Posts Tagged ‘Ron Friedman’

Getting My Parkour On

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Because I’m a big kid, and I want to bridge the gap between me and the top American competitors who are similarly obsessed with Ninja Warrior, I signed up for an “adult parkour” class at my kids’ gymnastics studio that started back in January. Quite a number of the top competitors in Ninja Warrior have backgrounds in parkour and free-running, and their general athleticism and mentality to attack and intuitively understand how to navigate their bodies quickly through obstacles make them natural studs at any obstacle course competition. I wanted me more of that. While I felt confident on any of the strength-based obstacles, based on my training rock-climbing, I felt I was definitely lacking in general agility and speed that help with other obstacles and transitions between obstacles. Thus my reasoning for taking a class in Parkour. Plus, as I’ve previously mentioned, I’m a big kid and it looked like insane fun.

The class is once-a-week, and my buddy Ron joined me in the class to complement our rock-climbing training. We now we look forward to parkour class every week. Seriously. Like little kids. I can’t wait for Wednesday nights. What happens in the class? Well, basically we attack obstacles for an hour straight, and the instructor is continuously adjusting the course and adding new nuances. He also periodically lets us breath and pauses to instruct us in a new technique which we then employ in the attack. Such insane fun, and probably the most intense cardio workout I’ve ever done as he just drives us to keep going.

While we just finished our first course (10 classes), here are some of my incomplete notes about what we did in the first classes:

First class…shoulder roll, dive roll, monkey vault, underbar…

Second class…Man, second class of Parkour kicked my ass last night. So much fun. Just an hour-long continuously changing obstacle course with very little rest. Worked on speed vaults, lazy vaults, penny drops, and wall spins. And did too many handstands.

Third class…cash vault, dash vault, side spin, handspring flip, ax vault..

Ron’s Submission Video

Friday, May 7th, 2010

I’ve finished the “post-production” work on my buddy Ron’s video, so I’m posting it here.  It seems people like looking at these submission videos.  We shot our videos together, so a number of the “obstacles” you’ll recognize from my video as well.  We really had limited options here in Santa Fe, so forgive us for not presenting more diversity between our two videos!  Ron and I started our Ninja Warrior obsession a few years ago, and it would be an amazing experience for both of us to compete in American Ninja Warrior together.  Despite his aging hippie outer wrapper, Ron’s a great athlete and a charismatic guy who I think would be a natural for the show (along with me!).

Workin’ on the Video

Monday, April 26th, 2010

In my quest to try to get any edge I can, I’m committed to getting my video in as early as possible.  I’m a big fan of early submission in any rolling application/review situation.  So tomorrow I hope to finish up my “action scenes” shots with my buddy Ron by traveling down to Albuquerque where there is a good outdoor fitness trail with a bunch of Ninja Warrior-esque stations like rings, bars, etc.

My video script is fairly simple.  It begins with a brief intro of myself chatting, talking about who I am and my long-time devotion to Ninja Warrior.  Then they’ll be a couple of short scenes where I say that being a father-of-three forces me to employ some unusual training methods, which will include doing pushups with a couple of kids on my back and maybe throwing them up in the air.  Pretty short though.  Then we’ll cut to the real action scenes, which will have about 6-10 different segments of me doing Ninja Warrior stuff, like climbing a rope-ladder hands-free, doing a big dyno on a climbing wall, swinging on rings, etc.  Unfortunately Santa Fe doesn’t have a lot of good stuff for me to use, but I hope what we’ll be able to put together will show my basic competence.  Then next weekend we’ll move into “post-production” for the video, where I try to figure out how to edit all the footage together!  I’ve never done it before, but I understand it is not too difficult using a platform like Windows Movie Maker.  When I finish up the video and submit it, I’ll post it here!

Partner in Crime

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

I’m about 90% committed to trying to get onto American Ninja Warrior one way or another, meaning I’ll submit a video hoping for a guaranteed spot, but am probably willing to go to wait in line at the actual event even if I don’t have a guaranteed invite.

One thing that could definitely increase the chance that I’d actually compete is to have a partner in crime, so I approached my buddy Ron with whom I developed my original Ninja Warrior fascination, and with whom I go rock-climbing twice a week, to ask whether he was insane enough to join me in this dream. I stopped by his home for an “insanity check” and gave him the lowdown on the American Ninja Warrior application process and my plans to try and compete.

His response was mostly “good for you, let me know how it goes” until I spun the pitch to include him, and how much fun we’d have doing it together. Although Ron and I are pretty different from most outward angles, he’s a single aging hippie bachelor (sorry Ron) and I’m a married father-of-three, we find each other highly amusing and enjoy each other’s company. Ron is also like me in some important ways in respect to American Ninja Warrior, he’s a natural athlete who is rapidly approaching middle-age and the limitations that unfriendly phase of life dictates of possibilities, and is willing to try to fight that off with whatever means are at his disposal. So to hook him I spun the mutual American Ninja Warrior experience as a ton of fun and a “if-not-now, then-when?” type of quandary. And I also promised to drive the ship, meaning figuring out all the details of applying, filming, editing, etc., that it will take to do this thing. The initiative for all of this has to be mine, but Ron is happy to come along as a wise-cracking easy-going co-pilot. After just a few minutes of me spinning the experience he got swept away in my enthusiasm and pledged his fraternity in pursuing the American Ninja Warrior dream. So it looks like I have a partner in crime now! Maybe I’ll do this thing after all 😉

Do I Dare?

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Do I dare try to make and compete in American Ninja Warrior as a middle-aged 39-year-old father of three? A few years ago a buddy of mine, Ron, and I sort of got into Ninja Warrior (called Sasuke in Japan), the insane obstacle course competition featured twice a year in Japan that the cable channel G4 plays all the time. For those that haven’t seen the show, the obstacle course is diabolical, laid out in 4 stages of increasing pain and insanity.  In 24 contests over the last dozen years only 3 competitors out of 2,300 have ever finished the course.

Like a lot of couch potatoes, my buddy Ron and I would comment about how we could probably get past a lot of the obstacles. We harbored dreams of going to Japan and competing in Ninja Warrior, and taking it by storm as a couple of middle-aged Americans. This dream even motivated us to start going to the rock climbing gym here in Santa Fe, because many of the Ninja Warrior obstacles are based on insane grip and arm strength, characteristics we thought rock-climbing would help further.  More than anything we felt that to even have a chance at competing we needed to develop an “iron kung fu grip.”

Fast forward a couple of years, and we’ve forgotten about the Ninja Warrior dream (although we’ve continued to rock-climb), that is until last fall when AMERICAN Ninja Warrior was held for the first time, a competition here in the US where the finalists would get flown over to Japan to compete on the legendary Ninja Warrior course (here’s a good short video about the American Ninja Warrior course and competition structure). Hundreds competed in this tournament held in LA, with only 30 completing the first stage and moving forward. A couple of more stages of punishing obstacle course madness, and the ten finalists were left standing. They went to Japan and largely flailed on the Japanese Ninja Warrior course, but that’s not really the point.  The point was that ten guys got to beat the American Ninja Warrior course, get to look like studs for a few hours of cable TV, and get an all-expense-paid trip to Japan to step onto the hallowed course of Mount Midoriyama and compete in the legendary Sasuke.  With only 3 competitors out of 2,300 pretenders completing the 4 stage Sasuke course over the last dozen years, clearly the honor is in the competition and leaving it all out on the course.

So  back to the fast forward part…American Ninja Warrior 1 was replayed on G4 last week and it began to stir the juices.  I looked up the specifics of competing in American Ninja Warrior 2 and saw that they had just released the info for American Ninja Warrior 2 (to be held in July in Los Angeles). What I found was that there are basically two ways to get into the competition: first, you can submit a video with your story and some footage of your Ninja Warrior-esque athletic accomplishments to earn a guaranteed invite, or, second, you can just show up to the competition and wait around in line for a couple of days hoping to get a shot. Nothing guaranteed. But if you are determined and submit a good video early in the submission window, and are even willing to go to the competition without a guaranteed invite, there’s a pretty good shot you’d get a chance to compete.

At 39 and with my opportunities for athletic competition rapidly dwindling, should I give it a shot? Sort of insane, given that at age 39 I’m a good 50% older than most of the competitors who tend to be in their mid 20s. Another significant disadvantage…I’m a big guy. Makoto Nagano, Grand Champion of Ninja Warrior and the last guy to finish the course, clocks in at about 5’2″ and 130 pounds. That’s pretty typical of the top Japanese competitors, and not too far away from what the top American Ninja Warrior competitors who tend to be taller but still only about a buck-fifty in weight with ridiculously low body-fat.  With many obstacles requiring you climbing, swinging, and launching yourself using only your upper body, there is a real premium in relative strength. Me? I’m 6’4″ and 225 pounds.  Hauling that much body around is going to be my principle challenge.

But should I try anyway? Dare to put myself out there for probable failure, and potentially looking ridiculous? I think I just might…butterflies in the stomach even thinking about it.  At 39 and a long way from my athletic peak, which by the way was pretty good (could 360 dunk), do I have enough left in the tank?  Do I still have a little Ninja Warrior inside me?