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British Kendama Association

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British Kendama Championships 2008

Back row, L-R: Mark H; Harry S; Rich P; Ken C; Ian S; Malcolm ; Jon ; Louis B; Kenichi Kinukawa (Head Judge);
Luke W; Ben M; Lawrence; Rob T; Mark T; Pola B. Front row, L-R: Guy H; Matt P; Robin G; Void; Tom D; Andy D.

The first ever British Kendama Championships took place at the British Juggling Convention on 29th March 2008, and were a resounding success. Only the day before we had confirmation that a very special guest was able to attend as our head judge. Mr Kenichi Kinukawa from the Japanese embassy in London came to the contest, along with his wife and 10 year-old son, who showed us all how Moshi kame should really be done!

Proceedings started with a short freestyle jam session to generally show off a few tricks and get things going. Mr Kinukawa gave a short talk about kendama in Japan, and its history, but was unfortunately unable to demonstrate some tricks for us, due to a recent knee injury. That task fell to TeamKD members, and then it was on to the main business at hand. 21 competitors entered the main competition, and they came up in threes to attempt to run through the beginners section of the tricklist.

kinukawa family


There was a short break between the beginners and advanced sections, during which Louis completed his qualifying runs for the Speed Trick Challenge (he had been unable to do so due to a marathon charity diabolo session the day before), recording the fastest time of the competition so far. Not bad at all in a high pressure situation, onstage!

Nine players had managed to complete the first ten tricks on the list, so 3 more trios came back as nerves got just a little tenser onstage. There was a strong showing from TeamKD members, with an especially heroic attempt at Toudai by Guy - it must have been held for at least 30 seconds, but never quite still for the required 3. Guy did go on further however, only falling at the Earth Turn fence, along with Robin Gunney. When The Void was up last, he managed to get that far too, and when he got Earth Turn first attempt, Robin, as commentator said "I think we all know what that means!". Indeed, Void managed to go on and complete the entire 20 tricks on the list, to get himself crowned British Kendama Champion 2008. Harry from Southampton took the under-16 Junior British Champion title, only just missing out on a top ten place.

Next came the finals of the Speed Trick Challenge. 16 players had entered, and the top 4 seeds made it through to the semi final stage. They were:
1. Louis 37.7s ; 2. Andy D. 43.3s ; 3. Mark H. 44.1s ; 4. Rich P. 49.8s
Mark faced Andy in the first semi final, and just pipped him to a place in the final. Top seed Louis squared up against Rich in the second semi final, only to see the dreaded Hikouki visit nightmares upon them both. Rich conquered the demons first though, to set up an all-Bristol final between himself and Mark. Both rose to the occasion, but Mark just beat Rich to the post, recording a new record time of 36.6 seconds! Congratulations Mark!

There was time for one last bit of action before the prize presentation, as there was a tie for 8th place, so a Moshi kame duel was held between Luke B and Jon. Unfortunately, Luke had had to leave early, so his place was taken by Pola - who had never played with a kendama before! She put up a great fight, but Jon scored 80 catches within the minute, to win 8th place. Pola had the consolation of being awarded a brand new kendama for her efforts, from Mr Kinukawa, who presented all the prizes kindly donated by the JKA and the BKA.


Things were wrapped up with photographs, smiles, and much talk of "next year"....

We would like to thank the BKA & the JKA for donating prizes, Mr Kinukawa and family for joining us and making the day that little bit more special, Fak, Guy, Tom & Wes for videoing, Luke, Luke & Rob for being great sports as surprise (to them) guest commentators, everyone who entered the competition, and everyone who came to watch.

Watch a video of all the BJC kendama shenanigans here. Read the full results here.