All of the videos in this Top 50 are from our YouTube Channel, where you can find hours of Kendama education and content! Check out our Channel Page HERE, and be sure to subscribe and click the bell to be notified when we come out with a new video.
There’s so many tricks to learn these days, but aside from being categorized into different difficulty levels, there isn’t too much guidance on what tricks you “should” learn. While we feel that there is no wrong way to play kendama, there are a ton of tricks that can be learned at the beginning of your kendama journey that can build your foundations.
You can utilize this Top 50 list as a checklist, landing each trick in succession and moving on to the next, or you can use it as a source of inspiration. Maybe you've done several of these tricks before, but we're sure there's a few you might not have heard of!
A note from the Author:
“My list closely resembles the order in which I learned my first tricks, but I also did my best to create what I think is a gradual increase of difficulty as you progress. When I started playing kendama, one thing I really wanted to do was “flow”, or stringing tricks together into a combo, sequence, or routine.
With this list, I’ve tried to pave a path for new players to find flow, but also provide a vast range of tricks we often forget about. By the time you’ve mastered the first ten tricks on my list, you’ll have a solid foundation that can be seamlessly combined into cool cup-flow routines to impress your friends and get them hooked.” - Cody Booth
Tricks 1-10 - Traditional Style
This list starts off with Sara Grip tricks, as you might have noticed. I chose to do this because, as a player myself, I’ve always felt that the Sara Grip Cup Tricks are slightly easier to grasp as opposed to Ken Grip tricks in the very beginning. Not only that, but it’s also tip of the hat to kendama's historical roots. In Japan, kendama's birthplace, it’s much more common to see Sara Grip style play, whereas many western players will usually opt for Ken Grip.
Here, we’ll begin to transition towards learning these same tricks in Ken Grip. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Oh, so just the same thing over again?”, but just keep in mind that these tricks feel totally different in a brand new grip. You might find that you do Ken Grip Cup tricks really well, but have a hard time catching the Tama in Sara Grip. Finding out which grip is preferable is just one small part of every Kendama players’ journey.
Congratulations! Once you’ve mastered these tricks, you’ll be well on your way to looking like a true Kendama Master. The great thing is, once you learn these tricks, you’ll instantly be prepared to show your friends and family how to do it as well.
Tricks 11-20 - Combos!
Once you've learned how to do a couple tricks, it's only natural to want to string them together into a combination! Combos, or "lines", are integral to kendama play. Almost every trick is, at the very least, a combination of two or more single-tricks. However, there are also special names for certain combinations that have withstood the test of time and are used to represent specific combos. In kendama, these combos are known as "Arounds" and almost always include at least a single cup catch and a spike. Around the Block, catching the ball in each of the three cups, is generally one of the first Around Tricks that players achieve, and as they improve, then move onto more difficult consistency challenges to keep their skills sharpened.
We also capped off that section with Airplane, the first Tama trick in the list so far! Tama Grip tricks are a massive tipping point in getting new players more interested in Kendama, opening up the possibilities in their minds once they realize it’s possible. Beyond this, Airplane is a very tough trick to pull off if you don’t understand how it works. If you have put in the practice and the time to achieve it, you will have a blast with Kendama forever.
Tricks 21-30 - Getting Creative
Even if you don’t do every trick in the list, it’s extremely helpful to your growth to, at the very least, know about the possibilities. Anything can give you a really great idea!
Tricks 31-40 - Consistency
What did we say about consistency? Around USA, for example, is a staple consistency trick for kendama players and is a true challenge for your proficiency in cupping and spiking.
Tricks 41-50 - Stalls!
Capping off the list with the Kickflip of Kendama, Whirlwind has become one of the most popular tricks overall, and every player should learn how to do it!
If you’ve made it all the way to the bottom, Kengratulations!
As many tricks as we’ve just discussed, there’s still so much out there to learn. Make sure to check out our YouTube Playlists for more Tutorials. We’re always making more, so be sure to subscribe and click the bell to be notified when we upload new videos!
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