Whether or not they are perfect, virtual kendama events have been popping up left and right, taking shape as the new popular way to keep competitions going without putting anyone at risk. With Battle at the Border 2021 approaching quickly, I have a lot of excitement built up; I cannot wait to see and chat with all the people I've been missing. I've attended the last three BATB's and this one will not break my streak, although this time I'll be in the comfort of my home.
I love traveling to see my kendama family at events just as much as the next guy, but sometimes, we have to work with the cards we're dealt. I will admit, a virtual event doesn't hold a candle compared to a physical event, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't have it at all. Given the current state of how things are panning out, I think virtual events are a welcome addition. Further, I don't think they will go anywhere even after this pandemic eventually subsides. I'd like to see a future where we have both physical and virtual events throughout the year.
With that said, there're ways to prepare for the event that will benefit your day of competition, and maximize the amount of fun had during the weekend!
I know, I said the word "test" but don't fret! Kendama Kentei is a relatively new system created by Gloken in order to make kendama inclusive for a larger demographic and providing milestones for achievement that players can use as a form of personal progress. The structure of the program makes it a great test for players who are registering for a competition, which is why many online events, including Battle at the Border next month, are turning to Kentei testing. We want to make sure that everyone who registers for any division is in the right one, and in doing so, gives every player a more fair opportunity for doing well in the competition.
If you plan on competing and haven't done so before, check out the Kendama Kentei website HERE for more details on the ranks, the trick lists, and more. There are plenty of certified senseis you can get with to have testing done, including myself! You can check out a list of some other senseis on the Kendama Institute website HERE. The sooner you get tested in Kentei, the less stress there is on event organizers day-of, and you'll know better what division would be best for you.
Got a few local friends who also play kendama? Call them up and schedule a watch party! It's always much more fun to play kendama with friends, and online events are no different. Even if it means calling up your one kendama homie, the more the merrier. If you have some friends who maybe aren't as dedicated to kendama as you are, invite them over anyway and show them how fun it can be! I often prep some coffee and snacks for my watch parties, just like a Super Bowl party, but obviously our parties are going to be much better, given that we're watching kendama! If you don't know too many people involved in the community yet, this is a fantastic way to get introduced to more members of the kendama family!
If you aren't familiar, Discord is an instant messaging application available on most platforms, and kendama players use it, too! I help as a moderator over there, although I've never had to enact my moderator powers; everyone is so wonderful over there. I love getting into a voice chat channel on Discord to chat with friends about the on-goings of the event while it's happening! It's a fantastic way to get connected with new friends and stay connected with people you already know! You can find a link to the Kendama Discord Server HERE. Currently, we have a little over 650 members total. We'd love to have you join us!
Looking forward, I expect to see tons more players register and people involved with Battle at the Border 2021 given its virtual nature! Make use of some or all these tools to make the event more enjoyable for yourself! The more the merrier, and that means you, too!
Cody Booth is a kendama player of 5 years from Huntington, WV who helps with multiple organizations pushing kendama forward. Cody's Instagram.