|Matt Iseman, Akbar Gbaja-Biamila & Zuri Hall|
NBC: 12/8/2010 - Present
Esquire Network: 5/26/2014 - Present
With the success of the original Japanese SASUKE in the states comes the version for America.
Potential contestants go through a series of steps before possibly becoming an "American Ninja Warrior". Over 3,500 athletes have attempted to conquer Mount Midoriyama and become one since the series began in 2009.
There are some requirements contestants must meet before participating at a regional qualifier. Contestants must be legal residents of the United States and be in decent physical shape. There is no upper age limit, though participants must be at least 19 years old (21 years old during the first nine seasons). Contestants must fill out a 20-page questionnaire and make a video about themselves. The required length of the video has differed over the years. Submission video length requirements have varied from 2 to 8 minutes, depending on the season. During season 13, select teens of at least 15 years were chosen to compete.
1,000 people applied to compete in season one, 5,000 people in season six, 50,000 in season seven, 70,000 in season eight, and 77,000 in season nine. Producers then select 100 contestants from the thousands of applicants to participate in each regional qualifier. They also select 20 to 30 "walk-ons" who may wait weeks camping outside to get a chance on the course.
City qualifying and finals
In each city qualifier course, the competitors that the producers have selected compete on an obstacle course consisting of six obstacles. Descriptions of each obstacle in each course are provided by the sideline reporter at the beginning of an episode.
At the beginning of each run, a buzzer sounds off, allowing a competitor to begin the course. A timer begins simultaneously. The first obstacle on any city qualifying course are some type of simple steps which competitors must run across. This is followed by four different obstacles that test a competitors gymnastics background, balance/grip and upper body strength. These five obstacles are built above water(except for the balance obstacle, which has sometimes been built above a safety mat). If a competitor falls into the water or touches it(or the safety mat), their run ends immediately and the timer records their time.
Until season nine, the sixth and final obstacle was the 14'6" warped wall, in which competitors are given three chances to reach the top. In season ten, the 18-foot "Mega Wall" was introduced adjacent to the warped wall. Competitors have only one attempt to reach the top of the Mega Wall, and if successful, will win $10,000. However, if unsuccessful, the competitor will only get one attempt at the warped wall. Competitors are given the choice of which to climb. In season 11, all three attempts either had to be on the Mega Wall or the original warped wall. In season 12 and 13, the rules were changed back, except in season 13, the competitor is given two attempts at the standard wall should they fail the Mega Wall.
At the top of both walls, there is a buzzer a competitor presses which stops the timer and records their time, ending their run on the course. The top 30 competitors who go the farthest the fastest advance to the city finals course. Since season nine, the top five women also advance to the city finals, regardless if they finished in the top 30. Since Season 5, completing the course automatically got you through to the city finals, regardless of time. In season 12, only the top 12 competitors, regardless of completing the course, moved on to the city finals.
City finals courses are the follow-up to each city qualifying course. They contain four new obstacles, in addition to the six obstacles featured in the city qualifying course. These four obstacles are all placed after the original six obstacles. The first new obstacle has always been the salmon ladder. Starting with Season Five, some of the obstacles in city qualifying were modified. As of season ten, two of the original six obstacles are replaced with new obstacles for the city finals course, however, this hasn't remained consistent. The course rundown is as follows
- Six qualifer obstacles
- Salmon Ladder
- An obstacle done high up in the air, usually involving transitions, laches and jumping or swinging the body back and forth.
- A very tough grip obstacle designed to drain the competitor of their energy and strength.
- A climb to the top of the buzzer
The top 15 competitors who go the farthest the fastest from each city finals course move on to compete on the National Finals course. As of season nine, the top two women in each city finals course also move on to compete on the National Finals course, even if they do not finish in the top 15. Small prizes ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 are awarded to first, second, and third finishers who complete the city finals course, however, this is not mentioned on the show.
Qualifying and finals courses are filmed back-to-back, usually over two nights. Obstacles are designed and produced in the five months prior to an episode taping, with 3–4 new ones per city. In Season seven, 22 new obstacles debuted. season eight, 18 obstacles were debuted.
The National Finals takes place at "Mount Midoriyama", the final course for American Ninja Warrior. Located on the Las Vegas Strip, it consists of four stages, each containing various obstacles of increasing difficulty. Competitors must complete all of the 23 obstacles. Should they complete the first three stages, competitors will advance to Stage 4, where competitors attempt to climb the 75-foot rope climb, known as Mount Midoriyama, in 30 seconds or less. Should a competitor achieve Total Victory, he or she receives a money prize of $500,000 from season four to season six, and $1,000,000 from season seven. Beginning in season eight, if multiple competitors complete stage 4, the competitors split the prize money, although in prior years the fastest competitor would receive the full amount.
Stage 1 consists of obstacles that test the competitors' agility and speed. The first stage is timed, and only the competitors who successfully complete it within the time limit will advance to Stage 2. The course rundown is as follows:
- A balance obstacle
- A gymnastics-type obstacle containing a mini tramp(oline).
- A sliding obstacle where the contestant must get from one end of the track to the other using the obstacle.
- Jumping Spider
- A run and jump type obstacle
- Warped Wall
- A tougher agility-balance obstacle.
- A tough latching obstacle to a cargo net climb to the buzzer.
The time limit varies, but is usually always under 2:45 and never lower than 1:55.
Stage 2 consists of obstacles that test the competitors' strength and speed. Competitors must complete challenges that strain their upper-body strength and endurance (such as the Salmon Ladder) without running out of time. Just as in the first stage, only the competitors who successfully finish within the time limit move on to Stage 3. The course rundown is as follows:
- A swinging obstacle that drains a competitor's strength
- A variation on the salmon ladder
- A swinging transition obstacle requiring upper-body and grip strength
- A obstacle where the competitor must jump to get on, and jump to get off, similar to a leap of faith.
- A very tough obstacle requiring expecitional upper-body, grip strength and technique to get across.
- A obstacle where something must be repeated a certain amount of times.
The time limit varies from 4:45 as the most and 1:45 as the least.
Stage 3 consists of obstacles that test the competitors' upper body and grip strength. It is the only stage in Mt. Midoriyama that has no time limit. Like Stages 1 and 2, only the competitors who successfully complete Stage 3 move on. The course rundown is as follows:
Note: The first three obstacles are switched around in position but mostly remain the same. The platforms between these obstacles has gotten smaller over the years.
- An energy drainer
- A simple lache obstacle
- A tough obstacle requiring much strength to get across.
- Variation on the Ultimate Cliffhanger. After this, competitors do not get to rest again.
- A gymnastics obstacle requiring competitors to use their lower body to save energy.
- A tough grip obstacle(removed in recent years)
- A very, very tough obstacle requiring the competitors use the upper body strength of their hands to get across, similar to the Ultimate Cliffhanger except with other different objects. the competitor is usually standing straight up, holding on.
- Flying Bar
Stage 4 of Mt. Midoriyama is a 75-foot rope climb. Competitors must complete the rope climb and hit the buzzer in under 30 seconds.
Based on the Japanese show SASUKE which is named Ninja Warrior when broadcast in the States.
- Ninja Warrior
- Women of Ninja Warrior
- Team Ninja Warrior
- American Ninja Warrior Junior
- American Ninja Warrior: Ninja vs. Ninja