Archive for the ‘Ninja Warrior’ Category

Same Ninja Blog, New Ninja Channel

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

Welcome to the new domain home ( of my American Ninja Warrior blog which I’ve been writing since 2010.  My intent is to continue telling my story as a long-time fan and 4-time competitor in American Ninja Warrior, and to serve as a resource for both competitors and fans alike for news and articles related to the show.  I’ve been proud to own the domain and have my blog there since the beginning of the show, and plan to continue that spirit here at my new domain.   I’m voluntarily transferred the domain to the Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) because TBS owns the trademark for American Ninja Warrior (the terms of the transfer are confidential)

The hardest thing about moving my blog to a new domain is the great loss of readers who might not be able to find me.  This new domain will be nowhere in the search engine results for quite some time, and fans and competitors who were accustomed to going straight to to read my blog will have no way to easily find me now.  I’m also sad to have lost the great comments and discussions connected to many of my posts.  Time to build this from the ground anew, but I need your help!

If you are a fan of my blog, or even just the show, could I ask you to either “Like” or “Share” this article via your Facebook account, or even Tweet it?  Those social actions will help my blog get found by both fans of the show and by search engines again.  Even better, if you have a website or blog yourself with an interest in American Ninja Warrior, obstacle courses, parkour, or related topics, please consider putting a link on your site to this blog.

Thanks for your support, and I appreciate what you can do to help me build back up the community of fans and competitors that this blog previously enjoyed when at the domain!


The Calm Before the Storm

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Just a few short days before launch of American Ninja Warrior 4 this Sunday night on G4, followed the next night by its network debut on NBC, I find myself in a reflective mood about the state and fate of this quirky crazy fun obstacle course competition as it perhaps stands on the precipice of mainstream awareness.  This season represents the moment when American Ninja Warrior gets called up to the major leagues of network NBC as a prime-time summer series from its previous minor league status as a cult favorite the past three seasons on the niche G4 network otherwise notable only for its video-gaming and Cops-rerun-watching audience.

Like a lot of competitors who have been longtime fanatics of Ninja Warrior in Japan, I feel a sort of possessiveness about this competition and some sense of ownership of it.  Whether there is any merit to it or not, I perhaps feel more ownership than most because I envisioned this very moment, this very threshold, of when American Ninja Warrior might be embraced by the mainstream American public and become a cult phenomena, driving kids and adults alike to jump, climb and swing around on any obstacle they could find.  I envisioned this even before American Ninja Warrior was created, rushing out to buy the domain name for $10 from GoDaddy in a moment of inspiration 5 years ago when I was SURE it would one day be a hit here in America, thinking “how could it not?” because it was so transparently awesome to me.  And I wasn’t buying the domain name for financial speculation, I was buying it because as a middle-aged guy I wanted a platform to voice my passion to compete that would hopefully translate into a ticket onto the course so I could measure myself against those unforgivable obstacles I grew to love sitting on my couch.

Now with American Ninja Warrior three seasons into its existence with a growing fan and competitor base it’s poised to take a quantum leap into the mainstream awareness with its extensive coverage on both NBC and G4 this summer, and I find myself wrestling with a mix of excitement and concern.  This was the moment I foresaw 5 years ago, so you would think I would be gratified by its arrival, but I fear that this is also the moment where it might cease to be the private obsession of mine and my small cadre of ninja brethren, and we irrevocably lose our ownership of it to network producers and the teeming masses.

While I am sentimental (clearly), I am also a realist.  If ratings disappoint, NBC will not hesitate to kill American Ninja Warrior in the cradle, and I might not ever get to run again or see my beloved ninja brothers again.  If it is a success, which I believe it will be, NBC will wrest control of it away from us and whip it to whatever frenzied success it can create, leaving we early competitors behind in its wake.  And make no mistake about it, we competitors (with the exception of a small group) are largely just rats in the maze to the producers and are totally replaceable and interchangeable.  Maybe that is the root of my anxiety, my fear that if American Ninja Warrior blows up in popularity and becomes a big mainstream success there were be a tidal wave of applicants battling to compete and myself and my early ninja buddies will no longer be invited to play, kicked out of the party right when it really starts to get roaring.  Yes, that is the root of my fear, and the thought of it makes me sad.

But all weepiness aside, I’m still proud of American Ninja Warrior and proud to be a three-time competitor in this awesome competition, and proud to be called friend by the amazing people who I have met that share my passion in this crazy quirky fun obstacle course that maybe, just maybe, America is about to fall in love with as well.

The very first moment I ever stepped onto the American Ninja Warrior course. Quad Steps in ANW2 in Venice Beach, 2010.

Competitor Profile – Johan Yusof

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

In the second entry of our new series focusing on different competitors in Ninja Warrior, I bring you Johan Yusof of Kuala Lumpur who competes in Sasuke Malaysia (for those accustomed to our bad translations, that would be Ninja Warrior Malaysia). Johan is a passionate performer and competitor, and his experience aspiring to compete in Ninja Warrior and competing in Sasuke Malaysia is a fascinating window into one of our brother competitors halfway around the world. As I’ve competed in American Ninja Warrior, one of the things that has interested me the most is the diverse backgrounds of my fellow ninjas and how their pursuit of competing in Ninja Warrior has deeply affected their lives despite these differences, and for this reason I’ve decided to do these competitor profiles to bring forward more of their stories.

The Ninja Warrior World Re-Aligns

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

We’re all geeks for Ninja Warrior, right? If we weren’t, we wouldn’t be here right now, reading some random blog from some random guy about his delusional middle-aged aspirations to become the first American Ninja Warrior. Well, for those of us who love Ninja Warrior, the earth has shook and the planetary rotation of the Ninja Warrior orb has been turned on its axis as the entire structure and premise of American Ninja Warrior has changed in the last few weeks. Most of us came to love Ninja Warrior by watching re-runs of Sasuke (incorrectly translated as “Ninja Warrior”) on G4 of the epic competitions in Japan to find the world’s best obstacle course runner. And, yes, it was to find the world’s best obstacle course runner, because although most of the competitors have been Japanese, the producers of the show have always tried to bring in the world’s best foreigners to compete, extending invitations to Olympic athletes in various disciplines to come and try their hands at the increasingly difficult course. They too, like many others, ran and failed at some point in the 4 stage course we learned to love named Mount Midoriyama. In recent years competitions like Sasuke Malaysia and American Ninja Warrior have sprouted up around the globe to become their own events to select the top competitors to get their shot running Sasuke on the hallowed grounds in Japan. For all Ninja Warrior aspirants around the world it was all about getting a shot somehow to run that course in Japan.

Now all that has changed (at least for we Americans). With the uncertainty of future competitions in Japan, and the relative success of American Ninja Warrior the last couple of years here in America, the NBC/Comcast entertainment conglomerate has secured the rights to produce American Ninja Warrior as a standalone network program here in the U.S. No longer is American Ninja Warrior a feeder competition for Ninja Warrior Japan, but it is (for the time-being at least) its own bad self standing on its own bad own. Meaning that instead of having 10 Americans going to compete in Japan at Sasuke against the legendary Japanese group of competitors, there will be 100 Americans that will arise out of 6 regional competitions to compete in a new mega-course they are building in Las Vegas. That’s right, Vegas baby. The owners/producers of Ninja Warrior Japan are consulting on the building of the course, which is good news for American Ninja Warrior competitors who have pointed out that in recent U.S.-based competitions the quality of some of the obstacles was lacking. Whether it will be an exact replica of Mt. Midoriyama is unclear, but I believe most expectations are that it will be very similar, and will certainly be composed of many of the iconic obstacles we all love and fear like the Salmon Ladder, the Warped Wall, and the Ultimate Cliffhanger.

So 6 regional competitions going down in 3 cities (LA, Dallas, Miami), each with reportedly 125 runners, will happen throughout March to pick the top 100 guys to compete in Las Vegas on this new course reportedly on April 21-22. I believe that there will be some coverage of these regional competitions on G4 before they (for certain) show the 100 person final in Las Vegas over several weeks on NBC this summer. This is supposedly NBC’s competitor for ABC’s very popular Wipeout (although the surest way to see an American Ninja Warrior competitor go apoplectic is to ask them if their competition is similar to Wipeout).

This is a major shift in the structure and identity of American Ninja Warrior. It now stands alone, and is no longer the cable network feeder program for Ninja Warrior Japan, but its own bad self (did I say that already?). Competitors and fans have mixed emotions about this, with much loyalty and love being reserved for the original Japanese competition. While I myself am saddened at what is an increasing likelihood that Ninja Warrior Japan will “go away” at some point, I’m glad that there is a strengthened competition here in America that could keep the spirit alive even as the Mother Ship goes into retirement.

Below are the locations of the regional competitions, the submission dates for the videos, and the estimated competition dates for those locations (they will confirm and narrow these dates soon).

LOS ANGELES (Northwest and Southwest Regions) – Video Submission by Feb. 14th, Competition Window is March 1-5

DALLAS (Midwest and South-Central Regions) – Video Submission by Feb. 27th, Competition Window is March 14-18

MIAMI (Northeast and Southeast Regions) – Video Submission by March 8th, Competition Window is March 27 – April 1

American Ninja Warrior 4 is Alive! It’s Alive!

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

After months of uncertainty concerning the future of American Ninja Warrior in light of the bankruptcy proceedings of the Japanese company Monster 9 which owns the rights to Ninja Warrior, apparently the powers-that-be are beginning preparations for the next American Ninja Warrior to be produced (American Ninja Warrior 4). Competitors from the last season of American Ninja Warrior (myself and my buddy Ron included) were contacted in the last couple of days by Smith & Co., the casting agency for American Ninja Warrior, in order to tell us to start getting our submission videos ready for American Ninja Warrior 4 later this year. No additional information was provided, like if this 100% means there will be another Sasuke/Ninja Warrior in Japan, or when any event will actually happen. They said they will contact everybody again in a few weeks with more details, but the fact that they are bothering to call past competitors to make certain that they are getting a jump-start on preparing their submission videos can only be seen as a very positive sign about the likelihood that another American Ninja Warrior will actually happen (although it is not a guarantee, of course).

This year a new casting company is handling American Ninja Warrior, and they are well aware of how badly the previous casting company handled their competitor pool, and it appears they are working hard to be more professional and considerate this year (last year many submission videos were lost and they only notified us 3 weeks before the competition that we had been accepted to compete). The new casting company seemed genuinely enthusiastic about working on American Ninja Warrior, and we’re happy to have them!

Rumor also has it that NBC will be more involved than ever, so there is a possibility that more of ANW will be shown on NBC beyond the final stage in Sasuke Japan. No details here…but anything that further promotes ANW and increases the possibility that it will live a long healthy life is welcome!

Click LIKE or re-tweet if you are happy to hear that news that there will be another American Ninja Warrior in the future! Yippee!