Kendama may appear easy, but you are likely to find that it is actually quite difficult once you try to play. A superb sense of balance is necessary, and it isn't just the hands that matter. The player must also use the rest of the body skillfully, especially the knees.
The way the kendama is held is called the grip. Let's examine the five basic grips.
To perform the "ozara (big cup) grip," use your thumb and index finger to hold the stick with the point directed downward and the middle cup facing up. Keep your middle and ring fingers on the small cup. For the "point grip," you hold the stick so that the medium cup is at the bottom and the point is at the top. The "rosoku (candle) grip" involves holding the stick with the point facing down and the small cup facing you. To perform the "tama (ball) grip," hold the ball with the hole facing upwards. For the "secret grip," you hold the big cup and small cup with your fingers, with the stick parallel to the ground.
While there are many other grips, players should master these five basic ones first.
ozara (big cup) grip
rosoku (candle) grip
tama (ball) grip
(Photo assistance: Maruishi Teruki, a member of the board of directors of the Japan Kendama Association)