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No, The Bruce Lee Nunchucks Ping Pong Video Is Not Real (Stop Sending it to Me. Really)

No, The Bruce Lee Nunchucks Ping Pong Video Is Not Real (Stop Sending it to Me. Really.)

No, The Bruce Lee Nunchucks Ping Pong Video Is Not Real (Stop Sending it to Me. Really)
(by Steve Hopkins/Photo credit: Warner Bros.)

There is a video clip showing Bruce Lee playing ping pong with nunchucks (also called “nunchuks” or “nunchaku” – two sticks held together with a chain or rope and used as a weapon).  Lee Jun-Fan, who was known professionally as Bruce Lee was an actor and martial arts specialist who moved to the US from Hong Kong and who became a cultural icon throughout the world after starring in a series of movies (primarily in the 1970s).

In the clip, Bruce Lee’s expert use of the nunchucks are matched against one table tennis expert player, and then a second.  He strikes the ball repeatedly with the nunchucks, winning every point.  It is filmed to look old and a little grainy.  It is masterfully done and entertaining – and absolutely not real.

Every year this video clip makes the rounds on Facebook and a whole new group of people see it for the first time.  For me, that means that a whole new group of people send the video to me and either ask if it’s real or tell me they think its real. A couple points worth noting: (1) much of the American public has seen a small enough sample of real table tennis action that they cannot tell the difference between an actual match and a digitally altered clip, (2) that same American public finds ping pong entertaining enough as a sport to watch video clips, and (3) table tennis is slowly making it into commercials and tv shows and continuing to increase in visibility.

Some facts about the video:

–     The ad was created in 2008 by Nokia for a limited edition Bruce Lee cell phone.

– –      The web address that appears at the end of the video has a .cn extension, which indicates it was targeting a Chinese market.

–    The ball in the video is clearly digitally added.  This is not unlike the ball in the table tennis scenes in Forest Gump or in Balls of Fury.

–    Another interesting side note is that the title for Balls of Fury (as well as much of the plot) was a nod to the classic Bruce Lee film titled Fists of Fury (1972).

This video has spread enough that it has a Snopes entry (“bruce-lee-ping-pong”) which notes the true origin of the video and quotes a creative director from the firm that created it.  The video had 700,000 views in the first 24 hours, the original video post on YouTube has over 25 million views, and the numerous clips of the video account for many more millions of views.

It may be time to get the word out.  Certainly watch the video for the entertainment value, but the real sport is much more exciting.  In fact, I recommend the next time someone forwards a video like this one to you that you respond with this one:  Welcome to World Class Table Tennis

So to say this one last time – No, the Bruce Lee nunchucks ping pong video is NOT real.  Stop sending it to me.  Really.

See the Bruce Lee video here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SncapPrTusA

See the Snopes entry here:  https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/bruce-lee-ping-pong/


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