Kendama Kraziness

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Kendama Kraziness

Sophia Walsh, Opinion Editor

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You’ve probably heard and seen these little hand games that are becoming popular among high school students. Whether your teacher has asked a million times for a classmate to put it away or you have one yourself, kendamas are a traditional Japanese skill toy that originated in 16th century France. The goal of the game is to bounce the ball (tama) onto the spike or cups on the side of the body(ken) in different variations and difficulty.

While Kendamas have been around for centuries, they’ve recently made their way into NPHS with a little help from sophomore Brodie Lienemann. Lienemann first found out about kendamas after a trip to a Colorado toy store when he decided to buy one. Since then, he has been hooked. About a week after having it, he decided to sell them from his online store, where he’s sold about 36 kendamas. “It’s something creative that I can do during school and around my friends when we’re hanging out,” said Lienemann.

Sophomore Jack Raby, a friend of Lienemann’s, got a kendama after being introduced to them by him. “I practice pretty much everyday,” says Raby. “It’s fairly easy: you just start off by getting [the ball] on the cups, then you learn how to get it on the spike,” said Raby. “It has so many possibilities, you just want to keep learning more tricks.”

While kendamas may seem like just another basic game, an organization called the Japanese Kendama Association has been holding contests since 1979, and the British Kendama Association was the first to hold a formal Kendama contest outside of Japan in 2008. Many other organizations have followed in their footsteps and held contests that happen within their communities as well as internationally like Gloken, Catch & Flow, Dama Fest, and Battle at the Border. While each has its own set of rules, many consist of competitors having to complete certain tricks within a time limit or quicker than your opponents.


The hardest trick Raby and Lienemann have achieved is the Juggle. “You get your tama in the air, then throw your ken, hit the tama [with your hand], while your ken is spinning catch it and then catch your tama on the cup,” says Raby “It’s pretty crazy!”

Kendamas are an activity you to do solo or with a group of friends to push each other and improve your skills. “It’s a fun activity you can do with your friends to create and learn new tricks,” said Lienemann.

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