Of course, kendama is used for fun, as we all know! It’s a skill toy, meant to bring joy to our hearts, to break up the monotony, to make life brighter. Sometimes all that’s needed is an escape, or maybe a quick recentering; it’s wonderful that kendama can provide that to us.
Beyond play, however, there are certainly ways of utilizing kendama in productive ways. I’d like to outline some ways that kendama has benefitted me personally.
The most obvious benefit, as kendama is a whole-body game! Five years ago, before I started playing, I was 5’11”, weighing in at roughly 280-285 lbs. (180cm, ~128kg). I started that February, right before Spring and Summer of ’16. I had discovered very early on how the community engages with one another: most commonly by recording your progress and sharing it on Social Media with the appropriate tags. Within the first year, through that sweltering summer, I had dropped a total of 50 pounds (22.5 kg)! I dropped so much weight so quickly because, before kendama, I had no activity in my life whatsoever. Given my tendencies to really put all my effort into a new hobby, I started playing all the time, recording my progress frequently.
Before and after beginning my kendama journey!
I noticed how seasoned players and good videographers would search out filming locations in their areas, which inspired me to get out of my house and view my surroundings through different lenses, both metaphoric ones and literal ones (camera pun, Ha!).
Suddenly I was spotting gorgeous paths, urban art installations, and so much more. Trekking along with my camera bag and tripod slung over my shoulder, I stop often to survey the landscape. Is there a wonderful view? A fresh graffiti tag? Filming in new places is great, it documents your travels and improves the quality of your videos beyond the same old wall in the same old room.
Spend enough time out and about, you’ll meet dozens of inquisitive people, curious about your activities!
A fond memory I hold: I was filming at our local park pre-Covid with my wife, Rose, underneath a canopy of shade put off by the large maple trees that line the walking paths. I recall there being quite a few people enjoying the wonderful weather that day, including a group of about fifteen-twenty young children that seemed to be carrying out their team practice. Their two coaches, a blonde young man about my age, and a dad-type, baseball cap and binder clipped beneath his arm, always seemed to be the rendezvous point for the group. The drills they ran seemed to just be a bunch of running, but every time they passed by us on the path about 20 feet away, we’d get several onlookers among them.
About thirty minutes passed, Rose and I were still hard at play, and I started to hear shouts from their group, slowly growing louder, and the loud cacophony of flat footed sneakers slapping the grass. I turned my head just in time to see the quickest of the group, about three or four of them, skid to a halt in front of me with a million questions: Who are you, what are you doing, what is that, can I try it, How do you play it? Luckily for them, at that time I was carrying quite a few kendamas in my bag just in case anyone ever did want one. That day I had four or five in total, including the one I had just been playing, so I told them that they’d have to take turns giving it a shot.
I imagine this is due to their prior team training with organized sports, but they circled up almost without being told and were extremely receptive about the fact that there weren’t enough kendamas for every one of them to play at once. As they played, helped one another, and got stoked on each other’s successes, I spotted their coaches, Blondie and Dad, on their way over to investigate the commotion. I called out an apology for taking over their practice, which they shrugged off with a chuckle, telling me they’d just finished and wanted to see what it was all about, too!
This story of mine is a perfect example of how you can inject kendama into your community if that is your goal! Interactions with people you don’t know are always interesting terrain, but vital for kendama to be known to a wider population. A lot of people want this company or that company to come to their city to start a kendama community locally, but forget that they are the start of that community, the very first person. It’s easy to forget that YOU can be the person to make it happen.
I know that this may not have been exactly the article you may have been looking for, with a title like this, but I hope I provided you with some worthwhile perspectives on how beneficial kendama can be to a life. I hope it inspires you to get out there, see your world, film a trick, meet someone new, and introduce them to kendama!
(Obviously, safely! We gotta be creative these days!)
Here's a lovely animated creation by George Marshall, giving us some lovely visuals and other benefits of kendama!