If you've never hosted a kendama event before, it can be both stressful and overwhelming. There is a lot to take care of, but if you break it down into simple steps, it becomes pretty easy. As a matter of fact, it really isn't that much different from events you may have planned before, such as a birthday party or even a get-together for friends. Let's break it down into five questions: Who? What? When? Where? How?
You want as many people as you can to come to your event, because the more the merrier! Kendama is a community, and if you want to make more friends and have a good time, you want as many people to join as you can. In order to find kendama players near you that could be interested in your event, try going through Instagram or Facebook and looking for friends of friends. You can look for profiles that are tagged in your friends' pictures and find new people! I'd recommend making a list of names and their social media handles so you can reach them in the future. Another option is checking to see if there are kendama communities for your state or city. Two examples are the “Indiana Kendama Community” or “Kentucky Kendama Players” communities on Facebook. These would be great resources to contact players near you. In addition to finding attendees, you will need to let them know of your event. Once you have all of the details, I recommend posting in these groups, and sending personal messages or direct messages to each person from your list. Not everyone will be able to make it, which is another reason why you want to over-invite.
Sol Summer Tour Stop: Marietta, GA!
Your kendama event can look many different ways; it can be a regular “jam session,” a structured event, a series of mini games, or anything you can dream! To help you decide, you can usually relate this decision to how long you want the event to be. If you want to shoot for a two hour event on a Saturday, then maybe its best just to get the group together to hang out and socialize. If an eight hour kendama fest sounds fun, then you will want to have structure. By structure, I mean a series of activities that will happen over the course of the day. You can start off with mini-games, then follow up with a K.E.N. Tournament, then finish with a freestyle event. The advantages of structure is that you control the flow and attention of your event, it will last longer, people have more fun, and it is easier to get prizes.
Planning your event mostly depends on your attendees. If every person you invites is busy on a Tuesday night, don't plan your event for a Tuesday night! The weekends are usually the easiest for everyone, so that may be a good starting point. As for a time, you can kind of feel it out and ask others what they think. You might also need to be concerned about getting kicked out of the park past a certain time. Be aware of where you play and what is expected of you in terms of time!
Where you host your event might be the hardest component of hosting an event. If the weather will be good, it is almost always a good idea to host your event at a park or outdoor location. Something like that is very beneficial because it is free. If the weather won't be good, then you will have to look to have your event in a venue. This makes things a little more complicated. You can try to squeeze into someone's garage, or maybe inside of a city meeting area, or even rent a venue. If you rent a venue, do not feel guilty about charging money at the door to cover that cost.
For example, if a venue costs you $200 for a few hours, and you can have twenty people come, then charge $10 per person to come and hang out. Nobody will mind, and it reduces the stress of hosting an event.
In addition to considering where, you need to think about how far of a drive it will be for everyone to meet there. If it is too far, you might scare off some people from going to the event. Usually kendama players are willing to make the drive, however. Battle at the Border, our flagship annual event, hosted kendama players from over 21 states on January 7th 2017!
Battle at the Border 2015 Prize Sponsors
Try to plan best you can. If you're doing a tournament or speed ladder, come up with tricks relevant to the difficulty and type of tournament. Try to keep it well rounded and fair. Remember: it is all for fun! A nice addition to any event is prizes. It might surprise you, but many companies like sponsoring events. We have sponsored probably one hundred events, groups, clubs, etc. It helps small companies get the word out about what they do, who they are, and what they sell, and it helps large companies promote products and support the kendama ecosystem. When you have covered the other four questions, you can compile the details and send an email to each company you can find and ask them to send prizes. Some will send one kendama, some will send a few. Out of respect for the companies, do not keep any prizes for yourself. It is generally frowned upon to win prizes from your own event as well. If you end up having left over kendamas from your event, pass them on to beginners or someone who has never played kendama before.
Be sure to take pictures and make an edit of your event! It will make it even easier to promote, get more players interested, and convince more companies to send you prizes in the future. Remember to encourage good sportsmanship and to have an even better time.
Kendama hasn't always been popular. Of course, it only arrived in the West a couple of hundred years ago, but it stayed fairly dormant. In the past ten years or so, it has become increasingly popular. The game is picking up steam in communities of young adults, teenagers, and occasionally kids. After picking up and trying it, it is easy to see why it is experiencing so much growth. It is both easy to understand and not too difficult for a beginner to learn some tricks. In addition, if you remain interested, you will find yourself pulled into the deep end when getting involved with the deeper aspects that kendama offers.
Kendama does an exceptional job of creating a community. On its own, kendama is interesting and fun, but when paired with friends, it becomes an exciting social experience. At one time, it acted as a sort of adult's drinking game, where missing a trick meant you had to drink more. While not the main reason communities exist today, it is a testament to the fun you can have by playing kendama with others.
Others realized this and began to host events, which fostered communities and competition, the crossroads in which kendama fostered friendships and good times. There is nothing greater than making a new friend through nothing but a shared love for the toy, despite all other differences. It unites people!
Competitions can be very exciting and very intense. In between events, kendama players practice to hone in on many types of tricks, not knowing which will be required of them at their next event. When another event rolls around, they are ready to test their skills, especially against their friends. If the tricks aren't hard enough, added difficulty comes from athletes competing on stage in front of tons of people. The pressure can often get to your head and hands.
For those that overcome and take away victories, there are often prizes. Prizes can range from some new strings, to a free kendama, to even a free Spikeball set, which we gave away at the past two Battle at the Border competitions. Minnesota Kendama Open has even awarded a free flight to the Kendama World Cup in Japan.
At the end of the day, kendama is just fun. Great satisfaction can be found when landing a trick you've never learned before. It is very rewarding to progress in the craft. It's a great reason to hang out with people. It helps teach you to be focused. All of these come together to culminate into a very good time.
If you've never played kendama or tried kendama, you need to try it at some point! If you know someone who plays with one, ask to borrow or hang out! You might develop a new hobby or maybe even enjoy yourself!
Why You Should Go to Kendama Events
Kevin DeSoto lacing a trick at Battle at the Border 2017
If you've played kendama before, then you know how social it is. When playing alone, you can focus, challenge yourself, and improve your game. You can watch edits, film your own, and grind for hours. However, many people practice so that when they get together, they can show off and win in different games. Many practice to become better within the community itself. The kendama community is composed of many different types of people, and you can find yourself in a group of individuals that you might not have had it not been for kendama to unite you. No matter the skill levels, it is always enjoyable to surround yourself with other kendama players.
Liam Rauter winning the Open Division at Battle at the Border 2017
That's the beauty of a kendama event: you get to go, make new friends, share positive vibes, listen to music, jam kendama, and sometimes win prizes. Kendama events exist to bring everyone together to have a fun time.
The Sol Kendamas team found themselves at the 2015 Minnesota Kendama Open this year. It was incredible. It was the first time that our team got together (minus Aaron!) and jammed together. And yes, of course, we did manage to sneak some kendamas through the airport.
Cal Nassar got to compete in his first ever free style competition, and it wasn't easy. He faced some of the free style legends: Dave Mateo, Thorkild May, and Jake Fischer. He made it through the first round, beating Kristian Aynedter at the judges' discretion. It was tough, and Cal wasn't able to take home the trophy, (congrats Jake!) but he clocked in some serious experience. He'll be ready for the next competition for sure.
Wesley Carkonen also showed up in the Open Division. Every big name was in the house, and the competition was intense. Wes made it into the top 32 of players, which is a great accomplishment. Joshua Groves ended up beating Wes in the next round, with nerves at an all time high. The young slayer is going to grow up ready to take all the titles.
On Saturday, we had the opportunity to release our new standard-sized ken-only options. You can find them online here. They're available for a limited time! Be sure to cop a new ken.
We're very thankful to have the opportunity to travel to Minnesota for the most epic kendama event of the year. Big ups to the guys at Sweets Kendamas, and of course, the man himself. Matt took good care of us. Thank you very much!
Here's to another year of dama!
Starting a community is never an easy task. The guys over at KendamaNorway are working hard at doing just that. They aim to build a community in a country that really hasn't seen kendama. These guys found us on the internet, and helped us bring our kendamas to a new country! We wanted to hear about their story, and help them find some support! Without further adieu, the interview:
What is Kendama Norway?
Kendama Norway is the name of the only Norwegian Kendama team. It consists of Elias Salbu and Kim Fredrik Moberg.