Ninja Kane Pushes Physical Feats to the Extreme

The alternative fitness phenomenon nearly lost the use of his leg on the way to becoming a death-defying stunt master.

Ninja Kane overlooking Santa Monica Beach
Courtesy Image - Ninja Kane

To flick through the Instagram feed of self-described “vegan-athlete-stuntman” Ninja Kane is to eliminate any doubt about how this L.A.-based, 40-year-old adrenaline addict got his nickname.

In one post, he’s precariously balancing on one foot atop a narrow pedestrian-bridge overhang, dozens of feet above the Pacific Coast Highway’s rushing traffic. In another video, he clambers nearly upside-down, supported by only his fingers and Nike-clad feet, along a steep freeway on-ramp on a gigantic cliff. Then there’s the GoPro footage of Kane free climbing the exterior of a six-story parking structure, executing a handstand on the building’s edge and explaining to a flabbergasted passerby, “The fear is there, man. You just shut it off.”

But the shredded 5'9", 145-pounder (government name: Kane Serafin) would like you to know that contrary to appearances his daredevil behavior is life affirmative, not self-destructive. “People see me doing it, they must assume, ‘This guy’s nuts. He’s on drugs. He’s got a death wish,’” Kane says. “To me it’s the opposite. That’s how I celebrate life. I like to look death in the face to appreciate how beautiful life is. There’s a difference between crazy and confidence.”

But for Ninja Kane to live, Kane Serafin almost had to die. In 2005 the San Diego–area native was a professional snowboarder traveling the competition circuit when he suffered an epic wipeout. Launching his board off a 200-foot cliff, Kane stuck the landing but plowed into a tree going 70 mph. He fractured several ribs and, even more debilitating, broke his leg in 25 places, requiring multiple surgeries and nearly a year of rehabilitation. A doctor told him he might not walk again.

Ninja Kane on Santa Monica Stairs

Rejecting that diagnosis, the lifelong surfer-skater bought himself a triathlon bike and started pedaling. Grueling rides soon begot more ambitious exercise: a singular combination of parkour, free running, calisthenics, and martial arts. Now, as a sideline to Kane’s day job as a Hollywood stuntman, he runs his “ninja course” throughout the seaside neighborhood of Santa Monica—walking down staircases in a handstand, tiptoeing along the guardrail of the Santa Monica Pier, and climbing up light poles.

“In the urban jungle, I’m using my body like a graffiti artist would use a spray can,” Kane explains. “It’s the best mind training. I put myself in those intense situations to shut the fear off.”