The “Iron Dummy” is a mechanical training device brought to the United States by David L. Smith (Pai Ching-Lin) in 1983. It is an apparatus associated with a system known as Shaolin Eighteen Bronzeman Method.
Originally made of wood and imbedded into the ground, the modern version of this dummy (As designed and built by Master Ch’en) is made of steel and is mounted on a plate steel base. This makes the dummy more dense and heavy, but to some extent, portable. While the “Bronze Man” training does condition the arms and strengthen the legs, it is most effective in illustrating to the practitioner that techniques are or are not being executed with proper body structure, weight distribution, and alignment. The ability to generate power from the legs and hips and deliver it effectively to a target is developed tremendously with this apparatus when the training is carefully and precisely performed and thoroughly understood.
Pai Ching-Lin trained in the Eighteen Bronzeman Method as a “closed door” student with Master C.Y. Ch’en during his two trips to Taiwan and was awarded an Instructor Certification by Master Ch’en. He has stated that it was some of the subtler aspects of his Pai Lum training that allowed him to “open that closed door” enough to be invited to train by Master Ch’en.
Pai Ching-Lin continues to teach the traditional Eighteen Bronzeman Method as well as a system of drills and “new” forms using Pai Lum techniques. The Pai Lum adaptations were authorized by the late Grandmaster Daniel K. Pai in 1984 and Pai Ching-Lin was given sole authority for further development and certification of instructors. All authorized training is done with both the Ch’en and Pai methods taught in parallel.
In 2015 Pai Ching-Lin handed the 18 Bronzemen Method down to Sifu Michael J. Rothermel ( Pai Pono-Li of the Harrisburg Kung Fu Center) & Sifu William Luciano (Pai Ying-Hao of Hoosick Falls, New York). They are responsible for the teaching and propagation of the system.
Note: Instruction on using the “Iron Dummy” device is only available for students participating in other programs at the Harrisburg & Mechanicsburg Kung Fu Center.