With every passing day, a wooden Japanese toy is finding it's way into the hands of another student. In a very short time, the Kendama has been picked up, learned and passed on by numerous students.
April 4, 2017
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The bell signaling the end of second block rings throughout the school, for some it simply marks the start of advisory, for others it signals time to enhance their skills in Kendama and yo-yoing.
Found in various classrooms throughout school, Biddeford High School junior Aaron Dutremble perfects tricks and creates new combos using his Kendama and yo-yo. A Kendama is a traditional Japanese toy that features a ball attached to a wooden handle with a wooden spike coming off of it and various cups to catch the ball in.
“I got into yo-yoing when I was in sixth grade,” Said Dutremble. “I saw a video of it on Youtube. I had a crappy yo-yo in my basement and I just started playing with it.”
After the first taste of yo-yoing, Dutremble was quickly hooked and it took off from there. Eventually, after using the plastic yo-yo in the basement for a while, Dutremble found that it was time for an upgrade-an expensive one.
“Good yo-yos go for like $150-$200,” said Dutremble. “Cheap yo-yos are made of plastic and usually only have a piece of metal in the middle. An expensive yo-yo is stainless steel and it has well oiled bearings in the middle so it spins much faster and cleaner”
After purchasing a higher-level yo-yo on Amazon, Dutremble began to practice more advanced tricks. After a while, his proficiency began to rise.
“The yo-yo took me a while,” said Dutremble. “To get to the point that I’m at now, it took me like two years.”
Through constant practice, countless slip-ups and accidents have occurred for Dutremble. One if his mistakes was caught on film and even became famous.
“I hit myself in the face with a yo-yo and it went viral,” said Dutremble. “I was on Twitter, Vine and I made it on “Americas Funniest Home Videos”. It was cool to see myself on national television. No one knows who I am, but it was still cool to be on TV because of an accident.”
However, after honing his yo-yo skills, Dutremble soon found a new challenge and object to use: The Kendama.
“About half a year ago I bought a Kendama when I was on vacation,” said Dutremble. “I’ve been playing ever since.”
For Dutremble, the Kendama poses a new challenge of learning new tricks and combos. Like the yo-yo, learning and inspiration for tricks came off of the world-wide web.
“I learned the basic tricks mainly from Youtube and the internet,” said Dutremble. “Then once I learned those I just kind of progressed with making up and learning my own tricks.”
After seeing the Kendama in action, others began to purchase and sharpen their skills with the Japanese toy. Dutremble got some of his friends into the Kendama as well. Thus creating a new fad.
“There’s probably like four other people that I play with,” said Dutremble. “My buddy Cole [Fournier] has been using a Kendama for a bit.”
Fournier, a senior at Biddeford High School, has gotten better with the Kendama already and plans to continue advancing his skills.
“I’ve been using a Kendama for like two months now,” said Fournier. “I’ve gotten better recently, but it’s starting to pick up now. Like once you learn the basics it kind of all comes together.”
Before one can get a strong grasp of the kendama, there are simple tricks to start learning with. Out of all the possibilities of tricks on the kendama, Dutremble considers one to be the easiest.
“The big cup is probably the easiest trick out there,” said Dutremble. “You just pop the ball up and catch it in the big cup. That’s what mostly everyone starts out with.”
The satisfaction of mastering a trick, however, doesn’t last very long. For Dutremble, there are always new tricks and sequences to master.
“I’m still progressing quite a bit,” said Dutremble. “It’s all about putting different tricks together. The tricks you already know-you have to one-up them, make them harder and put them with other tricks.”
These harder tricks aren’t always impossible moves that take years to learn. In Dutremble’s eyes, even the simplest of tricks can be turned into an extravagant performance.
“I’d say there isn’t a hardest trick out there,” said Dutremble. “It depends on what tricks you’re putting together. A bunch of easy tricks can make a hard trick so it all depends on what you consider a hard trick.”
This pursuit of mastering the Kendama and yo-yos has only just begun for Dutremble. With unlimited possibilities and imagination, these toys can be used long after one’s prime.
“It’s like golf,” said Dutremble. “You don’t need to be physically fit for it. So when you’re old you can do it as long as you want.”