Most things tend to change and evolve over time. Asian World of Martial Arts’ catalogue of ninja-related goods, for example, used to look like the image above this sentence.
Now it looks more like this:
And sometimes, just for fun, it looks a little like this, too:
The idea of what it takes to be a ninja has also evolved over time. In Feudal Japan, it meant that you were a mercenary agent. Now it can mean that you’re skilled in ninjutsu but, more colloquially, it can also mean that you’re just really skilled at anything. Even job ads state that they’re looking for “ninja programmers” and “office ninjas” these days.
At this time of year, though, with the first National Finals Week 1 of American Ninja Warrior about to kick off on NBC, being a ninja is all about being able to navigate a series of brutally creative and physically demanding obstacle courses that combine the balance, speed, and agility (if not the stealth) of old school ninja-hood with a mix of rock climbing, strongman competition, and parkour.
The competition has become so popular that it’s arguably become a sport in its own right, with regular competitors dedicating their lives and fitness regimes to training for competition each season. It’s definitely become an industry of its own, too, with American Ninja Warrior-inspired (and even NW branded!) gyms popping up across the country and DIY Ninja Warrior gym guides popping up in publications like Men’s Fitness.
With American Ninja Warrior finals excitement in the air, we’ve been inspired to dig through our own store to see what kind of ANW-friendly gear and accessories we could put together to make our own DIY starter kit. We might not be able to provide you with all of the raw materials that you’d need to build your own fancy, state-of-the-art Ninja Warrior course, complete with obstacles like warped walls, unstable bridges, and jumping bars like this mind-blowing home installation, for example:
But we do know a thing or two about ninja accessories and we have plenty of the kind of smaller equipment that you’ll need to build the strength and skill base that any good Ninja Warrior will need before they start trying the fancy stuff.
Here are some of our favorites Ninja Warrior basics:
One of the first things that you need to learn in any good martial arts training program is how to fall – and land – safely. In ANW competition, that usually involves landing in a pool of water. But while you’re still closer to the ground, we recommend a semi-soft surface like ProForce® Jigsaw Mats ($39.95) for your first rounds of breakfalls.
2. Hand Strengtheners
Given that a large percentage of the ANW obstacles courses involve manipulating and dangling from monkey bar-like contraptions, good grip strength will be of the utmost importance in your training. You can take that grip to the next level with ProForce® Hand Strengtheners ($14.95).
3. Chin-Up Equipment
Once you’re hold on for dear life, you can start to work on the pulling part of the equation involved in obstacles like Arm Rings, Arm Bikes, and the Bungee Rope Climb. To help you develop the kind of lat and rhomboid strength that you’ll need to pull those off, we suggest the Chinning & Sit-Up Bar.($23.95) We do not, however, recommended turning this setup into a makeshift Salmon Ladder at home.
4. Push-Up Aids
Most obstacles are more pull than push-oriented, but balance is an important part of any training regimen and a good climber, parkour aficionado is going to need excellent pecs, shoulders, and core strength. Take care of those elements – and be kind to your wrists – with a set of Push-Up Bars ($19.95).
Once you start the running and jumping portion of your training, you’re going to need a pair of shoes that are flexible enough to allow for a large (but safe) range of motion in your ankles as you navigate complex obstacles like the Warped Wall and the Quintuple Steps. And you’ll want soles that won’t slide on slippery surfaces. Depending on your footwear preferences, a pair of Kung Fu Shoes ( w/ Rubber Soles) ($16.95) just might fit the bill.
6. Climbing Gear
With all of those things in place, we suggest taking a test run in the great outdoors to see how all of that pulling, pushing, and jumping is coming together. Add a set of Ninja Ashiko Foot Spikes ($11.95) to your Kung Fu Shoes. Strap on a pair of Ninja Shuko Hand Claws ($11.95) for good measure and see how you fare on a tree or two to add some old(er) school ninja charm to your training.
Are you a fan of American Ninja Warrior? Have you tried any of those stunts at home (or elsewhere)? Let us know in the comments!