Archive for May, 2014

Calm Before the Ninja Storm

Monday, May 26th, 2014

With the season of American Ninja Warrior 6 starting tonight, and with NBC shoving all its chips into the middle on this show (there will be three times more hours of obstacle course awesomeness on NBC this summer than any previous season), it’s an exciting and nerve-wracking moment for our obsessed cadre of ninjas.  Or is it a pride of ninjas?  Or a flock of ninjas?  Or a nincompoop of ninjas?  Who knows…

It will be interesting to see whether America has an appetite for this much American Ninja Warrior with NBC taking every episode of the season for itself, and showing two-hour episodes every Monday night from now until mid-September.  That’s mucho ninja-ing, and I’m not sure that the average viewer will really want that much obstacle course action.  I hope so.

Even though it’s my fifth season competing I never take the opportunity for granted, and if anything feel increasingly lucky every year that I get to be a part of this great competition and community.  Competing is so surreal and immersive, a roller-coaster ride of adrenaline and aspiration that is only tethered to the earth by the amazing camaraderie and humor of my ninja brothers and sisters who I get to share this experience with.  The amount of encouragement and support I’ve gotten over the years from fellow contestants has been humbling, and I cherish their friendship. Although I love me some obstacle course running, the best thing about this experience has been the friends made and experiences shared with them.

I’m deeply grateful for the broader experience of simply participating in something like American Ninja Warrior.  For a middle-aged dad with serious responsibilities as a father-of-three and a businessman, having something so fun, physical, and playful has added an amazing and joyful dimension to my life experience, and has been an profound vehicle of lessons for my three young sons. Not only does it make them appreciate their dad more (not too many middle-aged dads play on the playgrounds with their kids like I do!), but they also learn key life lessons about trying your best and daring to dream, and hard realities like even when you try your best you sometimes fail.  As my oldest son (8 years old) has observed, if you try really difficult obstacles sometimes you fall in the water.  But then you dust yourself off and try even harder.

I hope America continues to embrace this show which has come a long way since its inception as a back-water spinoff of Ninja Warrior Japan shown just on little G4 with only a few hundred competitors applying.  This year over 30,000 people applied for approximately 500 slots competing in American Ninja Warrior 6, and NBC is looking at our show as one of the key staples of its summer line-up.  A long long way its come.  We’re all hoping that you love the show, see how meaningful it is for us to compete, and appreciate the amazing and inspirational performances many of the competitors deliver this year.  I think this year might be the most amazing yet for a lot of different reasons, so be sure to tune in!