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Ping Pong

We have a ping pong table in our living room. Everyone in my family plays as do many of our guests. It is a lot of fun and good exercise. My mother grew up in Japan and played ping pong in school.

One of the things I learned by playing ping pong is that you can't watch the ball and then hit it. The ball moves much too quickly when your opponent slams it. You have to be able to react to where the ball will go. If you try to follow the ball, you'll always be too late.

The same is true in Karate. If you try to watch the attacker's hands and feet, you'll always be too late. You have to be able to block where they are going to hit -- or stop them from hitting in the first place.

Professor Katsuhiko Shinzato demonstrates this as follows. He stands in front of a student and asks him to attack any way that he likes whenever he is ready. He can punch, kick or strike with any hand or foot. As soon as the student begins to move -- actually before any visible movement is seen -- Shinzato Sensei will point to the striking hand or foot. This usually catches the student off guard. Time after time, Shinzato Sensei will know what the student is about to do.

This is why it seems that he blocks before the strike, or preempts the strike by his own positioning or technique. He is able to read the student.

In ping pong, your body learns to react to the ball. My sons keep telling me that I have to use my koshi when playing ping pong. I haven't figured out how to do that yet.


Charles C. Goodin