Kendama is Magic

November 09, 2020

Kendama is Magic

Most people's first experiences with magic come from a family member, whether it be a weird uncle or an eccentric grandpa. My dad was a big lover of magic. He had a few little go-to tricks he carried with him all the time, just in case he could show it to someone. He had an affinity to kids and getting their reactions; I ended up being a sponge for it. In the Spring of '03, my life changed when I experienced David Copperfield's live show at Shea's Performing Arts Center of Buffalo, New York.

Shea's Performing Arts Center. From Wikimedia CC.

Being over seventeen years ago now, many of the finer details of that show are hazy in my memory, but the things that stuck firmly with me are the feelings and emotions I felt. I recall sitting in the dark balcony, jaw loose and smiling widely, as this man flew across the room. David took me and the rest of the audience on a proverbial adventure, weaving stories and music into a seamless act that left me awe-struck, stupefied, and altogether changed from having been a part of the experience. Upon leaving, I decided I too wanted to be a magician; I wanted to do magic just like David Copperfield. 

David Copperfield performing his critically acclaimed Flying Illusion. From YouTube.

A large part of what made me become a magician, of course, was to learn something cool, but it also provides the opportunity to give people experiences they could look back on with joy and happiness, much like I look back fondly on my first magic show. I wanted to provide people with memories, even tangible ones, they could cherish forever. I even asked my wife out with a magic trick. (Cringe, I know.)

Kendama Is Magic Blog Article: Context Photo

The card from the magic trick I asked my wife out with.

We often feel emotions most heavily when we have investment or care deeply about the outcome of events playing out. When a magician takes time to craft a performance for their audience, they take time to consider much more than the "magic moment" when something unusual occurs. It's crucial for magic to reflect human experience or else risk that climactic moment not providing the viewer with the intended emotional reaction.

A magic show to me is not so much a series of tricks and illusions, but if crafted well, it can be something akin to a play or a film. A magic show is a journey, an adventure. I'd even go as far as calling it an Augmented Reality show.

Fast forward to about 5 years ago, I'm on a trip to Target to see if they have any new decks of playing cards I can add to my collection (common among magicians). Playing cards are always in the toy sections of the store; naturally you'll see plenty of things that might draw your attention. In my case, I focused only on this interesting cross-shaped thing hanging above the card games. I ended up buying something entirely different, a kendama!

Cody Booth's First Kendama

My first kendama, pictured February 22, 2016.

I started the moment I got back to my apartment. After about an hour of trying, I landed my first big cup and spike. In achieving those goals I set for myself, however small, I found joy, excitement, and wonder. After so many years of appreciating these emotions and feelings through magic, either by performing and watching it, I had now discovered an unknown world that brings me those exact positive feelings. Something that was so simple, yet so fulfilling.

Not to say that I have lost my love for the magic world, but when I found kendama, something about it just "felt" right. The same way creating fresh memories with my friends around card tricks fulfills me, playing kendama and sharing those first moments with others has equally filled that metaphorical space in my life, maybe even more. Every moment I'm introducing someone to kendama it's a feeling of both having a magician perform right before my eyes, as well as having the privilege of being their personal guide through that experience.

We create magic moments for people. We use kendama as the conduit for that shared experience of love, wonder, and happiness that we feel when we play. When you truly receive those emotions as a product of having kendama in your life and share those feelings genuinely with others, I think authenticity is clear to see. In a way, all magic happens within us, expressing itself through our emotions; without feeling, there is no magic.

Kendama can be the catalyst, for where there's joy, there's magic.

To cap off this metaphoric and philosophic look at magic and kendama, here's some literal magic that you can learn to perform with kendama tricks from Issac Turner! 

Cody Booth is a kendama player of 5 years from Huntington, WV who helps with multiple organizations to push kendama forward. Cody's Instagram.