When I started doing magic tricks as a hobby, there was a lot of learning involved. I spent a lot of time reading, studying, and practicing in my alone time, preparing to show off new conjurations. When I got out into the actual world to perform my prepared act for people, it focused me only on doing the magic trick as best as I could. I would screw up a lot, people would catch a secret move or object, but sometimes I would succeed with my performance and surprise them. As time passed and I grew as an entertainer, I learned a lot of magic tricks and have read many books, but that's not all I've gained. I've got insight on how I learn as an individual through my study, I've become a more diverse person by bonding with those of many cultures, and I've become a better problem solver because of the unorthodox nature of the workings of magic tricks.
Kendama works in much the same way in teaching us underlying life lessons throughout the journey.
For example, kendama teaches patience! How else could we play for hours under a blistering sun with overheating cameras? By playing kendama, not only are you practicing patience by taking the time to reset between tricks and assess your previous attempts, but we're also learning how to have patience for ourselves. I haven't broken a kendama by raging, but I'd be lying if I told you I hadn't gotten frustrated occasionally. What always brings me back to center is the gentle reminder that a trick cannot break me. If you grind for three hours to land a really great trick, you are enacting patience with yourself that you will succeed.
Kendama is Patience.
Kendama is personal. When you land that trick successfully, it feels good. If we mess up or accidentally touch one piece or the other with a part of our body when you don't want to, it's best to be honest with ourselves, address that it happened, and improve. A cog in the wheel of self improvement, honesty with yourself and honesty with others can be the springboard for your success. Landing a trick that wasn't "clean" won't bring us that sense of accomplishment that landing it honestly would, so of course we should strive for better! This can benefit you in any facet of life, whether it be at a kendama competition, or even your personal relationships.
Kendama is honesty.
Kendama pushes you to think, not only about how a trick works, but the underlying factors that make a trick work. When we try to understand why a trick didn't succeed, we reflect on what we did during the previous attempts and try to correct any imperfections. Critical thinking and introspection can be some of the most powerful tools in becoming a better player and a better human being. I'm reminded of the saying "Hindsight is always 20/20"; in order to improve, we can look upon our experiences and learn from them. Problem-solving skills can apply to any facet of life, and every day of a kendama player's life is problem solving; every trick is a problem waiting to be solved. By playing kendama, you keep your mind sharp by and your body moving, a perfect combination for growth and improvement.
Kendama can improve your life way beyond what I covered here, spanning from your social life to giving birthday gifts. You can learn much more from kendama than you might at realize; let it show you the way!Yearning for more? George Marshall gives us a spectacular video showing 8 physical & mental benefits of playing kendama, some not so practical, but all true! Check out his YouTube Channel here.
Cody Booth is a kendama player of 5 years from Huntington, WV who helps with multiple organizations pushing kendama forward. Cody's Instagram.