What's up with the knees?


No Kendama player myself, but I watch a few videos here and there. So why does everyone bounce when they do tricks? It might help for beginners, but I see pros doing it too. So does bending your knees help or is it there just for style?

(YoYoStringLab) #2

Less eye tracking?

You can absorb more of the impact than with the arm alone.


You get more time to do tricks and it helps keep rhythm and focus; for me, anyways.


It helps keeping the dama ‘dead’ when throwing. It also helps with control. It depends on the trick. Most people don’t bother with the knees for simple stuff like earth turns, for example.

I’ve been playing for a while now and I feel like I’ll never truly be good. I can land basic tricks, spike, earth turn… But I’ve never once been able to land a birdie, or any trick where you hold the dama instead of the ken.

Maybe I’m expecting it to happen too fast, but after a month practicing for 3-4 hours a day I feel like I’ve already plateaud.


Bending the knees does some helpful things.
IMO, in areas of timing, height and balance.

Timing: Bending your knees further makes a difference when you go for 1-turn j-stick vs a 2-turn j-stick. Also gives ample time to eye up the tip if you rotate the ken slowly. Keeps the ken/tama at eye level (or near eye-level) at all times.
Height: If you want to do stuff like 3-turn lunar flips or 4/5-turn j-sticks, making the ken turn faster alone is not enough. Bending the knees helps to add more height to some tricks.
Balance: Bending the knees acts as a sort of cushion when you land balance tricks like lighthouse/bird/lunar. Some tricks have complicated, fast moving tricks and then suddenly have a bird (for example) stuck in the middle. The knees also help slow down or speed up the tempo of a trick.



Knees helps because it gives you more time and softer landing. If you are trying to do a juggle to spike, you will have much more time to track the hole if you are utilizing the vertical hang time from the up and down motion of your knees.

You will also see that for some tricks kendama players use almost no knees. In some cases, stilts for instance, using too much knees on the landing can allow the dama more time to slip off from your movement. While doing a stilt flip, you really want the ken to land on the tama and “stick” directly upon landing.

Hope this helps.

Matt Ballard, KROM Kendama Pro


I did not expect to see Matt himself on the forums!
Big fan of the KROM mahoganies and jumbos!


I’ve always thought of it kind of like an egg toss. You know how when you catch the egg, you kind of pull your hands back to cushion the landing? Pretty much the same idea. You’re cushioning the landing so the tama or ken doesn’t just hit against it with less of a chance of actually staying there.

But that’s coming from a yoyoer, not as much of a kendama player. Just listen to Matt. ;D