In an ongoing effort to educate and inspire ninja athletes (and future athletes), our goal is to provide as much information as we can about this exciting sport.
If ninja gyms are the heartbeat of ninja warrior, then ninja leagues are the circulatory system. Both are really important for the health and growth of the sport.
In today’s post, we’re doing a quick breakdown of U.S. ninja leagues, with a handy downloadable ninja league “cheat sheet” at the end.
Ninja Leagues are Building the Sport
Ninja leagues have taken the excitement and enthusiasm of the sport of ninja from screen to real life. With events and competitions happening around the country (and world) for all abilities and age levels, it is an exciting way to train and test your capabilities.
Ninja competitions help grow the sport by generating excitement, keeping ninja friends connected around the country and bringing new athletes to ninja gyms.
While you don’t need to participate in every league, it’s important to know what the leagues are and their differences, because at some point in your ninja life you may want to see how you stack up against other ninjas! Plus, they’re super fun events to attend.
Here is a breakdown of the largest ninja leagues in the United States.
UNAA – Ultimate Ninja Athlete Association
Founded by Bob Clark in 2014, the UNAA is an all-ages nationwide obstacle course racing series that is organized at ninja gyms across the country, and in various locations all over the world. There are 14 age classes, divided by age, gender and skill level (there is a pro class). Competitions are points based and progress from area qualifiers and regionals to one final championship every year.
UNAA follows a points-based system where 1 or 2 points are assigned to each obstacle (harder/longer obstacles will be assigned 2 points and have a clear halfway mark). Athletes who gain the most number of points first, followed by the fastest time, win. The top 50% of area qualifiers advance to regionals. The 20% of regional athletes advance to finals.
NNL – National Ninja League
The National Ninja League is an organization of 11 founding Ninja gyms across the nation. The founding members include Chris Wilczewski, Brian Wilczewski, Michelle Warnky and others. There are 14 divisions broken out by age and gender. Kids (Age 6-8), Mature Kids (Age 9-10), Preteens (Age 11-12), Teens (Age 13-14), Young. Adults (Age 15-17), Adults (Age 18+) and Masters (Age 40+). The competitor’s age on February 21, 2020 will decide what age category they fall into, in Season 5.
Athletes accumulate points throughout the season to determine run order at Finals and qualify by placing in the top 3 for their age division and gender. In the event an athlete in a qualifying position has already qualified for the World Championship their qualifying spot will move to the next highest ranked athlete at that event in the same gender and age division. Finals are Staged and the farthest the fastest wins.
AWG – Athlete Warrior Games
Athlete Warrior Games Inc. started as a dream constructed by three friends who are passionate and driven about building up the sport of Ninja Warrior. Patrick Losch (co-founder), Tyler Yamauchi (co-founder) and Jeffrey Losch (CFO) have established AWG as an Elite Ninja Warrior League throughout the greater Midwest, Ohio Valley and Southeast of America.
Founded in the NW suburbs of Chicago in 2017, AWG’s main goal has always been to provide all athletes a competitive and unique ninja course where they can build and sharpen their skills. A progression-based point structure (per obstacle) for ninja warrior competitions has been helpful in unifying a consistent way to score competitive competitions around the leagues. AWG uses a point scoring system for each obstacle on an AWG league course. Obstacles have 2 – 3 ways of completion ranging from easiest to hardest; 1 point for easier way to clear obstacle, 2 – 5 points for completing an obstacle in it’s hardest form.
FINA – Federation of International Ninja Athletes
FINA is a new ninja league which was founded in the fall of 2019 by ninja athletes, parents and gym owners as another option for athletes to showcase their skills. Athletes can choose to do a Speed course, an Endurance course or both. At World Championships the winner of each division for each event will have one final showdown on a course designed for both skills, to be crowned All-Around Champion.
FINA has 14 classes: male and female for 6-8 Year Olds, 9-10 Year Olds, 11-12 Year Olds, 13-15 Year Olds, 16-40 Year Olds, Masters, 40+ Years Old, Heroes, Active or Veteran military, or first responders and class is determined by the athletes age on July 1.
Athletes qualify for World Championships in two ways: full completion of a speed or endurance course, or by accruing points.
Here is a list of the some of the state leagues:
And, these are only a few! There are ninja leagues all over the world. If we missed any, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, you can download our Ninja League Cheat Sheet here! Click the image to save to your device.
Special thank you to Lisa Hertz for assisting with this post.