Tim Nygaard has been an integral part of the Kendama Community for years, always working towards fostering a loving and safe community online. He's been sponsored by several teams over the years before finally finding a spot as a Sweets Ambassador, Spreading Kendama Love everywhere he goes. We asked him to tell us his Kendama Story. Read it below!
Kendama has absolutely changed my life in so many ways. It has opened up my friend network to reach all corners of the globe. It has allowed me to truly be the person I want to be and changed my perspective on life itself. My background is in skateboarding, and people say that skaters see the world differently. Skaters never see JUST a handrail, they see an obstacle that’s made to be skated. I think kendama players share a similar view, in that we never see the world the same as non-players. We find beauty in a brick wall, we see a beautiful landscape and immediately think “what can I film here?”, we truly see the potential in scenery that I don’t think other people would even consider.
I first started playing kendama about a month before the first Minnesota Kendama Open, which is sort of funny considering that’s the only MKO that I missed. For whatever reason, I thought it was silly for people to actually gather to play with a toy like this.
I knew about kendama for a while before that, and I just always thought it looked dumb. It wasn’t until my good friend Kalvin gave me a seshed blue Sunrise and said “You just have to try it”, that I started playing. I remember him being so stoked that I landed a pull-up gunslinger to spike before actually doing a regular ol’ pull spike. Even then, I didn’t really take it seriously for a few months.
Back then, I thought the only brands were what was stocked in the local toy store, Air Traffic. They had Sweets, Sunrise, Ozoras, and Tributes. It took me joining the Facebook Kendama Community way back when there were only about 2.5k members to learn that there was a whole world behind this toy. I spent so much time studying the history of kendama, learning the different brands, discovering the different shapes, and getting to know some of the people who would later become some of my best friends.
I got sponsored by a now-deceased company, Klack, about a year into playing. From there, I moved to another company, with whom I still have a very tenuous relationship with the owner, CWCS. That’s a whole bag of drama that I’d rather not go into on this. While I was still sponsored by CWCS, I became the admin for that same Facebook group that helped educate me on the toy and helped grow it to over 12k members with the rest of the mod team. That’s something I still have mixed feelings about. Some days I feel proud of that, other days I have some regrets about not being more strict over who we let in the group. Again, a huge bag of drama that I’d rather not get too into on this.
Towards the end of my sponsorship with CWCS, I got a clothing sponsor, Dama On. That lead to me also getting sponsored by Evo and having a small run of kendamas made that I designed with the help of the owner, Kyle. Evo and Dama On split, causing the teams to also split. I stuck with Dama On for a while after that, but eventually left when I felt my time had run its course. I’m fairly certain that my actual sponsorship days are behind me now, and I’m super happy to have my own discount code with the home-state heroes, Sweets Kendamas.
When all is said and done, I feel accomplished in kendama. I’ve had the opportunity to travel the country many times in order to compete, judge, and just hang out with friends. Hell, my first time on an airplane was to go to a kendama event. It’s been an amazing ride so far, and I look forward to what the future in kendama will bring me.
The beautiful part about a story like mine is that it’s not unusual. There are thousands more stories that are similar to what I’ve found. People from all walks of life have found solace in kendama throughout the years, and what you put into the game, kendama gives back. It really is an experience that anyone can have if that’s what they truly want out of it.
I hope that in reading the brief summarization of my kendama career, somebody might find inspiration to put more effort into the community to make it a better place, jump to the next level, grind for a sponsorship, travel, meet new people, or just find something to help you become who you want to be, even if it’s not kendama.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and thank you to everyone who kendama has introduced me to for being a part of my life, and my kendama journey. I love you all.
How has kendama impacted your life? We are looking for impactful, meaningful stories from players of all walks of life who would like to share the life-changing experiences they've gained through kendama. Fill out our Submission Form HERE with your Kendama Story for a chance to be featured here on our blog!