Over the years there have been a number of questions and comments regarding the JKA which reflect a lack of information or understanding about a given topic. This situation is unfortunate and we take full responsibility for not having provided clear information in the past. With the update to our website and some assistance from bilingual friends of the JKA we trust that we will be able to more effectively communicate with non-Japanese.
To this end we have assembled some questions that have come up now and again. Have a look below and see if perhaps we’ve covered a topic in which you are interested. If you have other questions about the JKA please feel free to contact us. If we receive a number of the same questions we will add them to this page in the future.
Why does the JKA seem so "old school" and strict. (competition, rules, kendama types)?
The JKA was founded specifically to create a sport out of kendama. To be considered a sport there need to be rules so that there are clear ideas of how to compete, judge, and test. With a history going back to 1975 the JKA has had many years to develop, revise, and implement various rules in order to create a structure for kendama as a sport.
Since much of its structure is based on Japanese martial arts and Japanese culture it is formatted in a way that parallels many common themes from both areas. If one were to watch a judo match or a kendama competition commonalities between the two could be seen.
As for the physical kendama themselves, all sports have regulated/official sporting equipment. The idea is to have a similar baseline so all competitors are on the same footing. The skill of the player is paramount not the equipment. Here are some examples of other sports and equipment regulated within them: baseball – bats, balls; golf – clubs, balls; tennis – rackets, balls; etc.
Why are the JKA's actions hard to understand?
The simplest answer is that for the most part the JKA has focused on Japan and to Japanese their actions are normal. They also have not had access to many bilingual volunteers who could help communicate with the world kendama community. Additionally, as with most official organizations or companies, they tend to keep internal operations private.
Why doesn't the JKA do more to promote kendama internationally?
The JKA is a certified Public Interest Incorporated Corporation (Kōeki Shadanhōjin – 公益社団法人) and operates as a non-profit. Under its current legally binding agreements they are restricted from certain activities outside of Japan. However, there is currently an exploratory group investigating the possibility of being more active internationally.
Does the JKA believe that there should be no other "official" kendama group or that their way is the "only" way?
No, the JKA does not believe that there shouldn’t be other kendama groups or that the JKA’s methods are the only way to promote, play, and enjoy kendama.
Has the JKA officially denounced other kendama groups or kendama testing programs?
No, the JKA has never officially denounced or condemned other kendama groups or testing programs. There may be members who have personal opinions differing from the official stance but those opinions belong to the individual member and do not represent the JKA as a whole.
The following is an example where some misunderstandings have occurred. This is the from the official JKA newsletter. We have provided both a scan of the original newsletter and the text within the red box to facilitate better understanding. Feel free to show to a Japanese or insert the text into an online translator to check the meaning for yourself.
JKA newsletter #231 12/20/2018
Here is a translation of it:
Regarding the kendama test (kendama kentei) created by GLOKEN
We have received various questions regarding the kendama certification started by the General Incorporated Association Global Kendama Network (hereinafter referred to as “GLOKEN”) from December 1st.
The Association (JKA) created certified and accredited testing for Kyu and Dan from its establishment. We function as a public service with certified instructors giving Kyu and Dan tests both in Japan and overseas.
The above-mentioned kendama test (kendama kentei) by GLOKEN is a project completely unrelated to the ranks and certifications conducted by our association.
Please be aware of the differences between these two systems so there will be no confusion regarding the accreditation, tests, or ranks.
Does the JKA prohibit members from participating with other kendama groups?
No, in fact the JKA wants its members to connect with as many people and groups as possible to help promote kendama. Again if there are members with differing views then those views are those of only the individual.
Does the JKA support other kendama groups?
Yes, the JKA supports individuals and groups throughout the year and has done so for decades. Some of the more recent events supported were 2018 Catch & Flow, 2019 Austrian Kendama Open, 2019 Dutch Open, 2019 NAKO . . . .
They have also supported programs in Hong Kong, Mongolia, Philippines, Taiwan, U.S.A., Vietnam and other countries.