We were working hard over the summer of 2019 and had some private events in our Beginner Ninja section, but opened the Advanced Ninja section with a big Grand Opening Celebration on Labor Day 2019 with lots of Ninjas coming from across the country.
Our Rock Wall opened in October 2019 and we’re constantly adding and changing obstacles and routes.
Not in any official capacity.
American Ninja Warrior and American Ninja Warrior Junior are reality TV shows and are the property of NBC Universal. You have to apply to get on and train to succeed. Several members of our staff and guest trainers and competition participants have participated on these shows.
“American Ninja Warrior” is a trademark of Tokyo Broadcasting System Television, Inc. We assume NBC, Universal and others have worked out a deal with them to use it. We didn’t.
Many of our obstacles are similar to those seen on the shows, but we have a lot more obstacles and we have soft blue pads instead of blue lighted pools if you fall.
Just like any sport these days, we will ask you to sign a waiver as there is always a risk of injury. However, this sport is statistically far safer than contact sports and most non- or semi-contact sports such as soccer and basketball. We also have invested heavily in excellent padding starting from our thick carpeted foam which covers our entire activity area and most landing platforms. We add dedicated thicker padding in every expected potential fall area, and even larger padding near the rock walls. We have padding around our upright posts. We can’t guarantee that a tough fall won’t hurt, but we’ve taken precautions to make sure you avoid injuries.
Our coaches and attendants are trained in additional safety instructions and will offer safety instructions whenever we see anything that may cause a safety challenge.
We don’t think you will find a safer ninja warrior gym anywhere.
Yes! Many sports are entertaining and you can devote as much or as little time and effort as you would like. If someone just wants to come and check it out, you are more than welcome. We won’t laugh at you, though you might choose to laugh at yourself. Our attendants during our open gym times are pretty good at the sport and will give you pointers as well as keeping you safe.
But we have training classes for young and old, beginner through advanced. We offer lessons and both informal and formal competitions. Some of our coaches have and still do compete at the national level. We are serious about the sport, but not “too serious”. It is a fun sport and we aim to keep it that way.
Absolutely. We’ve been offering them since we opened and this is a major part of our offerings. We offer full-week, full-day, and half-day sign ups, as well as packages of full-days and half-days for those who just need a place for their kids now and then. Age ranges are 5 to 12.
Warning: After attending, your kids may tell you that they want to live at our facility.
In addition to our Ninja Warrior competitions on Labor Day 2019 (beginner kids, ANW Jr style, and All-star Skills Competitions), our first beginner competition was on October 12, 2019 – and we plan to have some sort of formal competition every month… Typically on the 2nd weekend, but that changes at times due to various factors. We generally will alternate months with a more competitive competition one month and more beginner friendly competitions the next.
Our first League competition was an Athlete Warrior Games competition on November 9, 2020.
Not formally recognized by any particular league, though various individual gyms have been devising their own systems. Rock Solid Warrior recognizes 5 levels at this point. We have explored how some other gyms are defining levels, and may be refining our definitions, but there really is no standard at this point. Though everyone agrees that there are different levels of ninja, there is no consensus about how to divide them up. It will probably be a few years before any accepted standard emerges. Right now, each of the three big leagues have some way of separating some of the “beginners” from the more “advanced” at the adult level. Even that separation is in its infancy. This doesn’t seem to get in the way of people having fun and growing in their skills at their own pace.
It is a young sport but growing very fast. We have been told that it is the fastest growing individual sport in the country. There are 3 main “governing bodies” at the national level, each with slightly different philosophies and several new leagues. We’ve listed them here by how long they’ve been around.
National Ninja League (NNL)
National Ninja League is about to start its 6th season. They strive to be “like the show” in their competitions. If you fail on an obstacle, you are done. Founded by Chris Wilczewski from NJ they have a larger density of gyms who participate in this league in the Northeast, but they are nationwide and have made some efforts to include participants from other countries. They hold qualifiers all over the country, and if you qualify, you go to “world finals” which has multiple stages of increasing difficulty. Last year world finals had over 2000 participants. Their season typically gets going late summer and usually wraps up with finals in mid-late February.
Ultimate Ninja Athlete Association is wrapping up its 5th season and currently has the most associated gyms. They give one or two points for completing an obstacle successfully or reaching the halfway point, but until you completely fail three obstacles, you can keep going finishing as many obstacles successfully until time runs out getting as many points as you can. Founded by Bob Clark in Arizona (who has other partners), there is a heavier concentration of these gyms in the south and the west part of the country, and internationally. To participate, individuals pay an annual membership fee and the UNAA holds area qualifiers around the world and those who qualify (top 50%) can move on to “regionals” where the top 3 or top 20% (whichever is greater) can move on to World Finals. But anyone who has qualified at any area qualifier can attempt to qualify at any regional event… it doesn’t really matter where you live. Their season typically starts in September and World finals are usually late July or early August (moved to September in 2020 due to Covid-19). They have been working with WorldOCR (Obstacle Course Racing) to get the sport into the Olympics.
Athlete Warrior Games (AWG)
Athlete Warrior Games is getting ready to begin its 3rd season at the end of 2020. Their scoring system – adapted from some Australian rules – gives credit for partial completion of obstacles, so those who show the most expertise typically get the most points and beginners still get some points. It was founded by Tyler Yamauchi and the Losch brothers (Patrick and Jeff). They started in the midwest in 2018, but now have 5 regions. During the regular season, people are ranked by their top 3 scores. Top performers in each region compete at Regionals in their region. Top performers at each regional go to the league championship competition.
UNX is a new league started at the end of 2019 that is focused on taking the sport to the professional level and, in its first season, really made a big impact. The best ninjas in the world compete here in the UNX championship series which starts with 4 qualifying events that lead to a Major Event. They had 3 Major Events followed by the UNX Championship with the top 8 men and 8 women competing. They broadcast each of their events on YouTube.
Federation of International Ninja Athletics is also a new league that just finished its first season. They have separate “Speed” and “Endurance” competitions. The format of each are prescribed by the League no matter where the event is held. They just started in November 2019 and their national finals are scheduled for October 2020.
Each of the leagues want the sport to become an olympic sport and participate in various efforts to advance that cause. Each league has different classes of athletes based on age and gender.
There are also smaller leagues, some regional (for example Colorado Ninja League, Texas Ninja League, New England Ninja League) and some national (e.g. Next Level Ninja Games).
Which is the best? People have different preferences. Gyms can apply to host competitions for any league, with the exception that NNL gyms may not also host a UNAA event.
Various gyms often come up with their own competitions with various formats. One of the most attractive aspects of the sport is that no two courses or events are the same. It is always a test of skill, but there is no particular routine that someone needs to master. There are a variety of similar obstacles, but they vary from gym to gym. For example, warped walls do not all have the same curvature or surface. Most “ninjas” like it that way, though some are pushing for standardization.
When the NNL and UNAA were formed, there were significantly less than 100 ninja warrior gyms. Now there are probably well over 500 dedicated ninja gyms and a 100s more that occupy space in another type of gym. Many more gyms and entertainment facilities offer some sort of ninja obstacles. In North Carolina, there are at least 10, with at least 5 within 1.5 hour drive of Rock Solid Warrior. Rock Solid Warrior participates in the Southeast region of the AWG which also includes several other participating gyms in NC, VA, SC, and TN at this time. We hosted the AWG Southeast Regional finals last season. We will also participate in the UNAA and keep an open mind as the sport and the leagues evolve. Both NNL and UNAA events are also held in NC and many of these nearby states. There is only one NNL gym in the state (Level Up in Thomasville, NC). There are at least 3 other gyms in the state that participate in the UNAA (Warrior Tech OCR in Morrisville, Ultimate Backyard Warrior in Rocky Mount, and Kinetic Heights in Charlotte).
We provide lessons for people of all ages and levels, and we will be preparing the intermediate and advanced levels for readiness to compete in league events. We started a “competition team” in 2020 which requires an attaining of Level 2 skills or higher and includes preparation and participation in approximately one competition per month.
More and more events are popping up that includes some sort of team competitions but basically we all cheer each other on. The sport is, generally speaking, ninjas against the obstacles.
We are working on a vision for North Carolina Ninja with other gyms, to get this to be an accessible and popular sport for everyone from beginners to pros.
We are committed to coaching people as far as they want to go.
We suggest age 5, but are not against those 4 or younger from participating… especially those kids who are born climbing. In 2018, Brandon Avila – when he was 6 years old – won the 9&under UNAA championship. Most leagues have age groups starting at age 6. There is no upper age limit. There have been participants at events we have been to in their 60s and 70s. Each of the leagues have Masters divisions starting in late 30s or early 40s.
Our ceiling is only slightly higher than 20 feet which is ideal for bouldering, and bouldering seems to fit with the ninja warrior sport well.
There certainly are, but we have not yet determined if and when we will host one. Although we have a significant portion of our gym dedicated to bouldering, it is small in comparison to dedicated rock climbing facilities. That doesn’t mean that our rock walls are trivial, we just don’t have as many to offer as large, dedicated rock climbing facilities.
The sport of Ninja Warrior is young and there is just beginning to get simple formal certification associated with the existing governing bodies. Joshua has been certified as UNAA Coach. However, these certifications are really about knowing the rules of the league.
We are also students of the sport and are developing our own training programs for our newer trainers and coaches. As part of our company culture, we are always striving to improve and we have procedures that reinforce that.
Our head coach, Caleb Auer, has been trained and has been an experienced trainer. As a testimony to his success, he trained his brother, Joshua, who made it to the top 10 at NNL World finals in 2018 after less than a year of training which was somewhat unprecedented.
We know our stuff.
Our coaches include not only ninjas who have been on the show like Caleb Auer (who made it to the Vegas finals in his first season), Devin “Dougie Fresh” Harrelson (who has been on ANW six seasons), Jeshuah Lewis (competing on the show for his first time this season) and Joshua Auer (who has been on ANW Jr for both seasons), but others who have competed at the National Level or who are good enough to compete there. In fact, we have a deeper coaching staff than just about any gym in the country. At a recent UNAA event, our male pros took the top 4 spots (two others of our coaches that are just as good weren’t there to compete), and our female pro coach took the top spot also.
We’ve recently brought in an experienced rock climbing trainer, and are always looking for others to add to our skill set.