Playing kendama by yourself is definitely fun, but when you include your friends into the action the experience is elevated as the hype, pressure, and friendly competition take things to a new level. Playing different kendama games with your friends is great way to not only showcase your individual skills but it is also good for learning new tricks and techniques that you may not have known before.
Learning different kendama games is also good for when you go out to events or local kendama jams. If you go to an event and there is a game of Spike Off scheduled, you will already know how to play and can practice accordingly before hand.
So here are 5 different kendama games you can play with your friends to get honed, have fun, and build your community!
A game of 1 UP consists of 2 or more players who follow each others tricks until one player doesn't land the set trick. For example, if Player A goes first and lands an airplane, then Player B also has to land an airplane. If Player B successfully lands the airplane, they must perform a new trick from the current grip they are in, in this case tama grip. If Player B does a J-stick, then Player A must also do a J-stick. If Player A misses, then Player B gets a point!
A game of ken is very similar to a game of H.O.R.S.E or S.K.A.T.E, where players match each others tricks and if a player fails they take a letter. A game usually starts with something called "Earth Turn First Turn", where both competitors see who can do the most Earthturns in a row to see who goes first. The player who goes first gets to set the trick, if they make it then the opponent has to match it in 2 tries. If they don't they get a letter. When a player is on their last letter, N, they get three attempts and a "Prove it", where the player who set the trick has one chance to make it again. If they do not, the the defending player doesn't receive the final letter and remains in the game!
Unicorn is kind of similar to a Candlestick Battle, but instead of holding a kendama in candlestick grip, you balance it on your head using the base cup and the tama as a counter weight. Unicorn games can be like a battle scenario, where players would carefully walk around each other and try to knock off other players "unicorns", or it can be like a Simon Says type of deal, where a moderator calls out different poses (stand on one leg, spin around 360 degrees). Last player standing wins!
A Candlestick Battle is where a group of players all put their kendamas in candlestick grip with the tama resting on the base cup. Then on the count of three, the players are unleashed in a battle of who will be the last player standing as they must defend their candlestick. Sometimes there are special rules like using only your elbow to knock off opponents tamas, but it is mainly played using the full open hand as offense. The last player standing wins! In the video below you can watch a good example of a Candlestick Battle!
Spike Off is a great game to play with a big group of people. One person acts as the moderator, and the rest of the group lines up in front of them. The moderator then announces a trick, and on the count of three, the entire group has to perform that trick. If they land it, they remain in the game, and if they don't they have to step aside. As more players are weeded out, the moderator increasingly calls out hard tricks. Last player standing wins!