PONGFU NEW-AGE KUNGFU Joe Ching （郑佐） 李佳敏 （Jamie Li） OCTOBER 2018 CONTENTS PONGFU - THE NEW-AGE KUNGFU HOW PONGFU WAS ALMOST NOT BORN PONGFU - THE NEW-AGE KUNGFU 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 laboratory. 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 occasionally. 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. HOW PONGFU WAS ALMOST NOT BORN 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 time. 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 brain. 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 outdoors. 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?