Kendama USA

Posts Tagged ‘Zoomadanke’

Japan Update #1 from Keith

words by Keith Matsumura

This summer all nine members of the KendamaUSA team had the privilege to travel to Japan for the Kendama World Cup here in Hatsukaichi Japan, where I write this from now. I personally have been here only two nights, but it has already been crazy busy and exciting. I want to share with everyone my thoughts and my perspective as the trip unfolds.

A couple of days ago, or maybe three or four days, it’s hard to tell at this point, I disembarked from Wenatchee, Washington for Seattle. I spent one night in Seattle and caught a flight to Hawaii in the morning, where I was supposed to catch a connection on to Japan. My flight from Seattle got delayed on the tarmak and despite running out of the plan and through the Honolulu airport as fast as I could, I still didn’t reach the gate for my next flight in time. I was rebooked for a flight 24 hours later to continue on to Japan. I was a little bummed about missing precious Japan time with my kendama family, but the airline got me a hotel at Waikiki Mariott for the night with free dinner where I had a really nice evening by myself.

The next day I made it back to the airport and caught my flight to Osaka, where I was told that a serious typhoon might be raging when I got in. Because of my late arrival and the typhoon, no one from Global Kendamas Network was there to pick me up and take me to Hiroshima where everyone else was at that point. I didn’t know what the situation was going to be for me getting there until I made it to Japan. I had to roam around until I found some wifi to contact GLOKEN and figure out where I was supposed to be trying to get to. I ended up buying the wrong train tickets twice, and finally getting help from a train station employee to get the right ones. I caught two normal trains and had my first Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train) ride by myself, which was an amazing experience. Despite not understanding one sentence anyone told me during the whole trip, and after stopping at the wrong station twice, I finally made it to Onoura near Hatsukaichi where kendama legend Zawa and Gloken picked me up and drove me to the hotel where everyone was staying. Even though I hadn’t slept in a really long time, there was much kendama jamming to be done at the hotel until 3am when I got there.

The next morning we had a great Japanese breakfast in the hotel. I love Japanese food; I think that I feel a lot better when I am in Japan because of the healthy food they eat in correct portions, and also because it’s so hot that you’re always sweating out toxins and having to replenish. We headed on to Miyajima island with a packed bus full of kendama players from literally all around the world. KendamaUSA was there from the USA and Canada, KendamaCo from the US, Sweets from the USA, Romania, France, and some other places maybe too; Terra from Canada, some players from Hawaii, Yan from Russia, Ruisch from the Netherlands, and some more too (sorry to leave anyone out but there are a lot of people here and i’m pressed for time to write this update right now! Gloken is keeping us on a tight schedule for the tour/World Cup, and by tight schedule I mean trying to heard dozens of kendama players like cats around to different locations and minimize the amount of trouble we’re causing).

On Miyajima we had the unique opportunity to sit in on a ceremony in the sacred shrine and to perform kendama on the sacred shrine there as well. It was nerve wracking because we were told that if we dropped our kendamas or hit anything on the stage we would be in big trouble. At the end of everyone going up to perform individually, Zoomadanke came up to perform. Dave Mateo and I were asked to be Zoomadanke’s helpers and side guards on the stage to catch any wayward tamas that might slip during the performance. We both got to put on Zoomadanke’s perfomance clothes and be on the stage with them while they put on an electrifying and appropriate performance for the spectators and Japanese gods of the shrine. I overhead Kodama (one half of Zoomadanke) talking to Matt Jorgenson after the event about how incredibly honored he was to have performed on that stage and how nervous he was. I began to realize that getting the chance to perform on that stage was a really, really big deal. I don’t think many people at all get to set foot in the inner shrine or on the stage, much less foreigners. Unreal that we got no.

We had another performance and jam session with a bunch of local kids from Hatsukaichi basically right after returning from Miyajima. This was due to us leaving late from Miyajima. There was a perfect area for a good skate session, and five of us including me brought skateboards. We got pretty distracted. At the park/gold course where we jammed with the kids Kazuma Iwata showed up with some gifts for us. Amazing laminated Mugen Musou tamas were given to all the foreigners that showed up for the Kendama World Cup. It was an honor to receive one, but more importantly it was great to see Kazuma again!

After the day was all said and done it had been an incredibly full. I was really tired but at dinner the energy levels took a swing up again and we ended up doing consistency games to receive Mugen Musou pendants from Kazuma, and then some of us spent quite a while trying to throw chopsticks like darts into bottles. Matt Jorgens0n and Matt Ballard take top honors in that game.

The best part of out hotel is that we have an Onsen (Japanese hot pools and bath house) connected to our building. I went and had a good solo Onsen session and was then joined by Thorkild May and Shimadera-san. I stayed with them for a while longer and went straight to sleep afterwards. Did I mention that any kind of covering is a real weird thing to do in an Onsen? Japanese bath houses are traditionally enjoying fully naked, and if you think that it would be awkward to chill in some epic hot pools naked with your homies then you’re wrong. It’s basically the best experience ever. It’s very relaxing and good for your health.

Well, sorry for the quick update with no pictures and no proofread, but I have to go eat breakfast and get ready to leave for the first round of the Kendama World Cup today! I’ll keep you all updated whenever I can on what’s going on here in Japan, and hopefully bring you some pictures too!



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YoDamma 2 Event Video!

Kendama USA, Gloken, and Razor Sports teamed up to put on Yo-Dama Fest 2 on Oahu with special guest Krom Kendama. This was a 3 day event of non-stop kendama action! There were competitions, mini games, classes with pros, and much more! We had a ton of fun putting this on and we cannot wait to come back!  For more information on the event and our trip to Hawaii check out a write up Keith Matsumura did right HERE



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Catching up with TJ Kolesnik

Yo everyone! If you’re reading this right now, that means you’re somewhat interested in what I’ve been doing these past couple of months. Man has it been crazy theses past few months! Lots of traveling, keeping up with school, and playing volleyball for my school, with everything else in between. I’m here to explain a little bit about what I do on a day-to-day basis. Fuegz life perhaps?

2014 started off exciting with tons of news about up coming travel plans for Kendama USA. HAWAII IN JANUARY!? How could I say no to that? This worked out perfectly because I was on winter break, which lasted from Dec. 17th-Jan 21st. Let me back up a little bit. I am currently a student at the University of Nevada, Reno studying Nursing.  With constant school grinding, I was stoked to be able to take a break for a month and head on over to Hawaii for a portion of my break.

It was my first time flying into Hawaii (Oahu), so my stoked factor was through the roof! Jake and I stepped off the plane with the smell of Hawaiin air, tropical greatness and motivation to kill it out here in Hawaii. Haley and Dave arrived a bit later so Jake and I had an airport dama sesh at baggage claim. For some reason, when Jake and I play games of ken, it lasts insanely long and we stomp the craziest tricks. It’s like we go full trib mode and lacing a trick feels like second nature.  Dave and Haley arrived while Jake was off fetching the rental car. We all got picked up, bags shoved in the car, windows down with Hawaiian music blaring.

Ko Olina Resort is where we stayed and my god was it paradise. I almost couldn’t believe my eyes when we stepped out of the car. I instantly got the GoPro out and went vid mode to document the awesomeness around me. We checked into our room and I stood in the doorway with awe. Hawaiian hospitality is by far the greatest I’ve experienced. Anyway, enough about that, it’s time to explore!

If you haven’t seen Hawaiin Adventures Vol. 1 on the Kendama USA YouTube page, GO CHECK IT OUT! I’ll leave the video link at the bottom to explain how the rest of my Hawaii trip was. Just a few things I’d like to go over… 1. Hawaii is killing it with the Kendama Community. 2. Huge thanks to Dave and his crew from Razor Sports and Concepts. 3. I can’t wait to come back.

Being in Hawaii from Jan 9th-18th felt like I was only there for 2 days. Back to reality for me. I headed back up to Tahoe for a couple days to visit my family before heading back to school. Got the chance to update my mom and step dad about my crazy Hawaii trip.  I headed back to Reno a couple days later to start up school and volleyball again.

A new semester started so all new classes. Being a nursing major, I try to make sure I get all A’s. Keeping my GPA up is the most important, while playing volleyball and having the time to travel for Kendama.  Monday morning walking into class, I already wanted this semester to be over. Maybe it was the fact that I wanted to be back in Hawaii, or the fact that my 21st birthday was coming up. Me turning 21? I still feel like a kid! Anyway, my 21st birthday was crazy to say the least and I’ll leave it at that. Being legal to drink finally!

New York City was the next trip I was taking. The 2014 Toy Fair is somewhat a tradition for me so there was no was I was missing it. It was my 3rd year attending the Toy Fair and I couldn’t be more stoked to be back out in NYC with the crew, plus the new rook, Bish.

The previous Toy Fairs I attended in NYC were more like “OH MY GOSH, toys and things I can break everywhere and candy and other miscellaneous objects I wanted to grab and touch. “ This time I was intrigued by the business side of Kendama and really honing my skills in on sales pitch, knowledge of our product and having a good time all in one. It was a rough start to the tradeshow due to an east coast storm delaying all of our booth material. Luckily for us, we are the show. Us being able to perform and actually show people what Kendama is, is what we live for. Once we got our booth squared away and up and running, things started to fall in place perfectly.

Unfortunately I had to leave halfway into the last day of Toy Fair to head back to school. Dang school getting in the way of my travel plans haha. Overall, it was a super successful trip to New York. Got the chance to see Jero, walked the streets of NYC, grinded homework at 3 am, and managed to play Kendama too.

Back to school again. Just a side note real quick, my games for volleyball are usually on the weekends. We practice Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday for 2 hours a night. So, juggling school during the day, managing the Kendama USA Instagram, playing volleyball at night and weekends, and leaving some time to eat and sleep too.

I guess this is a good time to introduce this topic. As much as I was on Instagram on my personal account, I figured why not take over the Kendama USA one as well? So as you know, I run and manage the Kendama USA Instagram. It started off being only a couple posts per month, when I wasn’t really engaged in it. Social media is a huge aspect in our generation so I realized how much of an advantage it would be if I took control of it seriously. I wanted to update everyone on what the Ken USA crew was up to.

I love taking pictures of my teammates, Kendama related things, and artsy things. It was the perfect job for me because I love doing it. Now, I try and post as much as I can to update all of you about where we are, what our setups are, current updates on new Kendama product, contests, and scavenger hunts. So feel free to follow us on IG! I’ll tag the Ken USA IG and myself at the end.

Next up was the most recent trip I took. I went from Tacoma Washington to SF to Oahu to Maui, back to Oahu then back to SF.  Can you tell I like being on an airplane? This trip was long and I’ll try to cut it down as best as I can. The Tacoma Takeover was tons of fun with all the companies together. Cooper and Ernie put on an awesome event for the dama players up in WA.

Jake, Keith and myself all flew up to represent Kendama USA. Bro do you even mosh? and Thor Mosh were the highlights of that trip. Picture a 10 lb bowling ball being juggled by a jumbo tribute ken… yeah pretty epic. Now imagine a KROM mini with a XXXL tama… Even more epic.

Event was over with the first place winner being Chris Do representing Folken and SacKendama. Congrats again Chris!

Of course we didn’t sleep that night because what is sleep when we are on a dama trip? We decided to eat pizza, film dama, sit in wheelchairs, and try out death trick b. (Ask Jake, Keith or myself about death trick b) : ).

Keith flew back to CO. Jake and I flew into SF to get some stuff taken care of before heading back out to Hawaii… AGAIN!

This time the whole crew was out in Hawaii.. Excpet that one dude who wears spirit animal shirts and snowboards…. What’s his name again? Uh… OH yeah.. Zack Yourd. Zack couldn’t make it out do to pure grinding on school and being prez of his snowboard club. You were there in spirit though Yourdils.

Anyway, the whole crew was here. Smith, Keith, Mateo, Wiens, T Thorne, Sandeezy, H Bish and myself. Tori and Dana came along for the trip as well to enjoy the Hawaiian lifestyle. This time we got to participate in the first ever 3-day Kendama event held by Pearlridge Mall, in association with Razor Sports. Also, Tamotsu-san and the Gloken Crew, Thorkild, Philip, and Matt Ballard from KROM Kendama, AND Zoomadanke came out to shred in Hawaii. It was an honor to meet some of my favorite Japanese players and to see Hajime and Tamotsu and the KROMIES.

To sum this trip up, we got the chance to swim with sea turtles, teach kids how to progress in Kendama, saw the Zoomadanke performance live, filmed in amazing locations, and got to hangout with the greatest friends I could ask for. Hawaii Adventures Vol. 2 will recap my whole trip so stay tuned for that!

While the whole crew was in Oahu, Jake, Dave and myself had to fly to Maui Tuesday morning for an event put on Kaleidoscope. Man was Maui beautiful. I really hope we have the opportunity to go out there again. To sum this trip up, we flew into Maui early Tuesday morning, got breakfast, had mopeds waiting for us to cruise around Maui for a couple hours, did the event from 3pm-8pm, got dinner and headed to our resort for sleep. But of course you all know, we don’t sleep. The resort they put us in was absolutely amazing! Too bad we got in when it was dark and had to leave the next morning at 5 am.  It’s all good though, I know we will be back out.

Back to Oahu we flew. We said our goodbyes to everyone and headed back home. Until next time Hawaii!

And now I’m back at school, dealing with mid terms and nationals for volleyball this weekend. As much as I love traveling for Kendama, it’s a lot of work to maintain my grades and keep up with volleyball but I love my life and what I do to inspire others to be just like me and live the way I do. At the end of the day, I may be stressed out with the multiple things I have going on but it’s what I live for. I hope you all enjoy what I’ve been up to these past couple months and realize that you should never give up on your dreams no matter what your circumstances are. I love you all and thank you for reading all of this. Until my next check in. SHOOTZ!

Ps. I’m currently in grind mode to get another self edit out so be prepared!

Instagram: @kendamausa @teejkolesnik

-Tj Kolesnik


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