Pingpong, Rally's On
Whether you call it pingpong or tabletennis, we are talking about the same thing. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. The former are usually more casual than the latter, but c’mon man, cut the malarkey and get with the program. On the latest Philosophy of Art and Science I talk with CJ Terral about pingpong, master-apprentice relations as a superior model of education, growth marketing, and individual accountability.
For now, let’s just focus on pingpong. Ishee.
CJ and I talk about how he entered the world of pingpong, and in this space I’ll add a few more details as to how I entered. He was elementary school age and traveling to Cancun, Mexico with his family at a time-share. An elderly Canadian fellow skilled in the art and science of tabletennis showed him the path. And the path was not alga be’alga (mattress upon matress) or CHerq be’CHerq (rag upon rag) or all shits and giggles. Rather, the path was littered with obstacles, as it should be, because struggle produces far more champions than do silk sheets.
On his own, he pursued reading and watching material to get better and better, and eventually joined a nationally and internationally recognized center for tabletennis in Silicon Valley. By the time I met him as an undergraduate, he was already starting a university club and tournaments for the public and for the club alone. My origin story is a little different, as origen’s on genesis was, but shares the master-apprentice approach to education. Which in my not so humble opinion, is the best. “If you want to be a master in life, you must submit to a master. I was born to lock horns with the Devil at the brink of the hereafter.” -J(ay) Elect
I played not a minute of the sport till my sophomore or junior year of highschool. The impetus being the overlords at our independent school moving our student body to the other side of the large campus. This placed us away from the basketball courts which we used to play 3s, 2s, 1on1, and 3-2-1 on during lunch and recess breaks. Thereafter, it was chess and pingpong allday err day. This made me great at both. As my Windows ‘95 computer made me great at chess and jezzball. Read betwixt and between the lines. I’m telling you I’m good at chess.
A friend on the “real” tennis team took my uncoordinated ass from total novice unable to beat his weaker hand, to equal giving him a run for his money with his stronger hand every match, and with him being an arguable best at the school, so too did I. I ran up against a spin master, a hardbat (or sandpaper) only player, and an elder classman who only hits forehands. It was like a campy 80s film except irl.
Speaking of campy 80s aesthetics (I am a philosopher of aesthetics), I have been binge-watching Cobra Kai, the Karate Kid series’ much later sequel TV series, of late. It’s made by William Zabka, the villain of the original, and paints a much grayer picture than the black-and-white original. The good guys have a bad side, and the bad guys have a good side. I love that. That was Game of Thrones before sentient zombies showed up. Watch out for those.
Like Zoro, Ruruouni Kenshin, the Dragon Ball series, Yuyuhakusho, Hajime no Ippo, Kenichi History’s strongest Disciple, Kung Fu Hustle, Ip Man, and every Jet Li and Jackie Chan flick I saw as a young warthog, Cobra Kai inspires me to fight. But, more than that, it inspires me to open up a martial sciences dojo (halfway there right now) and this dojo would definitely have pingpong available as well. I have seen packed pingpong tables all over the streets of Adees Abeba, and even some pool lounges that have cleaner ones. There’s potential here and abroad.
As I write to you all right now, I am gearing up to play for the first time in four years this evening. If you’re in LA and ever down, don’t hesitate to hmu. Maybe I’ll share the college stories of international pingpong athletes of Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The latter of which I’m certain bewitched the ball he sent my way and at others. Beerpong is not the same thing, but it’s origin story is interesting as well. Peace.