Johnny Kress

Age, what year were you born?

I am 15 and I was born in 2004. Describe where you grew up  I was born and raised in Kahuku on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. Kahuku is on the north shore of Oahu and is the country side of Oahu. 

Where are you currently living?


I currently still live in Kahuku. 


Camp kendama 2018 first place/Kwc 2017 24th place/Kwc 2019 13th place/Battle at the Border 2017 4th place/Tacoma takeover freestyle 2019 2nd place/Jka festa speed ladder 2019 4th place 

When were you first introduced to kendama?


Kendama blew up at my elementary school and all over Hawai’i. It was in late 2013 and I remember I got a kendama at longs drugs and I played with it for probably 4 hours straight. 

How were you introduced to Sweets? 

I saw people around my school with sweets Kendamas and then I saw some of my favorite players were on Sweets Kendamas team. My mom helped me buy some of their kendamas wholesale to sell at my school and to kendama players all around Hawaii and when many sweets players came to Hawaii I got a chance to talk to them. 

What is it like playing kendama in Hawaii?

It is very hot. All my tama’s are very sticky. Playing kendama in Hawaii isn’t the best because we don’t have that many players and people who don’t play look down on it. The players are all really good here. No one is bad everyone is at least an open competitor so it’s fun being able to practice with everyone. 

What players did you look up to / inspired you at the beginning and now. 

All the pros inspired me in the beginning but some of the ones I remember were Willy P, Keith matsumura, Nui Wong, Brandon Meyer, and Matt sweets. These guys were the Nick and Zack Gallagher of 2013. 

Who are currently your favorite players?

My favorite players not in order would be Zack Gallagher, Nick Gallagher, Tomoki Ninomiya, Kengo Kawamura, So Kanada, Kevin Tran and the whole Seattle squad, Bryson Lee, Kelvin wong, Nobu Nori, Rui, Nonoka Kyodo, and so many more. These guys are all very skilled and great to hangout with. It’s crazy to see how many great friends I’ve made from kendama. 

Favorite competition?

I would say Kendama World Cup because I’ve done best out of all my competitions there and Japan is actually closer to me than events like NAKO and Battle at The Border.  Whats your favorite style of play? Casual, the grind for a banger, freestyle, competition? I think competition is the best because it really shows who the top players are. To me it doesn’t matter what you have on film unless you can do it on stage. 

What trick was the most satisfying grind? / took the longest to lace and film

Pull up late 123 kenflip to spike was the longest trick I filmed for. I filmed for an hour each day for maybe a week straight. It felt so good to finally get it after that long grind. 

Favorite edits?

It’s biased but I love my Sweets Kendamas announcement edit.  Favorite wood setup? Maple ken and beech tama. 

Cushion or sticky clear?

Cushion clear all day. I think cushion will probably be the best paint ever.

How many kendamas do you own?

I honestly have no idea. I would say maybe 300 if I kept all of them. 

What has been your favorite kendama trip?

Kendama World Cup 2019 was my favorite trip because I was the most proud of myself for how I placed at that event compared to all the other events I went to. That was also the trip I was asked to be on the SweetsKendamas team. I will never forget it. 

Bad habits?

I’m lazy because my body is always recovering. 

Where do you want to go with kendama?

Like places Japan was my goal in the beginning and I got to go there so I’m satisfied. If I had to choose some other places they would be Pennsylvania, Arizona, Europe, Africa, Australia, and other places in Asia like maybe India. 

What are some of your other passions besides kendama?

I love playing football and being a fan of the 6 time SuperBowl champions Pittsburgh Steelers. Jumping off stuff into water is really fun, my friends and I do it all the time. I’m a huge fan of spider from School of Rock. I am also very passionate about weight lifting and being active.