It's arguable that kendama is more popular now than ever before. Throughout the pandemic and lock-downs, companies have seen a massive amount of growth in sales. More and more people are getting kendamas for themselves to occupy their time or buying them as gifts for others; it's a beautiful thing. Every kendama purchased by or for a new player is an opportunity for the community to gain a lifelong member. Online events are making kendama more accessible, showing the new players that there is a thriving community to be a part of, ideally keeping them involved for the long haul.
We could say the same for the classic game of chess. With the October 20' Netflix release of The Queen's Gambit, the chess community saw a massive influx of new players on websites like Lichess.org and Chess.com. Individuals everywhere are finding more time on their hands and filling that void with things they want to learn and enjoy. Personally, kendama and chess have been my go-to activities through most of 2020. I've even found out that there happens to be a small group of kendama players who, like myself, enjoy both games.
When I think about it, I find a lot of similarities between the two. I'd even say that practicing one has benefited me with the other, and vice versa!
Just to set the stage, consider this: there are an infinite amount of kendama tricks that are possible. This might be a speculative or biased take, but year after year, the kendama community's perception of what is possible and impossible are demolished by the imagination, innovation, and practice we see from the most creative players of our time; players who consistently push the kendama trick economy to new heights and pave the way toward new styles of play. Individuals like these prove that kendama is only limited by our depth of thinking, suggesting that so much more within it is yet to be discovered. Kendama is a whole-body game, and that includes our brains!
Much the same, chess is a game of thought. When you start, you're learning how the pieces move and how they work together in order to achieve the desired outcome, just like with kendama. With both, you learn by playing, spotting learning opportunities as you improve and forming a better understanding of the game. Playing chess challenges you to think critically, just as playing kendama is the manifestation of one's critical thinking; two sides of the same coin. By this logic, we could argue that partaking in both hobbies is mutually beneficial!
As I've said before, I am a huge believer in diversifying oneself to achieve personal growth. I would love to see more of our kendama community break out the checkered boards and play some chess with one another. Not only is it fun, but it's also a fantastic way to flex the brain and improve our mind, which is quintessential in improving our kendama play.
I frequent Chess.com daily, playing games against random people and friends. I've created a small club for kendama players to congregate and play/learn together. If you create a free account at Chess.com, you can join the club HERE. We may not be a group of Grandmasters, but we have some splendid games! Who knows, maybe a friend of yours plays chess and you didn't even know!
Cody Booth is a kendama player of 5 years from Huntington, WV who helps with multiple organizations pushing kendama forward. Cody's Instagram.