With the North American Kendama Open just around the corner, we wanted to answer some of the questions and concerns we have been seeing. 

Am I good enough to compete?

Of course you are! Kendama Competitions are for all skill levels!!!

This is the most accessible NAKO we have ever thrown, so this is your opportunity to compete on the global stage without having to come all the way to Minnesota!

But I have only been playing for a few months..

That's ok! You will have a blast! NAKO has divisions for beginners all the way up to PRO level! Beginner division is awesome too! It consists of a list of basic tricks that you probably have already landed once or would be surprised at how quick you can learn them! Plus there are EPIC prizes and mini games too! 


But I can’t land all of the tricks… 

Even the pro’s can't land all of the tricks yet!
Many Pros can land maybe 65% of the entire trick list with some consistency. That's just the way the game goes and it makes the head to head matches more fair! Every player has their strong points and weak points, it is all about giving each attempt your best effort and then you have no reason to not walk away feeling good!  


But I have never competed before, I’m nervous and I don't get how it all works…

That's ok too! Everyone gets a bit nervous and feels a tad shaky when competing, even the Pros! These sensations are a powerful opportunity for us to practice building self-confidence and our mind-body calming regulations. Remember to breathe, smile, and try to slow it all down.  Check out this quick video to see how "Open division " style competition works as this is how we will compete at NAKO 2020! It's super fun and you get to meet people from all over the world in your skill level!  “Open Style” competition is also a really fun way to play games of Ken with your family and friends!


Yeah but I’m kind of older and don’t want to compete against Kids…

You are ageless! We play because kendama brings us joy no matter our age! I invite you to not limit yourself by your age my friend!!! Think of it like this.  The “ inner game “ of kendama, you are only truly competing against yourself and not your adversary. Only you stand in the way of landing the trick, not your opponent. Your opponent is simply there to help push you to give your best effort.  Whether you or they are 5 or 65 you will experience a fun and fair match and receive the same from the player on the other side!


Ok but what is Kendama Kentei and why do I need to do that? 

Kendama Kentei is a simple system created by GLOKEN of trick progression from beginner to pro level. If you want to enter Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced, you will need to tdo Kendama kentei before competing to ensure you are in the proper division for your skill. Before competing you will take a quick kendama test with a kendama sensei from Kendama Institute who will help you discover what division of competition is a good fit for your current skill level! We require Kendama Kentei because we want to make sure each competitor has a fair and equal chance in the competitors as possible.  


 I don’t live in the USA, can I still compete? 

Of course you can!  Plus since the competition is online you didn’t have to worry about travel costs, Passports, visas etc! Just be sure to figure out what time ( your local time to US time) you are competing and don’t miss your rounds! It may be late I the night for you, but hey it's the weekend!


Some people don’t think that Kendama should be all about competition.. Whats so great about these things anyway? 

Kendama isn’t all about competition. Kendama is what ever you want to make of it, It just happens to be a professional sport as well! A huge element of competitions isn’t the competing, it is the gathering and meeting new friends from around the world. This is a huge benefit for the community because it is a melting pot of like minded people of all different backgrounds and provides a really powerful opportunity to share, create and build a better community.  Some times people will come to competitions not to compete at all but to simply meet new like minded people from around the world and sesh Kendama together. 

 Competitions are also a really awesome method of putting your skills to the test in a fun and engaging challenge. Many people feel a little shy or nervous coming to their first competition especially when they have just recently picked up a Kendama. My thoughts on these types of things, “you can always leave if you don’t like it”, but you will never know if you don’t go, and you will likely surprise yourself at the amount of fun you will have.

OK I can see that now,  but why are there Girl divisions? That seems sexist separating them…

Great question! Women can compete in both the regular and girls divisions! We have offered the girls divisions for the past couple years because women spoke up and declared that this is something that they wanted. Women at large are treated unfairly not only in the kendama community at times but in many ways of everyday life in the world we live in. In the past some female players felt it was a division that was missing and so we listened.  The girls division is a space dedicated to female identifying players only. We have continued to keep this division a part of NAKO because we feel that it is important to give all of the new and old amazing female players a place to shine and feel comfortable if they desire to do so. It is our duty to create a safe feeling environment for women and all people and we hope that this can be a step to do so.  They can choose to do one division and not the other or vise versa. For example Haley can enter “Pro Open Division” AND “Girls Open Division”, OR just the “Girls Open” or "Pro Open"


Wow ok that makes more sense now thanks for answering my questions. I suppose I was just nervous because I am new to this whole kendama thing. Well Ok then, whats the best that can happen!? I will give it a try! Why not! Where do I sign up, how do I do my Kendama Kente and where are the trick lists so I can start practicing? 

AMAZING! You are going to have a blast and I know you are going to level up your kendama game just by participating in the competition!



You can Take your kendama test by signing up to get Kentei Invites right here.



And you can register for NAKO in the division your sensei recommends right here! 


Trick lists are here! 




AM Division:

OPEN Division:

Thank you for answering my questions cant wait to compete in my first competition!!!