A Brief History of American Ninja Warrior

Why do we love the television show American Ninja Warrior? For some of us, it’s about watching a group of skilled athletes pushing their minds and bodies to the limit. For others, it’s about seeing new fiendishly difficult changes in the Ninja Warrior course. For still others, it’s because watching people slip and fall into muddy water is really, really funny.

Here at Rebounderz, we’re big fans. So much so that our Grand Rapids and Rohnert Park locations feature Ninja Warrior courses, so that kids and adults alike can test their mettle on the way to achieving total victory. With 8 seasons and no signs of stopping, American Ninja Warrior continues to go strong. Read on, and we’ll share a little information about the show.

What Is American Ninja Warrior?

Essentially, it’s an American spin-off of the wildly popular Japanese TV series Sasuke. Competitors must make their way through 4 increasingly difficult obstacle courses. Victory depends entirely on the contestant’s strength, speed, agility, and intelligence. Debuting in 2009, the course is located in Las Vegas. It’s very similar to the design of the original course located in Yokohama, Japan. The 4 stages contestants must overcome are:

  1. A series of obstacles built over water that are designed to test agility and speed. This stage is timed, and competitors have 2 minutes and 20 seconds to complete it in order to advance to the next stage. If a competitor fails to meet the time or falls into the water, they are disqualified.
  2. The second stage has more of an emphasis on upper-body challenges. Competitors are timed and go up against obstacles like the Salmon Ladder, where they must hold onto a metal bar and use arm strength to “leap” up a ladder without falling.
  3. Stage 3 is far tougher, and the various challenges are mostly based upon grip strength and swinging using upper body strength. Unlike the other stages, this stage has no time limit.
  4. Stage 4 is Mount Midoriyama, a 75-foot high rope climb. Competitors have just 30 seconds to reach the top and hit a red buzzer.


The original Japanese version was a cult hit in the United States, so much so that when American Ninja Warrior premiered, only 1,000 people attempted to try out. Things are very different, and in 2016’s season 8, over 70,000 men and women applied to tackle the course.

Think you have what it takes? In order to participate, you need to be a legal resident of the United States, and at least 21 years old. Next, you’ll need to complete a 20-page questionnaire, and submit a video about yourself. Applicants have tried out all across the United States, in regions like Denver, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Baltimore, San Antonio, and St. Louis.

In each region, the producers of the show will select 100 people to take part in the regional qualifier. The top 15 finishers from each city move on to the national competition in Las Vegas. Cash prizes are awarded for the top 3 quickest competitors, and they are generally between $1,000-$5,000. But what happens if you manage to make it to Vegas and win it all atop Mt. Midoriyama? You’ll have some serious bragging rights, along with $1 million to take home.

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