Hapkido Weapons Target……. Some assembly required

There are a variety of reasons people fall to building their own training equipment. For myself, I have found that in the last 20 years it has only been recently that makers of athletic and training equipment have begun to recognize a niche in the area of Martial Arts. The field of martial arts training equipment is growing but the range of materials and applications has yet to meet those of other activities such as organized sports. And, in those areas where growth is the greatest, say sparring and sport competition, there is the matter of liability and sound construction versus profit margin.

The target we will be constructing is intended to meet the training requirements of most Hapkido weapons, including mini-stick, (“soh bong”), stick (“dan bong”), cane, sword (including all five architectures), staff ( as well as spear and cudgel) and knife. The key balance to be kept in mind is that between providing items that can sustain even full-power strikes and thrusts and also having some level of “give”. The target we will construct here has a proven track-record in Korean Kumdo, or “sword sport”, so with only some minor tweaking, it can be made into a fine piece of training equipment.

Construction begins with a trip to your local hardware store or home improvement center. You are looking for two-inch pipe fittings. For your convenience I have included a parts list for you.

Since it is almost entirely made from standard pipe fittings and cast-off auto parts, it will be quite easy to locate parts and economical to construct, and modify, to each person’s personal tastes. You can also expect that it will last quite a while. However, before moving forward I will add one very important piece of advice. There is no target or piece of equipment that will meet all people’s needs. There is also always a chance of injury regardless of how well-thought-out one’s construction or modification might be. Clever construction or modification is no substitute for intelligent and respectful use of any sort or equipment.

Parts list:

(NOTE: This list reflects construction of the practice dummy discussed. As mentioned in the text, additional pieces may be required to produce a dummy which will reflect your approach to training. )


a. Discarded auto wheel (with or without tire)

b. 1—2-in metal pipe flange

c. 4—sets of nuts and bolts; 2.5 inch X ¼ inch, standard counter-sunk head plus washer or

D. trip to the local welding shop


A length of 2-inch black pipe of desired length depending upon application. As a rule the top of the stand ought to come to about your bellybutton.


a.)    2— 2-inch  “T”-s

b.)    3— 10-inch length of pipe (thread at both ends)

c.)    1—120-degree elbow

d.)    3—male/male connectors

e.)    1—2-inch female to 1-inch female conversion

f.)      1— length of pipe; measured to the length between your belly-button and the top of your head; threaded at both ends.

g.)    2— 2-inch 90 degree elbows

h.)    OPTIONAL: 2— 2-inch caps

i.)      2—discarded automobile tires

j.)      OPTIONAL: Quilted Padding


Fig 1: Target parts laid out with standard in order of assembly.



To put this item together you will need an afternoon and some simple hand-tools. Before starting I would suggest checking around the house to make sure you have the following tools available.

  1. A pair of pliers

  2. A standard flat-blade screwdriver

  3. A Stilton pipe wrench (optional)

  4. Crowbar (optional)

  5. Electric drill with a 5/16” bit

I also suggest that you start from the ground and work-up as it will provide a sound base to support your work as construction proceeds. So, let’s start with the base.

A discarded automobile wheel will make a serviceable base. Whether you choose to include the rubber tire on the base is a matter of personal preference depending on how stable (read also: “how permanent”) one chooses to make the target. My own target was, originally, quite heavy and stable as I elected to not only keep the tire in place, but to fill it with sand as well. The result was a very “stable” base which weighed well over 200 pounds! You may consider this the extreme in weight and I heartily recommend no more than simply retaining the tire on the wheel for sufficient mass and stability.

Fig 2: Discarded wheel positioned for low center-of-gravity

A second consideration is whether you will want a high or low center of gravity. Please note from Figure 2 that the center of the wheel is not equi-distant from the plane of either side of the wheel. This will require that you decide to which side of the wheel you will want to affix the 2-inch pipe flange. Since I chose to discard the tire and its sand filling I have always appreciated that I chose the “low” position. With this option I could, at least add weight into the concavity of the wheel, were it necessary, while the same option was not as convenient with the wheel positioned in the “high” profile position (See: Fig 3).

Fig 3: Note the wheel in “high profile” position. However, in this case the flange has been welded upside-down so that the stand pipe will be threaded from the other side.

Though not seen, the base is positioned with the flange side down in a “low profile” position on the mat (See: Figure 4).

Fig 4: Target base in low profile position.

For the next step, we need to center and secure the 2” standpipe. The length of the piece should have bee determined beforehand and the pipe cut and threaded to result in the 2-inch “T” about to be added to locate at about the level of one’s own navel. At this point the pipe should only be hand-tightened.

Fig 5. Standpipe in place and hand-tightened.

In similar fashion, add the first of the 2-inch “T”-s, as well as the upper stand-pipe.

Fig 6: First 2” “T” added.

Fig 7: Upper standpipe added.

Fig 8: Remaining parts for upper and lower target sections.

To assemble the upper target section, fit the second 2” “T” in place. Then thread one of the male couplings into either side of the T (See: Fig 9)

{Note: At this point most Kumdo practitioners will begin to recognize the standard Kumdo target. If this was the goal of this item, it would be a simple matter to thread a 120-degree elbow to either coupling, and mount the upper tire target in place. The standard practice for this is to use a circular saw bit on a standard hand-drill and cut the needed two-inch hole in the tire’s tread. This is no small feat but can be accomplished with sufficient persistence! The tire is then passed over the upper standpipe, and the upper assembly--- momentarily removed--- is threaded back into place and the tire pulled-down into place.}

Fig 9. Upper assembly without Stabilizing pipes in place.

Fig 10: Stabilizing pipes and lower target section pieces.

The role of the Stabilizing pipes is two-fold. Installing the pipes provides additional support to the upper tire in order to receive strikes from oblique angles. Cuts and thrusts used in Kumdo often align with an axis---- either parallel to or perpendicular from the floor. However, the use of nearly all combat weapons requires attacks from and defenses against strikes and thrust from a much wider range of oblique angles as well. The stabilizing pipes add support to the upper target/tire in order to accept strikes and thrusts from nearly any angle.

These pipes may also act as a support for mounting a larger mass to the target as training options dictate. I have often mounted a hay bale on the lower target section (to be installed) and secured the bale to the stabilizing pipes. In this fashion a target for knife-throwing and the practice of rope-techniques is also possible with the removal of the upper tire.

Install the stabilizing pipes and the end caps (Fig. 11).

Fig 11: Stabilizing pipes and the end caps installed.

There remains only to install the lower target assembly.

Fig 12: Lower target assembly.

Fig 13: Lower target assembly installed.

Most Kumdo practitioner will recognize a small modification to the standard Kumdo target. The lower assembly is usually little more than a short piece of pipe from which is suspended the lower tire target (See Figure 14). In this case I have modified the lower assembly to include a short addition which will provide for mounting an opposing item which one can vie against as one would a live opponent (See Figure 17).

Figure 14: Lower tire suspended in place.

While the mounting of the lower tire requires little more than laying it over the lower assembly, the location of the upper tire is worth some comment. Using the protruding lower assembly as the “front” of the target, one can locate the upper tire with its bottom edge protruding forward. This will obstruct the upper surface of the lower tire as a striking surface, though the inner curve of the upper tire is a worthy substitute (See: Fig 15)

Fig 15: Upper tire mounted in forward position. Note white index marks for observing angles of attack.

In my own experience I have found that mounting the upper tire in a rearward position (See Fig 16) also has its uses, including making the target more accepting of cuts and thrusts from the side or  “en-passant” (Lit: “in passing”).

Fig 16: Upper tire mounted in rearward position.

There is a final comment to be made as this project comes to an end and that is the matter of tightening all of the fixtures. In the name of durability I think it’s reasonable for each of us to finish the project by taking their Stilton wrench in hand and cranking-down tightly on ever last one of these pipes and fittings. My invitation is to show some restraint. As much as it might seem logical to fit the pieces as tightly as possible, it will not take long before you find that hitting a target with little give is hard on the training item you are using and hard on you as well. Therefore, I suggest that you tighten the pipes and fittings “hand tight” using as much natural strength as you can muster. Having done that, use your wrench to turn the pipe or fitting only a quarter-turn farther and leave it at that. Like the oil filter in your automobile, it serves no purpose to strain on the fixture with might and main.

Not only will you appreciate a bit of give in the joints when training, but you will have allowed for that inevitable day when, for one reason or another, you will need to disassemble this piece.

Fig 17: Finished Weapon Target – Side View

Fig 18: Finished Weapon Target – Front View