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If you pull up YouTube and search the word “kendama”, you’ll find a seemingly endless amount of stuff to watch! Every day, new videos are being released by kendama enthusiasts all over the world. Looking back over more than a decade and seeing so much content to sift through, we can think of so many projects that stick out as important in their own ways.
We recommend that you pick a free evening, grab some popcorn, and binge-watch this notable list of ten of our favorite kendama videos!
Starting off strong, Herding Cats is sure to make older kendama players feel nostalgic just from the mention and was an instant classic upon its release in October 2014. The edit contains a variety of tricks that still hold up to today’s standards, and coupled with incredible scenic shots throughout, all the pieces come together in a beautiful way. It’s still worth a watch, even 8 years later.
Posted in October 2011 was a culmination of efforts by the Wenatchee Kendama Team after months of hard work, hours of filming, and a ton of time editing. The goal was to put together the first “kendama movie” and they succeeded in their efforts; the video is full of clips from their entire squad at a total run time of ~30 minutes, something that was unheard of at the time.
An honorable mention goes to the sequel project that the team created following this video, titled "Where We Are", which has an even longer run-time of ~42 minutes and follows their team as they travel and play together.
Colin Sander is considered by some OG kendama heads to be “The Godfather of North American Kendama”. He earned this title based on the impact that his Edit #7 had on the growth in interest for kendama in the United States immediately following its release in October 2009.
This video might just be the first video of kendama that your favorite player ever saw! Due to Colin’s attention to detail when cutting and editing the video, it still holds up today as an incredible video in terms of its production value.
The Flownamic Duo was a video series created by two of the best flow kendama players of all time, Kendama USA’s Kenyatta Williams and Dave Mateo. The two made collaborative edits, filming each other at times, but their videos always spotlighted the importance of friends and playing together. The guys would come up with lines/combos that flow and transition between one another, always finishing the performance with a stylish spike.
The world suffered an incredible loss when Dave passed in 2019, but his impact on kendama is immeasurable, inspiring an entire generation of kendama players with his signature blend of dance, movement, and play. The videos that he and Kenyatta made are irreplaceable, if they were cooks, they’d be 3-Star Michelin quality; their edits are worth taking the time to enjoy as soon as possible!
Another gateway video for many to kendama, this video features a gentleman performing kendama tricks on a slightly oversized kendama for some friends at a Sportster meetup in Japan. He’s clearly very good and knows how to play, only missing a trick maybe once or twice during the whole performance. Lots of American players got their first taste of what kendama was from this video, but still don’t know who the mystery man is. The time it takes to look him up and find out more about him confirms how much of a kendama champion he truly is.
The player’s name is Takahiro Maeda. If you visit the Japan Kendama Association’s Official Tournament Record Collection, you’ll find that his name pops up more than a few times. He’s an “All Japan Triple Crown of the Year” recipient in 1994 and a winner of three JKA Cup competitions in a single calendar year. You can see his old-school experience in his traditional style of play and how he doesn’t necessarily finish on the spike after every trick, which is a difference in a style more associated with kendama traditional roots.
The video is an incredibly fun watch; Takahiro is honed as well as entertaining!
Originally premiering during the North American Kendama Open in 2019, Fringecase is a concept work by pro player for Grain Theory, Ben Herald. Many months went into the project with Ben grinding out some of the craziest tricks the world had never seen before. Its release caused a ripple across the community, expanded everyone's ideas to the limits of what was possible, and arguably kickstarted an entirely new style/way of playing kendama.
The original video is a cinematic experience, but Ben also released an alternate version of the edit, including clearer shots with slow-motion in order to show the mechanics of his tricks. Both videos are worth watching, rewatching once you recover from the first time, and then watching a third time with notebook and pen in hand. There’s so much to be learned within, no matter how many times we revisit it.
The video is beautifully shot and perfectly shows Iji’s passion for kendama and his signature style of play, blending a mix of dance and play harmoniously into explosive routines. Matt did an amazing job of capturing Iji’s experience and relating it to us in a timeless fashion.
We always document our trips to Japan, when our team attends the Kendama World Cup, and the 2016 edition is always one of our favorites! A lengthy 46 minutes long, the video is a perfect blend between an edit, a documentary, and a vlog following our team across the entire trip.
If you need a taste of what a kendama trip to Japan looks like, you don’t need to go any further!
Mentioning events, “The Golden Yank” is a competition moment that will live rent-free in our minds forever. During the Minnesota Kendama Open in 2016, now renamed the North American Kendama Open, we held a Yank Spike contest, the winner being the player who landed the most of them. Upon receiving his trophy for winning, Zach Magnuson, now a pro player for Kendama USA, removes a kendama that was a part of the trophy.
Immediately on request and on the very first try, he lands another Yank Spike, sending everyone on stage and in the crowd to go ballistic. Like it’s said at the very end of the clip, it was truly the most appropriate yank spike of all time and we’re still scratching our heads on how he pulled it off.
Last, but certainly not least, we’d recommend one of Jake Wiens’ early videos that document the origins of his Instagram handle (@thekengarden), the First Kengarden Battle. Jake started the Kengarden Battles to get his friends to play kendama, but also as a way to have fun and have a social gathering around something he loves.
The video is a time capsule of fun, perfectly encapsulating the good vibes that get us all excited about bringing a kendama to the party. This first video is just the first in a group of many that Jake put out while living in California, but all of them speak to what kendama is really meant for; enjoying it with your friends!
We hope you enjoy these videos as much as we have throughout the years and that they inspire you to make some videos of your own. Did we name any of your favorites? Did we show you a few that you hadn't seen before?
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