Statement Addressing Open Letter

The World Ninja League Team issued a Statement addressing a recent open letter and its allegations against a Worlds Course Designer, a ninja facility, and a group of athletes.

The World Ninja League values the community’s concerns in the open letter. The organization dedicated significant time and resources to investigating the claims and verifying the integrity of this year’s World Championships. Hosting fair and unbiased competitions is one of the league’s top priorities. Additionally, the league remains committed to hearing feedback and seeking opportunities to improve rules, standards, and policies.

This statement from the league will directly address the accusations mentioned in the Open Letter and share valuable insight into the World Championships course design and obstacle selection process. As this information is disclosed, it’s important that community members are aware that the league wishes to hear feedback and maintain discussions regarding areas for improvement. As always, the team values the community’s input and will work to improve the sport for the entire community.


On Jul 1, 2024, the World Ninja League team received an Open Letter, signed by some individuals from ninja community, containing allegations against one of the World Championship Course designers. The allegations claimed the course designer provided inside information on World Championships course design to a gym he worked for. The letter claimed the course designer intentionally rigged Worlds obstacles to better prepare their athletes for the upcoming World Championships.

The World Ninja League conducted a detailed investigation before responding to the accusations on July 5, 2024. The investigation turned up the following information: 

Various media in the Open Letter featured videos of the Swords taken in May 2023, before the course design process started for the 2024 Championships.

One obstacle in the open letter was not included in the 2024 Championships.

The letter included universally recognized obstacles commonly found across most ninja gyms such as the Cliff Hanger (Ninja Warrior 4 1999) and the Spider Flip (Ninja Warrior 18 2007). 

The gym included the last obstacle from Stage 3 in one of its Standard qualifiers. The gym was one of many to feature the obstacle in its facility this season. The obstacle was available in at least five locations across four different regions. One of the regions included the Stage 3 obstacle in its Regional Championships. It was later found that one of the individuals who signed the Open Letter attended this regional championship.

The Stage 3 obstacle was removed shortly after the competition and was not present in the facility as they prepared for Worlds.

The course designer was not the head coach for the gym’s ninja team and had limited involvement with team meetings, planning sessions and practices designed specifically to prepare the team for the upcoming World Championships.

The course designer responded openly and honestly to whether athletes who had trained an obstacle were better prepared for that obstacle.  

After reviewing the information from the investigation, the World Ninja League concluded:

The course designer referenced in the Open Letter followed all policies and guidelines in place to esnure fair competition. No course knowledge or information was transferred to anyone outside the course design process. 

No individuals outside the course design process had course knowledge before competing at the 2024 World Championships.

The gym mentioned in the Open Letter had no insider knowledge when setting up and preparing their athletes for the World Championships.

While the investigation supports that the course designer, gym, and athletes all followed the policies to ensure a fair Championship, the League can understand where additional clarification can be beneficial to help understand the full process. Community members can continue reading to gain additional insight into the process and learn the full information found during the investigation. 

League Policies for Worlds Course Design

The policies and procedures included in the following pages were set forth after the first large-scale World Championships. The policies were set to ensure the obstacles at the World Championships reflected the obstacle training and trends found across most of the ninja community. Additionally, these written rules ensure all athletes who compete have an equal opportunity when preparing to compete. These policies have been improved and refined over the years, and the organization plans to continue building on the foundation established through years of high-quality World Championships. 

As you prepare to read the next section, the World Ninja League would like to remind the community that the organization remains open to discussion regarding the best practices moving forward. The League has been built on listening to feedback from the community and incrementally improving the processes moving forward. The team at the World Ninja League will continue to refine and improve these processes based on the community’s needs.

Obstacle Selection Process

The World Ninja League Championships represent the culmination of each athlete’s year of ninja training. In many ways, the Championships are a final test of the skills and abilities of athletes worldwide. As such, the Course Design Team believes that the obstacles included at the Championships should test similar skills and abilities to the challenges athletes experience throughout the year. The majority of obstacles selected for Worlds have been directly pulled or have drawn inspiration from obstacles seen across World Ninja League qualifiers worldwide.

Selecting obstacles from current qualifiers ensures the obstacles at Worlds reflect the skills athletes have been training throughout the season. Additionally, these obstacles are publicly available. Any athlete, coach, or parent can find them and develop training programs to prepare for the skills these obstacles test. 

The majority of the obstacles from this year’s World Championships were directly pulled from competitions and course designers across the globe. If one were to look back and review ninja media shared from the past year or two, one would find many gyms around the world that featured obstacles from Worlds or obstacles that tested similar abilities to the abilities tested by the obstacles found at the World Championships.

Here are a handful of obstacles that can be easily found when looking back:

Turbo Rollers: Improved design on the PVC log rollers found in many gyms.

Cane Run: Combination of existing obstacles and techniques commonly found at gyms.

Tick Tock: A common obstacle that is found in most ninja gyms.

Good Luck (Rotating Vertical Limit): Featured in the most recent Ninja Warrior, also found across multiple competitions and regions.

Course Designer Rules

The process of selecting obstacles that reflect community trends has been consistent since the first league-hosted World Championships in Greensboro. Selecting obstacles in this manner provides an incredible opportunity to collaborate with the talented obstacle creators in the community. Every year, the World Ninja League team includes obstacle creators from around the world in the design process, and the result has consistently been better courses for the community at Worlds.

The World Ninja League set policies that allow the top course designers to be included in the World Championships course design process and ensure all athletes have an equal opportunity to prepare for the World Championships. 

In order to collaborate with the league on the World Championships Course design process, individuals must agree to the following:

Course Designers must not disclose any information discussed during the process to anyone outside the process. This includes but is not limited to, obstacles, skills, design philosophies, course trends, or other information that may lead to an individual having an unfair advantage.

If the designer knows what obstacles will be included, they must be willing to forgo coaching their athletes at the World Championships. 

Preventing World Championship course designers from discussing the design process ensures that which obstacles being included in the World Championships remain a secret before the competition. Additionally, it certifies that all athletes have the same opportunity to prepare for the competition. Finally, preventing course designers from coaching ensures no individual can benefit from any knowledge or insight gained from the design process.

Lastly, it’s important to highlight that the league considers the knowledge of which obstacles are included as the most important part of the process to keep secret. As mentioned earlier, many of the obstacles from Worlds reflect the same design or test the same abilities as obstacles seen throughout the season. Very rarely is a new obstacle included in Worlds that tests a completely new or unique skill set. This means the majority of the obstacles at the World Championships can already be found throughout the ninja community. This is a process that is currently done by design to ensure the skills being tested reflect the technique trends currently found in the community.

Notable Obstacles included from Other Course Designers across the globe:

Quad Stomp: Slight design modification of a 2022 obstacle from the Heartland region.

Trap Door: First seen in Dec 2023 at a Northwest ninja competition.

Good Luck (Rotating Vertical Limit): Early 2020’s obstacle from the Southeast Region.

Obstacle Media from Open Letter

The Open Letter contained various screen recordings and screenshots to support the claims from the letter. Separate conversations were hosted with multiple individuals who attended the gym in the past year to establish a timeline of when obstacles were up and how long the obstacles were up for. 

One of the focal points of the investigation was the timeline obstacles were set up in the gym. A ninja gym having access to a wide range of popular obstacles to prepare athletes for the World Championships is merely evidence of a good ninja gym. However, it would warrant further investigation if a gym had combined many of the same obstacles featured at Worlds within close proximity during the final crucial months before the World Championships.

Additionally, the investigation considered the obstacle’s origin and how commonly it was found across ninja gyms. A gym with access to common, well-established obstacles, like the cliffhanger, is expected. 

Similarly, a gym with access to new, trending obstacles is also expected. The investigation considered how many other gyms had access to the same or similar obstacles. 

Spider Flip

One of the obstacles included in the Open Letter was a screen recording of the Spider Flip obstacle from the gym’s Standard Qualifier on Jan 14, 2024. The Spider Flip was included in the Open Letter due to its similarities to a 2024 Worlds Stage 3 obstacle Trap Door. The Spider Flip was added to the gym’s competition by the head coach (not the World’s course designer) and was an exact replica of the original Spider Flip, which first appeared on the Japanese Ninja Warrior Season 18 in 2007. The Spider Flip was removed from the gym shortly after their Standard Qualifier.

The Trap Door obstacle from this year’s World Championships incorporated elements of the 2007 Spider Flip obstacle. The new obstacle for this year’s World Championships added a door-dropping component. The new Stage 3 obstacle Trap Door was directly pulled from a Standard Qualifier hosted at a separate gym across the country. The new Trap Door obstacle was featured at the Season 9 Standard Qualifier hosted in December.

Spider Flip is widely considered a common obstacle due to its age, popularity, and accessibility. Many gyms across the World feature a Spider Flip or other similar obstacles. It is unsurprising, the Spider Flip  was found at the gym’s qualifier, given its common appearance and established history. 


The Open Letter contained screenshots of the final obstacle from Stage 3, the Revolvers. The Revolvers were first seen at the gym’s Standard Qualifier in November 2023. The majority of the media containing the Revolvers was from the gym’s qualifier. The obstacle was taken down shortly after the competition and was not found in the gym during the months leading up to the World Championships. The Revolvers were inspired by similar obstacles in the community, such as the Flying Bar (Ninja Warrior 2010, Lightning Bolts 2018, and Downward Slopping Salmon Ladder rungs 2021).

Following the obstacle’s first appearance at the gym’s Standard Qualifier, the revolvers were known to be replicated or purchased by four additional gyms. The gyms that had access to the revolvers were spread across four different regions. More replicas may have existed. These four were notable gyms that included them in more significant competitions, such as regionals. Notably, one of the coaches who signed the Open Letter attended a Regional Championship where the obstacle was included. 

It was found all of the athletes who reached the final obstacle of Stage 3 from the age divisions referenced in the letter attended a gym that had the Revolvers up during their time at the gym. It remains unclear whether any of the athletes trained the obstacle prior to attending the 2024 Championships.

Paddle Cliffs

The Open Letter contained a screen recording of the public launch post for the sale of Paddle Cliffs, which were made available for purchase in February before the World Championships. The Paddle Cliffs are a popular obstacle-setting technique for the cliffhanger, and the movement can be set using a standard cliffhanger ledge. The Paddle Cliffs made available for resale only make it easier for riggers to set the movement.

The Paddle Cliffs first appeared at a notable Elite competition in 2022. The obstacle has since appeared in multiple Standard Qualifiers dating to Season 8. Additionally, notable elite athletes have shared content about them completing the Paddle Cliff movement on social media. 

Finally, the set featured in the launch post is a common way to set the Paddle Cliffs. Given the unique mechanics of the movement, there are limited ways to set the Paddle Cliffs.  


The Swords featured in Stage 1 were first posted publicly in May 2023. The screen recording from the Open Letter included the original post. The obstacle was inspired by an ANW obstacle, The Gambler (2023). The two obstacles feature similar mechanics. The Swords were rigged at the gym prior to the course designer’s involvement in the course design process. 

The Sword featured in the screen recordings was a prototype obstacle that eventually broke. The swords never returned to the gym after breaking in the Fall of 2023.

The Swords are a popular obstacle. The exact obstacle was seen in multiple high-level competitions, including notable Elite competitions and a Premier Series Qualifier. Additionally, the skills tested through the movement were found in obstacle designs from other obstacle creators.

The Swords were available for purchase on May 8th, prior to the World Championships. Many gyms across varied regions had access to the Swords or obstacles that tested similar mechanics prior to the Championships.

Other Obstacles Mentioned

Whale Tail

The letter mistook the obstacle in the gym, Whale Tail, for an obstacle included in the World Championships, Beatle. The investigation concluded that the obstacles did not have similar functions or designs to the Beatle obstacle from the 2024 Championships.

The Beatle obstacle from Stage 1 mentioned in the Open Letter was never accessible at the gym.

Common Obstacles

The letter included universally recognized obstacles such as the Cliff Hanger (Ninja Warrior 4 1999) and the Spider Flip (Ninja Warrior 18 2007). Given their universal recognition, these obstacles are incredibly common at ninja facilities across the Globe. Additionally, it’s reasonable to assume the majority of coaches will train their athletes on Cliff Hanger routes to prepare them for Stage 3. Every World Championship Stage 3 has included some use of cliffhanger ledges.

Screenshot of DM Exchange

The course designer was sent a direct message by one of the coaches included in the Open Letter. In the direct message, the coach inquired about what the course designer learned by “testing” the Revolvers at the gym in question. The course designer, who knew the screenshot of the obstacle was from a large public competition, responded honestly by stating that watching athletes attempt the obstacle at larger competitions helps course designers gauge difficulty. Watching athletes attempt obstacles is a common best practice for course designers and obstacle creators. 

The course designer provided additional insight into the exchange, clarifying that at the time of receiving the direct message, they assumed the coach was a fan of their work. They believed the coach was looking for insight into the design process. The course designer was aware that exact replicas of the obstacle had been purchased since the competition, and imitations had made their way into other large public events, including a Regional Championship at a gym across the country. The course designer had no reason to believe anyone would ask misleading questions that could be presented out of context.

After receiving an answer to the coach’s first question, the coach followed up with a leading question that inquired whether the athletes from the gym who had trained the obstacle were better prepared for that obstacle. The course designer again answered honestly, stating, “It likely did provide an advantage.” 

When asked to elaborate on the response during the investigation, the course designer expanded on their response to clarify that most coaches would agree that athletes who have trained a move or skill set would be better prepared if they encountered a similar technique again. The designer continued to highlight any advantage gained through participating in the Standard Qualifier would be equal to any of the following:

Any athlete who competed or trained at any of the 5 locations that featured the obstacle had the same advantage.

Any athlete who’s coach saw the movement through the publicly available livestream who then decided to focus on that skill set or a similar skill set during the season would have the same advantage.

Any athlete who trained at a gym that provided access to obstacles that focused on the techniques tested at the World Championships would have the same advantage because their gym better prepared them for the challenges they faced.

The designer went on to share that this advantage is, unfortunately, true in all sports, where athletes who have access to the best coaches and equipment often have advantages over those who don’t. The course designer stated that they’d personally like to see this gap minimized, and they are open to solutions to improving the course design and selection process moving forward.


Upon reviewing all of the materials presented during the investigation the World Ninja League has decided there was not sufficient evidence to support that the course designer shared any inside information regarding the course design process or any obstacles slated for inclusion in the World Championships. No evidence supported the claims the gym or any of their athletes had an unfair advantage.

All of the obstacles in question were part of the public domain and included at other locations leading into the World Championships. Additionally, many of the obstacles included in the Open Letter dated back as early as 1999 and are considered staple obstacles at ninja gyms worldwide. Lastly, the screenshots and recordings shared in the Open Letter represented a year’s worth of obstacles and course design at the gym in question. 

It is very common for gyms to feature a wide variety of trending obstacles over the course of the year. This best practice can be seen at many gyms across the world that tailor their obstacle sets to reflect the obstacle trends seen at ninja competitions. This best practice for gyms is the same best practice the league attempts to emulate when selecting obstacles for each year’s World Championships.

In closing, the League would like to provide some additional information for the community. There is a process for reporting potential violations to the organization. Individuals who suspect foul play or experience unsportsmanlike conduct can report potential violations via the page listed below.


The individuals responsible for the Open Letter started to follow this process but did not respect the process enough to see it through. As a result, the reputation of good, hard-working coaches, athletes, and community members was unjustly damaged. Many parents, athletes, and coaches have reached out to our organization in tears over the false accusations in the letter. The Open Letter created unwarranted pain and suffering, which could have been avoided if the proper processes were followed and respected. 

The World Ninja League fully supports reviewing any and all situations that may involve unethical behavior, unsportsmanlike conduct, or other violations of the organization’s Code of Conduct. However, the League will not tolerate behavior from any individual(s) that unjustly damages the reputation of athletes, coaches, or other community members. 

Furthermore, the League wishes it to be public knowledge that the organization contacted one of the moderators from the parent Guardians Facebook group to provide an alternative post for discussion in place of the Open Letter. The World Ninja League supports free speech and normally believes it to be best practice not to interfere with discussion in the group. However, the League had concerns about the innocent individuals in the open letter. Additionally, the organization felt the removal of personal attacks and additional clarity on the selection process could help facilitate a productive conversation amongst the parents in the ninja community. 

While the league is disappointed in the actions of select community members, the organization is committed to having productive conversations with the community regarding the best practices for the sport moving forward. The link below includes a survey where community members can weigh in on the obstacle design and selection process for the World Championships. The team at the World Ninja League values the community perspective and will always encourage open discussions about what’s best for the sport, provided the communication is respectful of the individuals and organizations that make up our incredible community.

World Ninja League

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