Weapon of Choice

I believe in some sort of mysterious harmony within athletics. There must be some unifying force (a kind of qi, perhaps?) that can defines the hidden beauty of sports.

My style is that of a very uncoordinated elephant after drinking too much coffee: bumbling. But at times my hand will strike out at the ball as it is falling, only two feet from the ground, and send it back to the opposite side of the table. With a flick of the wrist an ordinary return becomes something else: a slight advantage. Building upon these advantages slowly will yield an opportunity to smash the ball at such velocity that the opponent must turn in defeat and retrieve it.

My weapon of choice is the little known LiBaPai international paddle (2008-E) with dual-side standard rubber. I prefer using the smooth side, while all of my opponents choose the black (red seems to be a little more comfortable for some reason). This paddle is little known only on the college campus. It's probably the best known among primary schools and middle schools throughout China because it's one of the cheapest. At three dollars for a pair, walking out to the ping pong tables turns heads not because I'm a foreigner, but because even the students paid at least 4 times as much for their average paddles. One of the things that drew me in was the inlay on the handle. Look carefully and read backwards:

I hold the paddle differently since I came here. I hold it more like the traditional notion of how Chinese people would hold a ping pong paddle and, indeed, how most students at the college hold the paddle. In other words, I am completely out of style:

The more common grip involves a constant backhand return which is very awkward at first, but common in professional circles:

One of these days I'll get a video together of some very intense ping pong action.

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