The Japan Kendama Association was founded by the children's book author Issei Fujiwara in May 1975. His goal was to standardise the various different forms of Kendama competitions and to catalogue the increasing number of tricks.
Therefore he defined a uniform set of rules which deals with the requirements, execution and judgment-criterea for competitions. In cooperation with a few Japanese manufacturers he, until today, has official Kendama made which are lisenced by the JKA.
Besides standardised rules for competitions he created a graduation-system to classify for "Kyû" (stundents ranks) and "Dan" (master ranks); one of the reasons for that was to enable players of the same skill level to mess with each other. The requirements for passing graduations in the "Kyû-Dan System" were also determined and by passing tests a player can climb up one rank after the other.
In 2002 the JKA got registered as an Non-Profit-Organisation (NPO) and since then works as an umbrella association for local Kendama groups in Japan. The JKA hosts the annual Japanese Kendama Masterships and plans the first international Kendama Meeting in Japan 2009. Furthermore it supports in collaboration with the Japanese "Ministry for Education, Sports and Culture" the use of Kendama in primary and secondary schools and publishes books on Kendama.
The 5 main goals of the Japan Kendama Association
1. The tradition of the Kendama's history and the perservation of the Kendama as a part of Japanese culture.
2. The further development of the art of playing Kendama as well as its promotion as a sport and freetime occupation.
3. The cooperation to advance the usage of the Kendama for educational purposes in schools and clubs.
4. The advancement of the Kendama as a health-promoting sport, which can be practised throughout one's whole lifetime.
5. Promoting the Kendama globally to contribute to international understanding.
The JKA's graduation system
The graduation system has 10 stundent levels, the so called Kyû, followed by 10 mastergrades called Dan.
After mastering all tests from the 10th Kyû up to the 1st Kyû, the Dan-exams follow.
While the Kyû are easy to archive and often are accomplished while being a youth, the Dan grades represent much more of a challange. The 1st Dan can be seen as an entrance which certifies the knowledge of the fundamentals and the real learning of the art of playing Kendama starts from here. Usually the next Dan-exam can only be tried for the first time after having practised for the same number of years as the current Dan, meaning:
The 2nd Dan can only be tried after 1 year of practising, the 3rd Dan 2 years after archiving the 2nd Dan, thr 4th Dan after 3 years of having the 3rd Dan and so on...
Due to the long practicing-time and the increasing difficulty there are only a few players who have reached a high Dan. Mr Takum (Youtube Video:jugglertakumi) , for example, currently has the 6th Dan.
The table below shows the tricks which are needed to archive all the Kyû and the 1st Dan.
In addition, starting from the 6th Kyû the player also has to master Moshikame.
Moshikame has to be executed:
4-times for the 6th Kyû
10-times for the 5th Kyû
20-times for the 4th Kyû
30-times for the 3rd Kyû
40-times for the 2nd Kyû
50-times for the 1st Kyû
For the 1st Dan the following requirements apply:
When executing the tricks for graduational tests the following rules apply:
-all tricks start with the ball or the sword hanging down
-all tricks have to be executed without using the other hand or any auxiliaries, the Kendama must not touch the player's body nor clothes
-at combinations of tricks correcting the position of ball or string by using the second hand is not allowed
-a player has 10 tries to execute a trick for as many times as is indicated in the table; for Moshikame a player only has 2 tries starting from the 1.Kyû to archive the indicated number of repetitions
-a trick counts as passed if it can be maintained, without any movement, in the end-postition for a minimum of 3 seconds
-Moshikame is usually executed with a speed of 135 repetitions per minute or more.Starting from the 1st Dan this speed is mandatory.