Ninja Warrior (sport)

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An upper body obstacle using gym rings

Ninjasport,[1] the sport of Ninja Warrior,[2], ninja warrior sport,[3] also called ninja competitions,[4] or ninjathletics,[5] is an obstacle course racing sport, a variant with rock climbing, parkour and gymnastics contributions. It is a spin-off of Japanese obstacle course TV game show "Sasuke" aka "Ninja Warrior". The flagship events are the various unlicensed copies of and officially franchised Ninja Warrior TV shows.[2] Athletes who compete in ninja warrior competitions[6] refer to themselves as ninjas,[4] though also sometimes call themselves "ninja warriors",[7] "ninja athletes",[8] or "ninjathletes".[9]

The development of the sport has been compared to the rise of rock-climbing gyms, skateboarding parks, and CrossFit.[4] Multiple disciplines of the sport have been shown on-air, including individual competition, team-based competition, head-to-head competition, head-to-head team competition, relay competition, and head-to-head relay competition.[7][10][11][12] The more successful ninja athletes who compete on the TV shows require year round dedication to training to successfully compete.[2] Ninjasport is also promoted to the public to get sedentary youngsters to go out and play in physical activity and away from game consoles; and to fight childhood obesity.[13][14]

Ninjasport is in the category of functional fitness sports, along with CrossFit, and parkour, which are less style conscious that many other sports, but more focused on acquiring skills and abilities. Its naming has been criticized for exploiting Japanese culture, and lack of connection to the ninja, as the bellicose flamboyant competitions in ninjasport are a far cry from the stealthiness expected of ninjas who used stealth for assassination.[15] It has also been noted for its leveling the field, in allowing competitors from all walks of life to compete directly against each other, whether they are international calibre athletes or stay-at-home parents; and inspiring similar to start competing and getting fit. Kareem Abdul Jabbar observes that it fits the American mindset and culture with its individualistic and democratic participation.[16]


A warped wall on an American Ninja Warrior course

Ninjasport feature prominently agility and upper body strength obstacles.[17] Among the favorite obstacles in ninja warrior, are the warped wall and the salmon ladder.[18] However, more and more obstacles are being created all the time by those running competitions. Creativity of obstacles are one of the things that keep the sport unique and interesting and push the athletes to get better.

International accreditation[edit]

World Obstacle[19] has become the officially recognized body by the Global Association of International Sports Federations(GAISF) in observer status as a key step to bring obstacle course racing through the process of getting the sport into the Olympics.[20] Ninjasport to obstacle course racing is considered analogous to the short sprints & hurdles in the world of track & field.

Regional distribution[edit]

Outside of the TV show, events and facilities exist.[2][4][21] Several national association of ninja gyms have been established with the express goal of confirming ninja warrior as an established sport.[18]

In the United States, the two most established leagues are the. Ultimate Ninja Athlete Association[22] and the National Ninja League[23]. Regional and local competitions also exist around the USA. Training facilities ("ninja" gyms) also exist across the country.[2][4] Gyms started to appear around 2014, and many stars of American Ninja Warrior have opened their own gyms. There are now a variety of youth that are growing up with this as their sport, and it is common to see teenagers competing with 20+ and 30+ year olds and often winning. The Ninja Sport Network and Ninja Sport Championship were announced in 2021 by Ethan Swanson and Chris DiGangi - two veterans of the American Ninja Warrior show and the sport - to provide high quality coverage of ninja sporting events and make it available to viewers everywhere.[24]

In France, in 2016, a local competition, a ninja gym, have both opened.[25]

In Britain, in 2016, a ninja gym has opened.[26]

In New Zealand, in 2016, a ninja park has opened.[27]

In Hong Kong, in 2018, competitions have been held for the public.[13]

In Australia, the sport has risen rapidly, driven by its TV counterpart, Australian Ninja Warrior, and similarity in rapid popularity of its 1990s TV sport predecessor Australian Gladiators.[15]


  1. Casey Wright (2017). "Building Up Boys: A Response to "Can American Ninja Warrior Save Men's Gymnastics?"". The Ninja Zone.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Jeremy Olshan (5 June 2016). "'American Ninja Warrior' is first TV show with shot at becoming an Olympic event". MarketWatch.
  3. Joe Reavis (23 May 2018). "Local man competing as an American Ninja Warrio". Wylie News. C&S Media Publications.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Adele Chapin (28 August 2015). "Why Does Everyone Want to Become an American Ninja Warrior?". Racked.
  5. TAG/ninjathletics on Instagram
  6. CARL DEFFENBAUGH (22 August 2018). "If you've ever dreamed of becoming a Ninja Warrior — this weekend is your chance". Fox 6 Now (Milwaukee).
  7. 7.0 7.1 American Ninja Warrior. Season 5. Episode 1. NBC.
  8. "Finals Week 2". Team Ninja Warrior. Season 3. Episode 11. 27 June 2017. USA Network.
  9. TAG/ninjathlete on Instagram
  10. "USA vs. The World". American Ninja Warrior. 2017. NBC.
  11. "All-Stars". American Ninja Warrior. 2017. NBC.
  12. Team Ninja Warrior. Season 1. Episode 1. Esquire.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Andrew McNicol (5 April 2018). "American Ninja Warrior stars call for Hong Kong kids to stop gaming and start moving". South China Morning Post.
  14. Jay Bouchard (19 October 2017). "Train Like a Ninja at a New Colorado Gym". 5280 Magazine.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Alastair Blanshard (23 July 2018). "Australian Ninja Warrior and the death of style and grace in sport". The Conversation.
  16. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (11 July 2018). "Why Ninja Warrior is the sport America needs". The Guardian.
  17. "Philadelphia City Qualifiers". American Ninja Warrior. 25 June 2018. NBC.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Dinah Eng (25 December 2016). "'American Ninja Warrior' Spawns a New Class of Gym". Fortune.
  25. (in French) Nicolas Bonzom (31 August 2016). "Nîmes: Un parcours «Ninja Warrior» ouvre ses portes à Caissargues". 20minutes.
  26. Andrea Collitt (21 August 2016). "UK's first ninja course coming to Colchester". Gazette-Standard (Essex County).
  27. Bailey Gorst (14 March 2016). "What is a Ninja Warrior Course?". Jumpoline.

See also[edit]

  • Japanese game show
  • Competitive jousting
  • Combat sports
  • Martial arts
  • Parkour

[[ Category: Ninja Warrior (franchise) |Sport]] [[ Category: Obstacle racing ]] [[ Category: Endurance games ]] [[ Category: Athletic sports ]] [[ Category: Running competitions ]] [[ Category: Media franchises ]]

[[Category: Ninja Warrior (franchise)|Sport]]
[[Category: Obstacle racing]]
[[Category: Endurance games]]
[[Category: Athletic sports]]
[[Category: Running competitions]]
[[Category: Media franchises]]

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