Tosta to represent Kendama USA at World Cup.
By John Hull – Citizen Sports Editor
Published: Friday, July 8, 2016 10:47 AM PDT
Elk Grove Citizen – News
Logan Tosta is a normal 12-year-old boy that lives in Elk Grove. He plays soccer, will be trying out for a part in a musical in a community theatre company. He plays basketball.
But, the soon-to-be seventh grader at Joseph Kerr Middle School is also one of the best Kendama players in the country.
In fact, Kendama USA has asked Tosta to be a part of our country’s representation at the Kendama World Cup, July 23 and 24 in Hatsukaichi, Japan.
In recent years, Kendama has become a craze, mainly amonst young people, but several older folks have played with the strangely-shaped wooden dowel with a round ball attached via a short rope. In fact, a couple of Tosta’s Kendama USA teammates are in their 30’s.
Kendama has been around for centuries. It’s origination is in Japan. Kendama is a toy, generally made from wood, with a main body, “ken”, a spike on the top, “kensaki”, a large cup on one side of the ken, “osara”, a smaller cup on the opposite side, “kozara” and it has a short string, “ito”, with a small ball, “tama,” attached. When playing with a Kendama the object is to do a series of tricks such as swinging the ball in the air and having it land on the spike or one of the cups.
Logan’s father, Seth, says his son has been a Kendama player since he was in third grade and now it is not unusual for him to be practicing all his tricks six to eight hours a day.
“It’s one of those things where his friends stopped playing Kendama, but he kept playing and kept playing and he’s got pretty good,” Seth said. “He’s put in hours and hours into it and always is playing (a Kendama).”
Kendama USA, the biggest manufacturer of Kendamas in this country., discovered Logan and is now sponsoring him in competitions on what is known as the “TRIBE” team.
“There’s some really stellar players on this TRIBE team including last year’s World Cup champion,” Seth said.
This year will be the third year for the Kendama World Cup, considered to be the Super Bowl of all Kendama competitions. Tosta and his teammates will compete individually against others from literally all over the world. The top prize will be $5,000.
“This is the pinnacle of their sport,” Seth said. “It’s put on by GLOKEN, a company that makes Kendamas.”
A typical Kendama competition is a two-round affair. In the first round, each competitor will have two three-minute periods to perform a set of tricks. In the first period, a competitor selects five tricks to do. There’s a break in time and then in the second three-minute period, the competitor selects another five tricks to perform.
GLOKEN establishes a list of 100 tricks from which the competitors may choose. Every trick has a point value attached, anywhere from one to ten points.
“In each period you want to accumulate as many points as you can to advance to the finals,” Seth explained. “If you have enough points to finish in the top 24 then you move onto the finals.”
Last year the finalists scored 70 or more points in the opening rounds.
In the final round each competitor will get three-minutes on a stage in front of typically a large and boisterous crowd cheering him one as he does as many tricks as possible.
“The only different (in the finals) is that everything is ‘squared’ for your point totals,” Tosta said. “If you hit a ten-point trick on the finals’ stage, that’s worth 100 points.”
The points earned in the final three-minute period is added to the points in the earlier rounds for each competitor’s final score.
The competition will be live streamed on the GLOKEN website, gloken.net.
Seth admits he, too, likes to fiddle around with the Kendama.
“It would be funny to watch me as compared to Logan and his friends with the Kendama,” he laughed. “It’s comparing a world-class player to a novice.”
The past several months the entire family has been traveling across the country with Logan as he’s been entering different competitions.
“It’s really special to meet cool people that are into a niche thing,” Seth said. “He’s just 12-years old and most of the people competing are in their 20’s and they treat him like one of their own. They support him and look out for him. It’s something we thought would be a flash-in-the-pan for him, but he’s been so dedicated and consistent with it, not because he had to, but because he’s passionate about it.”
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