We’re excited to launch the newest development from Kendama USA: The Kaizen Craft. This line of Kendamas is designed and hand crafted by Kendama players and manufactured right here in the USA. We are introducing 2 entirely new shapes: The Kaizen 2.0 and the Kaizen Slim. Numerous improvements include larger cup sizes, arched cup rims, a refined slip stop, and a new sarado shape that slings amazing while keeping prime lunar balance. The exceptional craftsmanship is unlike anything we’ve created so far, and we know you’re going to love it. This is our Craft.
During one of our last nights in NYC we held a Jam at the Park Ave Atrium. Sheltered from the frigid air we linked up with some east coast players and had a blast. Shout out to KEN-YC and everyone who showed.
Here is a short clip Dave Mateo put together as well as a few fun pics of our time there.
Young Post, a Junior Reporter Club recently wrote an article about the expanding Kendama scene in Hong Kong. This amazing article covers some very important topics regarding Education with Kendama and the ability to build a community around it. Alex, Zack, and Jake are all mentioned in the article as well.
Check out the full article below. The Kendama craze in Hong Kong: what is it and what makes it so addictive?
You’ve probably never heard of Kendama, but think of it as a game similar to cup and ball, with a growing worldwide popularity
By: Alan Yu
Around 10 years ago, skateboarder Smore Chan Chung-yin picked up a Japanese toy made of a wooden spike and a ball on a piece of string, and started playing with it at a skate park after watching a fellow skater do some tricks. Chan was immediately hooked and couldn’t put the toy down for the next three hours.
“I was playing like crazy and even when I left for dinner, I was still playing with it. I didn’t want to give it back. I had to give in and buy a kendama of my own.”
The kendama is a toy that is similar to cup and ball; the only difference is that the kendama has three cups, a wooden spike, and the ball has a hole in it. Players try to flick the ball back onto the spike, but it’s become much more than that, as players try to do tricks shots like landing the ball on each of three cups attached to the spike, toss the toy in the air and catch it again before getting the ball on the spike, balance the spike on top of the ball, or even holding the ball and balancing the spike with just the string. It’s not unlike how people have taken the yo-yo and created all kinds of tricks with it.
Chan has been honing his kendama skills ever since he discovered it. He has won several competitions, including the first ever competition in Hong Kong in 2006 and an international video competition with another player in 2007. The 26-year-old now works as a tour guide, but he founded Pak Fuk Kendama in Fanling, where he sells kendama products and coaches new players.
Kendama is steadily growing as a sport. The US has a team of professional players, and even Pak Fuk Kendama in Hong Kongsponsors seven players, meaning those players get free kendamas and coaching. Sunny Wong, a bartender who helps Smore Chan run Pak Fuk Kendama, says there are around 200 enthusiasts in Hong Kong who practise every day, and that it is a serious discipline.
“The Japanese have judo, ken-do (the art of sword fighting), kado (ikebana, or flower arrangement) and chado (tea appreciation.) For the serious players, kendama is just like one of those pursuits.”
Some people even make their living from kendama, like Alex Smith, a player on the US team who is also a woodworker and makes his own kendamas; and Jake Wiens, another US player who also does a lot of the film production and editing for the team.
People like them are rare though, and Hong Kong doesn’t have a kendama scene like the US just yet, but more and more players are following in Chan’s footsteps and taking kendama seriously.
Wu Tsz-ki is 14 and she’s one of the sponsored players with Pak Fuk Kendama. She only started playing with the kendama in May 2014 after she saw it on Instagram, but she practises every day and spends at least an hour each weekend working on new tricks. In October, she entered a competition and came fourth out of around 50 players. She says her parents are still surprised that she hasn’t gotten tired of this toy already, but she says she’s also hooked.
“Don’t underestimate this toy. It may not look very athletic, but it’s very effective in working up a sweat and honing your arm muscles,” she says. “My reflexes have certainly improved. My accuracy in swatting mosquitoes has gone from 50 per cent to 80 per cent.”
Wing Tang kin-wing, 16, is also one of the Pak Fuk Kendama players. He started playing two years ago, and back in mid-December, he entered the TKA Kendama Contest in Taiwanand beat all the other players from Japan, Korea, and Taiwan to win the timed contest, where the players try to do as many difficult tricks as they can within two minutes.
Chan says his group performs and hosts workshops at schools and universities. He says his next goal is to organise parent-child kendama classes.
Zack Yourd, a professional player for the US team and recent college graduate, wants to develop a curriculum to introduce it to schools in the US. The 22-year-old started playing with the kendama around eight years ago and he says whenever people ask him what the kendama is, he’ll show them a few tricks and they are always impressed.
“I have yet to see somebody who’s like, ‘Oh that’s stupid.’”
Yourd travelled across the US with the team, and he says he was struck by how enthusiastic the players were.
“As soon as we pulled into the parking lot, there would already be hundreds of people waiting, and they were just screaming.”
He also designs his own kendamas with different designs and types of wood, and he gets royalties every time one of those is sold. He enjoys brewing tea and coffee, so his latest model features engraved tea leaves and coffee beans. One of his kendamas costs around US$35.
“As kendama becomes bigger, it’s becoming more of a possibility to live off kendama and make it your profession. Some people that I know are doing that and it’s incredible. Right now though, it is kind of hard to make your living from competing. You would need another job.”
Lau Chun-ho (left) and Chan Chung-yin admit they’re totally addicted to kendama.
At the end of the summer, the Terra Kendama workshop celebrated one year of being open in Vancouver, after moving to the coast from Edmonton last spring. The ‘Van Jam 2′ is an event that celebrates the core of what kendama is: having fun while hanging out with friends, learning some new tricks, and maybe a little bit of competition on the side.
This year’s event brought players from across Canada, the US, and Japan to the Terra workshop. Turner Thorne, Haley Bishoff, and I were the repping Kendama USA, and it was awesome having teammates in town! We spent a lot of time seeing sights, eating good food, and jamming kendama around the city.
Last year KendamaUSA’s own Colin Sander won the game of DAMA tournament at the Van Jam, but this year it was Brandon Meyer that took home the first place prize. Good times were had by all, this certainly won’t be the last of the Van Jams!
Over the past two weeks we’ve shared what each Kendama USA team member used in the KWC qualifiers and finals.
We wanted to recap it all into one area and offer a limited 15% discount on these items with code: KUSAWorldCup15
1. Zack Yourd – Zebrano Ken x Tribute Half Split Red/White Tama
1 Zebrano Kendama
1 Tribute Half Split (Red/White)
“It’s a mash-up of some of my favorite kendama parts, and I like when the tama is a couple of grams heavier than the ken. Half splilts also help for tracking which is nice for more stressful/competition play.” – Zack Yourd.
2. Wyatt Bray – TK16 Master Ken x Turner Thorne v4 Pro Model Tama
1 TK 16 Red
1 Turner Thorne v4 Pro Model
“I wanted a freshy, competing with a fresh is the best. TK 16 are one of my most memorable damas because they were the first I played when I first started.” - Wyatt Bray
3. Turner Thorne – Kaizen Zebrano Ken x Turner Thorne v4 Pro Model Tama.
1 Kaizen Zebrano Kendama
1 Turner Thorne v4 Pro Model
“Strictly for the balance ratio between the ken and tama. It was also the one that was most broken in around the bevel which helped with bird tricks” – Turner Thorne
4. TJ Kolesnik – Colin Sander v4 Pro Ken x Tribute Red/White Half Split Tama
1 Colin Sander v4 Pro Model
1 Tribute Half Split (Red/White)
“The v4 ken matched super well weight-wise with the tama, and the half split is a reallygood visual. The bottom white half makes the tama hole pop. Once playing a few days the silk paint on he tama breaks in really nicely.” – TJ Kolesnik
5. Keith Matsumura – Colin Sander v4 Pro Model
1 Colin Sander v4 Pro Model
“I like the 3-tone tama, it’s easy to track for spike tricks. Also in the past I’ve gotten good vibes from playing Colin’s pro models.”
- Keith Matsumura
7. Haley Bishoff – Kaizen Zebrano Ken x Kaizen Silk Turquoise Tama
1 Kaizen Zebrano
1 Kaizen Turquoise
“I like the look of it, the color-way was nice. Matching is key. It played well for me too, I landed all of my tricks in my 2 runs. When choosing a Kendama, 60% is based of looks, the other on playability.” – Haley Bishoff
8. Dave Mateo – Kaizen Zebrano Ken x Kaizen Translucent Wine Tama
1 Kaizen Zebrano
1 Kaizen Red Wine Translucent
“I’ve lately found that I’ve been able to lace nutty multiple J-Sticks/UFO’s with the grip from the translucent paint. Also this tama is a bird machine. Once beating it in, the bevel allows the tama to just sit n grip.” – Dave Mateo
9. Bryan Scagline – Kaizen Birch Ken x Tribute Black / Yellow Half Split
1 Kaizen Translucent
1 Tribute Half Split (Yellow / Black )
“I wanted to rep the hometown colors, and the half split is good for tracking. I found this useful when performing up on stage and during on-the-spot play.” – Bryan Scagline
10. Alex Smith – Kaizen Birch Spike x Maple Cups x Alex Smith v4 Pro Mod.
1 Kaizen Translucent
1 Alex Smith v4 Pro Model
“Can I get a glass of water?… The tama was nice and solid and the tama’s weight matched well with the ken. The hybrid Ken was not planned and was pieced together after some Kendama mishaps, but it played really well.” – Alex Smith
“This project highlights each of Kendama USA’s players and the specific kendama set ups they chose to use for the KWC while also adding my own style into the mix. Every photo was taken with instant-print cameras (Polaroid OneStep SX-70 and Fujifilm Instax 210) and every word written by hand. I like taking the foreign route in todays technology era and crafting things by hand. Having a limited amount of film for the cameras also added a surprise/suspense element to it all because each shot was a make-or-break on whether or not it would come out in focus or not. I really want to thank Jero, Cecilia Chow, Luke Evans, and the K-USA team for their contributions on making this come together ”
For our last players page we are featuring Alex Smith! Look for our KWC Setup Recap here soon!
“This year’s trip to Japan was one for the books. Every time we trek on a new adventure, more and more memories are made. We made our way abroad with two new additions, Tribe Team members Wyatt Bray and Bryan Scagline. It was both their first time out of the country and a great time to experience Japan. I was in the same position exactly 1 year ago and for all the trips I’ve been on, this has been one of the most memorable and fun for me.
The 2015 Kendama World Cup started off with a bang. Zack Yourd, Bryan Scagline, Dave Mateo, Turner Thorne, Jason Morrison, and I all met up at the San Francisco International Airport to hop on a plane to Japan. It was 13 hours of pure fun, rowdiness on the plane, and teaching passengers and flight attendants how to play Kendama. We managed to film an entire edit that features the new Mugen Musou… #TEAMFUEGZ! Coming shortly.
Yes, finally touched down in Japan. Let the adventures begin.
10 long, sleepless, adventure filled days were about to go down. The best and most talented Kendama players all under one roof, competing against each other for the top prize. Luckily, the entire World Cup (2 days) was on a live stream so those who weren’t there were able to catch the live footage and see the craziness go down. For me, the last 10 days blurred together because there was so much going on all at once. So many exciting things happened every day and the level of skill in Kendama has risen to new heights. I’m happy and proud to congratulate my own teammate Wyatt Bray for taking it home for Kendama USA! GO WYATT! WE LOVE YOU!
Let’s just give a quick recap of events. Plane rides, no sleep, Japanese beer tasting, long nights, down pours, early mornings, scaling roof tops, amazing sushi, walking, LOTS OF WALKING, onsens, vending machines, 7/11, alpaca, Japanese style housing, hostels, dama village, polaroid sessions Osaka, Hiroshima, Kendama Street, okonomiyaki, subways, laughing, friends, family, team, Kendama. I hope everyone reading this gets to experience Japan and the Kendama World Cup at least once. For those who did go this year, I hope you read this and smile and think back to all the great memories.
A big thank you to Tamotsu Kubota, Yuka Hyuga, Hajime Ishibashi, Kota Kagoshima, the rest of the Gloken Crew, Kendama USA, and of course, Jeremy Stephenson. Cheers to the future of Kendama! See you all next year.” -Tj Kolesnik
Thank you to everyone who participated in the Freestyle 15 Video Contest!
We had a lot of submissions and it took the judges quite a while to go through them all and pick winners.
Be sure to check out the winning submissions as well as honorable mentions below.
So you want to learn how to string or restring a Kendama huh? Well you’ve come to the right place!
We’ve put together a step by step guide that will teach you how to do it properly as well as a few tips.
Got a Classic, Kaizen or Traditional Kendama? This video is for you.
We are excited to bring you the Kendama USA Tutorial Series. We’ve released over 40 Kendama Tutorial Videos to help you and your friends learn all sorts of tricks. From core basics to high level advanced we’ve got them all.
If there are any tricks that you want to see as a part of our tutorials submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ve put together a playlist that you can play through with all of our tricks organized by difficulty as well as skill level playlists. Check them out below or visit our tricks & tutorials page here.
All right, here’s the deal. We’re holding an Instagram contest and we want to see your most creative 15 Second Freestyle with only one rule…No spacewalks! Judges Alex Smith, Turner Thorne & Trevor Starnes will be looking for creativity, style & flow. Grab your gear and enter to win!
Deeply rooted in the Kendama community, judges Alex, Turner, & Trevor are always trying to improve and help others improve on their skills in freestyle sports. We’ve thrown together a prize pack that represents their love of not only Kendama but also Skateboarding for this contest.
All submissions must be tagged with hashtag #kusafreestyle15 and received by Sunday night, June 14th, 2015. Only 1 submission per person.