New Discovery

Are you familiar with Kendama? Or are you like me, who just heard of it now? Well according to my research, Kendama (けん玉 ?, also written as 剣玉 and 拳玉) is a traditional toy in Japan that has three cups and a spike which fits into the hole in the ball. Basic kendama tricks consist of catching the ball in the cups and of course on the spike. Some of the more advanced tricks such as the "airplane" requires the player to hold the ball and land the spike in the hole on the ball.

Kendama bears some similarities to the classic cup-and-ball game in the US or cuppy-catch-ball as Miss Artsy calls it (from watching the Charlie and Lola series), and a Hispanic world toy called a boliche or a balero. The basic principle of how to play these toys are both the same which is to catch one object with another, where both are connected by a string. However the modern kendama style takes influences from a diverse range of skills including the yo-yo, juggling and a bit of dance.

I came across this particular toy, the mini version that is, through browsing around a Facebook group that I joined recently where homeschool parents sell preloved and brand new educational stuff that are related to home school. I was very curious as to what it is that I purchased a couple of pieces from a fellow home school parent for my family and I to try out. It is not as easy as it looks and the first couple of hundred tries will leave you frustrated just like me haha. Seriously, I only caught the ball in the big cup a handful of times after a hundred attempts using my left hand. I'm right handed so I don't really understand how that happened, but it did haha. Miss Artsy and Mr. D fared better than me, they got the hang of it the first half an hour they played with it. There's Physics involved they both said, guess I'm doomed! Our two toddlers also took interest to the mini kendamas and just carried them around everywhere they went.

It's a fun hobby to get into, it takes a lot of patience and self-discipline before getting the hang of it. We checked out Youtube videos for beginner tricks, that included useful tips and hints like the proper posture and different grips. Then we went through advanced tricks and saw awesome Kendama Ninjas at their best, it looked like they were dancing with their Kendamas effortlessly. We were certainly amazed at the level of expertise they've reached on this traditional Japanese game.

I am still trying to get a grasp on getting at least the basic tricks at a passing level. I need more practice, if I get any better at it I might just post a video of me doing the basics! But don't hold your breath on that!

Why not try it out yourself? You or your kids might just have a knack at Kendama!

Article published on September 6, 2015