing clearly won't work. A general rule of thumb is, if you need to 'feel' an opponent's pressure or balance to make a move work, you aren't going to be able to drill it properly with the dummy. The website claims that you can practice throws on it, but that seems ridiculous. That still gives you a lot to work on, though.

Results: My grappling has definitely improved. Bearing in mind that I've had it for a month, moves that I've nailed in sparring that I had *never tried on a human* include: the Peruvian Necktie, a collar-choke flow from Roy Dean, a Demian Maia variation of the Matador pass and an X-guard escape that I got from Jiu-Jitsu University. I've learned some other stuff that I just haven't been able to try yet. That's as much empirical proof as I need that it does actually work.

Thoughts: How much use this dummy is going to be to you is down to two things: how convenient it is, and how dedicated you are.
I've got a girlfriend who lets me leave it in the living room for days on end and at worst put it in a cupboard, and as such it's always there - if I had to go train in the garage with it, or wait until I was alone in the house, it wouldn't be as useful. As it is, it's like having a training partner who never demands a go, or says he's tired, or doesn't fancy training. If you want to do a move 100 times you can. If you're reading an instructional at midnight and need someone to try the move on, it's there. If you've got ten minutes before breakfast, you can bang out some reps of that move you're going to try in the evening. I can't emphasise enough how useful this is.

But that wouldn't work without discipline. I enjoy jits, but more than anything I enjoy feeling like I'm getting better at it, and going from class to class without a structured way to improve was getting to me. Training with the dummy is boring, but if you've got the discipline to do those 100 reps, it will get you results. Look at it this way: if you're the sort of guy that ends up chatting to your partner during the drilling bit of class, you might not get much out of it. I'm a big believer in Eddie Bravo's idea that doing a move should be as instinctive as tying your shoes, and if you do enough reps, it will be.

Was it worth the money? I paid 400 for it, and that's four months' jits for me. Whether it improves my game that amount remains to be seen, but I think that if I stick with the drilling it absolutely will. I'm really glad I got it, and that's about as much as you can ask.

I'd be happy to take questions from the floor.
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Old 02-13-2010, 07:02 PM
henno
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About 18 months back I put up a thread seeking advice on whether building a dummy was worth the effort. Here's the thread: Grappling dummy

While there was quite a lot of responses in the positive, the more experienced guys seemed to see less value in it. I didn't end up going to the trouble of making it, although I did rework my schedule to allow for more training and further drilling at my place when I could arrange it with one of my training partners.

In retrospect, I think a dummy would have been of some use when I was thinking about making one, or even better when I first started training. Of late though, my rolling seems to be coming much more instinctive. I don't find myself thinking about moves so much and it just flows out. A lot of what I am working on, seated guard transitions to X, butterfly sweeps and playing a lot of half is not going to work to well with a dummy.

You have a very tolerant girlfriend. Maybe if you offered her 400 pounds she might be prepared to don the gi and let you throw her around on a regular basis - that's a lot of dough!
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Old 02-13-2010, 09:39 PM
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Nice review, thanks for sharing, I like especially the breakdown by technique type.

I don't think I'm going to buy one anytime soon, but the topic fascinates me: training and drilling endlessly without a partner -- as long as the practice is relevant.


I'd like to read a similar comparison about the Submission Master http://www.grapplingdummy.net/
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Old 02-13-2010, 10:50 PM
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My last gym had one and it was disappointing. Yeah you could practice very simple stuff on a very passive opponent but the parts of this game that are the hardest to master the dummy couldn't even come close to being used for.
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Old 02-14-2010, 09:13 AM
jtothex
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Henna, I checked out your thread - that was actually one of the things that made me buy it. Your DIY expertise is probably better than mine - if I'd made the dummy myself I think getting the bits and putting it together would have taken days, and being a freelancer I thought buying one was actually more economical.

I should probably say that I still average out four days a week attending jits lessons with real live opponents, and that I don't think the dummy is as useful as those - it's extra, for when you've got some spare time or you can't make it to a real session. I'd say it's like practicing on a heavy bag for a boxer: can you practice every situation with it? No. Does it give you the same pressure? No. Could you do nothing but practice on it and then walk into sparring as a monster? Absolutely not. But if you put in the time it will help.
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Old 02-14-2010, 05:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtothex View Post
Henna, I checked out your thread - that was actually one of the things that made me buy it. Your DIY expertise is probably better than mine - if I'd made the dummy myself I think getting the bits and putting it together would have taken days, and being a freelancer I thought buying one was actually more economical.

I should probably say that I still average out four days a week attending jits lessons with real live opponents, and that I don't think the dummy is as useful as those - it's extra, for when you've got some spare time or you can't make it to a real session. I'd say it's like practicing on a heavy bag for a boxer: can you practice every situation with it? No. Does it give you the same pressure? No. Could you do nothing but practice on it and then walk into sparring as a monster? Absolutely not. But if you put in the time it will help.

I take your point - a good tool to have in the corner to give you a further training option.

Thanks, it was a very good review. The main reason I was considering making one is I hadn't come across anyone making or importing grappling dummies in Oz.

My seven year old has started training so I am willing him to grow quickly. Nothing like an in house training partner.
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Old 02-14-2010, 06:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by henno View Post
I take your point - a good tool to have in the corner to give you a further training option.

Thanks, it was a very good review. The main reason I was considering making one is I hadn't come across anyone making or importing grappling dummies in Oz.

My seven year old has started training so I am willing him to grow quickly. Nothing like an in house training partner.

We've got similar gameplans with our youngin's. Got another one on the way in July and hope it's another boy. Another boy = another possible in house training partner. I have fun goofin around with my son now, but he's got a few years til we can turn up the heat a little..
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Old 02-14-2010, 09:51 PM
henno
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Andy, don't count out the daughter option. My five year old is pretty keen, although at this stage its just a fun game where I flip her from foot to foot while she almost wets herself laughing.

Congratulations on the new edition!
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Old 02-21-2012, 06:19 PM
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Hi Jtothex

There has been a further similar thred this week regarding the use of grappling dummies. I have recently bought the bubba2 dummy...How is your training going 2 years down the line from this original post? I can actually remember seeing this post when I first started looking into getting one (but didnt have the funds at the time). You basically convinced me to get one..... I havnt done much with it yet, do you have any further advice or experiences you could share?

Thanks
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Old 02-21-2012, 08:03 PM
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The thing is damm expensive!
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