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Richlandtown girl qualifies for World Ninja League Championships

Quakertown’s Taylor Mason, 12, demonstrates her strength and balance at the Power Parkour Ninja gym in Quakertown.

Taylor Mason, a 12-year-old rising seventh-grader, heads to Greensboro Coliseum Complex in North Carolina from June 21-24 to compete in the preteen division of the 2024 World Ninja League Championships.

The Greensboro Coliseum, hosting the world championships for the second year in a row, holds over 22,000 spectators.

Taylor finished the regular competition season, which spans September-April, in eighth place in the Northeast Region, comprised of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Maryland. This is her second competitive season.

Taylor trains at Power Parkour Ninja, located on Fifth Street in Quakertown, once a week and attends open gyms twice a week. Once a week, she trains at the Nex Level gym in Flemington, N.J., with a private session with Abby Clark, a competitor who’s been on the show “American Ninja Warrior” seven times.

“I really like training with her because she makes me do a lot of different stuff. Since I’ve been training with her I’ve gotten a lot better in just those few weeks. She’s made me get out of my comfort zone and try stuff I wouldn’t usually try,” Taylor said.

“It’s nice going to different gyms because there’s more things to try,” she added.

When the Mason family moved to Richlandtown, Taylor wanted to find a gym that offered gymnastics classes. She found Power and Grace Gymnastics and Dance Inc. of Quakertown and Power Parkour used to be in the corner of that gym before moving to its current location.

Her dad thought that she may enjoy ninja classes so he signed her up for some.

At her training sessions, she works through a variety of timed stations.

“Sometimes, we do course runs, so those are kind of like competitions,” she explained. “You try and do your best within the time they give you. For worlds, people are setting up the gym to be like worlds so you know what it’s going to be like.”

Stations in training sessions include laches (swinging from bar to bar), balance training (Taylor’s favorite station), rigs and devil steps (ascending and descending stairs).

“At the competitions, there are not that many girls, but at worlds there’s so many more people and it’s so crowded,” Taylor said.

She noted that crowds increase at regionals and worlds and that it is cool to see that many spectators at an event.

In just two years of competing, she’s improved exponentially. Initially, she was scared of doing ninja competitively.

“As I got competitive, I wanted to win my first competition and place higher,” she said.

The highest place she received in her first year of competitions was fifth place and in her second year, that’s the lowest place she’s received in regular season competitions. Taylor’s goal for the world championships is to make it to Stage 2.

There are three stages at worlds that advance from easiest to hardest. Each stage is timed and contains about 10-12 obstacles. Competitors are judged based on their speed and accuracy of completion.

If a competitor falls during their first obstacle they’re usually eliminated, such as the case with flow courses. There’s pressure to complete each obstacle within the time limit, but also accurately.

Challenge courses allow the athletes to retry an obstacle where they have fallen.

“A thing that was challenging was falling, because I’m always scared to fall and that stops me from doing stuff,” Taylor said. “When I first started laches, swinging from bar to bar, I was so scared to do that. It took me a long time to do that. After practicing, it gets easier and easier.”

Taylor spoke about how ninja as a sport has grown in the two years she’s been competing. The Northeast Region has exploded with over 10 gyms for ninja training within a 50-mile radius of Quakertown.

Power Parkour has over 100 kids enrolled in classes.

Power Parkour, Taylor noted, uses equipment manufactured by DGS Ninja, a popular equipment company. This is beneficial to competitors as practicing with the same branded equipment in their home gyms as competitions helps them gain confidence.

“Try (ninja), just to see if you like it and keep going with it … I’ve got a lot better and it was a lot more fun,” said Taylor on advice to other kids looking to try a new activity.

“At competitions, there’s probably only 12 girls usually and a lot more boys, like 30.”

She would love to have more girls to train with at the gym and to compete against throughout the season.

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