Born October 22, 1965, Katsumi Yamada is best known as a competitor on the Japanese obstacle course show Sasuke. He is 47 years old (as of 2012) from Harima, Hyōgo Prefecture, and is known as "Mr. Sasuke (Mr. Ninja Warrior)". Another one of his nicknames is "The Japanese Terminator", for his resemblance to actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was once thought to be the most likely to complete the entire course, after nearly clearing the final stage in the 3rd competition. He is particularly notable for his unusual devotion to the Sasuke competition. He has sworn to retire several times after failing to complete the 1st Stage, but the draw of total victory is too great for him and he always manages to resurface again. Early on he competed with the support of his family, but after he lost his job prior to the 6th competition because the factory where he worked (as a propane tank delivery driver) was closed, he did nothing but train for Ninja WarriorTemplate:Fact, alienating his family in the process. In the 10th Competition, Yamada was the only All- Star to complete the First Stage and the only one who made it to the Pipe Slider, however he failed the Pipe Slider and since then hasn't returned to the Third Stage. Since being disqualified in the 12th competition on the 2nd Stage, he has never completed the 1st Stage. He trains to the point that he has no full-time job, though over the years he has worked part time as a steelworker and a hot dog vendor.
Yamada has failed in some interesting, surprising, and painful ways over the years. In the 6th competition he made the swing from the Pipe Slider to the mat but lost his balance and rolled off the side onto the ground. In the 8th competition, Yamada had announced his retirement. He took on the 1st Stage, and ran out of time on the Warped Wall. Clearly emotional, Yamada just stood there in defeat for a few seconds. Then unexpectedly, he ran and climbed over the Warped Wall with ease and completed the Rope Climb quickly. It was a very emotional moment in Ninja Warrior. In the 9th competition, Yamada timed out on the 2nd Stage on the Wall Lift. That's because he spent nearly 20 seconds removing tape he applied to his shoes for stickiness then applying sticky spray to his hands in preparation for the Spider Walk. Without this, he would surely have cleared in time. In the 11th competition, Yamada fell on the Balance Tank, landing with one leg on each side before being rolled into the water. In the 12th competition, Yamada failed to remove his gloves after completing the Chain Reaction, a mental error which disqualified him, even though he did complete the second stage in time. Since that disqualification, Yamada has failed to even pass the first stage in the following tournaments with a series of unique wipeouts and time-ups He is allowed to compete in SASUKE 33 because of the 20th anniversary of SASUKE.
This is a list of all the competitions Yamada participated in, along with his number, the obstacle and stage where he was eliminated.
- 1st competition (92) - Failed Hammer Dodge - Second Stage
- 2nd competition (91) - Failed Spider Walk - Second Stage
- 3rd competition (89) - Failed Rope Climb - Final Stage
- 4th competition (100) - Failed Cliff Hanger - Third Stage
- 5th competition (100) - Failed Spider Walk - Second Stage
- 6th competition (99) - Failed Pipe Slider - Third Stage
- 7th competition (100) - Failed Rope Climb - First Stage
- 8th competition (100) - Failed Warped Wall - First Stage
- 9th competition (99) - Failed Wall Lift - Second Stage
- 10th competition (1000) - Failed Pipe Slider - Third Stage 1
- 11th competition (100) - Failed Balance Tank - Second Stage
- 12th competition (98) - Disqualified on Spider Walk2 - Second Stage
- 13th competition - Did not participate
- 14th competition (99) - Failed Jump Hang - First Stage
- 15th competition (99) - Failed Bridge of Blades - First Stage
- 16th competition (99) - Failed Rope Climb - First Stage
- 17th competition (100) - Failed Warped Wall - First Stage
- 18th competition (73) - Failed Rope Ladder - First Stage
- 19th competition (91) - Failed Jumping Spider - First Stage
- 20th competition (1999) - Failed Jumping Spider - First Stage3
- 21st competition (96) - Failed Warped Wall(injured) - First Stage
- 22nd competition (81) - Failed Jumping Spider - First Stage
- 23rd competition (71) - Failed Slider Jump - First Stage
- 24th competition (80) - Failed Warped Wall - First Stage
- 25th competition - Did not participate
- 26th competition (90) - Failed Jumping Spider - First Stage
- 27th competition (91) - Failed Warped Wall - First Stage
- 28th competition (99) - Failed First Warped Wall - First Stage
1In the tenth competition, the numbers were 901-1000 to signalize that 1000 contestants attempted the course. Yamada's number under the normal system would be 100.
2Yamada completed the 2nd Stage but was disqualified afterwards. For safety reasons, competitors are required to wear gloves during the first obstacle, the Chain Reaction. They must remove these gloves before the Spider Walk (They might remove them in the Brick Climb). Yamada forgot and wore the gloves through the entire stage and was disqualified.
3In the twentieth competition, the numbers ranged from 1901 to 2000 to indicate that 2000 competitors have attempted Sasuke. Under the normal system, Yamada would have been number 99.
Katsumi Yamada also appeared on Viking: The Ultimate Obstacle Course. In his first attempt, he fell on the 1st Marine Stage on the Cannonball Run. In a second attempt, he ran out of time and failed to advance to the 2nd Adventure Stage.
He later competed in Family Viking with his son. Although they did not complete the 1st Marine Stage, they made it into the top 15 and advanced to the 2nd Adventure Stage. Unfortunately, they subsequently timed out and were eliminated.
When he was 30 years old and still had his job, Yamada appeared on Kinniku Banzuke (a.k.a. Unbeatable Banzuke on G4). He competed in the Quick Muscle event against Kohei Asano (the reigning champion of the event at the time). He got off to a quick start, but began to tire and take very long pauses, which led to his defeat. Still, Yamada managed to beat Asano's standing record of 248 push-ups in 3 minutes, completing 249. However, Asano completed 275 in the competition, setting a new record and winning the event.