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'The Barbato Tornado,’ a Woodbine 8-year-old, to compete in ‘ninja’ world championships

An 8-year-old boy known as “The Barbato Tornado” hopes to leap, climb, run, and pull his way to a top spot in the National Ninja League World Championships next month.

Woodbine resident Jase Barbato is all about the recreational sport of ninja, in which competitors race through obstacle courses that challenges their strength, speed, agility and balance. At about age 5, Barbato tried out a ninja class in Frederick offered to home-schooled children.

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Today, he has a gym in his basement at home and trains once a week at Kinetic Ninja Warrior in Bel Air. His ninja nickname was his grandmother’s idea.

“He has always been a climbing, wild, full-of-energy kind of kid,” said his mother, Nicole Barbato.

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The National Ninja League is made up of the 11 founding ninja gyms across the country, according to its website. Competitors on the television show, “American Ninja Warrior” run the league so people of all ages can engage in the sport and compete.

Eight-year-old Woodbine resident Jason Barbato trains on rings at the Kinetic Ninja Warrior gym in Bel Air on Jan. 22. Jason, known as "The Barbato Tornado" will be competing in the National Ninja League World Championships in North Carolina February 21-23.
Eight-year-old Woodbine resident Jason Barbato trains on rings at the Kinetic Ninja Warrior gym in Bel Air on Jan. 22. Jason, known as "The Barbato Tornado" will be competing in the National Ninja League World Championships in North Carolina February 21-23.(Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

Jase will compete in the world competition in the age bracket for 6- to 8-year-olds in Greensboro, North Carolina on Feb. 22. He qualified for the competition after winning second place at a local competition held at Kinetic in September, Nicole said.

“It’s just really challenging and fun,” Jase said.

The February competition will consist of three stages, with a percentage of those who go through the obstacle course the furthest and the quickest advancing to the next stage.

Jase trains by challenging himself to beat his personal records. If he does 130 sit-ups one day, the next day he wants to do 131, Nicole said. He has handholds and rings in the basement to swing from, and when the weather is warmer, they hang obstacles between trees.

The home gym came about after Nicole realized Jase would practice ninja moves no matter where he was.

“It got to the point where there were toe prints about two feet up my wall. He was spider jumping down the hallway,” Nicole said.

There could be hundreds of children in Jase’s age bracket at the world competition. He is one of roughly 40 people from Kinetic competing there, ranging in age from 6 to 51, according to gym co-owners Scott and Paula Morrison.

Eight-year-old Woodbine resident Jason Barbato pushes off from the wall as he trains on a sliding cliffhanger at the Kinetic Ninja Warrior gym in Bel Air on Jan. 22. Jason, known as "The Barbato Tornado" will be competing in the National Ninja League World Championships in North Carolina February 21-23.
Eight-year-old Woodbine resident Jason Barbato pushes off from the wall as he trains on a sliding cliffhanger at the Kinetic Ninja Warrior gym in Bel Air on Jan. 22. Jason, known as "The Barbato Tornado" will be competing in the National Ninja League World Championships in North Carolina February 21-23.(Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

“He’s a very strong young man. Very determined. Fairly natural in his movement," Scott said of Jase.

“He’s really a talented athlete and a great kid,” Paula added.

Jase’s mother enjoys seeing the support ninjas give to each other.

“The whole sport is very encouraging,” Nicole said. “It’s kind of a ‘beat your best and encourage the rest’” mindset.

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During practice or competition, Paula said “everyone in the building will be screaming at the top of [their] lungs to support you."

Scott said the sport isn’t about beating the other ninjas, per say, but conquering the course.

Jase said his goal at worlds is just to have a good time, which he says happens even when you lose.

“It’s always fun no matter what,” Jase said.

Jase is looking forward to seeing some of his ninja idols face off in the adult competitions. He is a big fan of “American Ninja Warrior” and dreams of one day being featured on the junior show.

Locals can look for Jase in the National Ninja League World Championships on the league’s Facebook page live-stream.

Jase would not be able to compete and bring his family with him to North Carolina if it weren’t for the assistance of local businesses that sponsor him, Nicole said, thanking Misty’s Senior Services, Cheweys Performance Automotive, Tony Locos Bar & Restaurant, Naill Brothers Construction, and Vince Damico of Re/Max for their support.

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