Kendama USA

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[2021] Catch & Flow Kendama Tournament Recap

This year’s Catch & Flow Kendama Tournament was amazing, there were 58 players competing in 6 different groups battling it out for a 100,000 Yen grand prize, trophies, & more.
The final round consisted of 16 players (13 players and 3 seeded players) in a 90-Second solo freestyle run where players were judged on the following four catagories:

CREATIVITY ● VARIETY ● COMBO ● FLOW (fluidty, atmosphere)

The last 2 players battled head to head to crown the champion and these were the results:

Results:

1st Place: Yasu – JP – Also Announced as KROM Pro

2nd Place: Nobu – JP – Kendama USA

3rd Place: Soma Fujita – JP – KROM

But just in case you missed the tournament live, you can watch it all in the video below.
Thank you to all the sponsors, judges, players who participated and folks at home who watched!

Much Respect

Podium Battle QuickLinks:
Nobu Nori vs Takuya Igarashi
Nobu Nori vs Yasu

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Haley Bishoff Pro Model Kendama Now On Nova Shape

The Haley Bishoff Pro Model Kendama now features the Nova shape and is available in both silk or super stick paint options. The colorway and packaging around Haley’s new pro model mirrors the changes she saw in her environment when she moved from Oregon to Nevada, forest to desert. This pro model kendama captures the essence and beautiful hues seen in the Nevada sunsets. A UV topographical map of Zion National Park wraps around the packaging and art. On the back of the box, you can visually climb one of Haley’s favorite routes in the park called Moonlight Buttress. On the Kendama, there are cacti under the slip stop, a drilled base cup for better balance. Custom engravings include Haley’s signature along with the ken, and gold SHCL tribute to a Kendama pioneer who positively changed the lives of many around the world; Dave Mateo.  Spike Hard Catch Low Forever.

“There’s something uniquely special about the desert. It brings a certain kind of appreciation to how something so simple can be so vast. As of now, the desert is home. There are not many other places in the world that bring such rich reds and deep oranges. The desert always provides.” – Haley Bishoff

Follow Haley and the Girls Kendama Collective.

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Logan Tosta is PRO | Kendama USA

Logan Tosta is a Kendama USA ProLogan Tosta is a Kendama USA Pro! Logan has been an inspiration since we met him back in 2013 during the KG Roots Tour in SF. It’s hard to believe he was just 9 when he gave TJ Kolesnik & Dave Mateo a run for their money in Games of KEN. We saw an amazing role model, ambassador, and potential champion of both the community and the sport and that’s exactly what Logan has become. Join us in welcoming a champion of Kendama to the pro team!

Logan’s style, energy, positivity, and competitiveness is a vibe that’s been felt worldwide. His near impossible and gravity-defying combinations continue to raise the bar and not only built awareness around the kendama as a whole but continue to motivate and challenge players everywhere. Logan and his family continue to support, organizing, and attend jams, filming tricks, demonstrating at schools, and simply sharing kendama everywhere he goes… we’ve watched Logan grow; not only as a person, player, and as a contributing member of the Kendama community and we can’t wait to see what the future holds.

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Zach Magnuson Pro Model Kendama Review

What’s good everyone! Jon here from Honed Media bringing you another kendama review. This time I want to especially thank Sharif from Kendama USA for allowing me to guest write for the KUSA blog. Without further ado, let’s talk about Zach Magnuson’s Pro Model  #MAGSMOD.

I’d like to frame my article around “what makes a pro model” – because the first impression I get when opening the box and feeling the kendama is that THIS IS A PRO MODEL. From a tama design that no one can come close to imitating to the custom stickers and even the orange string – everything about the experience screams unique.

People who have followed Zach Magnuson aka Mags on social know that he is a talented photographer from Detroit and I personally enjoyed how elements of his passion for photography are designed into his other passion. Passion-ception.

Even the box feels high quality. The material is hard with textured prints and would stand out on any shelf. But enough about the aesthetics, we’re here to talk about how the kendama plays.

Let’s start with the shape – we have a modified Shift introducing the Kaizen Base Cup Hole and let’s just say it’s what the doctor ordered. I’ve been a fan of Kaizen for many years and have played a range from 1.0, 2.0, Slim, and Shift. I will admit that lunars were a challenge with the Shift because the wider base cup results in an increased weight shifted there. It made the kendama a ken-flip machine, but the trade-off was lunars.

With the balance hole available on Mag’s mod, the lunar balance has improved significantly without much compromise to the ken-flip capability. It feels like one of the most complete kendamas that I’ve played out of the box. Complete in part as well because the spike comes glued – something that I do for all my kendamas. When it comes to the paint, I personally prefer jamming sticky tamas, but something about KUSA’s silk paint slaps different. It seems to be rougher out of the box and allows for a nice adjustment when playing your balance tricks.

To each his own, however, I’d say that both paints will not let you down and it’s really a matter of personal preference which paint to use. I had an easier time with landing lunars on the sticky paint, while catching and adjusting lighthouses felt better on the silk paint.

 What about durability?

Part of this review involved a 2-week test doing cup tricks, ken tricks, and tama tricks. Let me be upfront – I miss the spike a lot. Despite that, there were only minor chips after 2 weeks, mostly around the bevel making it a relatively durable kendama. This could be in part that the weight of the tama was heavier (80+) and therefore the wood would have been harder and denser.

What might be more important to note was that I did not feel the tackiness of the respective paints change much – something you do not see often.

In the playability section, I test the smoothness and ease of landing tricks in the 4 criteria, Lunar, Stalls, Slings, and Ken Flips.

A difficulty rating out of 10 (1 being easier than usual, 5 being no difference and 10 is much harder than usual) will be given to each category at discretion.

Lunar

Stall

Sling

Kenflip

Pull-up Bird

  3

Pull-up Sling

  4

Kenflip Spike

2

Lunar

3

Bird Over The V

  3

Pull-up Double-Sling Spike

  4

Double Whirlwind

3

Double Lunar Flip

4

Handlestall – Ring

  4

Pull-up Sling, Late Sling

  4

Kenflip-

ken flip Spike

4

 

 What does this compare to?

You know when you’re headed out of home for a short bit and want to grab a kendama off the shelf you can just walk and jam without worry? This is it. Despite being a pro mod with an extensive and complex aesthetic design, it still plays like a daily jammer – and that is one of my favorite things about it.

I play a lot of kendamas and found it easy to rotate in and out of the #MAGSMOD which makes it and really worthy investment.

At $40, this is one of the most value-for-money kendamas out there. The level of design on the tama, sticker pack, and packaging indicates that it must have been relatively expensive to produce – yet Kendama USA prices it comparable to other kendamas in the market with a less complex design.

As a plus point, each #MAGSMOD purchased goes to supporting Zach’s kendama journey – a win-win situation if I ever saw one.

Bonus: To show that this dama is for the everyday average player like me – I shot a three trick fix with different balance and stall tricks to show how player-friendly it was out-of-box. Enjoy!

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Zach Magnuson Goes Pro | Kendama USA

Join us in celebrating the newest Kendama USA Pro; Zachary Magnuson! Zach’s dedication to the sport and community can be seen in his progression as both a player, a member of the community, and a videographer. Zach began his Kendama journey in 2014, while in high school and started competing shortly after. We first met Zach at Dama in the D2 and was asked to join Kendama USA’s Tribe team in 2018. Zach’s tenacity to pursue his passions and perfect his skills lead him to exactly where he wants to be.

Zach Magnuson Kendama USA Pro

Zach is currently a senior in college studying photography and film. When he isn’t studying he’s either playing kendama or working on a project he continues to be an inspiration to people and players around him and shares Kendama wherever he goes. Lets all welcome Zach to the team!

Act Fast Limited Quantities Available

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Jarvis Lawrence is TRIBE

Jay Lawrence is TRIBE

Meet Jarvis a.k.a Jay, the newest member of the Tribe team! His quick wits and even faster hands will have yous guys blinking in disbelief. The ‘Scansin native, has been playing kendama for 3 1/2 years and first encountered kendama at school when a kid in his class pulled a kendama out and started playing it; after that Jay picked up his first Kendama a green & black Tribute Kendama and the rest is history.

Jay is constantly challenging himself and those around him to improve. His flow, consistency, and dedication to both the sport and the Kendama community are inspiring and we can’t wait to see more from him.

Watch his Tribe announcement edit below and help us welcome him to the family!

A few years back Bryan Scagline first met Jarvis and saw the potential of being a great role model and leader in the community.  Not only has Jay’s skills evolved since then but he hosts jams in his home state of Wisconsin with his crew 608KEN.

Current Favorite Setup: null X Kaizen Red/White Half Split!

- Much Respect -

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#BISHMOD Kendama Sports A Crisp New Look

The Haley Bishoff Pro Model Kendama has a new look and updates that are sure to help you progress. The new colorway and packaging around Haley’s new pro model mirror the changes she sees in her environment; moving from Oregon to Nevada, forest to desert.

Custom artwork captures the essence of the desert and the beautiful hues seen in the sunsets there. A UV topographical map of Zion National Park wraps around the packaging and art. On the back of the box, you can visually climb one of Haley’s favorite routes in the park called Moonlight Buttress. On the Kendama, there are cacti under the slip stop, an engraved OG Tribute logo on the base cup, Haley’s engraved signature along with the ken, and gold engraved SHCL tribute to a Kendama pioneer who positively changed the lives of many around the world: Dave Mateo. Spike Hard Catch Low Forever.

“There’s something uniquely special about the desert. It brings a certain kind of appreciation to how something so simple can be so vast. As of now, the desert is home. There are not many other places in the world that bring such rich reds and deep oranges. The desert always provides.” – Haley Bishoff

Watch the unboxing to learn more about the #BISHMOD and an in-depth comparison to the v1.
Follow Haley and the Girls Kendama Collective.

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Dama to the Death 3 Recap!

On the last day of February 2020, Dama to the Death 3 went down in Orlando, Florida at Dead Lizard Brewing Company. Pros as well as many local Kendama players travelled out for this event, including Christian Fraser and Bjorn Reece from Sweets Kendamas, Alex Mitchell, Chad Covington, Lyndon Whalen, and Kevin DeSoto from Sol Kendamas, Isaac Turner from Lotus Kendamas, and Zach Magnuson and Josh Kim from Kendama USA!

The weather was perfect for jamming Kendama outside all day. After some announcements and vending, the event was kicked off with the Amateur Ken Tournament. If you are unfamiliar with Dama to the Death, the event consists of an Amateur KEN Tournament, and a Pro Freestyle Tournament, both double elimination style. The twist though, is that once you are knocked out of either tournament, you have to cut your Ken from your tama and burn it at the end of the event! Controversial? Maybe. A lot of fun and a new way to play? Absolutely.

As the Amateur KEN Tournament came down to the finals, the event moved from outside to inside the venue, with a stage and seating for everyone to watch. In the Amateur finals were Troy Monteagudo and Jacob Ogden AKA Squid. Troy had won all of his matches so far, and Squid had been working his way up the losers bracket for another chance in the finals! The first match went hard. Squid was able to beat Troy the first game, extending the match to a second game to crown the final champion. As the final match played out, Troy was able to take the final game, winning the Amateur KEN Tournament! Congrats to Troy for placing first, Jacob for second, and Ean for third! So awesome to see Florida take the entire podium for this tournament!

The next part of the competition was the Pro Freestyle Tournament. The nine freestyle players went head to head, each with two rounds of forty seconds to show off their hardest and most tech moves to the judges. As the bracket began thinning out, Kendama USA Tribe team members Zach Magnuson and Josh Kim were the ones to make it to the finals. Finally the time came for the judges to pick a winner. The crowd went silent waiting to see who would take first. As the flags went up, the crowd roared as the returning Dama to the Death Champ Zach Magnuson was able to defend his title! Congratulations to Mags for placing first, Josh Kim for second, and Kevin DeSoto for third! Zach used a Nobu Pro Model to win Dama to the Death 3! Click here to purchase your own Nobu Mod!

 

 Dama to the Death 3 Tournament Podiums

Finally the Tournaments were over, and the moment everyone was waiting for was about to happen. The event moved outside with the fire pit and all the Kens ready to burn. Troy and Zach went up to the mountain of Kens and together started the blaze marking the official end of the event. Dama to the Death 3 was one of my favorite events to go to, with a much more laid back vibe and unique take on competition. Special thank you to Honed Media for throwing this event, especially Ryan Reese, Marley Griggs, and Monika Knotts for all the hard work they put into making Honed Media what it is today! Make sure to check out the Honed Media Documentary here! If you ever have the chance to make it out to the next Dama to the Death, make sure to pull through for an awesome day filled with fun and Kendama!

- Josh Kim


Dama to the Death 3 Group Photo



 

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Battle at the Border 2020 Recap!

Battle at the Border 2020 was the best yet. The turnout, venue, and obviously Kendama made this weekend an absolute dream.  My BATB weekend started off with a rainy car ride up to Nashville from Atlanta. Despite the weather, I was excited to see all my friends that I haven’t hung out with since NAKO! Riding with me were Bryan Scagline and Logan Tosta. Jamming out to Scags’ playlist and talking dama made the 3.5hr trip a breeze and I was in great company. Once we arrived safely in Nashville, we met up with Daunyé and Wes and checked in to our rooms for the weekend. Later that night, Dwesty, Mags, and Wyatt made their way to Nashville as well.  After hanging out with everyone that night, I went to sleep a little early to get a good start to the competition the next day!

I woke up a little earlier than most, and made my way to Rocketown; the event venue, with Scags to set up the Kendama USA booth.
We debuted our new Kaizen Super Stick Half Splits coming out later this quarter, and also the birchwood #DWESTYMOD available now.  The start of the competition was great and I was surprised at the number of entries. I was also excited to see the video releases and product launches at the event. The first video to pop off was Tribe member Zach Magnuson’s POV Edit 3 which will be released soon. So many unimaginable tricks were laced in this edit, and the setting was perfect.

Shout out to the new Quill Flow Team, new Sweets members Bjorn Sorenson and Jacob Eames, and the newest Sol Kendamas Pro Alex Mitchell. All of the videos at the event were amazing, congratulations to all these players this weekend.

The first day of freestyle competition began after all the videos were premiered. The freestyle competition was intense! It was amazing to watch my teammates and friends compete at the event. After the first couple of rounds of competing, the day ended came to an end and before I knew it, day 2 was underway.

The KUSA team made it to the venue in time for the competition. The competition flew by, and soon, the final four freestyle competitors stood on the stage. I was so excited to be battling for one of the top spots, along with me Kendama USA Pro Dylan Westmoreland, Tribe Team Member Logan Tosta, and Sol Pro Liam Rauter. The battle for first was amazing, and seeing Logan win first place was momentous. Congratulations to Liam Rauter for placing second, and Dylan Westmoreland for placing third! Having three Kendama USA players place in the top four for freestyle was incredible! Great job to everyone who competed in freestyle, and congratulations again to Logan Tosta for placing first.

Click null to check out Logan’s winning setup!

Freestyle Top 3

The rest of the day switched to the Pro Open division. Three matches were held on stage at the same time, and the bracket began to begin to narrow down to the top four competitors Dylan Westmoreland, Alex Mitchell, Kevin DeSoto, and Jacob Trebil. The battle for first was intense, with Kendama USA Pro Dylan Westmoreland and Sol Pro Alex Mitchell moving on to the finals! The match was intense and Alex Mitchell was able to clutch out the win! Congrats to Jacob for taking third, Dylan for taking second, and Alex for 1st place! I was so proud to see Kendama USA podium in both Open and Freestyle and can’t wait to see the things Kendama USA will do in this new year.

Open Top 3!

After the competition, during the awards ceremony, Kendama Cares took the stage with an amazing gift for the Kendama USA family. A shadow box for Dave was gifted to us, along with a purple candle in the shape of a hand making a peace symbol, and a quartz crystal dedicated to Dave. Thank you so much to Kendama Cares, and especially Arque for putting together this amazing memorial for Dave. Dave will forever be remembered in our lives. We miss you, Dave.

The final day of Battle at the Border 2020 was a nice day to unwind and chill. Everyone met at the Parthenon and jammed dama while people began slowly making their own ways. Tricks were filmed, people hung out, it was a great time. But like everything, this weekend had to come to an end. As we drove back to Atlanta that evening, I couldn’t be more happy with how this weekend went. Thank you again to Sol Kendamas for hosting this event! Kendama USA can’t wait to come back next year for Battle 2021. Make sure to check out last year’s recap of Battle at the Border HERE!

Until next time, keep shredding everyone!

Author: Josh Kim
Photography: Kota Kagoshima

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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 @null @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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TJ Kolesnik’s New Pro Model Kendamas Now Available

We’re excited to announce the release of the new TJ Kolesnik pro model Kendama; Deep Sea! The inspiration for the pro model comes from the different shades of our blue oceans and their breaking waves.   The Deep Sea Kendama features the new Shift Shape, Kaizen Super Stick Paint, Custom Seal, and more.

Kendama USA TJ Kolesnik Pro Model Kendama Deep Sea

TJ’s drive, energy, and passion for Kendama have made waves across the globe. TJ  continues to use his platform to introduce people to Kendama and grow the community on a global scale.

The thing I always find myself reflecting on about kendama in my life is the constant progression of tricks, friendships, creativity, and everything that comes with our community we call family. I’ve been given so many opportunities to really show just how amazing kendama is. In the last 8 years when I first picked a kendama in high school, I never thought we would all be here today. Traveling globally to attend contests and events. Inspiring kids and players across the entire world to continue chasing their dreams and achieving their goals. Literally creating a lifestyle from the ground up out of pure passion, love, and joy. As I stand here today, it’s been one of the most adventurous journeys playing, promoting and pushing kendama to the next level. Everything from the design of the box to the seal, wood engravings, signature and colorway of the tama, I was able to work closely with Kendama USA to design each and every piece to my perfection. It’s a resemblance of who I am as a person and the impact the ocean has on my life. Continue to make waves and pursue all of your wildest dreams. Much love. Must respect. Thank you – TJ



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