By Dave Crawley

NEW BRIGHTON (KDKA) — What’s the connection between America’s top-rated television show and a Kung Fu studio in New Brighton? A wooden practice dummy and the man who made it.

Dale Steigerwald is the teacher, or sifu, at the Academy of Ving Tsung Kung Fu. The Chinese martial art is geared toward self-defense. But a six foot tall, wooden “dummy” is useful when there are no practice partners available.

“This apparatus is designed to help somebody polish up their hand technique and use their body position and develop the proper lines of study,” says Steigerwald.

He makes them by hand in his home workshop and then sells them on his website. Occasionally he’ll put one on eBay, which led to an unexpected phone call.

“It was kind of funny,” he said. “ ‘We’ve got a show out here that’s been pretty successful over the past few years.’ And I’m thinking cable TV, something like that – a small show.

“I said, ‘By the way, what’s the name of the show?’

“And the person said, ‘NCIS’ and my jaw dropped.”

Which begs the question: who gets to try it out on NCIS?

Steigerwald doesn’t know. “I don’t get an impression in any way that it’s going to be someone who really knows what they’re doing.”

Don’t they know that Kung Fu is not a sport for dummies?

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