When a player first starts out playing kendama, it is easy to want to try and hone the coolest looking tricks that they may have seen in an online video. However, it is definitely a journey to get to that level where they too can be doing juggles, balances, and various stall tricks.
So although there is no real "shortcuts" when first learning how to play kendama, there are a few different techniques you can try that can help you wrap your head around the basic nature of how kendama's physics work.
One of the first 3 tricks beginner learns first is landing the tama on all three cups. This part is obviously a vital step into mastering harder tricks down the line, but the next step is to get the tama on the spike. So here's a little trick: have the tama resting in a pull up position, and spin it with your fingers. Now when you pull it up, the tama will remain in this spinning position in the air, called a gyroscope, where the hole will always be on the bottom and all you have to do is straighten out the spike and let the tama land on it!
Hole control is when a player positions the tama on a cup strategically so they will always know how, when, and where to spike it. For example, when doing a swing spike, the player is swinging the tama towards them so they know that the hole will be approaching to land firmly on the spike. A player can also do a swing to big cup, so the tama rests with the hole facing them making it easier to go to the spike. For a deeper look into hole control, check out this other Sol Kendamas Blog post.
A kendama becomes 'honed' when it has been played well enough to where it has been broken in. Luckily, you do not have to wait to break in a bevel to make one honed. Using just a 25 cent piece, put it into the bevel and turn it back and forth a few times to where the bevel is less riding and more flat. This can make stall tricks a lot easier!
If you already know a few basic beginner tricks, write them out into a list from easiest to hardest. Then try and complete the list of tricks consistently over and over again. Once you have it mastered, try timing yourself to see how fast you can do it and then try to continue beating your record time. This builds your consistency and is a great way to practice!
Last but not least, kendama trick tutorial videos are always a good resource to check out as you can watch the experts demonstrate not only how tricks are done, but how they should be done. Maybe a video can show you insight that you hadn't thought of before and that was all that you were missing. And usually beginner tutorial videos start with the most basic tricks and then lead right into the net best trick to learn after you have mastered the previous one. Next thing you know, you are down a Youtube rabbit hole learning new kendama tricks!
As a beginner player, kendama can be frustrating, but only when you are not aware of the little tips and tricks you can do to speed up your progress. Hopefully these techniques can give you a little boost and elevate your play!