The Bulldog Tribune
The Rise and Fall of Ninja WarriorMonday, January 25, 2010 By Nico Esguerra
Maybe you ’ ve seen people playing it on the senior terrace during lunch. Or maybe it ’ s been out in front of the school during early release. Or in class, when your teacher leaves the room for a quick second, and you need to get a quick fix. Or even in that most likely of places, the 800 hallway, where it ’ s already like Mardi Gras — you never really know what you ’ re going to see. I ’ m talking, of course, about Ninja Warrior, the gaming sensation that ’ s sweeping the nation. Some of you may ask: What is Ninja Warrior? Seniors Connor Caulderwood, Tim Jankowski and countless others said, “ It ’ s not a game, it ’ s a lifestyle. ” Senior Clay Brothers said, “ It ’ s a revolution. ” Sophomore Ben Jamison said, “ It ’ s not a game, it ’ s an art. ” Senior Colin Moran said, “ The best game like ever. ” Personally, I think it ’ s like chess — only better. Ninja Warrior, as described by junior Ty Saunders, is a game with very basic rules: First, the objective is to hit other players ’ hands. Second, you make one fluid movement, and then stop. Third, you can move in defense by attempting to move your own hand out of the way before it gets hit by another player. And last, the order can change when people move in and out of position from their original circle. When I asked Burns, which direction, clockwise or counterclockwise? he informed me, “ I ’ m not good with clocks, I have my phone to tell the time for me. But I love Ninja Warrior. ” (Saunders later informed me that the game actually goes counterclockwise.) At this point, you might be asking the same question that I did: Where did it come from? And I ’ m sorry to say that I don ’ t really know any one answer. By which I mean I know more than one. Senior Alison Lewis claims it came from the local Church of Latter-Day Saints [or more specifically herself (which, if you think like me, sounds kind of vain)]. After learning it at religious function in Palmyra, New York, in July 2009, she brought it back to Ashburn. This was verified by the fact that she taught several people how to play at her birthday party on the 10 th of October. However, there are several reports that Ninja Warrior came from Young Life, a local Christian group, after its fall retreat at Rockbridge Camp in southern Virginia from November 13 th through 15 th . There, Young Life attendee junior Kristen Musselman claims that the group was taught it by Lauren Northcott, a junior at Broad Run. “ We played it all weekend, ” Musselman said. “ I like how it brings out the warrior side of people. ” Senior Brendan Ahearn also brought it to Stone Bridge from his travel hockey team, the Washington Junior Nationals. Using the game as a way to pass their time while traveling, the Junior Nats were taught it by teammate Shaughn Shields in a New Hampshire airport. Ahearn and his friends began playing it on the senior terrace during lunch, showcasing it for entire lunch shifts. “ It had to have originated in the Orient, ” junior Brett Larson said. Sean Owusu noted its marked similarity to the warm up done in the anime classic Dragonball Z series by the character Master Roshi, a point confirmed by a later source (probably the only other person in high school still watching Dragonball Z, I ’ d say). A final theory that I heard from sophomore Hunter McNichols, and I know this is completely absurd, is that it came from actual Ninjas. After following these claims to their respective sources, my theory is that the Mormons brought it originally, but did not spread it widely. Instead, after lying dormant, it exploded into popularity in early November after being played on the senior terrace (thanks to Ahearn) and at the Young Life fall retreat. Other rumors that I followed may be true, but are not, in my opinion, responsible for its popularity here at Stone Bridge — and elsewhere. Because it has indeed spread beyond Stone Bridge. I ’ ve heard reports of it being played at Loudoun Valley, Broad Run, and Heritage. Not only that, many have taught it to relatives and friends on vacations to places as far as California. I personally taught it to my cousins in Raleigh, North Carolina, and also to 2009 graduate Jarad Kopciak, who said he couldn ’ t wait to take it back to University of Colorado at Boulder to teach his friends. This game is everywhere, and I ’ ve suddenly realized how na ï ve it was of me to think there was any ONE answer. Just goes to show you: the world is often too complex, especially nowadays, to have a simple answer to our questions. “ I didn ’ t expect it to get this big, ” Ahearn said. “ And now I see pictures on facebook of random kids playing it. ” Ms. Rounsley was also amazed. “ It ’ s unlike anything I ’ ve ever seen, ” she said. The game is so popular that, while doing my research, it seemed as if everyone I asked was familiar with it. However, a few (and a very small few at that) were not as enthusiastic. “ Oh god, that stupid game, ” Mrs. Dana Robinson said. “ I don ’ t understand it. At least people are being a little more active. ” McNichols was not as charmed by Ninja Warrior either. “ It ’ s a ridiculous fad, but quite enjoyable. I ’ d say you can definitely OD on it, ” he said. Whatever its pros and cons, I seem to find it everywhere I go. I was at a friend ’ s house this weekend, just minding my own business, when I found myself drawn into a two and a half hour battle. While we dueled back and forth, with rug-burned knees, bruised hands and wrists, and more high on adrenaline than we would be in most competitive sports, I couldn ’ t help but feel like Edward Norton, Jr. in “ Fight Club ” with the words in the background, “ The first rule of Ninja Warrior is you don ’ t talk about Ninja Warrior …” As the game spreads, it is also evolving , like some sort of weird game of telephone. There ’ s not only Ninja Warrior, but also Feet Warrior, Chair Warrior, and, my personal favorite, Pretzel Warrior. Speaking of telephone, heard rumors of Ninja Warrior ’ s banishment? Don ’ t believe it. Most of the administration has never even heard of the game. When I asked Mr. Person about it, he thought it was a computer game. So play on, comrades! That dark day is yet to come. There are numerous reasons for its quick spread. “ It never gets old, and it ’ s not repetitive, ” Saunders claims. Senior Sam Tripp pointed to its universality. “ Everyone can play it, ” he said. My fellow senior Justin Esposito laid out his thoughts for me. “ Guys play it for attention, ” he said. But I think differently. I think that Ninja Warrior appeals to the kid that ’ s still inside all of us — that most delectable part of childhood: a willingness to have fun, no matter who is watching.