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The birth of modern table tennis?

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    Posted: 11/09/2017 at 10:45am
If I were to give credit to the one person who did the most to revolutionize table tennis and create the modern game, I would give it to the great Swedish player and coach Stellan Bengtsson. I remember in college how news spread that a young Swede had dethroned the great Shigeo Itoh, in the 1971 World Championships held in Japan.

My Chinese friends mocked his style, but look at it, it is the modern style with power coming from the legs and hips in a arc, instead of the back and shoulder. Compare it to his equally great Swedish colleagues Hsns Alser, and Kjell (The Hammer) Johansson which was the shakehand style inherited from the hard bat era.

Speed glue technique, developed by the Hungarians and Yugoslavs, made this technique more explosive, and Waldner refined them both, but I have to credit Bengtsson for revolutionizing modern shakehand technique.

Maybe someone else has further insight.





Edited by richrf - 11/10/2017 at 7:29am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/09/2017 at 10:53am
I always thought Stellan was the first player with really modern footwork which enabled a lot of the power he got.  He also served short a lot, which was not something very many people did in that era. As you say, a pioneer in modern technique.

I would say that Johansson was a lot taller, and so he looked a little slower but I always thought his forehand was also fairly modern looking for his era, it reminded me some of Persson.  I don't think anything about the way Johansson or Alser played had much (or anything) to do with hardbat technique.  Remember that the rubbers and blades were really slow compared to now but neither of those guys ever competed with a hardbat.

I actually lived in Sweden around this time and got to see Alser and Johansson play in person a couple of times.  They were my heroes.  Unfortunately, finding a chance to see them on video or TV after I returned to the US was almost impossible.  I only could see static pictures of them in TT Topics from that time.  If you couldn't watch Stellan move, you couldn't appreciate how good he was or why he won a WTTC.  Now we have Youtube and can peer back in time. 

There are some other aspects of modern play that were just emerging around then also.  For example, Hungarians, especially Klampar, were hitting some pretty heavy spin from both sides right around this time, even before speed glue.   

One interesting thing is that if you look at video from Waldner at a really young age, like the final he played against Appelgren when he was about 16, he looks more like these guys do compared to the way he played a few years later (and after hew had developed his serve and  and third ball more).

Now of course the game has evolved quite a bit further, so I would like to invite people to look at Gatien from ~1990 and compare what he did then to some of the interesting players coming up now, like FZD and Harimoto. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote richrf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/09/2017 at 11:06am
Originally posted by Baal Baal wrote:

I always thought this too, Stellan was the first player with really modern footwork which enabled a lot of the power he got.  He also served short a lot, which was not something very many people did in that era. 

I would say that Johansson was a lot taller, and so he looked a little slower but I always thought his forehand was also fairly modern looking for his era, it reminded me some of Persson.  I don't think anything about the way Johansson or Alser played had much (or anything) to do with hardbat technique.  Remember that the rubbers and blades were really slow compared to now.

I actually lived in Sweden around this time and got to see Alser and Johansson play in person a couple of times.

There are some other aspects of modern play that were just emerging around then also.  For example, Hungarians, especially Klampar, were hitting some pretty heavy spin from both sides right around this time, even before speed glue.    



I do remember how word was flying in NY Chinatown about the new super-loop technique of Klampar and Jonyer that was giving the Chinese so much trouble. Some club members got a hold of a film and we use to analyze, though most of us were dumbfounded. It took a long time for modern techniques to cross the ocean - and most of it came across the Pacific with the Asian immigration.

I also had a chance to watch Bengtsson, Johansson, Itoh, Stipanic, and others at a tournament sponsored by a well-off European living in NY. It lasted only a few years, but it was a test.

Edited by richrf - 11/09/2017 at 11:09am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote zeio Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/09/2017 at 12:22pm
In the '60s.

In 1960, Japanese Yoshiharu Nakanishi(中西義治) invented the "loopdrive(ループドライブ)", the stroke destined to revolutionize the world of table tennis.



An Austrian player was credited for inventing sponge racket in 1951, but it was overshadowed by Hiroji Satoh when he became the World Champion in 1952, by using a sponge produced by Rikizo Harada(原田力蔵), founder of Armstrong.

Armed with the WMD, the JNT played an offensive game using the stroke called "long(ロング)" and dominated the scene for much of the '50s, beating the European countries to a pulp. Humiliated, the Europeans ditched the longstanding defensive style.

Japanese players used the loopdrive first at the WTTC in 1961.

It should be stressed that the invention of the loopdrive did not bring Japan the same glory as the sponge racket did, due in large part of China with their fast attack style. Nonetheless, it proved to be a milestone in the future development of table tennis.

Ichiro Ogimura spent 10 months in Sweden coaching the national team in 1962. He brought along the loopdrive and inverted rubbers.

Hungary was the other country to master the stroke first. The two countries followed different ideals and formed two competing styles in the '70s, laying a solid foundation for the European Renaissance in the '80s.

That's also the period when Sriver(1967) and Mark V(1969) were released. Also, the Stiga Hans Alser Allround Wood(origin of the Allround Classic) was released in 1967, and later Yasaka and Stiga collaborated and paired the two together.

Without them, what we have now wouldn't have been possible.

Edited by zeio - 11/13/2017 at 3:21am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote richrf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/09/2017 at 12:29pm
The story of Satoh and the introduction of sponge rubber is a fascinating one. Here is Marty Reismann's take on it:



Edited by richrf - 11/09/2017 at 12:30pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote rocketman222 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/09/2017 at 12:49pm
This is a fantastic thread about the evolution of modern game, however I am giving it 4 hours max before voldemort shows up.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bbkon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/09/2017 at 1:09pm
Originally posted by richrf richrf wrote:

If I were to b give credit to the one person who did the most to revolutionize table tennis and create the modern game, I would give it to the great Swedish player and coach Stellan Bengtsson. I remember in college how news spread that a young Swede had dethroned the great Shigeo Itoh, in the 1971 World Championships held in Japan.

My Chinese friends mocked his style, but look at it, it is the modern style with power coming from the legs and hips in a arc, instead of the back and shoulder. Compare it to his equally great Swedish colleagues Hsns Alser, and Kjell (The Hammer) Johansson which was the shakehand style inherited from the hard bat era.

Speed glue technique, developed by the Hungarians and Yugoslavs, made this technique more explosive, and Waldner refined them both, but I have to credit Bengtsson for revolutionizing modern shakehand technique.

Maybe someone else has further insight.





appwlgren polished the game smoother than waldner
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fulanodetal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/09/2017 at 3:26pm
ye old style.....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSy1DikuLyc&list=PLf7SMDBH0qKPyIJiMciKqRrwxtlDzh_ij


I do love watching vintage pong....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zw4sl4I8BjA


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote berndt_mann Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/09/2017 at 3:28pm
Originally posted by rocketman222 rocketman222 wrote:

This is a fantastic thread about the evolution of modern game, however I am giving it 4 hours max before voldemort shows up.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, following guest appearances in the dank tarn of Auber and the ghoul haunted woodland of Weir, Heeeeeeerrrrrrrrr's Voldi!

Spin reversal table tennis, which has been the main way to play the sport for a while now, probably originated with the (especially) forehand protolooping of Ogimura and Tanaka as can be seen in a film clip (silent) probably made between 1955 and 1959.  

In this clip, both World Champions can be seen happily spinning the ball against one another from oh maybe 8 to 10 feet from the table.  They both had a single-sided backhand drive (dare I say loop?), a rarity for single-sided penholders, although Lee Dal Joon could and did use such a stroke.

Spin continuance looping (or if you prefer topspinning) is as old as the competitive sport itself.
A 1928 silent film produced by Ivor Montagu shows the young English prodigy A. A. Haydon both in real time and slow motion hitting an exaggerated moderately high throw topspin drive against underspin, as opposed to the flatter "plain hit" stroke of Laszlo Bellak.



Edited by berndt_mann - 11/10/2017 at 4:19pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/09/2017 at 3:51pm
Rich's original point about Stellan though is not that he used topspin or anything like that.  Nothing new about that, or in the use of inverted, by 1970 or thereabouts when the Johansson-Alser exhibition at the top of the thread was filmed.  It is the way Stellan moved his feet and the way his body rotates on attacking that was distinctly new. 

I think Rich made a good point about that.  Compare Stellan to any of the top shakehand players of his era and you can see something of the difference.  Another one of my heroes of that era was Dragutin Surbek, but compared to Stellan the way he moved was plodding and inefficient (ditto Gergeley or Klampar or Jonyer or Surbek  or Stipancic etc. etc.)

The way Stellan moved his feet was pretty much the way we are taught to do it now.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/09/2017 at 4:02pm
FdT, I had never seen the old Russian video before.  Thanks for posting.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote APW46 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/09/2017 at 4:21pm
 The transition period was really through the 1950's and it took hold in the early 1960's, players like Stellan Bengtsson did not suddenly appear in the early 70's, they started playing at least 10 years before, it was really the Japanese players who instigated the game we know today. I have just read an article by Victor Barna in Sport world magazine dated 1961, and leading up to the world champs he is talking about the 'loop' I have all his articles in the same magazine through the 1950's and this is the first time he mentions it. I think it is the loop topspin that determines the modern game.  He credits the Japanese players for its instigation, but brought to Europe by Stan Jacobson of England. 
 The turning point for the modern game was when the ITTF regulated rubbers into 3 categories in 1960, Pips with no sponge, pips with sponge, and most importantly pips with reverse sponge. Its the sanctioning of the reversed rubbers that changed everything.
 The point made by Baal is important, players like Surbek, The Hungarians and big topspinners of the early 1970's were polished players by then, they started doing it however at least 10 yrs before when they were juniors.
 The older players of their generation, Alser, Johannson, were still largely flat hitters/ counter hitters, and all the Chinese were. China did not start looping till Kong Ling Hui
 Technically, The advent of heavy topspin did two things to change the game, It countered fast counter hitting, and it made attacking defensive players safer, so both those styles became less effective. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fulanodetal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/09/2017 at 4:33pm
Well there's this clip which for the life of me, I have no idea what year it is or who the players are....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mEegMVTbIQ


If anyone can roughly translate would be great!

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote APW46 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/09/2017 at 4:42pm
 the setting looks like the world champs in China 1961, there is a brief clip there of 'looping' at the start.
 BTW, the clip earlier in this thread of the exhibition match between Johannson and Alser just look like a modern club match !
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote richrf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/09/2017 at 4:55pm
Originally posted by Baal Baal wrote:

Rich's original point about Stellan though is not that he used topspin or anything like that.  Nothing new about that, or in the use of inverted, by 1970 or thereabouts when the Johansson-Alser exhibition at the top of the thread was filmed.  It is the way Stellan moved his feet and the way his body rotates on attacking that was distinctly new. 

I think Rich made a good point about that.  Compare Stellan to any of the top shakehand players of his era and you can see something of the difference.  Another one of my heroes of that era was Dragutin Surbek, but compared to Stellan the way he moved was plodding and inefficient (ditto Gergeley or Klampar or Jonyer or Surbek  or Stipancic etc. etc.)

The way Stellan moved his feet was pretty much the way we are taught to do it now.




Yes. It was a combination of footwork, body rotation, quick off the table punch shots and heavy loops wih short strokes. Very modern and very unique for the times. Here is a video of him winning against the great, 3 time world champion Zhuang Zedong (lots of controversy about his legendary battles with Li Furong).

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fulanodetal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/09/2017 at 4:57pm
And there's this documentray from the time period Zeio is talking about (early 50's)
Really wish I knew Japanese at this point...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sewNWpeak8


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote richrf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/09/2017 at 4:58pm
This is a fun one tracing the history:

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote APW46 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/09/2017 at 5:33pm
Originally posted by richrf richrf wrote:

This is a fun one tracing the history:


 Just watched that from start to finish, I think that answers all the questions.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/09/2017 at 8:06pm
Yes, the Yugoslavs and Hungarians spun heavier, but I still think Bengtsson was lightyears ahead on movement and body rotation.

A little later in time but check this guy.  Check the forehand loop right off the bounce.  I spent a lot of time watching video of this guy doing this.  This is the forehand I have tried to copy more than any other.  I haven't watched in awhile.  It still seems perfect to me.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote richrf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/09/2017 at 8:49pm
I too studied Gantien. Almost a carbon copy of Bengtsson;, with the benefit of speed glue. He was so fast with his forehand. I played great trying to emulate him, but it ultimately was too exhausting.

Waldner on the otherhand seems to have refined the Hungarian big loop style at mid-distance. Two distinct styles of play.

Edited by richrf - 11/09/2017 at 9:05pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tassie52 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/09/2017 at 9:03pm
Originally posted by Baal Baal wrote:

A little later in time but check this guy.  Check the forehand loop right off the bounce.  I spent a lot of time watching video of this guy doing this.  This is the forehand I have tried to copy more than any other.  I haven't watched in awhile.  It still seems perfect to me.




Wow!  What a comeback against JO!!!  (Although I don't think Waldner was very impressed with his own efforts.)
 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote richrf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/09/2017 at 9:10pm
I looked for an interview with Coach Bengtsson but couldn't find one. What a shame! Paddle Palace really should do one focusing on what was happening at this time in the decade of 70's. It really should be well documented. Also, Tibor Klampar. The ITTF is asleep.

Here is a video of Coach Bengstsson promoting his Juic blade.



Edited by richrf - 11/10/2017 at 10:26am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote zeio Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/10/2017 at 4:41am
Some more info on Ogimura's influence on China and Sweden from an entry of Larry Hodges's blog.

Quote He didn't just train and win titles; he revolutionized the game in numerous ways. When he was developing as a player, the world was dominated by European defenders, such as Richard Bergmann and Johnny Leach; Ogimura developed the penhold attack game and figured out how to defeat these choppers, often going against the advice of coaches...
...
The book also covers his huge success in training of other players. It also goes over why he is often considered the father not only of Japanese table tennis, but of Chinese and Swedish table tennis. China's first champions developed by studying of his techniques and training, much of it from a table tennis film he created titled "Japanese Table Tennis." He often toured China, training their top players. He also made numerous trips to Sweden, where he trained their best players. Sweden's Stellan Bengtsson went to Japan to train under him as a junior and then went on to win the 1971 Worlds as part of a 30-year reign where Sweden often battled with China for world supremacy.

"Swedish table tennis owes him everything," said Swedish head coach Anders Thunström on page 348.

"Japanese Table Tennis was the perfect textbook for us," said Zhuang Zedong on page 205, who would win three men's singles world titles after seeing the film at age 16. "Watching you and Mr. Tanaka practice made us realize that you do not swing a table tennis racket with your arms; you hit the ball with your feet."


I wanted to translate Ogimura's film last year when a similar topic came up but gave up for whatever reason.

Better late than never. I will focus on the caption. Hopefully mickd could help fill us in on the narration.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mEegMVTbIQ


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGFZVzQx6WY


According to the description for the video on niconico(which has since been taken down), Ogimura planned and played in the film when studying at the Nihon University College of Art from 1953-56. It won the silver award at the 13th Italy Internaional Sport Film Festival in 1956. Performers: Ichiro Ogimura(1954, 56 WTTC singles champion), Toshiaki Tanaka(1955, 57 WTTC singles champion)

Quote 「外国選手にみられない、日本の独特のペンホルダーグリップによる卓球の技術を、一つの練習法を通して御紹介します」――1953年から56年にかけて日本大学芸術学部映画学科に在籍していた荻村伊智朗が企画に加わり、自ら出演した記録映画です。1956年イタリア国際スポーツ映画祭銀賞受賞作品。出演:荻村伊智朗(1954・56年世界選手権男子単優勝)、田中利明(1955・57年世界選手権男子単優勝)


FYI, the description on youtube reads "1960年頃の日本の卓球「世界の頂点」(Japanese table tennis "top of the world" around 1960)".

This film was recommended by JTTA, and selected by the then Ministry of Education, Science and Culture for secondary schools/higher education institute/teens/adults.

At the beginning, on screen it roughly reads "never-before-seen by foreign players, the penhold grip unique to Japan, an introduction to the table tennis technique and training methods."

Shortly after that, the title of the film comes up "Japanese Table Tennis - Technique and Training Methods"

The credit rolls.

A brief history of how table tennis entered Japan? and now Japan is leading the pack, the shakehand grip used by western players, and the penhold grip used by Japanese players, the physical training etc.

@3:07, the caption reads "Long playing style", "Forehand long training."

@4:28, the height of impact point(timing).

@4:57, the footwork.

@8:07, the short playing style.

@10:38, the practice of attacking the cut(how the chop is called in Japan).

@11:44, the practice of counterattack by the cutting side.

@11:51, the caption reads "Cut ball".

@12:13, "Drive ball".

@12:47, "Smash and lobbing and top strike(トップ打ち)". There is a recent Table Tennis Kingdom blog entry about the various strikes, and one comment ponders if the term top strike is dead because it is not mentioned by the blog author. Whatever the case, the top strike looks like the speed drive.

Edited by zeio - 11/11/2017 at 11:27pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote richrf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/10/2017 at 7:27am
Thanks Zeio! No question, lots of modern technique in these videos and I believe I read that Coach Bengtsson did study in Japan for a period of time. Has any one read an interview of Coach Bengtsson where he describes this transition that led to the Swedish style of play?

Edited by richrf - 11/10/2017 at 7:28am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fulanodetal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/10/2017 at 9:47am
Thanks very much Zeio!!!!

ClapClapClap

FdT


Edited by Fulanodetal - 11/10/2017 at 9:48am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote zeio Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/10/2017 at 2:42pm

Yoshiharu Nakanishi.

There is an interesting backstory behind his invention of the loopdrive.

In the late '50s, Nakanishi was a college student. A left-handed fast-attack penholder, he often attended the collegiate tournaments in Japan. Back at the time, table tennis was dominated by defensive players, and there was a chopper, Goro Shibutani(渋谷五郎), who would constantly give Nakanishi grief. Nakanishi kept losing no matter what, but he kept on looking for a solution.


Goro Shibutani, father of Hiroshi Shibutani(now a member of the Butterfly advisory staff), they became the first father-son pair to get the All-Japan Singles Champion title.

When a backspin ball touches the racket, the ball bounces downward, so he thought, what if I pull up at the ball? At the time, the idea of brushing was still a remote concept, so what about striking the ball upward? Would it land on the other side? He experimented back and forth. He was onto someting. when the racket face is parallel with the ground, then with the racket swung behind the body, and swung upward vigorously, back then he didn't know that was brushing, but in doing so, the ball would cross the net, with a really high arc, at a very slow speed, but it is loaded with a lot of topspin.

His teammates didn't take him seriously, saying they eat a shot this high for breakfast, that it was in vain swinging up with so much force. What's more, the concepts of weight transfer, core rotation, and forearm snap didn't exist, the pull was all from the arm, which looked cumbersome.

But as Nakanishi trained on, his shot became ever more loaded. His teammates would often smash long, or the ball would fly right off as soon as they chop it. Even if they tried chopping with huge amounts of force, the arc of the return would still be very high. This in turn gave Nakanishi an opening to attack. Through all the trial and error, in an encounter at a national tournament, Nakanishi finally defeated Shibutani. Later on, people gave the shot the name - loopdrive.

His best years were between 1957-1960, often making the podium in singles and doubles. In 1959, he came in 3rd in singles at the All-Japan Championships, behind Champion Goro Shibutani and runner-up Ichiro Ogimura.

Edited by zeio - 11/10/2017 at 2:51pm
Viscaria FL - 91g
+ Neo H3 2.15 Blk - 44.5g(55.3g uncut bare)
+ Hexer HD 2.1 Red - 49.3g(68.5g 〃 〃)
= 184.8g
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote richrf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/10/2017 at 3:07pm
Thanks! Very interesting.

Still I wonder where Bengtsson got the idea to hit with very short strokes in both wings with tremendous hip torque. Today, it may not seem like much but at the time it created an enormous amount of buzz because it was so revolutionary. Unlike the other players in these videos, you couldn't tell that his technique was from that period. It looks absolutely modern.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/10/2017 at 7:40pm
Not just the body rotation. Look at all of his footwork. Modern. I am gueesing tne real innovation may have been trainibg methods tnat allowed (forced) him to develop it. Maybe someone can ask him.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote richrf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/10/2017 at 7:42pm
Originally posted by Baal Baal wrote:

Not just the body rotation. Look at all of his footwork. Modern. I am gueesing tne real innovation may have been trainibg methods tnat allowed (forced) him to develop it. Maybe someone can ask him.


It would be great to get this historical information. Something happened.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/10/2017 at 7:55pm
Just sent a text to one person who might know more about how Stellan trained when he came up.
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