Saturday, June 5, 2010

Sasuke and Kunoichi

John Marine | 6/05/2010 05:49:00 PM | | | | | |
(UPDATED: May 28, 2014)

Mount Midoriyama is one tough mountain! It is chock full of obstacles designed to torture the body. It is one of the most intense challenges for a semi-annual competition such as Ninja Warrior/Sasuke. While Mt. Midoriyama may be fictional, its challenge is completely real. This is one of the toughest competitions whether you are a male or a female. Speaking of females, there is a second tournament called Kunoichi. Tournaments are held in the Summer and the Winter.

To achieve kanzenseiha (complete domination, or what us Americans call "Total Victory"), you must survive four stages of intense action. Remember a few rules- clear the stage in time, remember to stay on course, and most of all... AVOID the water! If you touch the water, you are eliminated from the tournament. Clear the stage by hitting the buzzer at the end of the stage. This blog entry is my own kind of look at the competition. I've named this blog entry by the Japanese names. Us Americans call them as "Ninja Warrior" and "Women of Ninja Warrior" respectively.


MAY 28 2014 - made several edits, updated look of post

--- How I Discovered Sasuke and Kunoichi ---

The way I discovered this tournament is strange. I actually was watching the re-born American Gladiators series. At one point, I wanted to know what this Ninja Warrior was about. I started watching these episodes on G4 TV and got hooked to it. The thing I love most is the determination of these people to take on these challenges like in Sasuke and Kunoichi. I could never clear any obstacle even if I tried. I'm completely out of shape. New obstacles are added to make the course even more brutal than previous tournaments. The courses get even more brutal in future tournaments. Some of which, become near impossible to clear.

Now how about we look at what makes these tournaments so cool? Read below, enthused ones! :)

Ninja Warrior Sasuke logo
^ from: - "Sasuke" to Japan is "Ninja Warrior" to us Americans. No matter what you call it, it is an awesome tournament.

--- Four Stages of Hell: Sasuke ---

Over 100 entrants enter to take on the great challenge known as Mt. Midoriyama. Those who survive the stages will advance as long as they clear the stage in time or avoid the water.

Stage 1.

Stage 1 is more like a basic obstacle course. You are given a basic set of challenges for which you must clear in time. This is a basic test of agility and your overall general skills. You must prove to be agile and fit to clear Stage 1.

Stage 2.

The survivors of Stage 1 will take on Stage 2 as day gives way to night. The second stage is a speed drill. The emphasis is on speed and balance.

Stage 3.

Stage 3 is the toughest of all. While there is no time limit, you still need to navigate some of the toughest obstacles. Stage 3 is solely about stamina, strength, and endurance. This is where you hold your breath, hoping the contestants don't fall into the water or go off course. This is NOT easy.

Final Stage.

You have only a small amount of time to go from the ground to the top. You are suspended by bungee cord as you try to climb your way up the tower. It used to be just a rope climb in the earliest competitions. Later tournaments required you to climb up with a spider walk followed by a rope climb at the halfway point. (following information from Wikipedia) According to Wikipedia, starting with the 22nd tournament, the final stage has three elements to it. What started out as a 49-foot rope climb is now even tougher while still remaining a certain amount of time to reach the top.

No matter what, it won't be easy trying to defeat this challenge. The many qualifiers do certainly give their best effort.

--- Four Stages of Hell: Kunoichi ---

The Kunoichi tournament is a tournament exclusively for female competitors. The majority of challenges have been re-imagined to test the limits of female competitors. Rather than strength tests, these focus more on balance and dexterity.

Stage 1.

Stage 1 of the Kunoichi tournament is like Stage 1 of the Sasuke tournament, except that there are more tests of balance than tests of strength. You need agility and good physical and mental strength to clear Stage 1.

Stage 2.

Stage 2 is a speed drill, just like for the Sasuke tournament. The obstacles are less intense, but still formidable.

Stage 3.

Quickness and balance are what it takes to win Stage 3 of the Kunoichi tournament.

Final Stage.

The final stage varies. It is usually a balance test that must be completed in time.

--- My Favorite Contenders ---

This section contains some of my favorite contenders from both tournaments. They are all notable contenders of mine.

Kazuhiko Akiyama.

Akiyama was the first Sasuke champion when he won Sasuke 4. The crab fisherman is the one who set the pace and is the one whom all Sasuke competitors aspires to. Maybe the best thing about him is how he was able to achieve total victory despite having short eyesight and problems seeing at night. To see him conquer Sasuke 4, please view Akiyama Wins (embedding was disabled).

Makoto Nagano.

Makoto Nagano won Sasuke 17 to become only the second Grand Champion of the Sasuke tournament. Here is his road to complete domination:

Ayako Miyake.

Not only was she the first Grand Champion of the Kunoichi tournament, Ayako Miyake has won the tournament three successive times. She won even in her debut! Check this out (and never mind the English commentator dude):

Katsumi Yamada.

I think Katsumi Yamada is the greatest competitor in the Ninja Warrior competition to never win it. I am SUCH a fan of his. His endurance and his commitment is just purely incredible.

Shingo Yamamoto.

I don't know as much as I'd like to about Shingo, but he's very talented and very capable. He's been in just about every Sasuke tournament since its inception. He is just nothing but a grizzly veteran.

Bunpei Shiratori.

The government worker for the Inba Prefecture is one of the toughest guys ever in Sasuke. His endurance is great for someone his age.

Chie Nishimura.

The first female to clear Stage 1 of the Sasuke tournament is Chie Nishimura. I think she did this in Sasuke 2.


RUO was a Double Dutch champion. She almost won Kunoichi a few times, only to fall short of that final buzzer.

Naoki Iketani.

Another hard man of Sasuke, Iketani is very well built in being a champion of Monster Box. He's also an impressive athlete in Sasuke.

Toshihiro Takeda.

Firefighter Toshihiro Takeda is another stellar contender of Sasuke. His strength and endurance are unreal, and you really need these things to be a firefighter. Just goes to show his prowess.

Levi Meeuwenberg.

The second winner of the American Ninja Warrior challenge is freerunner Levi Meeuwenberg. He advanced further than any other American Ninja Warrior contestant as he made it all the way to Stage 3 in Sasuke 23.

Hibari Igano.

Called the "World's Toughest Transsexual," and even called the "Goddess of Mixed Hormones," Hibari Igano actually almost cleared Stage 1 when I was seeing Ninja Warrior on G4.

Minoru Kuramochi (The Octopus Man).

The most entertaining contestant to never clear Stage 1 is one Minoru Kuramochi. This guy is fun to watch as he actually completed a few obstacles.

There are other favorites, but these are the ones that come to mind for me.

I salute ALL who compete in this intense competition whether for the Summer tournament, the Winter tournament, or both. You have my full respect for all that you do. Thank you for reading!

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