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AGKO 2019 Recap

AGKO Girls!

I’m in a van full of Kendama players blasting early 2000′s Emo Punk music as we all take turns to yank spike a mini Kendama on our road trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. That’s how my weekend started leading up to the All-Girls Kendama Open!

I got to join my friends @kmarqued @cho.dama @stephlussier @nikki_deo & @karendufus on our journey to AGKO. We rented a van, stocked up on food & drinks, (a whole lotta SunChips), good vibes, and a playlist full of nostalgic music! The first hour or so we were stuck in classic LA traffic but it didn’t matter at all because we were all having so much fun already, and everyone was just so hyped to be together in one place! In the car we would lace tricks with a mini Kendama we brought along, and during our pit stops, we’d have a film sesh or just jam to stretch out our bodies. We would even practice the AGKO trick list. It was honestly a Kendama road trip that I’ve always wanted, and I already knew at that moment that it was gonna be such a fun and unforgettable weekend!

The following day was the big day. We had a whole day of free time until the competition, so we decided to check out Seven Magic Mountains and film some tricks there. I ran into a group of Japanese tourists and they noticed my Kendama, so of course, I got them to try it out. They all took turns trying to spike, and one of them already knew how to play and managed to lace Around Japan first try! I taught him how to Lighthouse and he managed to get it after a few tries! He was so stoked and it gave me so much joy!

We then headed to the venue Distrct Arts where I was welcomed by a whole lot of familiar and unfamiliar faces. It was such a crazy experience meeting friends I’d known for over a year online and also meeting people I didn’t know but was able to connect thanks to Kendama. I was also welcomed by organizers Haley Bishoff, Carolina Herrera, and Kevin DeSoto. Some of them I was meeting for the first time but was warmly welcomed like we’ve known each other for a long time. The whole room was just filled with such good vibes and it was so beautiful to see so many purple colors everywhere and I could feel so much love in that room.

As well as the main competition, 7 to Spike was also planned for the event. As I was registering for the competition, I suddenly decided to try out 7 to Spike. I saw the list of names who had signed up for it and I thought I wouldn’t be much of a competition to those people and I might end up embarrassing myself not being able to lace anything in such a freestyle situation which I didn’t have any experience in. But I knew it won’t matter at all as long as I have fun. It was also an opportunity I knew I won’t come across often, and I thought it would be the best way to celebrate Dave Mateo. Just going out there and having fun. And I’m so glad that I decided to do so! The whole energy I felt was incredible, I was honestly a little nervous and shaky going up there at first so I wasn’t able to land any tricks. But the crowd’s reactions to seeing what I was attempting gave me so much energy and helped calm me down. Everyone was so supportive and encouraging! I’ll never forget that energy I felt during that game!

The competitions were also such an amazing experience. This was my first ever competition and big event so it was even my first time watching a competition live! It was so exciting being able to support my friends compete in person! I was shouting and screaming so much with excitement with everyone that I was starting to have a sore throat! There were so many great matches and it was so inspiring to watch everyone compete! I wish I could talk more about the competitions and some of the matches I got to see, but the whole day felt so surreal to me that it’s all kind of a blur. But I remember every emotion that I felt. I remember somehow managing to lace tricks on stage that I really struggled with leading up to the competition and scooping up spikes which I was proud of. It was honestly such a privilege getting to compete against Nikki, Jenny, and Steph in the Open Division and sharing the stage. It was so calming getting to face my friends in a competition when I thought I would be so nervous, and genuinely getting excited whenever they scored a point against me! The whole competition was like a roller coaster of excitement.

For the final round, it was me against Steph. We had a very suspenseful match but I managed to take the lead with Opposite Hand Around the World as I scooped up a spike onto one knee. When I was announced as the winner, I honestly couldn’t believe it. I never would’ve imagined I would take the win at my first ever competition. Just being there in that place at that moment with all my friends was already a win for me. So it was all such a surreal experience that I will never forget and a memory I will treasure forever! I’ll forever be grateful to everyone who made this event possible and to all the friends I got to spend time with on this journey. It sure was such an incredible experience and I’m so inspired to play Kendama more than ever! I hope to make it out to more events in the future!

- Lisa Komatsubara @lisakendama

 

Check out the Kendama Lisa used to win the AGKO here!

 

AGKO Winners!

AGKO Winners

First Place – Lisa Komatsubara (center)

Second Place – Steph Lussier (right)

Third Place – Jenny Cho (left)

AGKO 2019

 

 

 

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[2019] North American Kendama Open (NAKO) Recap!

NAKO Recap!We had a blast hanging with the Kendama community at this year’s NAKO event; renamed from Minnesota Kendama Open (MKO).  Repping KUSA were Bryan Scagline, Zach Magnuson, Nobu Nori, Rui Sora, Josh Kim, Daunyé Synigal, Dylan Westmoreland, Oliver Malby, Haley Bishoff, Wyatt Bray, Logan Tosta and Alex Smith. Great job to all those that competed, especially Zach Magnuson who took third in open, Oliver Malby who took third in freestyle, Nobu Nori who took second in freestyle, and Josh Kim who won the Yank Spike Contest!

The competition this year was great! So many players coming from all over the country to play Kendama is always such an amazing and unique experience. And the new venue this year was amazing. The first two days in the hotel were perfect for jamming Kendama and watching the competition go down! And the last day in the Varsity Theater was incredible to see the finals take place! Good Kendama, awesome friends, and amazing weather on Sunday made this weekend unforgettable! Congratulations to Motty for taking first in Open, and Nick Gallagher for taking first in Freestyle! Kendama USA was proud to be able place on every podium this year! We can’t wait to see our players compete at other competitions and the next NAKO!

Post competition on Saturday, the Downspike awards were a huge success! Getting to award the community for all their hard work and creative genius is the best. Thank you to Alex Smith and the Sander Brothers for hosting! Make sure to get on Downspike at downspike.com, or download the mobile app on your phone to always be in the loop with Kendama! And that’s right, Colin Sander was at NAKO this year helping judge freestyle and host the Downspike Awards! Hopefully we will be seeing more of Colin in upcoming events. And of course, a special thank you to Sweets Kendamas and all of the gracious volunteers for hosting another great event!

Thank you again, until next year MN!

NAKO Podium Open

NAKO Podium Freestyle

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Battle at the Border 2019 – Kendama Tournament Recap

Battle at the Border Kendama Tournament 2019 - Rocketown, TN USA

Was there an earthquake in Tennessee this weekend? No. That was 150 + Kendama players popping off in Nashville for the 7th annual 2019 Battle at the Border! #BATB went down Jan 4th and 5th in Nashville Tennessee at Rocketown!

This year was the FIRST EVER doubles tag team freestyle competition where we witnessed some of the most high energy performances to date. Judges Bryan Scagline, Kota Kagoshima, and Damon Kirchmeier scored the competitors on tricks, tag style, team flow, and creativity. Each person competing in freestyle had to pair up and throw down with another player of their choice!

1st place was awarded to Liam Router and Alex Mitchell from Sol Kendamas,

2nd place Lyndon Whalen from Sol Kendamas and Adrian Estaban from Grain Theory, and

3rd place was held down by our boy Zach Magnuson and Kevin DeSoto from Sol Kendamas.

Sol Kendamas also premiered the Lyndon Whalen SOL PRO video and dropped the Lyndon Whalen Pro Model! The design screams Whalen’s style and is the first kendama off its kind. Big ups to the WHALE-DOG! Do yourself a favor and pick one up on SolKendamas.com!

Lastly, we had Open division. Liam Router (Sol Kendamas) and George Marshall (Sweets Kendamas) went head to head in an intense final battle for first! Liam wasn’t missing a trick, and neither was George. The energy in the room was at an all-time high. The epic match concluded with:  Liam taking the W George took 2nd place & Zach Magnuson bagged 3rd for KUSA!

Much love to all of the sponsors, players, parents, supports, and everybody that helped make Battle at the Border an EPIC start to 2019! Special thank you to Chad Covington and Sol Kendamas. Much respect and see ya next year!

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Black Friday Site-wide Kendama Sale | Win a New GoPro & More!

Take 30% OFF your entire order & be entered to win some amazing prizes! Hurry though sale ends today!
Learn more about the prizes here!

Kendama Black Friday Sale Ad USA

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Introducing Craft Colors | Painted Craft Kendamas

“Go to the Valley of Fire they said, the dessert is epic they said.. (plot twist) IT WAS!”

The Craft Sandstorm and Graphite Kendamas were inspired by a trip to Nevada’s Valley of Fire! The 2017 Toy Fest West show was going down in Las Vegas and during a free day, Scags and Jero ventured a few hours out of the city lights to the great shifting sand dunes. The landscapes were so perfect it was crazy to comprehend what we were seeing! Pictures, clips, tricks, we had to be Abel to share this experience somehow!

After snapping a few pictures and reassuring ourselves that the views were THIS epic – we had to pay the memory forward and design these colors for tamas!

Pick up a Craft Color from Kendama USA and create your own ventures, memories, and stories to share!

Check out the edit and get lost in the landscapes that the Valley of Fire.

Check out the edit and get lost in the Valley of Fire’s landscapes .

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Black Friday Kendama Sale

Take 25% OFF your entire order & also win the chance to win some amazing prizes! Hurry though sale ends today!
Black Friday Kendama USA 2017

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All Girls Kendama Tour Recap

The All Girls Kendama Event 2017 was the first of its kind. A series of contests for women, all hosted by female players in the scene, in three different countries. KendamaUSA’s tribute member Haley Bishoff teamed up with some a few other kendama players in the community to create an incredible event!

All Girls Kendama Event Trick List Video:

 

First Stop: Portland, OR.

Haley Bishoff, Carolina Herrera & Molly Harney hosted the first stop in Portland, OR in August at the Portland Pastimes & Velo Cult complex. Almost 100 people came out to support, with about 15 competitors. KendamaUSA’s Tribe member Miya Song took 1st in the Open division, with Emmy Evans coming close in 2nd. Chelsea May Perez from Sweets took 3rd! The Portland event was surely special, because it was the first ever All Girls Kendama Event in the United States.

Special shout outs: Carolina Herrera, Molly Harney, Masako Hosoi, Arque Richards Pagh, Kristin Olinyk, Dave Mateo, Portland Pastimes & all the sponsors.

You can buy a limited run T-Shirt from the Portland event HERE!

http://www.shcl.bigcartel.com/product/2017-all-girl-kendama-t-shirt-unisex

Next Stop: Tokyo, Japan.

Haley and Yuka Hyuga from Gloken put together the second stop.

The Tokyo event was once again, such a success with 100 attendees and 39 competitors, making this the largest All Girls Kendama Event, EVER! This year’s event was the second all girls kendama event in Japan. In 2015, Haley and Yuka hosted another event in Osaka, Japan. But this year’s event was so much bigger with a way higher skill level. Huge congratulations to all the competitors and winners.

Special shout outs: Yuka Hyuga, Mirai from Tokyo Dama Girls for MCing, DJ Moco, Peter Richards, Zawa, Gloken & all the sponsors.

You can watch both Tokyo Recap Videos Below!

Third and Final Stop: Kaohsiung City, Taiwan.
The Taiwan scene is incredibly special, a collection of close friends who just genuinely love kendama. The innovative mini games that Super Friends Kendy has created made the event so fun and interactive for everyone who came out. This time, 100 people attended with 32 female competitors.
Special shout outs: JiJan Chen for creating all the beautiful artwork on the flyers for all three events and MCing the Taiwan event alongside her brother, Jiaziu Chen. Duck, Janet & Rain from South Kendama for being such gracious hosts to Haley and Yuka, and of course, SUPER FRIENDS KENDY!

Watch the Taiwan Recap HERE!

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Sakura Classic 2017 | Recap

The Sakura Classic is a Kendama event that focuses on the original reason why we play Kendama. FUN! No fees, no pressure, all vibes. This year, the sun was shining and the players were out in full force. This Sakura Classic had the most pros yet, 28 Sponsored players came out to join the 100+ amateurs. The pros hosted workshops and gave advice to the young competitors trying to reach the main stage to become the Sakura Champ.

The speed ladders are always intense. Players were focused and honed this year, finishing the ladder within fractions of a second within each other requiring slow motion replays to determine the winner. Win or loose, everyone was smiling. At the end of a full day of speed ladder battles, we had our top 16 competitors for the next day.
Congrats to -
Matthew Stacy, Hartej Sinjh, Jordan Vargas, Keilan Cancino, Casey Cristabol, Anthoney Leary, Jack Shores, Eli Kertel, Hayden Brickman, Joshual Yanga, Mason Santos, Elmer Juen, Andrew Taldlip, Omrishi Jonnala, Jordan Petiesta &Tim Chow

The Pro / Sponsored speed ladder was a mix of a Kendama contest and a comedy show. As I looked around me, I would call out 5 pros at a time. Mixing up sponsors, friends, and rivals. During each round, I would roast each player.The crowd was laughing and the players were trying to focus while I talked about a modeling agency battle with Kristian Aynedter, Max Norcross, and Tj Kolesnik.

After day 1 in Japantown SF, everyone met at the Hatch in Oakland, a small bar and restaurant with neighborhood vibes in Oakland. Upon arrival, the place was packed with kendama players and Kendama videos were projected on the wall. Drinks, burgers, tacos, and wings were flowing like water. It was great to have everyone in one place for a party. Usually at some point during kendama events the young ones and the adults get split up due to age restrictions. Pancho, the owner of The Hatch opened his doors to all ages that Saturday night and made it a memorable event for everyone. Towards the end of the night, the music changed and a video started to play that ended up being the pro announcement for Kristian Aynedter and Ben Herald! People were cheering and applauding as waves of smiles rushed over the crowd. The goal was to create the “skate video premiere” feeling. Mission accomplished.

Day 2 of the Sakura Classic was the “hone in’ day. The day started with workshops for the top 16 ams that were in the classic. The pros helped each player tighten up their tricks and gave advice on how to stay cool and collected during the contest. While the players were warming up, the rest of the crowd watched the 9 and under and the 30 and up contest. The 9 and under featured a big cup off as well as ken drop and other fun mini games. All competitors walked away with prizes. The 30 and up class were competing for an Original Grain watch and Kendama USA kanji brush shirt. The competition was made up of dads of players and other adult players. The vibe was amazing and everyone had a blast.

The amateur contest began at 1 and players were ready. At the Sakura Classic, there is no stage, only the street. The players paired up and battled in the middle of post street in Japantown. The crowd gathered quickly to watch the young competitors face off. The battles went on until we had the top 4: Jordan Vargas, Keilan Cancino, Hartej Sinjh, and Matthew Stacy.

While the am players celebrated their victory, the pros started gathering for the pro contest. This years pro contest featured some of the most amazing players and match-ups I have ever seen. It is amazing to watch 2 of your favorite players go head to head. In the end it came down to Ben Herald and Josh Grove that would battle it out on the main stage later in the day.

Right after the pro classic, the pace switched to pro freestyle / exhibition. Music was bumpin’ and the crowd formed a circle in the middle of the street. I called 4 players into the circle and they threw down free style for 4 min. If you mess up twice you step out and some one else comes in. After 4 minutes, the crowd judges who will stay and who will go. This years freestyle had some of the most epic bangers laced and the crowd was going nuts. The highlight was when I decided to have all of COTK battle it out in the ring. Wyatt, Stodd, June, and Caleb all jumped in huddled up and then broke into one of the most legendary freestyles. Stodd hitting impossible lunar combos, while Chris June redefined the definition of bird combos, Caleb slinging his way into the next universe, and Wyatt going ham with the most vicious down spike combos. After all the smoke settled from all the rounds, it came down to Gavin Harvey and Micha Logan to battle on the main stage.

At 5:30, the entire squad mobbed up to the main stage that sat under the pagoda where we jam every Tuesday. I grabbed the mic and started to explain kendama to the people. I asked “who knows what a kendama is?” I did not expect the roar that came from the crowd. I then asked “who has never seen a kendama before?” Only a few people in the audience had never seen one!

After some tricks on a normal sized Kaizen and a KROM XXL I brought up the freestyle finals. Micha and Logan were on another level of honed. Both players landing unique tricks that are the definition of modern kendama. After both players had their runs it was judgement time. The crowd undeniably decided in favor of Gavin. Micha lifted Gavin up off the ground and Gavin’s hands when in the air with victory!

Next we went into the Pro Classic Finals. Ben Herald faced off With Josh Grove. Both Ben and Josh were landing the tricks left and right, match for match. It was match point for Ben and the card drawn was the hanging inward flip down spike. Josh came within millimeters of the lace and Ben had a chance for the win. Ben took a breath and landed the trick first try! The crowd cheered and there was a new Sakura Pro champ! Ben was awarded the custom champion Hapi Coat custom made for the contest. Going pro the night before and winning the contest the next day creates a story for the ages.

For the finale, the amateur players made their way to the stage. Round one was Hartej vs Jordan Vargas and Hartej takes the win to move onto the finals. In round two was Matthew vs Keilan and Keilan took the win. Fun fact: Keilan has placed in the top 3 every Sakura Classic!

The finals were two competitors who have trained and worked for the spot both Hartej and Keilan have dreamed of being the Sakura Champ. Just like the pros Hartej and Keilan were matching trick for tricks building the suspense. Hartej had 3 points and needed 1 more for the win. Keilan drew the infamous Handlestall hop to slip on stick. Keilan missed and it came down to Hartej. Hartej hits the handle stall and the hop over. The moment of truth is the slip on stick and he lands it perfectly. The crowd rushes in and the audience applauds the new Sakura Champion. Both players walked away with amazing prizes form Kendama USA and Grain Theory and Hartej was awarded the Sakura Champions Hapi coat.
Sakura Classic Champions - Hartej & Ben w/ Hapi Coats

The weekend was full of kendama, friends, an amazing contest, and all of this in the middle of a 200,000 person festival celebrating Japanese arts and culture. Kendama continues to grow in northern California and the Sakura Classic is the time when everyone comes together from all over the west coast to enjoy kendama together.

See you there next year.

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SpikeDama 9 Edit – Joris Schweppe

SpikeDama 9 / NKO was one of the most memorable. With players coming from all over Europe to celebrate, share & compete in this sport that we all love. It was one of the biggest & most international turnouts of SpikeDama so far. Check out this new edit from Joris’ point of view on how it all went down.

Enjoy & see you at SpikeDama 10!

To read more about Spike Dama 9, see the winners , pics etc… click here.

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Haley Bishoff Turns Pro for Kendama USA

We are honored and excited to announce Haley Bishoff as the newest member of the Kendama USA Pro Team.  Haley’s love for the sport, drive to spread kendama, and pivotal role as THE leader in the female kendama scene has made a significant impact across the Kendama community. Haley has been hands-on in helping to developing strong grassroots Kendama scenes and events across the globe. Her commitment and love to Kendama continues to be an inspiration.

Haley Bishoff First Girl Pro Kendama Player

Persevere, overcome, and create your reality for where want to be. Please join us in welcoming Haley Bishoff to the Kendama USA Pro Team.

 

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Weekend In The Woods Recap

Weekend In the Woods was a huge success. The three days were filled with filming, competition and most of all FUN.

This year’s winners were:

  • Henry Roe – Beginner Champion
  • Parker Giovannetti – Intermediate Points Ladder Champion
  • Hartej Singh – Pro Open Division Champion
  • Logan Tosta – 7 to Spike Freestyle Champion

 

For more images from the retreat you can visit www.Weekendinthewoodsretreat.com

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Rain doesn’t dampen Sakura Classic…

San Francisco’s Chronicle covered the Cherry Blossom Festival and although it rained it didn’t deter anyone from enjoying the festival. Tony Bravo, SFGate & Chronicle contributor, ran into Jake during the festival and had this to say…

Away from the food bazaar, the Japanese skill game Kendama, in which a player juggles a ball on a string between three cups and a spike on the same stick, attracted its own crowd as some of the 90 competitors in the festival’s Sakura Classic demonstrated their techniques.

“The sport has been around for about 100 years,” said Jake Wiens, a professional Kendama player from Oakland.
“This is my third time as part of this competition. It’s a really great event, and we get a lot of support from the Japanese consul general to make it happen. We literally have players as young as 8 years old from all over the Bay Area that have discovered it.”

Read the full story here.

Stay tuned for the Sakura Classic recap!

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