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About The Asian reporter. (Portland, Or.) 1991-current | View Entire Issue (Aug. 15, 2016)
ASIA / PACIFIC
Page 4 n THE ASIAN REPORTER
August 15, 2016
Cupping and coining:
I did it long before Phelps
By Sopheng Cheang
The Associated Press
HNOM PENH, Cambodia — I sported those
purple round welts on my body long before
Michael Phelps was born. OK, so Phelps made the
world aware of cupping by showing his marked muscular
shoulders before diving into the pool at the Rio games.
But cupping, and a similar treatment known as coining,
has been practiced in East Asia for centuries. I grew up
with them. My mother made sure of that.
Phelps, the 31-year-old U.S. swimming star, was seen
with purple circles dotting his shoulder and back before
his first race at the Olympics. The circles were caused by
the ancient Chinese treatment, in which he is a great
It involves pressing glass or plastic cups to the area of
discomfort and either applying heat or suction to create a
vacuum. The suction causes the large hickey-like marks.
Another similar treatment is coining. The principle is
the same: Press a large metal disc with an attached
handle on the area of discomfort. While cupping is
virtually unknown in much of the world — and dismissed
by doctors educated in western medicine as hocus pocus —
it is commonplace in China, Cambodia, Vietnam, and
Myanmar as a cure for ailments as varied as fever,
tuberculosis, rheumatism, and muscular pain.
LONG-RUNNING RABBIT. China’s first moon rover, Jade Rabbit,
or Yutu in Chinese, is seen on the lunar surface in the area known as
Sinus Iridum (Bay of Rainbows), in this December 15, 2013 file image
taken by the on-board camera of the lunar probe Chang’e-3 and made
off the screen of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing. The
Jade Rabbit, which won a large following on social media, has been
retired after a record 31 months of collecting data from the moon’s
surface, according to state media. (AP Photo/Xinhua, File)
China’s Jade Rabbit lunar rover
ends mission after 31 months
BEIJING (AP) — China’s Jade Rabbit lunar rover,
which won a large following on social media, has been
retired after a record 31 months of collecting data from the
moon’s surface, according to state media.
The rover arrived on the moon on December 14, 2013,
aboard the Chang’e 3 lunar lander and was designed to
operate for just three months. On July 28, Chang’e 3 went
into hibernation for the 14-day lunar night and Jade
Rabbit ceased operations, state media reported, citing the
State Administration for Science, Technology, and
Industry for National Defense.
Jade Rabbit, or Yutu in Chinese, posted a final farewell
on its Twitter-like Weibo microblog, questioning whether
it would one day be returned to earth. “I’m a rabbit that
has seen the most stars!” the post said.
The rover’s 972 operational days far exceeded the 322
chalked up by the former Soviet Union’s Lunohkod 1 in
1970, achieving another milestone in China’s
fast-developing space program. Just weeks after it landed,
engineers feared they’d lost it when it shut down under
abnormal conditions, but it revived and appeared to
operate efficiently until its final shutdown.
The rover’s cameras, telescopes, and radar made it a key
part of the mission. Data it produced offered insights into
the geological evolution of the moon.
China will attempt to land an unmanned spaceship on
the moon next year that would return to earth with
samples. Only the United States and Russia have
previously carried out such a maneuver successfully.
China has also hinted at a possible crewed mission to
China sent its first astronaut into space in 2003 and has
powered ahead with a series of methodically timed steps,
including deploying an experimental space station.
Chang’e is the name of a mythical Chinese goddess said
to live on the moon and Yutu was her pet.
Godzilla comes back to Japan,
in ways fresh and familiar
Continued from page 2
The monster: Godzilla
at first looks like a snake or
an eel slithering through
the cityscape. Nearly an
hour into the movie, it
stands upright like the
Godzilla we know, with
protruding scales lining its
back and a giant tail
lashing uncontrollably. As
it was with the way the
1954 original was scripted,
Godzilla is more about our
anticipation, the night-
mare that reflects our
deepest fears. The new
Godzilla glows red as
though embers electrified
by atomic power flicker
beneath its jagged skin.
The destruction: The
new film is inspired by the
storyline of the 1954
original, more than the rest
of Toho’s 28-film series that
robots, and other fantastic
creatures. It smashes the
same landmarks as all the
other Godzillas, such as
parliament building, and
the Wako department store
with the clock tower. And
all that the masses of
people can do is run from it
in sheer terror.
The sounds: That same
eerie screech, created by
strings, is heard. And this
film pays homage to the
original music. When the
credits roll, with Nomura’s
name closing the 329-
strong actors’ lineup, it’s
the same composition by
Akira Ifukube from the
original movie that plays, a
fitting ending for the Japa-
nese comeback Godzilla.
Associated Press reporter Sopheng Cheang,
who grew up in Cambodia, narrates his
lifelong experience with coining and cupping.
I remember, some 40 years ago (I am 46), when I fell
sick, my mother always did coining on me. She would rub
coconut oil on my skin and then push the coin all over,
leaving rows of welts. It scared me. I would cry and
sometimes run away. But my mother would say: “Be
patient! It will take only a few minutes to complete and it
will hurt just a little bit, like an ant bite.”
So I would let her, and it usually helped.
In my generation, most people did coining when they
had a fever, including my relatives, siblings, and
neighbor. Cupping became popular later.
Now when I have a fever, flu, headache, or other
problems, I go to a neighborhood “cupping spa” and get
both done. Not that I don’t trust medicines. But I also
believe in cupping and coining. Got it done just last month
for my fever, which wasn’t coming down with medicines
ANCIENT TREATMENT. A Cambodian man, Sok Pheakdkey, re-
ceives a cupping treatment as traditional medicine at a cupping clinic, in
Phnom Penh, Cambodia. U.S. Olympian Michael Phelps made the world
aware of cupping by showing his marked muscular shoulders before div-
ing into the pool at the Rio games recently, but cupping, and a similar
treatment known as coining, have been practiced in East Asia for centu-
ries. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
and injections. One session of cupping and the fever was
The procedure was done in a well-illuminated room
with one small bed and a wall fan. I took off my shirt and
lay down on my stomach so the practitioner could work on
my back, first by rubbing oil and then using the coin. After
15 minutes or so, she told me to turn over so she could
work on my chest. The same procedure was followed with
cups as I dozed off.
But there’s a rule to coining and cupping — no alcohol or
bath for three hours before and five hours after the
It is popular in the countryside because it is cheap and
most Cambodians are poor, and not every village has
hospitals or clinics. Ironic, since health spas in the U.S.
Continued on page 8
Only masters of spin win at Olympic-level table tennis
By Foster Klug
The Associated Press
IO DE JANEIRO — Ask a table tennis player to
describe the most important part of the game and
you usually get a single word answer: spin.
After that it gets more complicated.
There’s topspin. Backspin. Sidespin. Side under spin.
Side over spin. Heavy under/over/side spin. Light under/
over/side spin. And, perhaps most devious of all, no spin.
In the course of a single Olympic match, it may all be
there, and almost all of it will go unnoticed by spectators
caught up in long, mesmerizing rallies filled with
smashes, drop shots, and miraculous defensive saves.
Spin is so crucial in table tennis that it’s easy to
determine its masters: Just look at the top 10 players in
the world. But it’s also a great leveller, allowing older and
physically weaker players to hold their own and,
sometimes, even beat the world’s best.
And while the best players can determine what sort of
spin is coming by the speed and angle of the bat’s
movement and the rotation and direction of the ball, the
mechanics of spin are still something of a mystery. It is
ubiquitous but imperfectly understood, sometimes even
by the players who use it to perform feats that basement
ping-pong players can’t even dream of.
Here is a look at the Art of Spin.
It’s all in the wrist (and the rubber)
Spin — sometimes mind-boggling, post-it-on-YouTube
spin — is the backbone of Olympic-level table tennis.
But how do they do it?
It’s all in the wrist — and the rubber.
No wrist movement means no spin. Rotate it like you’re
turning a key in a lock or slice it like you’re executing a
karate chop, and you’ll make the ball spin, dance even,
sometimes in unreturnable ways.
In his first- and second-round matches against players
half his age, Spaniard Zhiwen “Juanito” He, a 54-year-old
left-hander, employed spin constantly, his wrist slicing,
swivelling, and rotating, the ball seeming to veer in
TOP-TIER TABLE TENNIS. Ma Long of China serves during a
table tennis match at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Bra-
zil. In the world of table tennis, it’s all about the spin: Topspin. Backspin.
Sidespin. Side under spin. Side over spin. Heavy under/over/side spin.
Light under/over/side spin. World No. 1 Ma extended China’s utter domi-
nation of table tennis with his 4-0 gold medal win over countryman Zhang
Jike, the reigning London champion. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
midair like a gunshot bird before glancing off the table and
screeching off in another direction. He won the first and
lost the second match, but his spin continually flummoxed
his young opponents.
The type of rubber on the bat a player uses also matters.
Thick rubber vs. thin. Hard vs. soft. Pimples out vs.
pimples in. It all produces different kinds of spin.
Spin as zen
Executing good spin requires that a tremendous
number of different things all go right at the same time.
But to do it well, players must largely forget the details
and just play.
“If you think, you have lost,” said Thomas Weikert,
president of the International Table Tennis Federation.
The trick to achieving a zen-like level of spin is practice.
Lots of practice, for hours a day, every day, for years on
“I know many athletes at the top of different sports, and
Continued on page 8