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What’s it like to be a Ninja Warrior for a decade?

10-time competitors Brian Kretsch and David Campbell take a look back at the experience.

Tyler Golden/NBC

When American Ninja Warrior began filming in Los Angeles for its tenth year, it felt like a pretty big deal to the viewers, but it was an even bigger deal for a small group of Ninjas. Ryan Stratis, Lorin Ball, Brian Kretsch, and David Campbell have participated in every single season of the show.

Both Brian and David have frequently had the Los Angeles location as their home base for Qualifiers and City Finals.

David is often referred to as the “Godfather.” In those ten years, he’s delivered run after commanding run, moving on to Japan or the National Finals eight times. In season 10, he hit the buzzer on both the Los Angeles Qualifying and City Finals courses.

Brian also had a banner year for season 10. He was able to beat the Los Angeles Qualifying course and ranked 15th at the City Finals, sending himself back to Las Vegas for the fourth time.

Before David and Brian headed back to the National Finals, we had a chance to speak with them in Los Angeles. Find out more about what it’s like to spend a decade as a Ninja.

Growing with the sport

“Before there were any kind of obstacle gyms, no obstacles in the United States to train on whatsoever, I started setting up these crude replicas. I didn’t have them all in one place to run through them as a series. So the first time I actually ran on an obstacle course was in Japan running Stage One (of Sasuke). It’s a two minute sprint. I was like, ‘I can run for two minutes. That’s not a problem.’ And then the obstacle course for two minutes... And I got to the top of the Warped Wall and I was just done. My lungs were burning.

When I got back to the United States I started doing all kinds of cardio, learned what warming up was. That really changed me from goofing around to a serious athlete.” - David Campbell

Spending a decade taking part in the show

“I don’t think I can even properly think about it. So much has happened. Life changing things have happened. Definitely Ninja Warrior has changed my life through friendships, through opportunities to travel the world, go to all these other competitions. Obviously my knee changed my life a little bit. (Brian injured his knee on the course in season seven.) But most of the things are for the positive and I’m very grateful for all of it.” - Brian Kretsch

David Becker/NBC

Staying calm on the course

“Long before I did Ninja Warrior, I did martial arts as a child. They did a lot of meditative breathing and things like that. So I’ve always done that before my runs, or even on the course before an obstacle, I’ll start meditating. That really gets me focused. As soon as I hear that, ‘Three, two, one, go,’ all my doubt and fear just kind of goes away. I’m just focused on this course in front of me. There’s no real emotion there. You’re just doing it.” - David Campbell

Never being satisfied

“Hitting the buzzer again (in season 10) was a very exciting moment. A big relief after not hitting it the past couple of times I’ve been on the course. But I definitely don’t want to stop there, so that’s always in the back of my mind. Making it back to Vegas.” - Brian Kretsch