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
Enjoy an inside look at the attitudes and techniques of Keith Matsumura as he experiences a spring in Colorado. Kendama, school, skating, skiing, are all part of Keith’s embracing of the ‘kaizen’ attitude- Continually improving ones self. Keith teamed up with Colin Sander to create a short film that would capture these insights and hopefully help evolve your play, and personal journey as well. Sit back and enjoy the eye opening perspective of one of the original pioneers of high-technique, american kendama-play.
Brought to you by Kendama USA
Score by Summer Swee-Singh
Directed by Colin Sander
Keith is also supported by Icelantic Skis and Royal Outerwear.
“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.
About a year ago, I started to really find a passion for climbing; rocks or mountains, climbing has become a huge priority in my life for many reasons. Six months ago, I decided how badly I wanted to climb a peak in Japan. Considering how much we, as kendama players, get the wonderful opportunity to travel there, I figured it would be feasible.
Mt. Fuji is the highest peak in Japan standing tall at 3,776 meters (12,389 ft), which is why it was the ultimate goal. I had planned out in my travel journal the best season to climb, how to get there, which route to take, how much it would supposedly cost and decided to try my best to make it a reality. When I found out I was going to Kendama World Cup this year, I figured it would be the perfect time to try. I just needed the plane ticket, a solid crew to climb with and the motivation to make it up.
Fuji crew at 5th station right before the climb! From left to right: Haley, Keith, Yuka, Rod, Eric and Kengo.
On the way up the mountain, there were many stops and stations where we met a lot of really cool people who lived and worked on Mt. Fuji. Not only did we meet some people who were familiar with kendama, but actually had a kendama up on Fuji with them. The jobs of the so-called sherpa’s were to work at the shops where people could resupply on food and water, and to burn stamps into the trekking poles of hikers. At each checkpoint on Fuji, you can collect a wood burned stamp, showing how far you’ve made it up the mountain.
Despite how unique of an idea this was, it was a very foreign experience to me. Foreign; not in the sense of being in another country surrounded by an entirely different culture and new people but in the climbing world. Never have I been on a mountain where there is such an industrialized, consumer-based environment. Usually when you climb, you bring what you need, what you can carry and that’s all you have for your trip. The whole way up, hikers could resupply on food or drinks that were, in my opinion, incredibly overpriced. As much as I disagree with this style of money-sucking mountaineering, it certainly has positive attributes. This kind of climbing gives anyone the opportunity to climb, especially any one who has never attempted something like this before and may not know how to properly prepare for a trip. I am completely and entirely supportive of opening people’s mind to the world of climbing, however that may happen. Fuji is the perfect mountain for those who are just getting introduced to the vertical world!
The shadow of Mt. Fuji just before sunset (above).
We had reached the 8th station, 3,250 meters high, where we were going to be staying for the night just after the sun had set. Once we checked into our cabin, put all our bags in the tight sleeping quarters, we went outside. In one of the towns at the base of Fuji, there was a firework show, which we sat and enjoyed until we went to bed. There could not have been more of a perfect way to end the long day of hiking. Good company and an impromptu firework show from 10,000 feet above Japan. Cho Yabai!
When we woke up at 1:30am to climb to the summit, we were all shocked at the amount of people headed toward the top. Headlamps were as prominent as the stars, as they made a zigzag trail all the way up the switchbacks of the mountain and far into the distance behind us. The only thing I could compare this experience to is standing in line for a ride at an amusement park. Needless to say, the amount of people was overwhelming and Fuji was unexpectedly overpopulated. I had never seen this many people on a mountain at once. At the same time, it was really inspiring to see how many people had the same goal as we did, summit by sunrise!
The crew bundled in the wind and freezing temps at sunrise, around 4:30am.
Sunset (above) vs. Sunrise (below)
Climbing is not only a physical challenge but a mental one too. Your heart is beating fast, your legs are tired and sometimes you want to stop. Knowing you’re headed towards something new, exciting, foreign and beautiful keeps the motivation high, even if you don’t exactly know what to expect. And this time, the summit was definitely worth the work. Standing on top of Japan was one of the most unforgettable, rewarding and breathtaking experiences of my life.
It’s always good to have a progression in your life, push your self slightly out of your comfort zone and experience new things whenever given the opportunity. The true purpose of life is to enjoy every single moment. Living in the present can be easily forgotten and is something we all need to be more conscious of. Climbing, for me, is my way to stay fully engaged in the now. You are only focusing on one step and one breath at a time and most importantly, always moving forward. Find your climb, find what helps you progress and makes you intrinsically happy; and most importantly, always remember to practice Kaizen.
I’m beyond grateful for this group of people, the kendama community as a whole, and the hard work and hospitality of everyone in Japan. Without the continual support and help from Hajime, Zawa, Kengo, Yuka, Rod, Eric, Keith and especially Jeremy from KendamaUSA, this goal would not have been achieved. You have given me opportunities of a lifetime and for that, I thank you eternally.
A few words from Keith Matsumura-
Japan is an amazing and beautiful country. Every time I have visited that place I can barely bring myself to leave. This year was no exception; although I think it was harder than ever to say goodbye. I thank Gloken and all of our Japanese friends who do so much to provide such an amazing experience for us every time we venture to their country. We appreciate you all so much.
The Kendama World Cup this year was the best competition event kendama has seen to date, as I’m sure it will be again and again every year. I was so happy to make it to finals and cheer on so many of my friends in to the finals and the podium this year. I want to say a huge congratulations to Wyatt Bray for the victory, to Lukas Funk for taking second, and my man Nic Stodd rounding out the podium in third. Truly an epic display of skill this year.
The last day before I was scheduled to fly back to North America with the KendamaUSA crew I made an attempt to change my flight for a week later. Haley, Rodney Ansell and Eric Martin from Terra, and Yuka and Kengo from Gloken were planning on hiking Mt. Fuji that next week, and I wanted to go along so badly. Miraculously the airlines were down to work with me and change my flight, so it was on.
After spending some time in Tokyo with the Sweets crew and some other foreign players, it was time for us to embark to Mt. Fuji. Hajime and Zawa graciously drove us to the mountain and made sure we were all good to go. We arrived at Fuji in the afternoon and by three o’clock pm on the 26th of July, 2015, we began our ascent to the summit. The plan was to get most of the way up that way and reach the summit for sunrise the following day.
The trail started out very mellow, and the temperature was cool. It was foggy out; I think really we were inside of the clouds even at the beginning point of our ascent. The trees and foliage around the base of Mt. Fuji reminded me of something from a fairy tale. Everything was very beautiful.
We climbed through the afternoon and evening, making periodic stops at the many waystations along the route to the summit to rest and play kendama with the staff of the stations. At one station we even came across a man who worked on the mountain that had a worn in kendama. He said he knew who we were and was very excited to meet us.
At another stop, we came across a dreadlocked Sherpa-like man working at the waystation who was also very excited about kendama. After some time talking to him I decided to trade him one of my kendamas in exchange for a heat stamp on a special Fuji stick Haley and I had gotten. All along the way up at the stations there are different stamps one can pay to have put on their walking sticks. If someone were to get all of them on the way up it might cost as much as 60 or 70 US dollars. I considered it a good trade to leave a kendama behind and save some yen.
By the time the sun was going down we were very close to the eighth station cabins where we were scheduled to spend the night. The last bit of the walk we used head lamps, and we arrived at the station in perfect timing to watch the light fade from view. It was one of the most beautiful and romantic settings I had ever witnessed.
The cabin cost far too much, but we considered it worth it for the experience we were having. Eric and I had been joking earlier in the day about how badly we hoped they would have curry and rice for dinner when we got to the cabin station. It seemed too good to be true when we arrived tired and hungry and what did they bring out for dinner but curry and rice.
After dinner and hot tea from the station we sat outside a while. We could not believe it when fireworks began going off in a village near the base of Mt. Fuji. The sky was clear, and we could see for miles, and miles, so our view of the fireworks was amazing. It was so strange to see fireworks shooting so high in the sky, but still be so far below us.
The night was beautiful and the stars were out. I could not believe where I was, and I could not believe how great of company I was in as well. The bathrooms and even hot water from the common area cost money, but nothing could dampen our spirits then.
The sleeping area was basic, with a sleeping bag laid out for us among many small sectioned rooms of 6-8 people sleeping in each. We did not sleep for long before it was time to get going in the morning. We got up at one thirty in the morning, had a meager breakfast and were out on the trail by two o’clock am.
The trail was completely packed with people wearing headlamps in the dark. It was like a line at a theme park but we were still hiking up a mountain. Every opportunity we had we were passing people to try and get ahead of the rush and clogged up trails. We did make it up to the top in great time.
By around four o’clock am we were on top of the mountain, sitting right on the edge of the volcano crater, though we didn’t even realize it till it got lighter. We huddled up together under Rick’s sleeping bag and watched the stars. The wind was bitterly cold on top of the mountain, but the breathtaking view of the stars and the light as it slowly crept over the horizon was enough to dispel the thoughts of the cold.
The sun came up and complete awe is how I would describe the mood. It was the most beautiful sunrise of my life, and I’m so grateful to have shared this experience with such great friends.
We stayed on the summit for a time snapping some photos and being in awe. Soon the cold drove us back to the small village area on top of the mountain to look for some hot food. We scraped together what yen we had to barely pay for some overpriced ramen and udon noodles. Oh it was exactly what we needed though.
We spent some more time filming some kendama and taking in the view before beginning the descent. By something like eight in the morning we were already well on our way down the trail. The beautiful moments on top of Fuji did not need to last for very long to be imprinted in our memories forever.
We were delirious and tired by the time we reached the bottom. I don’t think it was much past ten in the morning when we rolled back up to where we’d started the day before. I could not help but be in wonderment at how kendama had brought me together with this group of people. To the kendama community at large, I love you all. You make up an amazing community.
I want to thank KendamaUSA and specifically Jeremy for showing so much kindness to me and our team throughout the years. I don’t know where we would be without you and your hard work. I just hope that I can repay you at least in part someday for everything you have done for me. This amazing experience hiking Mt. Fuji would not have been possible if not for you.
Cheers friends to Kendama; to traveling; to friends; to enjoying life and seizing the day! My piece of advice is to seek to give generously to those around you, but don’t forget to take care of yourself and gain wisdom and love to share. Don’t take each day for granted and always be looking to push your comfort zone!
“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
Enjoy an inside-look at the National Kendama Retreat weekend, held at camp Wasewagan in Angelus Oaks, CA. During the fun-filled weekend of contests, video-shoots, instruction, exploration, and team bonding… there was still time to get some extra trick footage with the Kendama USA crew as well as plenty of friends. See you all next year!
A word from Dave Mateo:
“National Kendama Retreat would have not been at all possible with out all of you who believed in it. Spike Hard Catch Low in Collaboration with Kids Ken would like to personally thank all of you who have attended, sponsored and spilled all of your time and energy into the retreat. This is only the beginning of something we hope to make bigger and better every year as NKR begins to grow.”
Special Thanks to all Sponsors:
Good times at the 2015 NY Toy Fair. Maybe Fox News doesn’t get it yet, but that’s ok. They’ll catch up eventually.
Check out their news coverage of the NYC toy fair including Kendamas where our very own Pros can been seen below.
The NYC Toy Fair is the largest Toy Fair in the world. 2014 was our third year in the show and we are about to head out to our fourth. Each year the Kendama USA crew heads out and jams kendama all day and night for 4 days at the fair. Even with all the other games and products at Toy Fair we always find ourself back with the kendama and jamming. Why? Because we truly love Kendama. Enjoy some of the footage from the Streets of NYC, Toy Fair, and the Ferry Session with the locals.
Japan this year was a unique experience. We were deeper into the country than we had ever been before. The entire team was together for the very first time. With obligations like the Kendama World Cup, it wasn’t easy to find time to just play and lace some tricks. We worked in some stompage for the sake of having memories of this classic era of the team. We are stoked to see it evolve.
2014 has been a huge year for Kendama, there have been so many memorable moments that it is hard to pick just one, so we decided to ask each of our pros what their favorite moment was. Sit back, relax, and read through these amazing stories as we bring 2014 to a close. From all of us here at KendamaUSA we would like to give a huge thanks to YOU the fans, with out all of you’re amazing support we wouldn’t be able to do what we do, so here’s to another dama filled year! cheers!
There were so many great memories that were made in 2014 thanks to the wonderful team and family that is Kendama USA, that it’s hard to pick just one. From swimming with sea turtles in Hawaii after an awesome event to performing on sacred stages on islands in Japan, to the simpler things like interacting with the community, and redesigning our products and pro models.
One thing that stood out to me as a real highlight was giving a speech at the opening ceremony for the Kendama World Cup, in Hatsukaichi. When I first started playing kendama I never imagined that I would ever travel to Japan, or get to meet the infamous Kazuma Iwata, my favorite kendama-craftsman. But thanks to Kendama USA sending us to the KWC, I got to experience his hometown, which is also the actual birthplace of Kendama in Japan. I poured my heart out about how thankful I was for the growth the community has seen internationally, and enjoyed the moment of being honored for the community-building work I had done over the previous 6 years. At that moment I could feel that kendama had grown so much, and with or without my help it would continue to progress, grow, and evolve. Thanks to Jeremy and the entire Kendama USA team for making all of these awesome moments possible! see you in 2015!!!
2K14. A year of many definite big ups, and few downs! So that’s good! This is my last year in college @ Penn State University, so I haven’t had as much time as I have in the past to put forth to kendama practice/travel/competition. That doesn’t mean that my kendama has distanced itself from my everyday loops, in fact this year I had some major kendama career highlights.
V4’s: Having free range to design a pro model however I wanted produced an overflow of creative chaos in my brain. It felt good. Not having to cling to a theme let myself and the other guys really relate our own kendama to our personality, yet produced the challenge of having one shot to capture your ideal kendama. The process of back-n-forth communication and testing all the most miniscule tweaks from ken shape to paint type was awesome. All in all, beyond satidfied with the final pro model, the BREW DAMA is alive!!!
Kendama World Cup: How can this not be mentioned!? It was the first ever titled “World” kendama event, and all the homies/homettes were present and looking good! It’s hard for me to put a time like that into a minimal word count description, so I won’t dive in. Highlights were, ranking 16th overall in the comp, meeting a ridiculous amount of other peeps who share freakish hand eye coordination (fellow kendama players), and experience a new part of the world with culture/tradition very foreign to what I am used to! <3JAPAN<3
Random Day Kaizen Session: I believe the day was November 19th? Not entirely sure. But I’ve been playing kendama longer than most people in the US, and been with Kendama USA since almost theie near start. That being said, I’ve witnessed the evolution and progress that’s been made since…yup, the premiere line (secretly love still). In the past when we released a new line, it always seemed that issues, both big and small, would come up. Issues like paint durability, ivy rashes, engraving depths, butt heaviness, etc. This year was different. I finally got my first box of Kaizen’s fresh from the works. To be honest, I didn’t even play one that day, merely just looked at them, did some weight tests, and put them back in the box. About a day or two later when my classes were at a dull point I busted out the new light-pink kaizen. I played kendama for the next 2 hours straight. And had easily 10 self-realizations that this kendama was sturdy as shit. It played amazing! Just such a good feeling to see how far the company and kendama in general has come. Very humbling
A Kendama (Christmas) Story: This little edit really brought it back to my roots. Late night filming sessions with pizza, beer, homies, music, college apts, good vibes, etc. And who better to have your back than my man Bryan Scagline. I’ve known this fellow yinzer for quite some time now and ever since he was introduced to kendama he hasn’t for a second slowed down toward becoming future kendama style champ. Anywho, the night we spent filming this edit really brought me back to my edits #1-4 where sweating on indoor carpet tricks was a normal. Too much fun! Scagz Rulez!
My favorite moment from 2014 was during the Kendama world cup trip in Japan, but it wasn’t the contest itself that was my favorite and this is why. We landed in Japan at 6pm and had a long drive from the airport to Tamotsu’s house, when we arrived it was completely dark so we had no idea where we were or what our surroundings looked like. The next morning I woke up around 7am to find everyone else asleep, the Jet lag kept me from going back to sleep so I decided to get up. After taking a freezing cold but surprisingly refreshing shower I saw that Jake and Zack were awake as well, so we decided to take a walk around outside. As soon as I stepped outside I was in awe, the sun was just starting to rise over the mountains and we were surrounded by tons of bright green rice fields. We just wandered through the streets taking in the sounds of the birds and watching our step as tiny frogs would hop to safety into the rice fields. The calmness of that morning will stick with me forever. I would like to give a huge thank you to Jeremy Stephenson and everyone at Gloken for making this trip possible! Heres to 2015! Cheers!
Hosting the Van Jam, the grand opening of the Terra Kendama workshop in Vancouver. Players from across the US, Canada, and Japan came to Vancouver for the event on September 1st. We had a sort of ‘mini-tour’ leading up to the event, stopping at the battle in Seattle, and then Canada national yoyo championships the previous two days. Colin S won the game of DAMA tournament at the van jam, playing a handturned Mun Ebony Terra Kendama. It was an honour to host so many talented players in our workshop!
2014 was an amazing year for kendama. I got to travel all over the world MC’ing, competing, playing, and working on the new Kaizen line. One moment that stands out to me was in Japan during the Kendama World cup. It was the end of the trip and Tamotsu took everyone who was left to an epic swim spot in Nara. We spotted a perfect cliff jumping spot across the river. We jumped in and swam over to the cliff and began to investigate. It was perfect. We immediately started flipping and trying new flips off the rocks. After a moment I realized that it was everyone from the Kendama USA team that was on the rock and busting flips and it wasn’t a “hey everyone come jump off the cliff” deal. Everyone just naturally thought “LETS DO THIS!”. Everyone on the team really does have this urge to go nuts and jump off cliffs. At this moment I took a chance to be thankful for having the best Kendama family you could ask for and realized how many amazing people I have met through playing Kendama. We have traveled the world together and dedicated weeks and weeks to spreading the kendama love. So this New Years Eve I raise my glass to you Jero, Colin, Turner, Zack, Alex, Dave, TJ, Keith, and Haley! Happy Shreds year!
2014 has been a crazy year with the KendamaUSA family. We’ve been a lot of places with a lot of amazing people and I can’t express my thankfulness adequately for all the opportunity kendama has brought me. It’s hard to choose a favorite memory. The entire team together in Japan for the Kendama World Cup and traveling afterwards through the country was an unforgettable experience. Seeing the European kendama community firsthand was a dream come true, and the North American community has seen so many amazing events this last year as well; like the Kengarden Roots Tour, New York Toy Fair, Battle in Seattle, Minnesota Kendama Open, etc. etc.
I think I can say that my favorite memories from 2014 were being able to begin welcoming the new KendamaUSA Tribe team to the family. Wyatt Bray, Bryan Scagline, and Joris Schweppe are all amazing people and I can’t wait for the Tribe to grow. Seeing the excitement from these guys has brought me back to when I first was asked to join the KendamaUSA family. Nothing makes me happier than seeing people with the same excitement that I had my first time with the team.
With that note in mind I have to say that the people behind KendamaUSA and the team that that I’m blessed to be a part of is what made 2014 so special and memorable to me. Here’s to 2015 and another year of people coming together through kendama!”
My most memorable moment of 2014 took me a while to figure out due to all the amazing trips, awesome people I met and the experience of traveling who made me who I am today. The number one moment for me was the trip out to Hawaii with Jake, Haley and Dave for the first ever YoDAMA event held in Honolulu, Hawaii.
This was my first time traveling to Hawaii, so for that reason alone, I was so amped to head out there. This was one of the moments where I actually felt like a rockstar. We got to stay at one the nicest resorts I’ve ever seen, eat the most delicious food, and get bombarded by kids screaming our name and wanting our autograph. 1,800 competitors we went through in one day 5,000 people foot traffic throughout the mall just to see us! The craziest feeling ever. It was one of the most hectic days in my life but it’s a day I will never forget. Security escorts, non stop signing, performing Kendama and making dreams happen by being a role model and inspiring kids to never give up.
The rest of the trip we spent bouncing around the island filming, seeing the scenic spots of Hawaii and soaking up the sun with a few cocktails here and there. All with the greatest of friends that I’ve meet through this wooden toy. Thank you friends, family, supporters and most importantly, Kendama USA. Let’s kick 2015 off!
In the past year, I would have never expected to experience so many incredible memories with the kendama community. From massive events in Oahu, Hawaii to wandering around New York City to escaping the rain in Shibuya, Tokyo in hole-in-the-wall coffee shops, there are innumerable memories that have made this year unforgettable.
My first real event with the team was in Oahu, Hawaii with Dave, TJ and Jake at YoDama. The kendama scene in Hawaii blew my mind with 1,800 competitors and a crowd that filled a majority of Pearlridge mall. We were living the island dream; eating way too much good food and watching thunderstorms fill the sky from the balcony of our classy villa.
Traveling to the Kendama World Cup was my first time out of the country and was filled with experiences I never considered imaginable. Taking over the streets of Hatsukaichi with dama and dancing, firework nights, and cliff jumping in the rural prefecture of Nara, Japan were spent with some of my favorite people. Round two of Japan was just as great. TJ and I spent nearly a month traveling around doing gift shows with KIT, filming in Okinawa, exploring countless rooftops in Tokyo, overlooking the whole city from over 600 meters up in sky tree, running through the streets in the heaviest rain I’ve ever experienced, and impulsively taking a trip to Bangkok, Thailand. When Dave and Jake came out for the Catch and Flow, along with a bunch of other kendama teams, we explored the streets of Tokyo, found ourselves in karaoke bars and skating though the streets around our hotel.
I’ve seen places I never thought I would, met incredible people along the way and learned a lot about myself in the process. December 2014 marks one year with the KendamaUSA family and the memories have just begun!
My favorite moment was having the honor of plating on the sacred stage on Miyajima island, Japan.