The Funny History of Kan Jam!

Kan Jam is one of the most popular games in America. It’s a game that is simple to learn but challenging to master. What many people don’t know is that this game has quite an exciting history!

The History of Kan Jam

Kan Jam was the brainchild of Charles Sciandra and Paul Swisher, who developed it in Buffalo, New York. The “Garbage Can Frisbee” was invented by four men from Tonawanda, New York, at the end of the 1970s. Today it is being played all around the world.

The game started with just friends and a trash can. Charles, Paul, their friends (the originators) knew about it through this mutual connection but never expected anything like this! The original game involves throwing Disc into trash cans, unlike the ones that are used right now. Charles and Paul liked this idea so much they wanted to turn it into a real-life version and get their patent on the fantastic new game!

One of the most challenging parts about patenting this invention was figuring out whether it qualified as unique or not. Having a slot for an “instant win” feature in the trash can made everything easy, though, and thus they were able to get their idea patented!

After getting the patent, they started selling their Kan Jam kits in 2005. They made a point to sell it at local North Tonawanda schools where science teacher Paul Swisher would be able to see firsthand how much of an impact this game could have on students’ physical education classes, and that’s precisely what he did!

Paul Swisher eventually sold his ownership of the company to Mitchel Rubin. He and Charles Schisandra then went on to form Kan Jam LLC in 2006, which is now one of America’s most successful business ventures! Wild Sports bought kan Jam in 2018. Meanwhile, Rubin and Schisandra retain their roles as business leaders and would continue to advance the enterprise into the foreseeable future.

What Kan Jam Is, And What It’s Made Out Of

The main objective of Kan Jam is to work in teams and throw a Disk known as a Kan Jam disk into a specially designed can with the help of your teammate. The team that scores 21 points first after an equal number of throws wins.

American-born game Kan Jam is an excellent example of American manufacturing. Plastic, specifically polypropylene, is used for making the disks, and linoleum is used for the cans. It is, in fact, produced at a better and cheaper price in the US than outsourcing it to China.

Kan Jam is currently sold in the US and across Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and 23 different countries in Europe. Kan Jam established its reputation on the strength of its many independent shops and its retail presence.

How To Play The Game?

It has no specific rule book as Kan Jam is a straightforward sport. It is easy to learn and understand but tough to master. There are many different versions of Kan Jam with their takes on the original game. But there are some Universal rules for Kan Jam.

In Kan Jam, each team will take a turn throwing the disk. One of you will act as the thrower tossing the disk at the can, while the deflector will try and assist the thrower by deflecting it into the can—the first team to score 21 points after an equal number of throws wins.

There are usually two teams in Kan Jam. The mini and splash versions of Kan Jam do allow you to play one-on-one against each other. The thrower and the catcher switch roles after throwing the disk. Once a team finishes both functions, the opposing team turns and attempts to score a point and change positions after their throw.

Since we know the primary approach of how to play, let us look at the point system for Kan Jam. In Kan Jam, you can score points in increments of 1, 2, 3 or score an instant win. I discussed the point system in detail below:

  • Your team can get 1 point if the disk hits the goal after deflecting the thrower, thus performing a dinger.
  •  If the thrower hits the can without any assistance of the deflector, their team scores two points, thus performing a deuce.
  • The team gets three points if the thrower throws the disk and the deflector can deflect it into the can. Thus, performing a bucket.
  • Lastly, your team can win instantly if the thrower lands it in the bucket without any help, either via the top or through the slot, for an instant win.

Have a look at this footage of Eric Klavoon, an eight-time Kan Jam World Champion, trying to accomplish a challenge that was given by the three-time Kan Jam World Champion, Dan Klavoon. After you’re done watching this video, go to PDFA, or Professional Discflect Association, for more videos like this.

PDFA, or Professional Discflect Association. (2020, May 7). KanJam Player Challenge #3 – Instant Win Slot Shot – Eric [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdGH8Ccwrrs

When there is a tie, the tiebreaker round starts. The team that makes 21 points first between the two teams will throw first. The 1st team throwing the disk will set a score. If the second team to throw cannot beat the score, they lose. In case of another tie, another round starts. You will need to continue this until one team wins.

Another exciting part of this game is that you cannot score more than twenty-one points. If your score becomes higher than 21 in a single throw, then from the initial score, you deduct that number of issues. For example, if your current score is 20 and your team scores a deuce instead of 20+2, it will be 20-2.

Additional Rules

Other than the basic rule and scoring, there are some rules that you should try and not break. The deflector should not catch, carry, or double hit the disk. Thrower cannot cross the line while throwing as well. A rival team is unable to safeguard their goal or tamper with the deflector. In original Kan Jam, you should keep cans/goals 50 feet apart.

Dimensions

Now that we have the rules set up let us look at the Kan Jam set themselves. Kan Jam has three main versions, and each of these has its specific dimensions. Kan Jam Original has a frisbee disk that is 11 inches in diameter, and the cans are 20 inches tall and 12 inches in diameter.

For mini and splash Kan Jam, the frisbees are both 4 inches in diameter. But for mini, the cans are 9.125 inches tall and 5.75 inches in diameter. Whereas for splash, the cans are 8.7 inches tall and 6.3 inches in diameter.

Tips For Playing Better

Kan Jam is a fun and easy game to play, but mastering it is an entirely different beast. Being able to throw and deflect your disks into the can properly require a lot of practice. However, several tactics may assist you to step up your game.

  • When throwing, try to use your wrist more instead of your body or arm. Helping improve your disk throws.
  • Try to keep the disk between you and the can when deflecting; this will increase the chances of bucketing.
  • Using both of your hands for deflecting can also improve your aim, so whenever it is possible, try deflecting with both hands.
  • Try practising during cloudy, windy, rainy, hot weather, etc. In essence, improving your deflecting skills by having you practice in unfavourable environments.
  • Try to stay on the points which are multiples of 3.

For more detailed instructions on improving your Kan Jam game, check out this article.

Variations of Kan Jam

Kan Jam has come a long way from just throwing disks at garbage cans. So much so that there are 3 versions of Kan Jam, and each one differs from the other. The most common and recognizable are the original, requiring open space and decent distance between the cans.

But other versions of Kan Jam do not require as much space making it more accessible to all. You can play Kan Jam mini both indoors and outdoors. It is effortless to move it around, and it only requires 2 people to play it.

Lastly, there is also the Kan Jam Splash. Kan Jam Splash is perfect for pool parties. The cans that come with this set can float in water, and like the mini, you can also play it with only 2 people. So, there is always a way to enjoy Kan Jam.

Why You Should Try This Game!

Kan Jam is a fun, family-friendly challenge game that takes skill and teamwork. The official plastic goals are lightweight and easy to assemble so that you can take them with you anywhere, such as camping or picnics. It is also super easy to assemble.

Another reason to play Kan Jam would be the competitive tournaments. Officially there are only two Kan Jam tournaments. The World Championships, and the Klassic. Every year World Championships and Klassic matches take place.

The Difference Between Kan Jam Disk and Frisbee

Though a Kan Jam disk and Frisbee disk look very similar, there are some distinct differences between these two disks. The differences may seem small at first, but when considering the game, these are considerably different.

Orange Frisbee Flying
Orange Frisbee Flying Photo by https://www.twenty20.com/trac1/photos

One of the main differences between Kan Jam and official Frisbee disks is their weights. A Kan Jam disk weighs 168 grams, whereas an Ultimate frisbee disk weighs 175 grams. When throwing the disks, the weight will play an effect on how it travels.

One further distinction is in the shape of the edge of the disk. Kan Jam disks have a more rounded and deeper lip. Affecting how you hold the disks, making it slightly easier to redirect or deflect them.

Final Thoughts

Kan Jam is a game that has many variations and can be played in different ways. One of the funniest things about this game is how it was created by accident, to begin with.

As you can see, sometimes accidents turn out for the best- especially if you’re looking for something new to play next time your friends come over. With these rules, tips on improving your skillset, and an overview of what makes Kan Jam so special, there’s never been a better time to try this fun outdoor sport.

Thank you for reading my post!

Sources of Information 

KanJam Europe B.V. (2017, October 30). KanJam, it all started with a trash can. KanJam Europe. https://www.kanjam.eu/blogs/news/kanjam-it-all-started-with-a-trash-can

Miner, D. (2018, March 8). KanJam has a new owner, but it will still be made in Buffalo. Buffalo Business First. https://www.bizjournals.com

EastPoint Sports & Kan Jam. (n.d.). Born in the USA | Kan Jam. Kanjam.Com. Retrieved September 14, 2021, from https://www.kanjam.com/born-in-the-usa

KanJam KanJam. (2020, April 21). Kan Jam – It’s Anyone’s Game! [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vq1smuKyfpg

Cargle, B. (2019b, April 8). Kan Jam Review: Best Sets and Where to Buy Them in 2021 [with Videos]. Own The Yard. https://www.owntheyard.com/kan-jam-review/

KanJam. (2021, August 25). In Wikipediahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KanJam

E. (2018, November 1). Is the Official KanJam Disc Right For You? LawnGamesHQ.Com. https://lawngameshq.com/kanjam-disc-right-for-you/

6 thoughts on “The Funny History of Kan Jam!”

  1. Thanks for explaining about Kan Jam. I don’t live in the US so I’m not familiar with its name, but I have watched it several times in US drama series. And yes, it seems like a fun activity, especially when we live in the ‘work from home’ era now due to pandemics. I want to try this game in my yard with my family. Is the disk need to be bought from a specific store or can we just make it ourselves?

    Reply
    • In luck, Alblue most countries supply this online, but if not, you can use a frisbee and rubbish can and get the idea of the game and even to make a frame out of PVC pipe and use velcro and plastic to make the material cover with a slot. You could also find the link in my article to another Kan Jam article where I instructions on creating a DIY version.  

      Reply
  2. With kids having had to stay home from school for extended periods due to Covid I think that Kan Jam provides a wonderful opportunity for kids to develop some soft skills. The game clearly requires persistence and perseverance to get the disc into the slot. It also requires technique in terms of stance, throwing strength, aim and angle. There is also a judgment of distance and wind speed. So while the game may appear to just be a game there are many useful qualities that can be developed.

    Reply
    • Yes, the abilities learned through Kan Jam will transfer to other sports and aspects in one’s own life. As a result, as you point out, it is not just a game for pleasure that is necessary for and of itself, but also a life game that you can play out back with friends alongside the barbeque night, the campfire evening meal, or the Christmas time gathering.

      Reply
  3. I’ve watched the video, and it’s an intriguing game for the outdoors. It’s a pleasant opportunity for bonding with family and friends. Although it seems challenging as well, and it will take a good amount of practice to master. I think, for starters, I’ll place the target container nearer Or does that count as cheating?!

    Reply
    • Steve, you nailed it on the head with your feedback. A fantastic sport that you can perform in the backyard, and I’m sure moving the target closer isn’t considered cheating. If you are practising and no one discovers a solid approach as you grow and improve, move the goal farther away.

      Reply

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