Shaun Brien - Aspiring Ninja

My journey with Ninja Warrior started before I even knew that Ninja Warrior even existed.  As a child I was often referred to as a monkey because I was always climbing, swinging and hanging from anything within eye shot.  Then I became an adult who worked full time, studied full time and was a monkey significantly less.  This is when I discovered Tough Mudder and subsequently obstacle course racing in general.  This gave me an outlet to rebel against being an adult and set goals to push the boundaries of my physical capabilities.

It wasn’t until my honeymoon in 2015 where on a remote island off the coast of Thailand, while flicking channels in the mid afternoon, my wife and I discovered American Ninja Warrior.  We then spent part of our afternoon most afternoons of our honeymoon watching on in awe as these athletes took on the city finals courses and then eventually the Vegas finals.  From that point on we were both hooked and have watched every episode since, as well as Team Ninja Warrior and some of the other countries versions of the show (although the less that can be said about Ninja Warrior UK the better).  Rachael seemed more than happy enough just watching the show and being impressed by the physical feats that were achieved by all these inspiring men and woman along the way.  Me on the other hand was overcome with the classic male attitude of “I could totally do that”.

Then casting was announced for Australian Ninja Warrior season 1 and then next thing I knew I had a phone call being invited to audition to be on the show.  I think the lead up to the auditions is the hardest I’ve ever trained, cutting out body fat and pushing my physical limits, but alas I did not make it past the auditions for season 1.  I know a few people that took that as a sign that Ninja Warrior wasn’t for them, I’m not one of those people however as ever since I’ve been more driven to constantly get better and crush the obstacles in a future season.

This has been made even more possible by the fact that in Melbourne we have had a few great training facilities pop up in the last 12 months.  Since then I’ve been a regular at Geelong Boxing and Obstacle Training and The Compound Training, competing in monthly competitions and surrounding myself with the best athletes I can to keep improving my skills.  I was also lucky enough to spend most of January in California where I got to train at 323 Ninja Training Grounds with a regular American Ninja Warrior competitor Arnold Hernandez and learn a lot from him.

Ninja isn’t just great for my physical health, it has also been a great help in my professional life as a high school teacher.  Showing my students videos of my training and performance in competitions has really gotten my students engaged in my classes (particularly some of the more rebellious teenage boys).  It creates a really great connection with the students that I would not have been able to make without it.

When I look at what I can do now, compared to what I could do in the initial audition I can barely believe the changes that have occurred and I plan to keep on getting better until I’m the next Australian Ninja Warrior… (or at least hit a buzzer!)