Tame your expectations, aspiring ninja, because you will find no shuriken, katana, kunai, or smoke bombs in this ninja academy. and they don’t even teach ninjutsu here. It’s a parkour facility—the first and biggest of its kind in the country. and for the brains behind this place—all pioneers of the local parkour community—this is their shot at legitimacy and societal acceptance: as an art form, like skateboarding, or at the very least an alternative avenue for fitness.
“In the Philippines, [parkour] is shunned upon,” says Ben Joseph Cabarroguis, one of the owners and lead instructors of ninja academy. He has witnessed first hand how local traceurs are stigmatized as criminals in training. “a guy doing pull-ups in the gym and it’s okay, but if [he’s doing pull-ups on a wall, he’s akyat-bahay.”
Inspired by the success of the show American Ninja Warrior, ninja academy set up shop this year offering not just an indoor parkour facility, but also parkour circuit training—or gauntlet classes as they call it. Obstacle courses are designed, depending on participants’ fitness and skill level, and you’re asked to go through it four times: an initial try, a time trial (finish as fast as you can), a third attempt for stealth (make a loud sound white, say, landing a jump and you do squats), and one finally you go as quickly and quietly as you can.
“It’s just basic human movements really, not parkour techniques,” Cabarroguis clarifies. True enough, beginners are asked to jump, hang, skip, run, bound, swing—a.k.a the fun stuff. It doesn’t feel like your usual circuit training as you’re doing it. Then again, it works your body as any workout should.
“You have your cardio and your indirect straining because you do it a couple of times, [but] it’s the mental challenges that you come back for,” says Cabarroguis. “Parkour is more mental. It shows that your body is capable of amazing things.”
Training in parkour, you have your out-of-body moments, like that split second you nail a monkey vault when you think you can actually fly. Plenty of lessons are in store for those willing to try this fitness route. But for Cabarroguis, this parkour principle is the most important: “To be strong is to be useful,” he asserts. “People go to gyms to work out, and if you tell them to jump a gap, for example, what do they have to show for their big muscles?
This is functional fitness at the most literal level—jumping gaps, climbing walls with ease, building a body ready for disaster. While you won’t be called a true ninja in this academy, you will still end up with true strength, and there’s no better prize than that.
Get Ninja Fit
Ninja Academy coach Ben Joseph Cabarroguis shares this conditioning circuit you need to do three times a week so you’re ready for the obstacles standing in your way once you enter the gym
1. Full Squat (10 reps x 3 sets)
2. Calf Raise (10 reps x 3 sets)
3. Wall Handstand (Hold for 30 seconds x 3 sets)
4. Push-up or Pull-up (10 reps x 3 sets)
Basic Traceur Tricks
Nail two of the most basic parkour moves before you even think about attempting the fancy stuff you see on YouTube
Stand on one block facing the block you want to land on. Do a semi-squat and jump toward the landing point. Throw your hands forward if your want to cover more distance, or up if you want to jump higher. While in midair, tuck your knees toward your chest for more air time. As soon as you’re near your landing spot, extend your legs and land on the balls of your feet in a semi-squat position.
Take 1 to 2 steps forward before initiating your jump. Place your hands on top of the obstacle and simultaneously push yourself up and jump while tucking your knees to your chest. Hold the tuck until you get over the obstacle. Once you see the landing, extend your leg and land on the balls of your feet.
For more details on Ninja Academy, check them out at 155 Dr. Sixto Antonio Avenue corner Ortigas Avenue, Pasig City. You can call them at (02) 624-2872, or visit their website, www.ninjaacademy.ph.