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Ryan Ford on How to Train for Ninja Warrior

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Ok, Cavers, it’s a quick post day.  So here’s a “How to Train for Ninja Warrior” video by Ryan “Demon Drills” Ford and Brandon Douglass.  I’ve been wanting to make one of these myself but he beat me too it, and I don’t mind promoting his work, since he’s a good instructor.  Some of you will notice that there is quite a bit of overlap and many similarities with CrossFit training.  Indeed, a lot of those same functional movement skills come in very useful on the Ninja Warrior course.  Most of my top picks for exercises would have been the same.  Please comment and let me know what you think.

For the record, Ryan Ford finished 32nd in the south west regional qualifiers, narrowly missing the semi-finals for one of the most competitive regions in the nation.  He had an injured ankle before the warped wall.  I will also give him credit for training some of the very beasts that kept him out of the semi’s and providing them with their training grounds, Apex movement.  Brandon Douglass is considered Ninja Warrior Elite, and tied for 10th in 2012 ANW 4 in Las Vegas, along with Elet Hall (NE region) and our own JB Douglass, falling on the transition of the Unstable Bridge in Stage 2.

Can You Name the American Ninja Warrior Caver in the Men’s Health Article?

Friday, October 26th, 2012
Who is this Parkour phenom on the American Ninja Warrior IV Course?

Who is this phenom on the American Ninja Warrior IV Course?

(We are having our Ninja Warrior & Parkour Seminar at the Cave on Nov. 3rd, 2012 (Kids) & Nov. 4th (Adults), details here… so if you’ll please excuse the shameless promotion.)

Here is your American Ninja Warrior Trivia Quiz for the Day:

1>  Name the Caver depicted in the “cover” picture of the May 8th, 2012 American Ninja Warrior Workout Men’s Health article show here:

2>  Name the obstacle that he is on.

3> What “stage” of the competition is it in and what obstacle on course?  (Ergo, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th,… etc.)

4> What region did he compete in and where was the competition held?

5> What discipline does he specialize in?

6> How far did he get in the competition, ergo, what obstacle  (if any) did he fall on?

7> Who were the commentators for his run?

Ok,… so,… how about this guy?  (This picture was used on buddy TV:

as well as Monsters & Critcs:

Can you name the Cave Ninja??

Can you name the Cave Ninja??

1>  Name the Caver depicted in the picture above.

2>  Name the obstacle that he is on.

3> What “stage” of the competition is it in and what obstacle on course?  (Ergo, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th,… etc.)

4> What region did he compete in and where was the competition held?

5> What discipline does he specialize in?

6> What obstacle during the competition(s) (if any) did he fall on?

7> Who were the commentators for his run?

Come train with both of these Cave Ninjas and many more of the ANW 4 Celebrities at the Cave on Nov. 4th.  Read more here:

(Answers will be posted later this week on The Cave’s FaceBook account.)

Girl Parkour, Less Excuses, Ninja Warrior Seminar & More Training

Saturday, October 13th, 2012

During a conversation with a relatively recent Caver who has been doing CrossFit with us for a few months, I asked her if she’d be interested in taking a parkour class.  I was very surprised when she told me that it seemed to her that Parkour was more of a “guy thing” or a boy’s sport than a girl’s.  Now, in my opinion, there may be some good reasons why not to try parkour, but that should definitely not be one of them.  Parkour isn’t a guy’s sport, especially not any more than CrossFit is a guy’s sport!  I can see why some people may think that, say, boxing is more becoming for men than for women (that is not my personal opinion, women can be boxers if they so choose, but I can understand that line of thought more so than for other sports.)  but women excel and love to practice most sports, and especially parkour!  It is actually more beautiful to watch, in some ways, than guys doing parkour.  While elite traceurs (male parkour practitioners) can be more powerful and explosive, traceuses (female parkour practitioners) are generally more graceful and have beautiful “flow” and lines.  It’s hard to explain, but I really don’t have to because I have a video to prove it and you’ll see what I’m talking about:

So now we’ve settled that issue.  Parkour isn’t “for boys”.  How about for CrossFitters?  Well, depends what kind of CrossFitter you are.  It seems that these days CrossFitters are interested simply in CrossFit.  Old school CrossFitters had a broader interest.  Back in the day, when no one knew what the hell CrossFit was, some of us (including Roger and myself) were like CrossFit evangelists telling everyone about it, and Greg Glassman would travel around with his posse talking to people and having seminars and explaining to people “What is CrossFit”.   This is a partial quote from the “What is CrossFit” page on

“Our program delivers a fitness that is, by design, broad, general, and inclusive. Our specialty is not specializing.  Combat, survival, many sports, and life reward this kind of fitness and, on average, punish the specialist.”

Back then it wasn’t about simply decreasing your Fran time, or 1-rep maxes, it was about being exposed to a wide variety of movement stimuli.  ”Our specialty is not specializing.  Combat, survivial, many sports, and life reward this kind of fitness..”  part of the prescription was to go out and try all these things, including gymnastics.  As a matter of fact, my second exposure to parkour came at a CrossFit certification seminar in Sta Cruz where Glassman had guest speaker Jesse Woody from American Parkour do a little presentation on parkour as part of the cert.  In my own Level-1 certification I assisted Roger in teaching the gymnastics segment (we taught handstands, back handsprings, round offs, rolling, presses, etc- not just “handstand push-ups” leaning against a wall) and we got to learn combat from John Hackleman.  It was all part of the program just as much as working with a barbell was.  The CrossFit that I was exposed to at first which drew my attention included all these interesting things and the piece that resembles it the most is when I see it at the highest level at the CrossFit Games.  At least they got to do a triathlon, run an obstacle course and throw stuff.   So my point with all of this is that it saddens me when Cavers box themselves in to just “specializing” in CrossFit.  You should go out and try stuff!  But you’re afraid of getting hurt!- OK, be extra conservative.  Don’t do anything rash or be reckless.  Swim in a pool, not in the open ocean.  Try parkour in a safe gym environment with instruction, not on a wet metal rail over asphalt.  Try rock climbing in a gym first before you go do it at the Red River Gorge.  Recently not only Cavers but thousands of athletes went off to do the “Tough Mudder”.   I heard about a lot of injuries, not just from our gym but from friends of friends.  I can guarantee you that if these people trained Parkour in a gym environment first before going off and trying obstacles with a 10 mile run built in they would have been far less likely to get hurt than if they just “winged it”.   Their prior experience would have left them much more confident as well.   Sure it’s possible to get hurt training new sports in the gym, but it definitely makes you more robust in other activities and the real world!

Now this relates to the  ”American Ninja Warrior & Parkour Seminar” that I am hosting here at our very own Cave on Nov. 4th (for adults) and Nov. 3rd (for kids).  (The kid’s event is basically sold out but if the weather forecast is for no rain we will open 12 more kids slots.)   This, believe it or not,  is the perfect situation to step out of your comfort zone and do something new- and relatively safe.  How “relatively safe”?  As safe as your CrossFit class.  Seriously. That safe. Maybe safer.  We are very good at designing and scaling obstacles and as long as people listen to instructions and don’t go try something stupid that they’re asked not to do, the risk is minimal.  Usually athletes surprise themselves and have big smiles on their faces the whole time and thank us later.  What if you can’t make it or it’s not your thing?  That’s fine, but try something else.  Dance.  Judo.  Gymnastics.  Try something that involves different types of coordination, agility, body control and timing.  Maybe it’s picking up an old ball sport that you used to play with your friends as a kid like tennis, baseball or basketball or perhaps it’s going biking, skiing or snowboarding with some of your fellow Cavers.  Maybe it’s taking your old skateboard out of the garage, albeit going to the sporting goods store to buy a helmet, wrist guards and knee pads.  Live it up, use your body. It’s rewarding!

Trainer’s Programming: Andres De la Rosa (aka Amadraeus)

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

So if you’ve been following the Blog some of you will know that by Nick’s suggestion we were to post a week’s worth of our own programming/ workouts and possibly nutrition as well.   Most of the new CrossFitters at the Cave don’t know me all that well, so I’ll mention a few things about myself relating to my “fitness”, interests and goals that may shed light on what and why I’m doing what I’m doing.

Basically, I’m training for Ninja Warrior and I have a couple of major “holes” in my game.  Here’s a little video contrast to shed light on the situation.  My attempt at a transition on the Ultimate Cliff Hanger at David & Brian’s Ninja Warrior Course in Santa Cruz:

And here is David Campbell crushing the UCH:

To be fair, David Campbell is probably The Best American at The Ultimate Cliff Hanger.  He lives on that thing.

Most of you may not know that I’ve been fairly good at CrossFit in the past, competing in the 2007 and 2008 CrossFit Games and Sectionals or on the CrossFit Marin Affiliate Team as well as the Games Open although these days CrossFit is secondary in my training.  In 2010 I competed in American Ninja Warrior II  and since then I’ve been hooked and each year I’ve prioritized Ninja Warrior specific training more and more.  CrossFit can definitely help provide a great fitness base for an even like ANW, but in my opinion the two disciplines that prepare an athlete the best for American Ninja Warrior (other than simply replicating and training on the obstacles) are Parkour and Rock Climbing.  Gymnastics is a close 3rd.  So each year since I started competing in ANW, I’ve been shying a little further away from heavy CrossFitting and emphasizing  climbing and Parkour.  In both 2010 & 2011 I completed the qualifier course in Venice but was just a little bit too slow to finish in the top 30, which is the pool that moves on to the semi-finals.  This year, 2012, it was a much easier process to make it to the next stage because they had six regions and a lot more competitors advancing to the finals.   I barely made it to the finals in Vegas but I fell on the “Jumping Spider” in stage one.  Although I didn’t finish the stage, I know that I am physically capable of doing so.  I made a “read” error for the obstacle.  If I tried it again I very well could get it and I know that even if it is possible for me to fall, I am very capable of finishing stage 1 of the course.  Here is a stage-1 simulation at David, Brian & Travis’ former Sasuke course in Santa Cruz:

Although stage two is commonly thought to be considerably harder, it is still within my capability of completing it, as long as I have a good run.  Stage 3, however, is a completely different matter.  I know that I have uncommonly strong grip strength and pull strength compared to most people, even most CrossFitters.  (If you think you can beat me at a grip strength contest, come find me.  I’ll be happy to acquiesce.)  However, the amount of grip strength and endurance as well as core strength and explosiveness required to complete stage 3 of American Ninja Warrior is, well- ridiculous, and I know that I’m not there at the moment.  I’ve decided to concentrate on climbing until my finger strength increases enough to at least give me a chance at completing stage 3 of the competition.  Climbing at the level that I’m trying to get to is very hard, and somewhat dangerous, similarly to how how it can be dangerous to perform at an elite level at any sport.  You can simply be more at risk of injury.   Here is a week of my programming starting on Sept. 15th at the Meyers South Lake Tahoe bouldering competition:

Saturday Sept. 15th: Bouldering outdoors (that is climbing with no ropes- you stay low to the ground.  It tends to be shorter but more powerful.  Kind of like a “strength day” to climbing instead of a metcon- [longer route on a rope.])  for about 8 hours starting around 9-ish and ending around 5-ish.  Actual “on the rock” time was much less.  This involved plenty of hiking, strategizing, and resting in between problems, as well as enjoying the good company.  It was hard climbing outdoors since I’m mostly used to climbing in a gym, but it was very gratifying and I became familiar with a lot of great climbing spots in Tahoe.  The hardest problem I got was (supposedly) a V-6, which is fairly hard, but I mostly completed  V-1’s & V-2’s.  I think the V-6 was over rated in terms of difficulty.  Also, after the climbing competition was over, I participated in the dyno comp which was fun, but I got trounced, in both the boulder and the dyno comp.  My friend and climbing partner Brett Ashton, won the dyno comp and came in 3rd in the “open” category, which is populated by super-freaks.  He’s about as good as you can get at climbing and not be professional.  He is sponsored by Evolve.  Here’s a picture of him on a V8 on the “Toltec Boulder”:

Bret Ashton on The Toltec Boulder in South Lake Tahoe.  Bret, stop bitching about the heat and just send!

Bret Ashton on The Toltec Boulder in South Lake Tahoe. Bret, stop bitching about the heat and just send!

Sunday Sept. 16th: Woke up early to go for a run at altitude through the forest.  I got side tracked by rocks to jump on.  I ended up practicing a great stride / gap leap sequence on a series of rocks and a bush to jump over in between the second to last and last rock.  Practiced single steps on rocks, leap over bush and land the precision on the last rock.  It required considerable speed and commitment.  Great coordination, depth, power, and agility training as well as the “mental” aspect of training a big skill.  The moves required short sprinting.  Ran back to camp.  The bulk of the day was taken up by watching Bret and another fellow make a project of a V-11 that I couldn’t even start.  Later doubled up by finishing the day at the “hemorrhoid” boulder on a classic V3 that I  made up.  Probably 1.5 hours of climbing there to close up the day.

Monday Sept 17th: Rest-ish.  Fore arms pretty trashed

Tuesday Sept 18th: The Cave’s Lvl 2 programming:

A> Back Squats - 5×2 @ 85%

B>  Squat Snatch - 3 x2 @ 75%, 2×2 @ 80%

(hadn’t snatched in a while went conservative with just 55 kg.)

C> For Time:

800M run

Rest 1 min

50 Hand Release Push Ups

Rest 1 min

800M run

Wednesday Sept. 19th: Hill sprints (roughly 80 meters?) right outside of my parents’ house:

3 R:  Hill Sprint / 15 Push-ups, then rest

Moderate bouldering later that night at Planet Granite

Thursday Sept. 20th: The Cave programming Lvl 2:

A> Thruster- 5×3 @ 80%  (Increased weight for sets from 40kg through 65 kg.)

B> Back Jerks - Did not have time to do this.

C> 5 min Emom of: 15 Hand Release Push Ups; 2 Single Leg Box Jump L/R.

(Coincidentally Jonny Mosely came in to the gym during the E-mom.  He was one of the hosts of American Nina Warrior 4.  I actually met him during the qualifiers in Venice, although he is a local and several of our clients know him.)

D>  5 min Emom of: 8 Toes to Bar/ Pull up alternate.   This was excellent training for Ninja Warrior.  It combines the core and pull strength necessary for a lot of the upper body obstacles as well as giving you a stamina hit.

I should have probably taken a rest day that day, but it felt good to train at the time.  I paid for it the following week though, when my shoulder and later my neck seized up.  I’m finally better about two weeks later, but the three days in a row of push-ups with no rest when I’m somewhat deconditioned in regards to CrossFit training may have had something to do with it.  Special thanks to Dr. Sara LaMarch for helping heal up my shoulder and neck.

Friday Sept. 21st: Monsterous bouldering day at the climbing gym.  I crushed a V6, almost completed a second V6 project, and started chipping away at the pieces of a pretty tough V7 among other problems that I managed to send.  However, that weekend my neck tightened up during that weekend probably due to a combination of bad sleeping posture and previous workouts.

I intend on focusing on climbing for the next several months and expanding to parkour and gymnastics with some Ninja Warrior specific training thereafter.  I will also be doing a limited amount of CrossFit-ish workouts, especially to keep some Olympic lifting skills.  As far as my nutrition for that week, I tried to eat somewhat healthy, but I’m pretty sure that I ate too much ice-cream.  It can happen on climbing trips.

As a reminder, The Cave has a Ninja Warrior Seminar & competition coming up on Nov. 3rd for kids and Nov. 4th for adults.  We’re going to have a whole team of American Ninja Warrior celebrities here to coach you through several courses and teach you some Ninja skillzzz.  If anyone wants to try learning some of this skill set, it would be a great place to practice!   No parkour or rock climbing prerequisites!  The kids’ event is almost sold out but the adult one still has plenty of room.  Sign up on our website and feel free to contact me if you have any questions.



Summer Camps at “The Cave”

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Not everybody knows that we have some rock’in summer camps for kids and teens here at “The Cave”.  There are two camps remaining for the 2012 season, one coming up on August 6th-10th, which is a Parkour Camp headed up by our Parkour Director Ryder Darcy, and another Gymnastics Camp August 13th-17th.  Sign-ups for the Parkour camp may be closing on Monday July 30th, so please hurry to sign up if you are interested.  The camps run from 10am-2pm Monday through Friday.  The kids can be signed up for one, all five, or any combination of days for the week.  Also pre-registering at least a month in advance is less expensive than the week before camp!

Earlier this month I ran what may have been the most awesome summer camp ever-ever-ever July 9th-13th.  It was, of course, a “Ninja Camp” with an American Ninja Warrior Theme.  We had 6 American Ninja Warrior Veterans guest coaching including David Campbell, Travis Fulanic, JB Douglass, Andrey Pfening, the illustrious Tom Hutchman, and of course, myself, Andres De la Rosa (Amadraeus).  Our coaches poured an enormous amount of creativity and passion into the exercises, drills, games and obstacle courses set out for the kids as well as imparting part of the philosophy of parkour and Ninja Warrior which encircles the themes of:

1> “To be strong and to be useful.”

2> “With great power comes great responsibility.”

3> “We’re here to improve ourselves together” and last but not least

4> “Stay safe and be a good judge of your limits.”

Overall the kids were extraordinarily well behaved and had a great time.  Here are a couple of pictures and a video of our awesome little group:

Summer Camp 2012 "Ninjas" with coaches JB Douglass, Travis Furlanic, Andrey Pfenning and Andres De la Rosa

Summer Camp 2012 "Ninjas" with coaches JB Douglass, Travis Furlanic, Andrey Pfenning and Andres De la Rosa

Here’s a little video of one of our “Parkour Capture the Flag” game:

We also have “Survival Camps” run by our self-defense and CrossFit coach, Nick Wise.  Although there won’t be another Ninja or Survival Camp until probably next year, both our parkour and gymnasics camps are great fun for the kids.  After all, The Cave is the perfect place to get stronger, get skilled, have fun, and make friends!  And even if your schedule doesn’t quite work out for our two remaining camps this year, there is always Kid’s Night Out as well even throughout the school year on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month from 5:30-10pm!  Please call “The Cave’s” front desk for pricing or more information.

Cheers-  I hope everyone is having a great summer!


Travis Furlanic Plays “Bulldog” with The Cave Kids at Kid’s Night Out

Saturday, July 21st, 2012


American Ninja Warrior Finals Viewing Party at Pizza Orgasmica, San Rafael on Monday @ 9pm

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

What’s up, Cavers?!

Well, it’s that time again.  We’re going to have another American Ninja Warrior Viewing Party on Monday July 9th from 9-10pm.  This time we’ll be watching the Las Vegas Finals episode 4 at Pizza Orgasmica in San Rafael, about 8 minutes north of The Cave on the 101.  We will have at least a couple of mystery Mt. Midoriyama veterans in attendance (Furlanic, Campbell, Kretch, Someone else??), or maybe a whole collection of them if we’re fortunate.  Come meet the (reality TV) stars!  (Although, if you hang out at The Cave, you probably already have, if you’re not one of them yourself!)  In any case, we’ll have a blast, and I’m sure that they’ll have some salads on the menu for you paleo party-poopers.   The only cost to come is your dinner.

Who are these guys??  That looks like a picture of a few of the North West athletes.

Who are these guys?? That looks like a picture of a few of the North West athletes.

By the way, please respond to this blog post or text me to confirm that you’re coming.  You can reach me at four-one-five.  Two hundred. seventy eight seventy four.

San Francisco International Parkour Jam June 24th & 25th

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

The 2nd annual San Francisco International Parkour Jam is taking place this weekend in different locations in and around the bay area.  I was fortunate enough to have a chance to go to the Ninja Warrior type course on Friday June 22nd at Parkour Connections’ and SF Parkour’s registration location and had a great time with some of the old SF PK cast as well as former Cave coaches Marissa Lee and Ryan Fulmer.  Here is a picture of Bay Area Parkour Bad Boy Christian Fairfax testing out the Ninja Warrior course:

Christian Fairfax on the Ninja Warrior course for the 2012 International Parkour Jam

Christian Fairfax on the Ninja Warrior course for the 2012 International Parkour Jam

Here’s a link to SF Parkour’s International Jam page:

and to the map with all the meeting spots for Saturday & Sunday:

SF Parkour community leaders have always done a fantastic job of organizing their events and bringing traceurs together from all parts of the continent.  If Parkour is something you’re passionate about, I would make sure to make it to at least part of the activities this weekend.

An Insider’s View at Tom Hutchman’s Rock’n Run at American Ninja Warrior 4 Qualifiers

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Many of you know Tom Hutchman.  He is often at The Cave in the late evenings, Thursday afternoons and late Saturday mornings.  Tom is my personal “Ninja project”.   Tom also takes classes from Cave coaches Andrey Pfening, Seraphina Schinner, as well as Ryder Darcy.  We’re all very proud of Tom considering that he is now one of the oldest competitors to every complete the American Ninja Warrior Qualifier course!  Not only that, but Tom’s “competitor profile” landed him as well as our little Cave on National television in front of about 5 million viewers on Monday June 11th on NBC as well as on Sunday June 10th on G-4.  (Andrey Pfenings aired run was rather spectacular as well, but we’ll save that for another blog post.)

Here is an insider’s view at Tom’s run at Venice Beach back in early March 2012:

Notice David Campbell waiting to congratulate Tom at the base of the Warped Wall.

On the fly warped wall coaching courtesy of Amadraeus.

Ninja Warrior Viewing Party Rescheduled for Tuesday at 7pm due to NBC Coverage of Stanley Cup Finals

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Hey Crew,

NBC has rescheduled coverage of American Ninja Warrior NorthWest Finals to Tuesday at 8pm due to their coverage of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals.  We just found out today, so we are shifting the viewing party from tonight at 8:15 to Tuesday night at 7pm.  We’ll watch some of the highlights from the Preliminary runs from 7-8pm and then NBC’s airing of the Regional Finals at 8pm.  We do have a few Cavers or former Caver’s in the Regional Finals.  Come join us and find out if anyone makes it to the Ninja Warrior Finals in Las Vegas!

The Party is a Pot Luck at Rosanna’s House ( 12 Pepper Ave, Corte Madera, 94925 ) so bring something to share if you can.  At least now it doesn’t run quite so late!  IF you have any questions, please call Andres at: Four One Five  .  Two Hundred. seven eight seven four.