This Japanese sensation started off as a mere reality show, and has since grown into not only one of the most popular sporting events in Japan, but an international phenomenon. Known in the United States as Ninja Warrior, Sasuke is an obstacle course competition held every 6 months or so at Mount Midoriyama Japan, and draws eager competitors from all over the world. The difficulty of the course is legendary, with obstacles so tough that so far, only 2 men have ever completed all 4 stages in over 20 competitions.
Number of Players
A four stage obstacle course featuring anywhere from 6-8 obstacles per stage.
Mostly, all that is required to compete is oneself. On certain obstacles, it is permissible to use the assistance of gloves, chalk, and various sprays or other items to reduce slipping. Timers are also used on 3 of the 4 stages.
Each giant obstacle is laid out differently, but most feature a long drop into a cold, muddy pool of water should the contestant fail. Some obstacles need to be reset after each run. Obstacles differ per competition depending on the competitors (there is an all women’s version called “Kunoichi” where the obstacles are designed more for balance instead of upper body strength).
Competitors run the course one at a time and must clear a whole stage before being allowed to move on to the next one. For stages 1 and 2, each competitor is given a countdown before the clock starts running. They then have a limited amount of time (usually around 1 minute or 90 seconds) to traverse every obstacle in the stage. Functionally, the only difference between the first two stages are the obstacles, which get considerably more difficult as the competitors progress. The third stage is usually un-timed, but notoriously hard to complete. If a competitor is good enough to reach the final stage, they are in for a 75 foot climb straight up a high tower. The fourth stage climb is usually accomplished with some combination of a long rope, or a suspension between two walls (which pull apart if the contestant isn’t fast enough), or even a rope ladder. Few have ever made it to the final stage. Only 2 have ever beaten it.
Reach the top of Mount Midoriyama! Since so few have ever even made it to the 4th stage to try (and only 2 have ever won), the real goal is simply to see how far you can get before taking the plunge. If at any point during all 4 stages a competitor falls off the course, runs out of time, traverses an obstacle incorrectly, or touches water, they are eliminated from the competition. The Obstacles: Over the years, there have been a great many challenging obstacles featured in the competition. Some have grown in notoriety, and are frequently on the course. The course always changes slightly with each competition, and at least once was completely revamped after a competitor won the whole thing. Some of the more frequently seen obstacles have been:
- Stage 1
- The Sextuple Step – A long expanse of water broken up by 5 angled platforms along the sides, which can only be crossed by using forward momentum to hop from one to the other.
- The Rolling Log – Contestants must wrap their arms and legs around a large cylinder and cling for dear life as it rolls down a track suspended in the air. The track sometimes features a couple of sudden drops designed to shake the contestant loose.
- The Balance Bridge – An unstable bridge is suspended between to high points, and contestants must traverse it quickly before it rolls them off of one side or the other.
- The Jump Hang – Contestants must jump off of a mini-trampoline over an expanse of water and grab hold of a rope net. They must then climb over, or under the net to safety.
- The Warped Wall – A high, curved wall which must be traversed by running up its concave surface and pulling oneself up over the edge.
- Stage 2
- Chain Reaction – Contestants must cling to a dangling chain as it hurls them down a zip line. At the end of the line, they must then transfer their grip to a second chain and slide down to safety.
- The Spider Walk – A high “hallway” which can only be passed through by suspending oneself between the walls with the hands and feet and gradually propelling forward. A version of this called the “jumping spider” also exists in the first stage, where competitors must enter the hallway by jumping up to it on a mini trampoline.
- The Salmon Ladder – Considered one of the hardest of all the obstacles, it consists of a single bar which contestants must use to climb a tower by hopping the bar up an open ladder (effectively one rung at a time).
- The Hammer Dodge – A narrow balance beam which must be crossed while a series of giant hammers swing back and forth in front of you.
- The Reverse Treadmill – Just what it sounds like, only there is a short cage over top of it to ensure that the contestants can only cross it by crawling.
- The Heavy Walls – 3 large walls, each one heavier than the last. They must be lifted straight up inside their frames so that they may be passed underneath.
- Stage 3
- The Propeller Bars – 3 slowly rotating bars suspended high above the water. Contestants must cling to one, and then wait for the next one to swing close enough to transfer to.
- The Body Prop – Contestants must suspend themselves horizontally between two high up walls and maneuver sideways over an expanse of water (stretched between the walls with only hands and feet making contact).
- The Cliff Hanger – By far the most punishing of the stage three obstacles. Contestants must traverse the water by clinging to a long narrow ledge only wide enough to hang on by the fingertips. The ledge typically includes inclines and gaps.
- The Pipe Slider – A pipe rests on top of high parallel bars and can only be moved forward by sliding it along the course using the upper body. It ends with a jump to the finish line that is always just a little too far away.