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Teens invest time in Japanese trick game

Children and teens gather Saturday to show their skills


Two Sandy teens have started a tournament for their favorite hobby: the japanese kendama.

Tanner Redmond, 17, and Cody Hill, 18, both kendama enthusiasts, recently saw a need for a kendama competition locally.

Hill said the nearest tournament is in Seattle, so he and Redmond decided to create their own.

Both Redmond and Hill became interested in kendama their freshman year, when a friend took up the hobby.

“He could do the easiest trick and we thought it was the coolest thing,” Redmond said. “Looking back now, it was pretty lame.”

A kendama is a Japanese toy that is a variation on a ball and cup game. Traditionally it is made of wood, but other varieties can be made of bamboo, metals — such as aluminum, which Hill denounces as potentially painful — and plastic.

A kendama is made up of a big cup, small cup, spike and base cup connected by joints, a handle and a ball attached with string. Various tricks can be done with the kendama from simply rotating the ball from the cups and the spikes to tossing and spinning the kendama in the air.

Redmond said that when he, Hill and the rest of their classmates made the transition from the Pioneer Building to the new Sandy High School, kendama was no longer allowed. He said the reasoning was that it was deemed potentially dangerous and distracting.

After neglecting the hobby for a while, Redmond and Hill continued with other interests, such as returning to skate parks to do scooter tricks. While recovering from injuries nearly 4 months ago, both Redmond and Hill returned to an activity with less risk: kendama.

Redmond said they also took up the similar hobby of yo-yoing and haven’t touched their scooters in a while.

Redmond and Hill’s Kendama Bash took place on Saturday, July 26, outside the Oregon Trail School District Pioneer Building.

In talking to some well-known kendama making companies, Redmond lined up sponsors to donate prizes for the competition. At the competition, Redmond and Hill gave out multiple kendamas.

The competition was based on ladders, registered participants were divided into beginner, intermediate and advanced groups.

Each group was assigned to practice 10 tricks in according difficulties.

At the competition, five tricks from beginner and seven tricks were randomly selected. Competitors were then timed to see which could get the closest to performing all the assigned tricks within the time frame.

Advanced participants were responsibly for all 10 assigned tricks.

Due to a large amount of donated prizes, other fun events were held including a kendama hunt and consistency and blindfolded events.

“We had so many prizes, we had to come up with things to do to give them away,” Hill said.

Redmond and Hill said they were excited to get so many beginner entries and kids that were new to kendama so they could teach them some tricks.

Their youngest beginner entry was 6 years old.

Hill said they encouraged parents to bring their children to the event.

Hill’s parents said that the hobby is better than video games and can help develop hand-eye coordination.