Joe Ching (郑佐)
    李佳敏  (Jamie Li)

       OCTOBER 2018





Just like robacus represents 
scholarship, pongfu will represent 
the new-age kungfu.  Robacus can 
train and measure a person's 
soundness of mind.  Pongfu will 
train and measure a person's 
righteousness of character.

Although soundness of mind is 
desirable, the righteous of 
character is a must.  Historically, 
the mind has been the cause of all 
humanity's evil doings, while the 
righteous characters of a handful of 
good men has sustained our 
civilization until now.

In the land of the dragon, that is 
Asia, we have the feudal system on 
the top and kungfu land on the 
bottom, with each have their own 
favored peculiarities.

Asia culture's two major 
components are scholarship and 
kungfu.  The 200 years ravaged by 
the West has left scholarship on 
hold and kungfu completely 
diminished to the stuff movies are 
made of.  Now that Asia is again 
providing her people with the basic 
necessities of livelihood and is 
starting to salvage her scholarship, 
she must also find a replacement 
for kungfu.

Naturally, that should be the most 
popular sport in Asia, pingpong. The 
undefeated spirit of Asian Pingpong 
will transcend Sun Tzu's Art of War 
to let its enemies see the potential 
of what it takes to truly win - 
without bloodshed. When pongfu 
bears the burden of war, it also 
represents our kungfu today.
But pingpong has two major fatal 
flaws in term of becoming a 
universal sport.  First, it favors 
men over women.  Second, it was 
been hastily put together "on the 
street", rather than thought out in a 
research setting, like a computer 

This is where Pongfu comes in.  
Pongfu, or pingpong kungfu, is 
designed in the most advanced 
software automation laboratory,
the very same one that created 
robacus.  One of its chief 
objectives is to make it a speed 
game for women and other 
physically weaker players, to 
overcome the power game mostly 
played by men.  

Being arguably the most difficult 
sport in the world to master, 
pingpong mechanics has also defied 
explanation even by the best 
players and most experienced 
coaches.  To date, the best players 
are the ones who train the most.  
Good techniques don't go very far.  
All the how-to books, that promise 
to take a player to the next level, 
succeed only by getting him 
permanently stuck in the levels the 
book prescribed.  In a way, Pongfu 
is an experiment to break out this 
dead end loop.  

The kungfu in Pongfu is a cross 
between robotics and magic.  The 
robotics is characterized by 
consistency, and the magic, 
deception.  But robots do not 
react well and magicians have to 
work in controlled settings.  This is 
where Pongfu diverts from 
conventional practices.

A Pongfu player is, therefore, a 
control freak.  He must dominate 
the play.  Pongfu is premeditated 
to win.  Both the serve and return 
of serve must be designed to gain 
enough advantages that they 
directly lead to a winning point.

The serve is a fast ball that should 
be delivered from the center with a 
centralized pre-swing that would be 
twisted at the moment of contact 
to either the forehand or the 
backhand corner on the other side 
of the table.  The arm is swung 
upward along with a upward flip of 
the blade.  This is to produce a 
downward rebound to generate 
power to the ball.

This serve is supplemented by a 
double motion serve to either side 
by faking the other side first.  But 
double motion would not be fully 
effective unless there is another 
triple motion serve that fakes to 
the same side.  To complete the 
repertoire, in order to keep the 
opponent from taking a chance at 
attacking the serve, a spiny short 
serve should also be used 

The feet are positioned on a line 
perpendicular to the table's edge, 
with the leg on the same side as the 
serving hand at the front.  This leg 
should step hard before contacting 
the ball to produce power.

The most important part of the 
serve is to contact the ball as close 
to the table as possible.  This is 
designed to ruin the other player's 
effort to time your shot.

The return of serve is a twisting 
angling shot with varying speed.  
Invariably, however, it is always 
returned right off the bounce of the 
ball to cut off the reaction time of 
the opponent. The ball should be 
hit with an open paddle with a 
sidespin and the contact point must 
be the corners of the blade on the 
right and left sides, respectively, for 
backhand and forehand.

The most important aspect of the 
serve return is timing.  The front 
foot should kick backward to 
initiate a back foot kick 
immediately followed by the front 
foot.  The paddle arm should be 
swung upward with paddle in 
horizontal closed position to reach 
its highest point at the touchdown 
of the front foot. The paddle then is 
hammered downward with a 
upward flip of the blade right 
before hitting the ball. 

It is important to initiate generating 
force from the body, and then 
transmitted through the shoulder 
and arms, keeping everything loose 
so that there should be a natural 
delay for the paddle to catch up, 
which turns out to be the most 
effective way to preserve all the 
power all the way into the paddle 
while hitting the ball.

During the time the ball is traveling 
over the net, the player should 
come over the ball and rebound 
back the blade of the paddle to 
snap downward into the ball, while 
making another backward-forward 
combo step, exactly at the point of 
its second bounce.  

Here we come to the theory that's 
most critical to pongfu's success.  
That is, in any paddle-ball 
interaction, the faster moving one 
gets to control the direction of the 
out-going ball.  Also implicit in this 
theory is that the paddle and ball 
do not need the hand to be 
interfering in any way.  And as 
mentioned above, it's vitally 
important that the ball was hit by 
the corner of the blade.

Finally, thinking the interaction as 
more a hammering event than a 
knife-cutting one is the difference 
between a winning and a losing 
shot. The hammering should be a 
largely open-paddle contact with 
the ball hitting as close to the 
corner edge as possible, followed 
up by a sideward spin of the ball, 
always going from forehand toward 
the backhand.  So, in terms of 
hitting, it would help to think it as a 
cutting act.

Now we have come to the pongfu 
pointer!  It says all the hammering 
of the blade is in this one direction.  
That is to use the natural backhand 
way, hitting from the forehand side 
to the backhand side, for both the 
backhand and forehand.  

Why?  It's because that's how the 
human body is built to do 
hammering.  And that turns out to 
be the life saver for pongfu to 
overpower any spin or speed in 
returning a coming served ball.
Yes, this is the by far the most 
difficult stroke to master, but 
mastering it could be the biggest 
breakthrough in pingpong's history.


Pongfu should not be born.  
Pingpong is just too complex a sport.  
So let's see how it was not born.  
After two decades of dead ends, 
and 3 years of intensive 
improvements, now it's clear that 
the birthday of pongfu will be on 
the day it breaks into the Olympics 
pingpong competition by some 80 
year-old man.  Now, do you 
believe it's never going to be born?

The original inspiration to create a 
new style of play was that to 
directly use the hand, instead its 
extension of a blade with a stem as 
the handle.  So, we need to use a 
stemless paddle, with the handle 
attached to the back of the blade.  

And later on, when it was found 
that only 3 fingers on our hand, the 
thumb, forefinger and index finger, 
do all the work, while the other two 
might even been a hindrance, the 
whole futile concept become even 
more tantalizing.

Ultimately, it was another new 
discovery that finally established 
the new paddle is really the central 
piece of the new style. The 
discovery is that pongfu should be 
played by having the paddle 
independently colliding and 
bouncing against the ball.  That 
means the all three fingers have to 
let go upon paddle ball contact.  
Well, it so happened the handle has 
been designed so that it would not 
leave the hand when the fingers let 
it go.

Another potential advantage of a 
centralized handle behind the blade 
is its ability to rotate and wobble.  
So now the dimension of the game 
is five - x,y,z,time and ball's own 
dynamics.  The paddle is in 
constant rotation while wobbling.  

And to compensate for the 
gravitational pull on the bouncing 
ball, the paddle is also moved from 
high to low in hitting the ball in 
order to stay ahead of the ball in 
term of speed and energy.  

In fact it's a hammering and flipping 
motion. This has something to do 
with the notion of the "time 
constant of our senses".  The 
theory is that in order to sensing a 
ball slower than it really is, the time 
constant of the player must be less 
than that of the ball.  Everything 
would be in control, if the energy, 
kinetic and potential both, packed 
in the paddle's blade is greater than 
that of the ball.  

A centralized fencing stance is used 
to correct the flaw in the 
no-backhand style that everybody 
else's playing with.  And since the 
balsa wood paddle is about 3 times 
lighter than a normal paddle and a 
long-pip rubber with super-light 
sponge is used, it is possible to get 
to every ball and attack it.

However, since it was found that 
the serve might very well be the 
easiest ball to attack, and also could 
be made to be the toughest ball to 
return, pongfu is basically a 
two-shot game, return and serve.  
That sure saved a lot of practice 

Another major feature of pongfu is 
that, like kungfu, it's self-trained.  
A playback board of various 
surfaces is placed at one end of the 
table and the net is taken down, so 
that the player essentially practice 
most of the time in returning of 
serves, in which the ball is made to 
jump twice before being hit.

As for the serve, it's the same 
stroke but is hit as hard as possible 
and also deceptively as possible to 
both far corners.

Skill-wise, the high-tech nature of 
pongfu take us to specific 
considerations in the formations of 
a 5-dimensional nerve network 
coordination system in our body, 
directing the nutrients transport 
and muscle contract and relaxing 
timing during the execution of a 
stroke, paying special attention to 
the forehand downward chopping 
muscle.  They should be 
programmed out as a piece of 
computer software that can always 
guarantee the expected outcome.

So, here comes the true innovation 
in this world's most advanced 
computing laboratory, the birth 
home of world's destined ultimate 
1.	The initial downward scooping 
of the paddle should be at as 
fast as the small time constant 
associated with the rebound of 
the ball out of the board, or 
the opponent's blade.
2.	The motion of turning and 
whirling should be as 
vigorously as possible to twist 
back the body as a spring.  
Here is the only chance in the 
stroke to store up as much 
potential energy as possible.
3.	The stroke should continue on 
but the release of the energy 
must restrained and to be 
synchronized with the 
hammering and chopping of 
the ball.
Oops, one more thing.  Every ball 
should be hit out with only the 
rubber and sponge, rather than 
their wood backing.  The ball 
should always be rubbed, rather 
than bounced out straight.

A future plan is to shrink the table 
to two pieces of boards of one 
meter square each placed so that 
the original dimension of the 
pingpong table is preserved as 
much as possible, but the net is out.  

Such a table should be affordable to 
all and can be placed in homes and 
used for other things.  The 
important thing is that it should be 
able to help train the skill almost as 
good as the standard table.  
Pingpong is China's national sport, 
we want to turn it into a home 
sport for all nations.

One day we may even see a 
tournament whose large number of 
entries would rival that of a 
marathon, though most players 
would have to do the playing 

Finally, it turned out, in the top 
echelon competitions, the deadliest 
shot in pingpong is the earliest shot, 
and it just happens that the shorter 
the stem of the handle the easier to 
hit the ball earlier.  So in pongfu, 
the ball is hit at it earliest right off 
the bounce.  The stemless pongfu 
paddle should be a real winner.  
But why I can't win?