Dama to the Death is Honed Media's controversial annual kendama event. It is, what I would consider to be, the first "high stakes" kendama event. The risk in competing is simple:
For both contests, if a player is ultimately eliminated they must cut their tama off and add their ken to the BURN PILE. So as a disclaimer, it is possible that you may lose your ken to the tournament. But don’t worry, it has become a sort of rite of passage to lose your ken in Dama To The Death and it inspires solidarity amongst players!
That's right- if you lose, you burn your ken. Kendama events, especially events that are head-to-head competition, are pretty renowned for being nerve-intensive, high-pressure, etc. This competition tries, and succeeds, at elevating this elation.
The heart of the controversy surrounding this event revolves around a principle of the greater kendama community that it is gravely important to share the dama love with everyone. It can particularly mean passing a usually older kendama on to a beginner. Many are irritated with the fact that an upwards of forty kens will be burned at the end of the event, given that you could potentially be inviting 40 new people to join our world.
Honed Media, in the block quote above, argued that a group burning creates a level of solidarity. It isn't hard to see how a level of military-esque lose together, grow together kind of mentality would play out in this situation.
A number of players are using older, semi-beaten kendamas, minimizing the pain of losing in the competition. Others, like Christian Frasier, are willing to toe the line of a fresh kendama. At the 2019 event, he burned his newly released Decade Mod after making a lowly third place.
I always try to make a counter case and play devils advocate in many situations in an attempt to understand the other side. In this case, I'd be making a case for Dama to the Death, as it seems to be defending itself of a new idea. I'm also fond of new ideas. I like the case they make for solidarity in loss, and I think there is something to be said for the heightened competition. We've been firm supporters of Florida's kendama scene, coincidentally making us a supporter of this event. As far as kendama selection, I'd say stick to using a completely jammed and older kendama. ;)
DTTD does an amateur and pro bracket, to the relief of the ams. Here's the list of pro freestyle winners:
We're biased, because we think everyone should attend every kendama event. Community is what makes us, and what makes kendama. If only for the fellowship, you should attend this event. Bring a couple of seshed kendamas, and then, if you decide to put it all on black, you can compete. Its always a good time, and we are appreciative of Honed Media for consistently celebrating and enriching their community.
Written by Shelton Covington