Many have come and few have succeeded on American Ninja Warrior (ANW), which is currently enjoying its fourth season on G4, and first season on network television, also airing on NBC. The reality competition show, which pits challengers against a series of physics-defying obstacle courses, is currently narrowing down the field to 100 hopefuls, who will compete in Las Vegas for a $500,000 prize and the honor of being—you guessed it—the American Ninja Warrior.
This year, just over 900 people tried out for the competition, a modest total compared to, say, American Idol, which draws roughly 100,000 aspiring singers a year.
The reason for the disparity? While you need only a karaoke machine to prepare for AI (as the cool kids call it), ANW is a totally different kind of animal. The multifaceted courses you see on the show cannot be found in your average gym, and no matter how hard you train, nothing can quite compare you for the real thing.
For David Campbell of Scotts Valley, California, a rock-climbing and martial arts enthusiast, that meant taking the matter into his own hands—literally. Back in 2006, Campbell first caught wind of Sasuke, the original Ninja Warrior incarnation from Japan. It was in that year when G4 began accepting audition videos for the original American Ninja Challenge, which sent aspiring U.S. ninjas to Japan to face Mount Midoriyama; the final and greatest test of the Sasuke.