By Tyler Chan
Photos by author
The definition of a kendama is, “A traditional Japanese toy that has three cups and a spike.” Sounds lame. But, if you have ever played with a kendama, you would understand how that it is much more than a simple toy; it’s a passion to which people devote years. To play the Kendama, you must catch the ball on the spike or three cups, by doing fancy tricks. More advanced players do combinations of moves. Kendama Club, a new, exciting club at d.tech, was founded by freshman Leon Kwauk to share his passion for Kendamas.
Kendama Club is held every lunch in Mr. Groat’s classroom. There is always a big bag of kendamas of all sizes for members to play with, brought by Kwauk. In a normal meeting, around 25 members will eat their lunches, practice kendama, play “KEN” against each other, and watch Kwauk’s impeccable kendama skills. Kwauk says his favorite part of Kendama Club is, “holding contests” where kendama players compete against each other to win fabulous prizes. He says “they are fun and engaging.”
Club member, freshman, Jacob Nebeling says his favorite part of the club is, “The people in it and also I just enjoy using the kendama.”
Another club member, freshman, Evan Fok likes, “Eating lunch there because there are tables and you don’t have to stand.” Apparently, there are many things to enjoy while in Kendama Club.
Not only is Kendama Club a club, but it’s also a business. Kwauk has made around $120 from selling 11 kendamas. In addition, occasionally, there are contests held based on kendama skills. The winner takes home sweet prizes. For instance, Fok won a kendama toma (ball). Freshman, Avery Grewal, won a mini kendama, 2 balls, one handle, and $11 in total from prizes brought by Kwauk.
Not only is Kendama Club a club, but it’s also a business.
What makes kendama fun, is that you can never be too good. Fok estimates that there are “thousands” of kendama tricks. Freshman, Aaron Tung says there are “at least 200” kendama tricks. Everyone has their go-to Kendama trick. Tung’s favorite trick is the, “Orbit.” Nebeling wins contests with the “Ken flip.” Kwauk says that his best trick is the “triple tap triple juggle in.” Connor Chan, a retired kendama player who goes to Crocker Middle School, says he enjoyed playing Kendama because, “Kendama lets you go into an alternate reality and escape the real world.” He is now a fidget spinner player.
Kwauk is sponsored by a world famous company- Kendama USA. Members Fok and Tung want to get sponsored, too. When you are sponsored, you get cool kendama gear sent to you for free. In return, your company gets to use your name and references to your skills when advertising.
“Kendama lets you go into an alternate reality and escape the real world.”
Aside from Kendama Club, there are real competitions that kendama experts compete in. For the best Kendama players, it may become their profession. Wyatt Bray is the #1 ranked Kendama player in 2015, according to Gloken, a website that ranks kendama players. He won the 2015 Kendama World Cup championship. When he is not competing in contests, Bray is touring the country and participating in kendama tutorial videos.
Whether you are a beginner, or an expert, Kendama Club welcomes anyone. Just go to Mr Groat’s room at lunch. Even Mr Groat recommends kendama club because it teaches, “Hand eye coordination.” You could be the next world famous Kendama champion.