AKO was fire!

It was a small dream come true. We did it! We completed our first official kendama event! AKO was such an amazing experience for not only us, but we believe for the Australian kendama community too.

Plenty of things were learnt throughout the whole process and we are so excited for what the future holds for us!

This year, AKO consisted of 3 playing divisions. Beginner, Intermediate and Open division.

Each division had respective prize values for the winner. Beginner being a prize value of up to $150, Intermediate with a prize value of up to $250 and Opens with a prize value of up to $500.

May we just say now, thank you all to our prize and monetary sponsors. Without our sponsors, we would not have been able to hold an event of this quality. Prizes do make great incentives to come along and give it a crack and we are so happy to have seen the increased turnout. It was incredible to see how opens division gave the courage to our beginners to play against advanced players and gain invaluable experience. You never know how good you can be, until you see it with your own eyes. In a way, we were all mentoring each other.

To give a rundown about our event:

The duration of the entire event was 4 hours.

Beginner division operated under a speed ladder.

Intermediate division operated under a speed ladder.

Opens division (All participants – beginner and intermediate) operated under a Game of Ken qualifier in which all players had to battle each other in 5-minute rounds. Once the round ended, the pair would report to a facilitator, who would tally the winners’ points. If the pair were still playing after 5 minutes, there would be a sudden death round where Rock, Paper, Scissors was played. The player who wins would set the trick in one attempt and the opponent would have to match. Once the points were tallied, the 2 high scorers would battle in a full Game of KENDAMA for the AKO Champion title.

To make the event as balanced as possible to all players, we varied the point system for beginner and intermediate. Beating a beginner would gain 1 point, beating an intermediate would gain 3 points. This enabled the beginners, if they caught out an intermediate player, to gain more points; and inhibiting an intermediate player to plough through a tonne of beginners. Another way to balance out the matches was to enable each player to battle each competitor at least once. This enabled a varied quality of play while keeping the points relatively stable. What we found is that once we announced a few more rounds left before the point tally, competitors were getting a bit more selective with their opponent choices. However towards the end, the points system actually was quite balanced with 3 strong competitors being very close in points.

In between divisions and to have a little bit of lighthearted fun, we had a few mini games that granted prizes. We had a game of lighthouse tag, consistency challenge, spike-off and even a 1-minute player highlight in which each player had the opportunity to stand up in front of the entire group and show off their skills! It was a really fun and empowering experience for everyone involved.

Throughout the whole experience everyone was so supportive of each other and we are so happy to see it! After each round or even after landing a good trick, we saw players giving out high fives and hugs. It was the dream!

Here’s a photo of the flyer that we gave everyone at registration outlining the structure of the day. A little bit of structure goes a long way to keep the event on task and it definitely paid off!


Back to the Opens, once the points were tallied up, our top 2 scorers were Albert and Steven with Harley being 1 point short of qualifying! You were so close bud!

A commendable performance to all 3 of these players. Both Albert and Steven had flown up from Sydney to attend! All 3 top competitors had shown incredible experience and skill that was evident in their beautiful kendama control and flow. It was like art watching these guys play!
Congratulations to Michael, who took the beginners division!
A huge congratulations to Albert whom took both Intermediate and Opens division! Definitely the man of the match! Our hats go off to Albert also as he was generous in giving away some of his prizes. What a great guy and ambassador for kendama in Australia.

There were plenty of things happening behind the scenes to make this event what it was, a few headaches, some discouraging moments and printing mishaps (our banner was lost in transit!!!) but for how the event turned out, we are just grateful that we were able to bring together a bunch of likeminded people whom love kendama just as much as we do, and really, this is why we did this. Because we know how important kendama has become in our lives, how it affects the mind, the body and spirit. We just want to share that with the world.

A huge shoutout to Rolf from KROM who was our partner in this event; Luke from Lulu and the Gnome who massively contributed to the success of the event; Rainer as part of Sweets and Cody and Matt for the awesome swag hookup; Jack for his beautiful craft; and Alissa from Kendama USA for their international support. But most importantly, thank you to everyone who came to the event for without you guys and girls, it wouldn’t have been such a great experience. We played a lot of dama that day, we learned a lot and we also made some really great friends.

Thank you all so much! We hope you continue to believe in us and our cause and we plan to make next year the biggest kendama event ever 

Goals: International players attend, dedicated event location i.e. like NAKO, increased prize value, more brand recognition with international kendama companies, 50+ player attendance.

We can do it! With your support, we know we can do it!

If you are interested in supporting/contributing to AKO 2020, please send your inquiries to: gideon@ggcollective.co

Once again, thank you thank you thank you!

Much dama love.