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Review: Tibhar Dynamic J7 Darko Jorgić

11 January 2022  | Posted in: Table Tennis Reviews

Tibhar Dynamic J7 Darko Jorgić

     If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I am a fan of 7-ply all-wood blades. The Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition (SFPBE) has been my main competition blade for several years, and recently I took a liking to the Tibhar Bernadette Szocs Signature 1 (BSS1). I was, therefore, excited to note the release of yet another 7-ply all-wood Tibhar blade, i.e., the Tibhar Dynamic J7 Darko Jorgić. The blade is named after Darko Jorgić, the top Slovenian table tennis player who has an incredible, Kreanga-like, backhand.

     Tibhar describes the J7 as a “hard attacking blade with plenty of feeling”. A thicker core provides power whereas thinner outer plies fine-tune catapult, hardness, and control. Tibhar assigns speed/control/strategy ratings of 8+/9-/OFF-, 8-/8+/OFF- and 9-/7-/OFF to the J7, BSS1, and SFPBE, respectively. In other words, Tibhar claims that the J7 is almost as fast as the SFPBE with control that closely matches that of the BSS1, which sounds very promising indeed.   

      The J7 arrives in Tibhar’s new standard cardboard box. The design of the box is minimalistic and modern: black, featuring Tibhar’s new black-and-red logo. The box is lightweight, yet offers excellent protection. Visually, the blade has a more rounded shape than most blades. The blade name is printed on the FH side of the straw-colored playing surface. The BH side is devoid of any text. The handle is light-blue with two sets of thin white stripes running the length of the handle. A silver, metallic tag is embedded in the FH side of the handle, whereas the BH side is tag-less. The bottom of the handle sports a rectangular silver tag with the Tibhar logo. The playing surfaces and the handle are smooth but the wings and edges do not appear to have been sanded. Nonetheless, the overall build quality appears to be pretty good.  

     While each of the three Tibhar blades is composed of seven ayous and limba plies, the ply composition differs significantly between the J7 and BSS1/SFPBE (which in turn are quite similar to each other). Thus, the J7 has a much thicker ayous core and substantially thinner intermediate ayous ply than the BSS1/SFPBE. The visually most pronounced difference, however, is the J7’s very thick and dark-brown penultimate ayous ply, which is capped by a thin outer limba ply. The playing surface of the J7 has the following dimensions (height x width): 157 mm x 149 mm with a thickness of 6.4 mm, rendering it the narrowest and thinnest of the three Tibhar blades. The FL handle has the following dimensions: length ~100.5 mm, width ~25.1-34.5 mm, and height ~23.3-24.8 mm. The test blade weighed 89 g and produced a main resonance frequency at 1291 Hz. In comparison, the BSS1 and SFPBE produce resonance frequencies at 1399 Hz and 1388 Hz, respectively, suggesting that the J7 is softer/slower. 

Testing Protocol

      I evaluated the J7 using well-used sheets of DHS Hurricane 3 (2.15 mm, black, provincial version, 40-degrees blue sponge, one thin layer of Haifu Sea Moon booster) in my FH and Spinlord Waran II (2.0 mm, red) short pips in my BH. The rubbers were attached using one layer of Revolution 3 medium viscosity glue. I tested these set-ups over 4-5 sessions playing a mix of regular and match-like drills against my regular high-level practice partner (two-winged looper). Neottec Neoplast Pro 40+ training balls were used throughout this test. 

Playing Characteristics

Initial Impressions

      The J7 is well-balanced, with a center of gravity that is shifted towards the handle, resulting in a nimbler and more lightweight feel than its 89 grams would suggest. I was worried that the short handle would prove problematic, but these concerns were unsubstantiated. The narrow wings of the blade encourage a loose and comfortable grip. The playing surface is minimally, but noticeably, narrower, leading me to hit an above-average proportion of edge shots.    


     The J7 produces a crisp feeling on FH and BH drives, presumably due to the presence of some fairly stiff plies. At the same time, the J7 also produces deep vibrations that can be clearly felt in the palm of your hand, suggesting the presence of a softer, more absorbing core. The J7 is slower and less bouncy than the BSS1 or SFPBE. Using Tibhar’s speed scale, I would rate the J7 as 7+. Using my own scale, I would characterize it as mid OFF-. Accordingly, the shot trajectories are a little shorter than with the SFPBE. However, I enjoyed great consistency on both FH and BH drives. In fact, I felt like I could hit FH/BH drives all day long without making any errors. The J7 doesn’t feel thick and stiff like the SFPBE and produces a feeling more akin to that of the BSS1.  


     I was also able to produce very consistent FH loops with the J7. However, the loops lack the penetrating power of the SFPBE or even the BSS1, unless they are perfectly timed. Spin production is average and the throw angle is medium, but since the trajectory is shorter, I felt as if I needed to use a little bit more physical effort to avoid the net. The importance of hitting the ball low and late for maximal power production became apparent while doing 3-point FH drills. Truth be told, I was rather exhausted after 7-8 mins of different FH warm-up loop drills. Whenever I tried to exceed the blade’s inherent speed by using bigger swings (rather than late timing), the loops tended to go long.

     In my hands, the J7 didn’t lend itself to the production of outright winners when executing third-ball attacks against long pushes, as the blade lacks the top-end speed of the SFPBE. However, I was able to use the blade’s excellent control to execute highly angled FH loops. Moreover, I often won many points on simply keeping the rally going and outmaneuvering my high-level practice partner with well-placed drives and blocks on 5th, 7th, or 9th contacts.  

     Although the J7 is fast enough to allow for FH loop-to-loop rallies far from the table, the consistency is lower than with composite blades of a similar speed rating. This is a general disadvantage of all-wood blades, which are best suited for game style close to the table and from the mid-distance zone.   

     The J7/W2 combination worked very well for me on BH opening shots against long pushes. The combination hits the Goldilocks zone. The blade produces enough arc for the ball to clear the net and is sufficiently fast to render the shots reasonably dangerous yet it isn’t so fast that the ball careens past the table. As a result, I enjoyed good consistency. 


     The J7 works well for flicks as the contact is crisp and clearly felt. This gave me the confidence to be more aggressive than usual, also because the blade’s moderate speed ensured that most of the flicks landed just before the end-line. BH flicks executed with the Waran II short pips are particularly dangerous. The feeling that the J7 produces on flicks is stiffer than with the BSS1, but not as stiff and thick as with the SFPBE. All in all, the J7 offers an excellent compromise for flicks. 


     Blocking with the J7 is very solid. The blade absorbs high amounts of incoming energy - presumably due to a softer core - and redirects it in a controlled manner while producing a crisp feeling. Just like my observations during warm-up FH/BH drives, the J7 gave me a feeling that I could FH/BH block all day long without making many errors. The resulting blocks are not phenomenally fast, but they don’t need to be. The excellent control of the blade allowed me to place the blocks in hard-to-reach places, resulting in outright winners or favorable set-ups. The blade’s nimble feel also allowed for quick FH-BH transitions, which further facilitated my ability to keep rallies going. 

Smashing and Flat Hitting

      The J7 is not an overly fast blade. Accordingly, smashes should be played in hard-to-reach places rather than relying on brute power. When returning soft shots from mid-distance, I felt the blade lacked power when using the Waran II short pips. In other words, it is a blade that feeds off your opponent’s energy.  

Short Game

      I enjoyed excellent consistency on long FH pushes as the blade is quite linear. Accordingly, I had a below-average number of pushes that went long. The amount of spin, however, seems only to be average, presumably due to the relatively stiff nature of the blade. The linear nature of the J7 rendered it easy to execute low and short pushes. BH pushes played with the Waran II, were direct and flat, but not particularly spinny. For sure, my practice partner did not have major difficulties returning them in a manner that put me under pressure. 


      The J7’s moderate speed worked great on pendulum backspin serves, which I was able to keep short, low, and reasonably spinny. For the same reason, I was able to use more aggressive stroke mechanics on long topspin serves, although they still didn’t seem overly spinny, presumably due to medium dwell time.


     The Tibhar Dynamic J7 is an excellent addition to Tibhar’s range of all-wood 7-ply blades. It is noticeably slower than the Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition and also slightly slower than the Bernadette Szocs Signature 1. While the SFPBE feels the thickest and the BSS1 the bounciest of the three, the J7 feels slightly stiffer and linear than the other two. However, these differences are in the nuances. Of the three, the J7 is probably the least suitable for hard and slow Hurricane-like rubbers, and the most suitable for being paired with faster European and Japanese rubbers. However, all three are excellent blades, which work well with short pimpled rubber like the Waran II. Players with a controlled offensive style, playing closer to the table and enjoying a sharper feel will gravitate towards the J7, whereas more players preferring a bouncier feel will choose the BSS1, while those wanting higher top-end speed and playing a little further out from the table will enjoy the SFPBE. Each of these blades can be used by intermediate-level players and upwards and offer excellent value for the price. 








About the Reviewer

     Patrick 'Pong Professor' Hrdlicka is a table tennis enthusiast with a Ph.D. in chemistry who combines his analytical and experimental skills with his love of table tennis in order to test and review a wide range of table tennis equipment.