A 36-year-old Delmar resident will attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the fastest time to complete five kendama spikes on Saturday, Feb. 29 at the Bethlehem Public Library’s community room.
A kendama is a traditional Japanese skill toy, comprising of a handle, two cups, and a ball that is connected by a string. Spiking a kendama is when an individual maneuvers the hole in the ball onto the spike on top of the kendama with just one hand. While it provides entertainment, it helps an individual develop their hand-eye coordination, balance and reflex skills.
Joseph Carusone, a local husband and father, said he became inspired to set the record because growing up, he remembered how many people were fascinated by the Guinness World Record books. He said, “You’d see all the pictures, events and records in that book and I was one of those kids who always wanted to be in the book.”
That desire, as well as inspiration from his father, caused him to first develop an interest in juggling in his teen years. “My father juggled and he taught himself,” he said. “I used to watch him juggle in bed at night for half an hour and I thought that was amazing and I wanted to learn. He taught me and I went wild and learned many tricks. I was about 12 or 13 then.”
This led him to juggle at several local events in the late 1990s, including the Albany Tulip Festival, Albany First Night and Albany Firebird Block Party. But as he grew older, his love for juggling somewhat subsided and after college, he pursued acting in New York City for a few years before moving back to Delmar in 2011.
Carusone’s recent passion for the kendama then grew from his juggling background and he began playing with a kendama in March 2019. “I discovered it through a juggler’s Instagram page and thought the kendama was an interesting skill toy so I bought one for myself and became obsessed,” he said, adding that he does not think it is commonplace in the Capital District. “They’re typically available online and there’s this wonderful organization called KendamaUSA.com that does a lot of outreach and education about the kendama. I learned a lot from there.”
Carusone said the kendama helped slightly reinvigorate his interest in juggling and thought the kendama was one way he could try for a Guinness World Record.
He visited its website, saw what juggling and kendama-related records were there and realized that many juggling records were already set, so trying with a kendama appealed to him more. He then applied online to attempt to set a kendama-related record and after the organization approved his application, it emailed him a list of guidelines and rules for the record attempt.
However, the Guinness World Records will not send a representative to view Carusone’s attempt on Feb. 29. This meant that at the event, he must have at least two independent witnesses, two separate timekeepers, their signatures proving their attendance and that they witnessed Carusone’s attempt. After Carusone submits the evidence of the event to the organization, it would get back to him in around 12 weeks’ time.
“You’d have to pay like $1,000 for a representative’s visit because it includes their airfare and overnight stay,” he said. “The 12 weeks is also because they [the Guinness World Records organization] will do a lot of confirmation like calling the witnesses and dealing with many other world record attempts for other things at the same time.”
As the Feb. 29 event nears, Carusone said he has been practicing at least one hour every night for almost a year now. The record attempt also requires him to complete a spike each on five Guinness World Records-approved kendamas, instead of five spikes on one kendama. Carusone bought his own set of five kendamas to practice with and he hopes to set a record under 50 seconds.
“Spiking the kendama was definitely something I knew I could do but it’s the issue of doing it on five kendamas swiftly and efficiently,” he said. “It’s been challenging yet incredibly rewarding.” He added that he continues to learn from online kendama-related communities that list beginner and advanced tricks.
Friends and family, he said, have been supportive of his upcoming record attempt, some of whom will attend the Feb. 29 event. Even his six-year-old son is starting to learn kendama spiking tricks, Carusone said, “My son is very excited and he understands the world record thing and he also gets the [Guinness World Records] books at his school library. It’s a good skill toy to teach to anyone about focus, patience and dedication.”
When asked what setting the Guinness World Record would mean to him, Carusone said, “It’d be the culmination of a lifelong dream to be in the Guinness World Records book and website. I don’t think everyone gets in the book but to know that I have that record would mean a great deal to me, especially since it’s related to juggling. My dad will also be at the event and that’s great to know because he inspired me all those years ago and it would be wonderful. He’s 75 now.”
He added that the record attempt can “help absolutely spread the word about pushing boundaries of what you think you can do and it can show kids that they can also set records and push themselves. It also spreads the word about kendamas which are a lot of fun and they can teach you about patience, dedication and more.”