There are many different types of paint used for kendama, and each of them change the way you play kendama drastically. We are going to teach you about each of the different paint styles, and why choosing the right paint is crucial when playing kendama. There are many different paint styles used by a variety of different kendama brands, but the main paint types include natural (no paint), glossy, sticky, and rubber/silk paint.
So you've chosen the wild side, eh? In the Kendama Community, kendamas with no paint are referred to as natural, or "natty" kendamas. Natural kendamas are classic, and a must have for any true kendama player. These kendamas come in a variety of wood types, and can even have a finish or a polish on them. Natural kendamas tend to be very "slick" when doing tama grip tricks, but can become very "grippy" after breaking them in well. In very humid areas, natty kendamas become much easier to use, because the wood absorbs the humidity and increases the traction between the ken and the tama. This same effect can be replicated with sweat absorbed in the wood from your hands, or by licking the bevel of the tama to make stall tricks much easier. Licking the bevel of the tama might sound crazy, but many professional kendama players can be found doing this in competition, or when chasing a very difficult trick for a kendama edit.
It is very rare that a kendama company produces glossy paint anymore, but there are many kendamas out there that have glossy paint, so we will still include it in our list of kendama paint types. Glossy paint was a standard in kendama for many years, until paint with more grip was introduced into the Kendama Community around late 2011. We do not produce kendamas with glossy paint anymore, but this style hasn't been completely fazed out just yet. Glossy paint is very slick right out of package, and takes many months of play to break in properly. Once broken in, this paint will have some grip, and will most likely look very beaten up by then. You might like glossy paint if your prefer a challenge, and don't mind putting in the work to make it play like a dream.
TK16 Master Kendama
If instant satisfaction is your name, then sticky paint is your game! The most popular paint style nowadays is sticky paint. Sticky painted kendamas allow you to learn tricks faster, progress in difficulty quicker, and innovate kendama tricks even further than ever before. Kendamas with sticky paint have the most grip directly out of package, and tend to keep that grip for their entire lifespan. Many tricks in tama grip become significantly more achievable with sticky paint, and that is why it is so popular. In some weather conditions, sticky paint may lose its grip, but this generally isn't the case. Sticky paint tends to be very durable, and while some paint chipping may occur, the tama will generally retain its grippy nature. Definitely get your hands on a sticky kendama if you want to progress your kendama game.
Smooth to the touch, but it comes in clutch. Rubber/Silk paint can be deceivingly grippy at times, despite its smooth silky feel. This paint type started to become popular around 2012, and many people actually considered rubber paint a form of cheating at the time! There was a stigma around making kendama tricks easier, but as kendama began to develop more, progression became necessary. Rubber painted kendamas began to inspire a new generation of kendama play, and kendama has progressed significantly since its introduction. This paint style looks and feels so nice, and it plays like a dream. Rubber/Silk paint can be best described as a happy medium between natty or glossy paint and sticky paint. It is grippy enough to increase the playability of the kendama, but allows enough slip for you to correct your mistakes while playing. This paint is very forgiving, and makes for a great addition to any kendama collection. As far as durability goes, rubber paint isn't the strongest, but again, retains its grippy nature through getting broken in. We have a nice variety of rubber painted kendamas available with several unique designs to choose from.