Now in its seventh season, NBC’s “Ninja American Warrior” is one of television’s most athletic competitions. The show, which is a spin-off from the Japanese show “Sasuke,” features athletes who try to complete intense obstacle courses built to test the skills of a true ninja: endurance, agility, upper body strength, balance, and coordination.
On Monday, July 6, American Ninja Warrior broadcast a special military-only qualifying show featuring men and women from all branches of the services, both active duty and separated. Hosted in front of the USS Iowa in Los Angeles, the event showed off an insane amount of talent and discipline by U.S. troops, some of whom had to train while deployed overseas, including in Afghanistan.
The oldest competitor, Chuck Mammay, was a 72-year-old Vietnam veteran who said his biggest challenge these days was finding women who could keep up with him. Unfortunately Mammay didn’t make it very far, but 10 others did, finishing the course and moving on to the next round where they will compete for a chance to go up against the four-stage behemoth: Mt. Midoriyama, named after the original course in Japan.
According to producer Kent Reed, who spoke with We Are The Mighty, the course was inspired by Navy SEAL training courses. It features five obstacles starting with five platforms at 45-degree angles toward the center of a water pit, a “jump-hang” onto a cargo net, horizontal free-spinning logs, monkey pegs, a high-beam crawl with a narrowing ledge, and it ends with a 14-foot vertical wall.
The top three finishers completed the course in under 3 minutes and 30 seconds. The leader, Robin Pietschmann, is a helicopter rescue swimmer for the Coast Guard, who moved to the United States from the Czech Republic at age 13. Pietschmann, who made it to the American Ninja Warrior finals last year, is 5-foot-10-inches, and 160 pounds, giving him a perfect height to weight ratio for competing in this competition.
“As a rescue swimmer, I’m trained to maintain my composure no matter how stressful the situation. That’s going to help me out on this course,” Pietschmann told NBC.
Watch his amazing run. Story continues below.
However, the most impressive competitor of the night was by far Ryan Stratis, an Army National Guard veteran who is now a personal trainer at ninja warrior gym in Georgia. Stratis is one of the favorites on the show having competed in the six previous seasons and clearly is out to win the entire competition. Stratis is well-known for his warrior yell, which would scares the pants off any enemy in battle.
Watch him crush the obstacle course below.