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Jody Avila discusses what it’s like to raise his own little Ninja

Jody “Big Dog” Avila talks being a ninja dad, backyard obstacles, and more on The Ninja Dads podcast. 

Photo by: Michael Hickey/NBC

The Ninja Dads, a new podcast created for and by parents of ninja kids, recently interviewed American Ninja Warrior competitor Jody “Big Dog” Avila about his journey from Ninja Warrior fan to Ninja Warrior competitor, and how he is passing on his passion to his son, Brandon.

Jody’s History on American Ninja Warrior

Jody has competed on Seasons 8, 9, & 10 of American Ninja Warrior, as well as Ninja vs Ninja. Season 9 was a breakout year for Jody, hitting a buzzer at the San Antonio City Qualifiers and Las Vegas Finals Stage 1. He also had a good showing on Ninja vs Ninja. See his run against Chris Wilczewski here.

Season 9 Las Vegas Finals Stage 1
Photo by: David Becker/NBC

Back to the podcast...

During the Ninja Dads podcast, we learned lots of fun facts about both Brandon and Jody. Here are some highlights, but be sure to check out the whole podcast at

Big Dog Fun Facts

*Growing up, Jody never considered himself to be a good athlete. He says he was decent at baseball, but basketball and football were not his thing. Eventually, he got into calisthenics (pull-ups, push-ups, muscle-ups, dips, etc.), but he has never lifted weights!

*Jody quickly learned that some of the star ninjas make the courses look too easy. From his living room, he didn’t understand why ninjas were falling on the course, but once he found himself falling into the water during the Season 8 Oklahoma City Qualifier, he realized how much strength, agility and mental toughness ninjas need to have. A brief moment of failure motivated Jody to keep going. “The moment I hit the water is the moment I became a full blown ninja.”

*Although Jody enjoys training with friends, his best training days are the days when he is by himself. “Nobody can push me as hard as I push myself,” he says.

*Last year, at the mere age of 6, Jody’s son, Brandon Avila, won the UNAA Championship in the 9 and under age group!

*Jody knows not to underestimate the mental part of competing, and is passing this down to his son. Instead of saying, “Do this here, do that there,” Jody encourages Brandon to strategize his own course, and guides him as necessary. Jody’s reason – “I want him to think.”

* Jody has a legendary backyard course. It is 9 ft high, 24 feet long. It includes 3 salmon ladders, cliffhangers, pegboards, and more. Follow him on Instagram to check out photos!

Jody will be competing in Oklahoma this season, looking for redemption in the same city where he first took on the ANW course in Season 8. Jody is optimistic Season 11 will be his best ever, complete with 6 buzzers. Season 11 returns to NBC on May 29!