May 28, 2022
Ninja obstacle course competitions have been gaining popularity worldwide over the past several years. Throughout 2021 and 2022 ninjas competed in regional competitions to gain the honor of qualifying for World Championships in the National Ninja League (NNL). Training and competing in ninja tests one’s strength, agility, balance, and speed as they run, jump, hang, climb, and balance through several obstacles using focus, grit, determination and endurance.
Locally Motus Ninjas of Lee’s Summit and Motus Ninjas of Overland Park had great representation on the regional and world level. Team Motus (Motus Ninjas competitive team) sent 28 male and female ninjas that spanned from ages 8 to 65. NNL World Championships this year was a three day event in Greensboro, NC. It brought together over 2,000 ninjas from around the world to compete in 4 different skills challenges and a timed obstacle course. This year the skills were Full Swing, Over the Ledge, Express Lane, and Spiral Staircase. These tested their strength and courage, finger strength, speed and agility, grip strength and power respectively. The obstacle course was a 3 stage event where the degree of difficulty rose in each stage. Those who placed at the top of their peers in Stage 1 advanced to Stage 2 and likewise to Stage 3.
Team Motus started off strong as Wyatt Dietzel cruised through Stage 1 hitting his first buzzer for the team. Wyatt, competing in the 15-17 age division, completed the course placing him in the top 35% of his division and qualified for Stage 2. “I have worked so hard over the last few years, with the goal of hitting the buzzer. The rush of adrenaline was completely foriegn but reassuring that all the hard work had paid off,” explained Wyatt.
Every competitor had their own story of hard work and determination that brought them to gather in this elite competition. Two of our local ninjas, RJ Brown and TJ Rehak, had standout performances where the stars aligned and their work leading up to this event paid off.
RJ Brown, age 8, of Team Motus Lee’s Summit flew through Stage 1. He conquered the course hitting the sought after buzzer with the third fastest time in his division. His placement out of 173 in his division awarded him advancement to Stage 2. Heading into Stage 2, RJ competed against 60 athletes. He was able to complete Stage 2 and hit the buzzer; the time it took him to complete the course landed him in 4th place. He was now among the elite group of ninjas heading into the final stage of the course competition. You could see RJ’s confidence and excitement grow throughout the stages. As he stood on the starting platform of Stage 3 he quickly hyped up the crowd motioning for them to get louder. As the 3 second countdown began, RJ was poised and focused to conquer the course. He flew through the first half of the course with little to no trouble and captured 2nd place overall on the course. RJ was also awarded 2nd place in the World Championship title (who can go the furthest the fastest, having successfully cleared all prior stages) and 5th for the Strongest Ninja title (determined by summing the Course Overall place and the Skills Overall place).
Age is only a number when it comes to the Motus’ Masters Division (40 plus) ninjas. Team Motus had good representation, sending 5 of the 97 competitors to the World Championships. Alex Rapp took 3rd place in Skill: Full Swing. This skill starts by grasping a bar and swinging back and forth gaining enough momentum to throw yourself off the bar, then reaching to grip the next bar that is 8-10 feet away, also known as a lache. Alex was able to complete the 4 laches in total with the 3rd fastest time.
TJ Rehak placed 2nd in the title of Overall Skills which combines all 4 skills events. His focus going into this event was to be as clean as possible with each move he made. “Competing against almost 100 people I knew I couldn’t make any mistakes at all if I wanted to place in the Top 3 and earn a medal,” said TJ.
The Masters continued their success on Stage 1 of the obstacle course. Team Motus had 3 Masters in the Top 35% of Stage 1 qualifying them for Stage 2. Todd Edelman, Alex Rapp and TJ Rehak took on Stage 2 of the course challenge. The top 20% of competitors from Stage 2 advanced to Stage 3. TJ Rehak was the lone Motus Master moving on to Stage 3. Stage 3 proved to be very difficult. So much determination was witnessed as each Master tested their grip strength on the Swing Globes, the obstacle only 1 ninja completed. In the end, TJ Rehak placed 5th overall in the obstacle course. Once all the skills events were completed, combined with his obstacle course finish, TJ was awarded the title of “Worlds Strongest Ninja” in the Masters division for taking 1st place overall. “I was truly shocked when they called my name,” said TJ. “I was sitting in 3rd place going into Stage 3 of the obstacle course. When that wrapped up, I congratulated the guys that were in first and second place thinking that was how it ended up. I didn’t realize that I moved into first until I checked the official results online, it was truly an honor.”
Other performances to note were given by Cristina Overstreet and Cal Tran qualifying for Stage 2 in the Adult division.
Motus Ninjas opened in 2018 as Kansas City’s largest Ninja Warrior Facility. Their goal is to provide a positive environment for ninjas to be courageous and never give up. Motus offers training for ninjas aged 4 and up, and all skills levels. Motus Ninjas roots itself in 6 Core Values: Collaborative Teamwork, Continuous Improvement, Customer Commitment, Healthy Balanced Living, Positive Fun Environment, and Pursue Passion & Find Purpose. Motus Ninjas has locations in Lee’s Summit and Overland Park.