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.
MKO is around the corner and everyone is getting prepared for the contest. Each year the freestyle contest gets more and more intense as overall skill and creativity evolves in the Kendama world. The finals is without a doubt one of the most hype moments during the contest. This year we are very excited to have our very own Jake Wiens on stage not as an MC or a competitor but as a DJ! Jake has been producing mixes catered to Kendama play and is taking his skills LIVE to the main stage to provide the beats to fuel the freestyle gladiators as they put their skills to the test.
Jake has put together a live recording of his “SESH” mixtape that features a taste of whats to come during the freestyle contest. Make sure to download the mix for free, grab some homies, and SESH!
Jake Wiens got a chance to catch up with Wyatt about their trip to Japan for Catch & Flow 2016:
Jake: Yo Wyatt! We are back in the states after an epic trip for Catch & Flow. You were all over the place. From late night sessions to the podium on the main stage at Catch & Flow. Lets talk about your trip. How many times have you been to Japan now? It seems like you are a regular.
Wyatt: Wassup Jake. Yeah this trip to Japan was epic. As of this trip it has been my 4th time to Japan now, I swear each trip seems to get better and better. Once you start to understand how to ride the train, order your dinner, and find the venue it’s a lot easier to feel less like a tourist and more at home haha!
Jake: What makes Japan trips so epic for you?
Wyatt: Everything! Most of the time you are there you don’t get to just hangout. Each day the crew mobs to different places. Some days I would just find sick film spots and grind, others with the whole KUSA crew checking out the city (sometimes shopping with Weins&Fuegz), playing ken with Nobu, clubbing with the GT Crew, being there with the COTK team, climbing roofs with Bonz, Competing etc. Almost everything you do there is just so insane haha! You are always on your feet, always moving. It’s a lot at first yeah, but Japan really is the most epic place for a kendama player.
Jake: What specifically is special about Catch & Flow?
Wyatt: Catch & Flow is a very special and unique freestyle event. Its not world cup, it’s the gritty, cutthroat, do or die world championships. You give it all you got and hope to come out on top, but sometimes you don’t. No one is telling you what tricks to do, or giving you a list to practice, you choose how you want to play kendama, you choose the tricks that you want to do and you choose how you want them to look. The next guy does the same thing and then the judges decide who was the dopest.
Jake: How was it battling Fish in the finals? I was on stage right next to you guys and I could hardly contain myself it was so epic.
Wyatt: Amazing! I love Fish, I have been playing with him for years now. It makes me really happy knowing that he is a great friend of mine. Going against him in the finals of Catch & Flow was so great! Both of us were pretty nervous, we both wanted to give a great performance and show whoever watched the finals how sick kendama is. I think we both laced hard and gave a good show for everyone. So knowing that, it was just sick to be up on that stage experiencing that with such a close friend of mine.
Jake: I have never seen you so stoked during a contest. What made your stoke level 11 during this battle?
Wyatt: Haha I dunno! I guess I was just really stoked that I was lacing all my tricks. It’s a lot of pressure being on stage and its hard sometimes to really focus in and land the tricks that I want to. But during this comp I dunno, I just felt good, like I was in my natural habitat. I took all my nerves and tried to use them as fuel. Instead of being so nervous it just got me more excited I was able to stay positive . After that all the pressure lifted and I felt comfortable to go for what I wanted to and what I thought was fun.
Jake: What was the craziest thing you saw this trip to Japan?
Wyatt: The Underground BMX Battle at Club Asia was pretty insane. Nobu hopped on the mic and started MCing it! Then after words when we hopped on stage and started lacing! That was so wild!
Jake: What are your plans for next years Catch & Flow?
Wyatt: Stay Hungry!
Jake: Give the kids one piece of advise on how to never be soft.
Wyatt: Always play kendama how you want to. And work hard, forward moons ain’t easy!
Catch & Flow 2016 was a smashing success! Congrats to Jake Fisher for taking 1st place. Our very own Wyatt Bray took 2nd and KROM’s Bonz Atron took 3rd. The event was full of shredders from around the world showing off their style and flow in this freestyle event. It was awesome to have Nobu and Jake MC the event again this year and bring that extra energy to the stage.
Here is what Kenyatta and Dave thought of the event:
“Catch & Flow was definitely an experience of a lifetime! Everything was beyond memorable from seeing Friends halfway across the world to meeting new Japanese players I didn’t think I would ever have opportunity to meet. I loved the vibe of the competition. Awesome to have Harold DJing the event. I genuinely felt love from everyone I was fortunate enough to let and spend time with. I truly look forward to next years event.” – Kenyatta
“This years Catch & Flow competition was another epic one for the history books, the talent and skill level just gets more and more insane every year.” -Dave.
Sakura Classic this year was bigger than ever, with an amazing first place prize for the amateur bracket – an all expenses paid trip to the 2016 Kendama World Cup in Japan! Not only did we have members from Gloken fly all the way out to the event from Japan, but we had the world’s best kendama performing duo, Zoomadanke, show some of their most impressive Kendama play ever.
Huge congrats to the winners of the Sakura Classic!
1st: CJ Martinez
2nd: Hayden Brickman
Pro Freestyle Division:
We were stoked to see the commitment from the kendama community to come out and jam despite the rain. Huge thanks to all the volunteers from the Bay Area that came out to help, Gloken, KendamaUSA, Grain Theory and of course, Jake Wiens for putting on another incredible Sakura Classic! See you next year!
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.
World Champion, Wyatt Bray had a chance to film with Jake Wiens in Oakland CA for his new video part with Kendama USA.
“Over 3 Days we explored Oakland and laid down some of the crazies tricks for the camera. It was amazing to have the time to properly document Wyatt. He has such crazy energy and a drive that is unmatched by any other player. When he gets into a zone he is in it until he gets it. I was prepared to film for hours on each trick only to have wyatt bang each one out with the quickness. TJ Kolesnik came along for the 2 days coaching and documenting behind the scenes. This was the dream squad. There was so much support and drive to make this something amazing and memorable. ”
We are honored, humbled, and excited to announce Dave Mateo as the newest member of the Kendama USA Pro Team. Dave brings a unique flow, energy, and style to the world of Kendama. Dave’s raw talent, passion, and dedication continues to be an inspiration to countless Kendama players around the globe. He has been a leading force for developing strong grassroots Kendama scenes, most notably in Sacramento and Las Vegas. He has also spearheaded multiple community projects, including the National Kendama Retreat.
Since day one, Dave has been extremely generous and selfless in his approach to enrich and spread Kendama culture. His passion for Kendama is undeniable, and his signature style is unmistakable. Dave has been a key part of Kendama USA for several years now, helping both publicly and behind the scenes. He continues to challenge his own limits and is committed to pushing others toward their dreams. We’ve been truly blessed to have Dave as part of our family, and we’re excited for this next chapter to unfold. Please join us in welcoming Dave Mateo to the Kendama USA Pro Team.
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.
“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 the next 10 days straight we will release one of the players pages so be on the look out so you can see what set ups some of your favorite pro players are choosing to jam these days.