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Nittaku Bloodwood Review – A Stunningly Beautiful OFF- Composite Blade

03 August 2017  | Posted in: Table Tennis Reviews

About the Reviewer

Patrick HrdlickaPatrick Hrdlicka is a table tennis enthusiast, who was introduced to the sport by his parents at the age of six. Patrick progressed to play in the highest national cadet and junior team leagues in his native Denmark and was among the top 40 players in his age group, which fostered several long-standing members of the Danish National Team. With college looming, Patrick quit the sport for almost twenty years. During this hiatus, he obtained a Ph.D.-degree in chemistry and accepted a position as professor of chemistry at the University of Idaho.

At the beginning of 2014, the mid-life crisis and yearning for table tennis grew too strong for Patrick and he decided to pick up the sport again. Bitten again by the table tennis bug, he plays 4-6 times per week. 

Since his comeback to table tennis, he has enjoyed combining his analytical and experimental skills with his love for table tennis, testing and reviewing a wide range of table tennis equipment.

Nittaku Bloodwood – A Stunningly Beautiful OFF- Composite Blade Which Offers a Direct Feeling on Ball Impact.

According to Nittaku, the Bloodwood is a 5+2 ply composite blade, in which bloodwood is used as the surface veneer and super thin carbon is inserted using Swedish wood-technology. It is characterized as being medium fast with a hard feeling. 

The Bloodwood comes in a standard silver and blue box which has the key blade characteristics listed on the front. It is a stunningly beautiful blade with rich light and dark brown wood patterns. It has an exceptionally smooth surface and edge, but no sanding of the wings. The blade’s name and a summary of key characteristics are printed on the FH side in a golden font. The gorgeous handle is kept in light-brown wooden color tones and has a red, black and golden colored lens on the FH side and a silver Nittaku tag on the bottom of the blade. The blade has a thick core, which is surrounded by a thin carbon layer, a thin middle layer, and thin outer layer of bloodwood. The bloodwood has a slightly below average head size (156 x 150 mm), is thin and light (5.7 mm thickness, 86 g), and has a comfortable FL handle (length x width x height: 100 mm x 29-34 mm x 25 mm). The balance of the test setup was more towards the center of the blade. 

Nittaku BloodwoodThe feeling on ball impact with the Nittaku Bloodwood blade is relatively hard and direct without being “tinny” like many other composite blades. At the same time, the blade is only moderately fast, i.e., OFF- range. Consequentially, FH and BH drives are very smooth and controlled and the setup produced a nice cracking sound on faster shots. Since the dwell time is shorter than average, it is important to use a correct bat angle to prevent the ball from going into the net or too long. In other words, the blade offers less room for error when combined with very hard rubbers such as H8 and requires excellent technique and footwork. FH loops feel very crisp and produce enough of an arc to clear the net, but judging the blocks of my usual practice partners, slow opening loops lack ~5-10% in spin relative to other set-ups. Loop drives played with high effort, on the other hand, appear to have normal spin levels. Due to the OFF- speed I had to use a lot of effort when looping from mid-distance with the Hurricane 8, which essentially forced me to play close to the table. The crisp feeling coupled with the moderate speed means that FH and BH blocks are very stable with the Bloodwood, provided one gets the timing right. Flat hits also benefit from the direct nature of this blade, but the shots are slower than with other setups. Pushes and touch shots felt great with this linear setup, as it was easy to keep the shots short and low. My biggest concern was the noticeable lack of spin on serves. My usual practice partners had an easier-than-normal time attacking my serve, which I attribute to the shorter-than-normal dwell time combined with the hard sponge of the Hurricane 8. 

Conclusion 
The Nittaku Bloodwood is a gorgeous and moderately fast 5+2 composite blade, which offers a direct feeling on ball impact. Given its OFF- characteristics, I suspect that this blade is better suited for faster and softer rubbers, where the ball gets a chance to penetrate deeper into the sponge, allowing for higher levels of spin production. In fact, I substituted the Hurricane 8 with a sheet of provincial DHS Hurricane 3 Neo and this immediately rectified some of the problems that I encountered with the original test setup. Thus, my low-impact FH loops and serves were spinnier, while my FH power drives and flat hits were faster. The Bloodwood is appropriate for players of most levels except – perhaps – elite players, who perhaps might find the blade a little bit too slow compared to other composite blades on the market.

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