Gareth Davies, a.k.a. KenDogma
Gareth has returned to the U.K.
I first came across Kendama in London 2014 when I noticed this strange little object on my flatmate’s shelf. He picked it up and explained to me that it was a Japanese game called ‘Kendama’ which was claimed to improve concentration and hand-eye co-ordination. He did a little demo and immediately hit a ‘spike’. I remember being shocked at how easy he made the trick seem. From then Kendama always seemed to be around. Whether I was working or it was the weekend, I would pick it up and spend a few minutes by force of habit practicing tricks. I came to realise that Kendama was the ultimate distraction game!
Shortly after my escapades with my flatmate’s yellow SunRise, I bought myself a red TK-16 master (still one of my favourites), and began to progress much faster. Our light-hearted Kendama exploits became somewhat more competitive, and we began racing to see who could master tricks the fastest. We pushed each other on through a number of the beginner tricks, finding ourselves frustrated and compelled by Kendama at the same time.
Feelings of frustration and addiction endure to this day, but so does a sense of achievement and creativity. The simplicity of Kendama makes it an ideal activity for switching off from technology, or taking time to clear your mind and think about things.
The endless combinations of tricks and possibilities makes it timeless for me.
I recently moved from London to Dublin where I am currently studying toward an M.Phil at Trinity College Dublin. I attend Kendama meet-ups in Ireland with Raul Portales on a weekly basis and I recently participated in the first Irish Kendama Open, where I won first place in the Beginner category.
Since I began playing in 2014 I have been surprised by the ‘unspoken affinity’ between Kendama players, even across borders. There is a great sense of community around Kendama – an activity I previously thought of as rather solitary! This year I am hoping to continue with gradings, attending more events and competitions such as the BKO, and expanding Kendama in Ireland and beyond!