Do ninjas really exist? I’m offended you’d even ask that question. They’re everywhere, yet hard to detect, because, you know, their ninjas.
But the number of ninja masters are few and far between. These are the people who have dedicated their lives to continually developing themselves and harnessing their super powers for the greater good.
This Ninja Master Series interviews real ninjas who have achieved high levels of mastery and skill in the ninja arts. They come in all shapes and sizes, with all kinds of super powers. But all of them have three essential things in common:
- the dedication to continually exploring their inner potential
- the courage to manifest that potential
- and the compassion and wisdom to use what manifests to serve others.
Mo Power, Mo Problems
Often, we don’t get to choose our super powers – we’re born with them and take them for granted. Or we fantasize about the super powers we don’t have. Maybe we don’t know how to use our power with skill and end up hurting the people around us.
All super heroes are prone to the “awesome paradox” – more power mean more responsibility, since power is neutral and can be used for good or bad. Every ninja must go through an early phase of not knowing how to control their powers, but if they stay on the path and persevere (which, by the way, is what the word “ninja” means in Japanese) they can become a positive force of nature… Enter, the ninja master!
The first Ninja Master in our series is a good friend and a total inspiration.
Ninja Master Street Cred: Travis Brewer
What Kind of Ninja Quiz Result: Jungle Ninja
Ninja Skills: Ninja Acrobatics, Super Strength, Positivity, Ninja Social Entrepreneurship, Creativity
Favorite Ninja Turtle: Donatello. I liked him because he was the smart one.. who had to use his brain as well as muscles to solve the day. Plus when I was a kid I thought the color purple was awesome!
Ninja Achievements: Finalist on American Ninja Warrior, Winner of Battle of the Bars 3
Sacred Ninja Mission in Life: Build climbable art and outdoor ninja jungle gyms everywhere, natural obstacle courses, and a ninja “Temple of Movement”!
Ninja Master Interview
Jonathan: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us Travis! Let’s get right into it. What does being a ninja mean to you?
Travis: The ability to master mind, body, and spirit, and influence others to be better.
Jonathan: I love that! One of the things that I really appreciate about you is your understanding of ninja as a positive force of nature, that’s been lost thanks to tons of bad 80’s movies and our culture, which celebrates violence and destruction. Many see ninjas as a violent assassin and nothing more.
You really seem inspired by love and positivity, even when I see you on the American Ninja Warrior Course, you look like you’re having a blast. Can you talk a little more about your understanding of ninja as a positive force?
Travis: Yeah, for me it’s really simple. My mission is to share positivity through movement. I want to inspire people to move. And when I move, I want to express my own positive energy to the world. On an even broader level, that’s my mission, and why I created the PI brand, which stand for Positive Impact and Positive Inergy. I want to get others to use the energy within themselves i.e. “inergy” to spread their positivity throughout their communities and make a positive impact the world.
Jonathan: Super cool. So how does that connect with your mission of building climbable art?
Travis: Climbable art is a big part of my mission, but it also has to do with creating climbable art in nature. When people work and play outdoors, they have a totally different energy about them, they want to respect the environment, and that energy of respect and joy creates an awesome vibe. We’re teaching people how to move, how to master their body, and a lot of that comes from being in a child-like state. That state allows them to be more open mentally, physically, and spiritually.
All this adds up to getting people into movement, into themselves, and into nature, which is incredibly important for us humans. We are all part of nature and we are all one, and connecting and moving with others in nature gives people a direct experience of that truth. It’s incredibly important that, as humans, we get back into nature. So if we’re connecting with nature and moving and playing, in a beautiful place that we respect, we are more likely to realize that we’re all in this together! We’re all have so much in common, we’re basically a bunch of monkeys on a rock floating around the sun, and we need to stop fighting each other and live in harmony. And being a ninja is the easiest way for me to do that with the skill sets I’ve been given.
Jonathan: Right on. So climbable art serves the larger purpose of getting people to connect to nature, themselves, their inner child, and I love this idea of helping them create beautiful things. Because the moment you create something beautiful, it becomes a reflection of “Oh, I am beautiful, I can do good shit.” And then that helps you move through the world with an identity of “I am good” which makes it easier to be an agent of goodness all the time. In other words, super hero status!
Do you have any mentors that have helped you on the ninja path?
Travis: I’d say Hannes Wingate is a big mentor of mine. The way he combines art and nature, and the way he thinks and looks at and approaches a problem, situation, or environment is really unique.
Jonathan: Word, Hannes is a total master, a real Nature Ninja. I still rock the cordage necklace that he taught me how to make at Summit.
So last 2 years you’ve really blown up, where there any defining moments or moments of clarity that lead to your ninja re-birth? As a teacher for the last 14 years, I’ve noticed that periods of accelerated growth are almost always preceded by a moment of clarity.
Travis: Yeah. I basically dedicated my 20’s to partying, and I did a great job, but then when I turned 29 I started asking myself “What do I want to dedicate my 30’s too?”. And the answer came to me… “Being the best that I could be.” That’s when I started going to the self-realization center.
Reading “Autobiography of a Yogi” was a huge moment for me too. I now meditate every morning, and I’ve been doing it for 2 years. And I think that meditation has been huge for me, in terms of self-reflection and self-realization. You know, like every day, we try to just stay above water, and survive, and then just have fun whenever we can.
But if you dedicate time to looking within, you know asking the big questions “Why am I here? What am I supposed to be doing?” by just asking those questions your perspective COMPLETELY shifts. And that shift automatically transformed my life.
Jonathan: It sounds like the last 2 years have been an awesome ride of self-discovery, and developing yourself both externally and internally. What do you think is the relationship between inner strength and outer strength?
Travis: I feel very strongly about this, that’s why I chose the name Positive Inergy. Everyone starts at a level 1, 2, or 3, whatever the skill, but you have to believe that you can get better. You hit so many road blocks, and you have to believe that there is another way to succeed, otherwise you don’t try and therefore can’t succeed. So you have to have inner strength to realize your outer strength.
I was teaching one client, who had already climbed Mt. Everest, to compete in the cross fit games, but really I was just teaching her how to move in different ways than she was used to. She told me I should re-brand under the name “Fearless Movement” because that’s essentially what I do, help people become confident with using their body in different ways. And I watched her go through her process, and eventually she felt comfortable enough to believe she could do it, and then she did things with her body that were previously impossible.
Jonathan: I live for that moment! When the student starts to realize how powerful they are in an undeniable way. So what the next level of ninja mastery for you, what’s your next big goal?
Travis: Next steps for me is to continue to be the best I can be everyday and create a positive impact through movement to as many people as possible. The most effective way for me to do that is continue to grow my personal brand and create more content. This way I can reach more people and hopefully inspire them to move and be better. I am looking to partner with more health and wellness brands that share a similar ethos and spread positive vibes. I will also work on creating more content by doing more shows, photos, and videos.
Beyond that I am moving towards doing workshops and speaking engagements. I am excited to teach workshops and groups how to overcome obstacles physically, mentally and spiritually as well as train people how to be the best ninja within. It has been a pleasure performing for large and small groups as well as doing teaching and training. I look forward to continue to performing for groups and festivals as well as training and teaching.
I want to create a Positive Inergy Empire, just like how Richard Branson has a Virgin Empire. I want to create a brand that is known for always giving a piece of the pie back to charity. We’ll build climbable art, I can raise money through my athletics and through ninja clothing, create cool ninja gyms, and increase awareness about the power of beautiful art to inspire physical movement – all while empowering people to live an inspiring and active lifestyle. It’s like I have all these pieces of the puzzle, and I’m working to fit them together in a way that is really amazing.
Jonathan: That’s a beautiful dream, what an amazingly ninja legacy that would be. And what about American Ninja Warrior? How do you think you’ll do this year?
Travis: No American has ever won it, and I think I can, but maybe not this year. I know I can finish top 10 this year though.
Jonathan: And why don’t you think you can win it this year?
Travis: Grip strength basically. I really need to work on it, there are some Ninja Warriors that are super climbers, I’m a V4 climber right now, but I’m working on it. Also my endurance is not the best. There are people that try and race through the course, but that’s not my style. I like taking my time and really having fun when I am out there on the course. You’re ranked by how far you go on the course, and then a secondary factor is how fast you do it. It’s just the final round when there is a time limit. And you only have one shot, you can’t mess up on any obstacle, so you really have to pay attention. You don’t even get a run through on the course.
Jonathan: That’s super ninja, you have to be able to assess the obstacle without even touching them, and adapt instantly.
Travis: Yeah, like last year when I lost, all of America thinks I can’t do a Salmon Ladder, but I had been practicing on a much harder salmon ladder that wasn’t counter weighted, but the one on the course was attached to a string, so when you go up with it, it throws off the balance. Plus there are new objects every year. Like my friend Brent Steffenson (the golden child of the show) fell in the first round this year. You just never know.
Jonathan: That’s life, you only get one shot!
Travis: Yup. And I’m ok with that, I plan on making mine count.
Jonathan: Word, me too. Any other exciting projects coming up?
Travis: Lots! Honestly, I’m excited to complete this project and work more with Train Deep and Jonathan. He is on to something… this is the future. And I’m excited to offer my own ninja training on the west coast. I want to be more like you!
Jonathan: Right on! Thank you so much Travis, I really appreciate the way you share your ninja love, and I want to support you and your mission. I can’t wait to climb and play in your outdoor Ninja Temples.
Ok ninjas, here is your next ninja mission, if you choose to accept it.
I Ninja Dare You …
To share your dreams in the comments below. What has been a defining moment for you? Who have been your mentors? How excited would you be to workout in a ninja-temple-jungle-gym in the forest?!?! Have courage, and type swiftly.
As always, TrainDeep.