Archive for the ‘Getting In’ Category

American Ninja Warrior 5 Dates and Locations

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Looks like the dates and locations of the four cities that will host American Ninja Warrior 5 (leading up to the National Finals) have been released.

April 5 & 6 – Venice Beach
April 19 & 20 – Baltimore
May 4 & 5 – Miami
May 19 & 20 – Denver

I believe they have begun notifying folks for Venice Beach, and will be notifying folks for other cities probably 2-3 weeks before the actual competition. They have also confirmed that there will be walkon spots this year as well.

The Waiting Game for American Ninja Warrior 5

Friday, March 15th, 2013

With today being the official close of the video submission and application period for American Ninja Warrior 5, and having personally gotten my video in last week, now begins the painful annual rite-of-passage of the “Waiting Game” when we’ve done everything we can and we’re simply in the land of indeterminate limbo while we wait to hear back whether we’ll be blessed with an invitation to toe the line at American Ninja Warrior or not. In every season except the first one, which I didn’t compete in and thus can’t speak to, the competitors have heard only a week or two before the actual competition whether they’d be given a guaranteed spot or not. Yes, insane. Particularly when considering that the competition is often held during the week when most of the normal world would be busy with their jobs, which attests to the level of conviction we competitors have to compete and willingness to drop everything on short notice just to step onto the course and get our crack at obstacle course glory, or infamy (as the case often is).

We’ve been given assurances that this year casting will work hard to give us more advanced notice about when and where the competitions will be held, and whether we’ll be invited to compete. While they have said basically the same thing in past seasons, I actually believe them this year…there seems to be more continuity in the casting staff this season, and a genuine commitment. So, fingers crossed. Rumors are that we’ll hear in the next week or two the “when” and “where” pieces of that puzzle. I’ve heard that there will be 4 cities which will host competitions this year, one more than last year, and that the city locations will serve as proxies for the regions that structured the competition last year.

For my fellow American Ninja Warrior 5 applicants who are also suffering the start of the Waiting Game right now, here are three tips that I offer from my experience going through this stage three times before:
#1 “Act As If You’re Already Accepted” – You can agonize over whether you’ll be invited or not, and this worrying is totally non-productive. Fretting for weeks is unpleasant, and if you have a significant other this distracted fretting can really freakin’ annoy them as you only partly pay attention to anything they have to talk about not related to American Ninja Warrior. Do yourself a favor and do a Jedi Mind Trick on yourself, and convince yourself that you have already been accepted and are just patiently waiting to compete.
#2 “Train Hard, but Not too Hard” – The excitement and anxiety the weeks and days before the competition is hard to deal with. I see many ninjas channel this into some ridiculous new escalated training routines, often attempting new tricks of ninja-ery, which often leads to injuries. While it is awesome to be in peak physical condition for the event, it’s a huge freaking bummer to injure yourself right before the competition after months of training and dreaming. Believe me, I jacked myself up the DAY before American Ninja Warrior 2 because I was attempting a silly feat of ninja-ery, and I almost couldn’t compete, and it definitely influenced my failure on the Spider Wall. Don’t do this to yourself.
#3 “Commit Yourself to Walking On” – If you really want to compete, you should be willing to walk on. With the short notice we are likely to get about whether we have a guaranteed spot or not, you’ll have had to clear your schedule to compete anyway by the time you find out if you have a guaranteed invite. Last year I didn’t get a guaranteed spot, and drove 3 days with the kids and wife packed into the family SUV to try for a walkon spot. While it sucked and I asked myself many many times on that drive (and standing in the walkon line before dawn on competition day), whether I was mentally unstable, I’m totally glad that I walked on. It was my best year on American Ninja Warrior yet, both from a performance and an experience perspective, and I never would have gotten that if I hadn’t manned up to walk on. In fact, my whole American Ninja Warrior experience would probably have ended there as I doubt I would have gotten the support from my family to try for ANW5 after not competing in ANW4, and no doubt pouting for months afterwards to their annoyance. Committing yourself to this Tip #3, walking on no matter what, will really help you with Tip #1, knowing you are going to compete and relieving yourself of worrying.

Hope those tips help, and hope I can follow them myself!

American Ninja Warrior 5 Tryout Information

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

It’s finally out! Information about when American Ninja Warrior 5 might be held, and how to apply to be accepted to compete. You can go to this casting information page which holds the rather lengthy submission form, as well as provides the information you need about getting your tryout video together.

Here are the most salient details:
– Window for submitting your tryout video and application is February 1st until March 15th.
– Your submission video must be 5-8 minutes in length. This is a change from previous years when 5 minutes was the max.
– The regional rounds (opening round and regional finals) will take place “in April and May, 2013” with “specific locations, dates and times TBD.”
– The national finals in Las Vegas will take place June 10-17, 2013.
– And, of course, everything is “subject to change.”

My Regional Run – The Voices in My Head

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Some of you may have tuned in and watched the Midwest regionals last night on G4.  For the first time in 3 seasons they aired my run and did a nice little background piece about this crazy-ass 40 year old who drives for days with his kids in tow just for a chance to get a walkon spot.  In the piece they showed some nice shots of my training, included a shout-out to this blog (surprisingly), and aired a couple of adorable shots of my cute little kids!

Having to go the walkon route, and not knowing I was going to actually get a shot to run until pretty soon before I was standing on the starting line, I was psyched just to get my crack at the course.  Ask any ninja what he or she most fundamentally wants, and it’s just the chance to try.  Of course, we all want to go far into the course, but the difference between the binary world of “getting to try” versus “not getting to try” is the biggest gulf in potential experiences.  So I was just thrilled to get a shot as a walkon and to be standing at that starting line.

Although it was edited to look like I ran late in the day, I was actually the 5th person to attempt the course that day.  You see, they usually have a handful of walkons try the course out first for any “bugs” or flaws in it before wasting the attempts of the guaranteed runners.  Two of the three runners right before me fell on the Quad Steps, and knowing that super-stud Levi Meeuwenberg had fallen on the Quad Steps in Venice I was more than a little nervous about sharing their fate.

These are my obstacle-by-obstacle notes of my opening round regional run, complete with a running commentary of the Voices in My Head that chattered at me while I was on the course:

QUAD STEPS – As I mentioned, I was more than a little concerned about the Quad Steps.  But when the buzzer sounded I coasted right through them using the cautious “triple step” technique.  I remember hitting the platform at the end and thinking “Thank God!  At least you didn’t fall on the first obstacle!  It’s all gravy from here.”

LOG GRIP – I wasn’t too concerned about the Log Grip.  I took my time and made certain I grabbed the divots that I had planned to use, and then just jumped and held on.  It’s important to get a grip where you still have some bend in your arms to absorb the shock of the drops.

BRIDGE OF BLADES – I wasn’t too concerned about this obstacle either.  When the blades are oriented as an X you can just scoot right down the center pretty briskly without any problems.  This is how the blades were set in American Ninja Warrior 3 (last year) and 4 (this year).  In American Ninja Warrior 2, the blades were set up as a + and many many good ninjas fell that day (I got past it, but fell on the next obstacle…the dreaded Spider Wall!).  But for American Ninja Warrior 4 this year I just scooted right down the middle without much hesitation.

JUMP-HANG – I was more than a little wary of the Jump Hang.  It gets a number of competitors to fall, and sometimes quite spectacularly.  Even top competitors will occasionally miss it.  But I feel pretty good on the mini-tramp and just cleared my mind, focused, and hammered that mini-tramp for a pretty good jump up to the 2nd highest strand of rope.  I got caught up a bit going over the top and I remember thinking “Are you going to get stuck here?  That would be embarrassing…” but I got over in a few seconds with a bit of ungainly thrashing.

CURTAIN SLIDE – I was quite worried about this obstacle.  It was new to the American Ninja Warrior competition and I think I was the second person in ANW history to ever try it out.  I figured the keys to the technique were getting a lot of momentum jumping off the platform onto the first curtain to get it to really slide, and then transition to the 2nd curtain, which was fixed (not sliding), with the very first swing.  I did exactly that and when I transitioned to the 2nd curtain I heard the crowd gasp and I thought “Am I about to fall here and I don’t even know it?” and then hiked my legs up and around the bottom of the curtain.  I made a quick transition to the 3rd curtain and then the platform after that.  Now that I have seen my run on TV, I know why the crowd gasped!  I was pretty close to touching the side of the obstacle with my feet as I was swinging around which would have disqualified me, and then after that I almost touched the water.  Yikes!  Definitely got a cue from the crowd noise there.

WARPED WALL – Prior to that day I had only practiced on a Warped Wall once in my life a couple of years ago.  It had been a smaller wall but I had gotten up it maybe 2 out of 3 tries, even when tired.  But this was a bigger wall, I was gassed from the previous 5 obstacles, and the springs in my legs that I used to use for high-jumping and dunking are a shadow of their former selves 😉  No excuses…I should have gotten up that wall, and I know I can get up that wall.  Just that day I missed.  Watching it on TV I realized that my first two attempts went badly because I was anticipating the curve of the wall before I got there…you can see me almost step up in an awkward step right as I get to the curve.  My final attempt was my closest, I actually got on fingertip over the top, but I was too out of gas by then.  So close, yet so far!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve replayed that in my head.

Since I was the 5th runner of the day, I spent the whole day in the qualifier pit with 30 chairs for the 30 people who would advance to the regional finals.  I was SURE I would get bumped out at some point, but was just happy to have run and to have done as relatively well as I had.  Plus, it was super-fun to hang out all day in the qualifier pit with some other cool ninjas like David Gabel, Steven Volko, and Cade Halada among others.  Then, suddenly, the day was over, and I was sitting in the 29th seat, meaning I was going to advance.  I was only one seat from the “hot seat” as the guy about to be bumped, and I was already scripting my farewell speech in my head for the camera when they told us the day was done and we were the Midwest regional finalists!  Pretty dope!  Even doper…I was the oldest competitor to make it to the regional finals, which is some mad street cred among my middle-aged peer group 😉

Thanks to everybody for their support, and I hope you tune in for the regional finals and have a blast!

Mission Accomplished! Got to Run American Ninja Warrior 4!

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Mission accomplished! After a few metaphorical obstacles getting an opportunity to participate, as enumerated in my recent posts, I got to attack literal obstacles yesterday as I competed in the Midwest region in American Ninja Warrior 4 in Dallas (I went to the University of Wisconsin and lived in Madison for a number of years…Go Badgers!). I was lunatic #1 lined up in the walkon queue when I arrived about 4:30 am and used a jedi mind trick to get past one of the security guards who had turned away a few earlier arrivals who wanted into the Cotton Bowl complex to line up themselves.

These are not the droids you are looking for.

In the end most walkons got to compete, but being the first guy in line no doubt increased my chances. A couple of the production folks seemed to expect me, almost certainly due to the efforts by many of my ninja brothers to help me out by mentioning my plight to folks they knew in casting and production, and just a short half hour after I finally realized that I was going to get a chance to actually compete I stood at the starting line as just the fifth guy to attack the course in Dallas. I could scarcely believe that it was happening as they counted down 5-4-3-2-1 to start my run!

I can’t share how I did…understandably production wants total secrecy to create more suspense for the show this summer (they did say that I could share that I in fact competed), but it was an honor as always to step onto the course and compete with (not against, with) so many amazing athletes and people. I had a blast seeing my fellow ninja brothers and sisters…I love running the course, but the camaraderie of the competitors is the most amazing element of the experience. Many people wished me luck in getting to compete, and that fortified my will to make it happen, but I wanted to extend heartfelt special thanks to certain people who worked hard to make it happen by spreading the word and talking to people on my behalf like Brian Corcoran, Arsenette, David Gabel, Chris Okruhlik, Thomas “Texas Ninja”, Jaret Salas, and Ryoga Vee (forgive me if I forgot anybody who took specific actions on my behalf…I still have love for you!). Thank you everybody for helping me make this happen, it was an emotional few days traveling to Dallas with my family not knowing if I would get a chance to compete, but the love and support of many readers, fans and fellow competitors made me more determined to make it happen and sweetened the feeling when I humbly stepped on the course to give it my best!