Where to start ... how about the beginning. January 20th 2014 , I heard I had been accepted to qualify for the Sasuke Asean Open Cup 2014 on February 22nd . To say that I was excited was an understatement... to say that I was nervous was the same. 4 weeks to get Ninja ready ...........
Considering my short time frame, and limited Sasuke skill set, I had to prioritise the areas that I was weakest at and could train the most effectively.
My original thoughts were that we would have to go through Stage 1 which would be an agility course etc : So I took up Parkour to learn some basic vaulting and wall pass techniques.. 4 weeks is not anywhere near enough time to get proficient at vaulting ( it takes years) but I thought it couldn't hurt. Speed drills , agility drills, leg power circuits .... wall climbs .. ( serious amount of knee bashing went on .... but for the sake of Sasuke ... I endured).
Assuming that was enough , I turned my attention towards Stage 2 .. Notoriously tough on the upper body specifically grip strength .... . I am pretty good at upper body strength but found myself wanting when I was using finger grips instead of hand grips... so I came up with the below training regime based on a recommendation ( location wise) from my friend (and Parkour mentor) Marcus Lim
Lastly the 3rd Stage ( yeah right, like I was gonna get that far.. but you never know ) Ropes ropes and more ropes. I climbed 5m ropes from a seated position .. 20 rounds .. Screwed up my hands but had to be done.
I tried the above routines consistently for 3 weeks. My body was battered and bruised but it was the only way to get in a position where I thought I could half compete. My aim was to at least make it through the first obstacle lol nevermind the first round ( Bar set very low indeed! )
The day itself.......
So what I thought would happen ... didn't. We would be allowed to compete in 3 Stages!!!! .. No qualifying for latter rounds, just time trials for each Stage. This was awesome, it meant that I get to try everything!
Power Stage :
This was my first stage and consisted of :
Throwing a 10kg weight over a 10 metre ( I think)
Followed by lifting 4 sliding walls, each one getting progressively heavier by about 10kg. ( The final wall was 50kg).
Having watched a few people demo , there are two schools of thought to this. Firstly be strong and lift it fast and high to run through, or secondly, you can lift it midway and try and dive under... I chose the latter approach and it was clearly the wrong technique for me. Wasted too much time trying to get under ( the walls kept catching my back and ultimately delaying me). I finished with a time of 19.05 seconds. To put it in perspective.. they guy who won Stage 1 ( Drew Drechsel) did it in under 10 seconds! What's the learning ? Trust my strength to get me through this, I can clean and press much heavier than this so I need to work to my skill sets and not try to do new things.
Hang Stage :
This is the one that I think i was probably most prepared for, my hand and grip strength has come on due to my intense training, the only thing that could let me down is technique ...... and the weather !
I cleared the Devil Steps relatively easy and then hit the unstable bridge, I was confident as long as the second bridge didn't move . And then this happened.........
My least prepared stage, Spider man climb followed by two Warped Walls increasing ( slightly ) in height.
I haven't done a spiderman climb since I was a kid... and even that was just for a laugh( nothing competitive). I figured just basically stick to the sides and don't make any stupid mistakes....
Once I had managed to get through this .... I was onto the dreaded warped walls.. Not being the tallest of chaps, you can understand why I was apprehensive but figured as long as I had good technique .. height shouldn't be that much of an issue..... ( famous last words) . All my wall pass training.. didnt really prepare me to be honest.. as the slope of the wall really threw me off.. but i successfully managed to get up the first one. ( Apparently so did all the other 99 competitors including the girls .. so if i didnt get that .. It would not have been a good look).
The second wall was more of a challenge, slightly higher .. and slightly more daunting. Some of the American participants had come to offer support and advice but when I looked at them ... i just saw lips moving and couldn't hear a damn thing.. ( the zone is a messed up place). First time I tried ..... fingers just touched and then I rolled back down... " I got this!" I thought. Second time .. no where close, my legs were not cooperating and i was short by about a foot or so.... Frustrated, and tired, I tried once more with no real thought of how to modify to improve my chances .......failed... Sucked . THE END
Well not quite, after wiping the stench of failure and disappointment, wifey and friends rallying around me (bless them , they had been out there all day in the hot ass sun watching me repeatedly come up short).
I went back to the warped wall, and who was there ? The same Americans who were offering my support previously! "You're gonna get up that wall", said Brian Kretsch. A few pointers ...... and I was UP !!!
Unbelievable ..It felt awesome!
Here is a video montage of all my best ( and not so best bits ) of one of the most incredible days of my life. Think they call them... Game Changers !
What have I learnt ? Experience is key to Sauske, you need to be confident in your own ability but you must have strength and technique, Passion and desire doesn't quite cut it here. I will be back next year, mentally and physically ready to compete.
Big shout out to a few people ; my lovely wife Masrina Husain for supporting me and who had to put up with my whining and incessant babbling about ninja this and ninja that. Original Bootcamp for the animated and vocal support all day.... your energy and passion for supporting your friends is unsurpassed. Thanks a bunch guys .... Finally my fellow Sasuke Warriors,Farid (Cat), Ben De Silva, Eddison Wong and the US Dream Team: Brian, and the gang. You guys rocked ! :)