Takahashi Kenji (高橋 賢次) owns a one-man delivery company, Kong Express. Because of this, he is sometimes called Kong Takahashi. He is regarded as one of SASUKE's most powerful competitors. In his 18 attempts, he has cleared the First Stage 9 times, Second Stage 8 times and the Third Stage once. He also holds the record for the most Second Stage clears/Third Stage attempts for a non-all star, only surprassed by the three all-stars Nagano Makoto (11 times), Yamamoto Shingo (11 times) and Takeda Toshihiro (13 times), with all of these competitors having competed in several more competitions (Nagano and Takeda competed in 26 competitions, Yamamoto competed in 32).
The Early Days
According to information from Kenji himself, he first took part in SASUKE 5, where he was cut from broadcast. There, he failed the Rolling Maruta. He was also cut from SASUKE 6 where he timed out on the Soritatsu Kabe.
His first broadcast attempt was SASUKE 7, his third appearance. There, he was one of eight to complete the First Stage that day and advanced all the way to the Third Stage's Cliffhanger where he was undone by the third ledge. He then took an eight-competition hiatus.
After his long break, he returned in SASUKE 16. He blazed through all the obstacles until he was once again fell short at the Cliffhanger. He would return in SASUKE 18 where he was one of only six to defeat the redesigned First Stage and one of three to defeat the all-new Second Stage. But yet again, he failed the Shin-Cliffhanger when he could not complete the jump to the third ledge.
After these three failures, Takahashi suffered a series of First Stage setbacks. In SASUKE 19, he was one of many to fail the Jumping Spider. He defeated it in SASUKE 20 but eventually failed the Flying Chute. In SASUKE 21, he failed the Jumping Spider yet again, and in SASUKE 22, he finally made it all the way to the Rope Ladder before timing out but was cut from the broadcast.
SASUKE RebirthAt SASUKE 23, he went at a much faster pace and completed the First Stage with time to spare. In the Second Stage, he was the first to defeat the new Unstable Bridge and as a result he was the first to clear Stage Two. In the Third Stage, he reached the Shin-Cliffhanger, but attacked it with a different strategy. He used his long armspan to grab the third ledge rather than jump to it. He is the only competitor to complete the Shin-Cliffhanger without jumping. This unorthodox strategy, which some refer to as the Kong Cross, allowed him to easily complete the obstacle. This was also the first time he ever cleared any version of the Cliffhanger After clearing three obstacles that were new to him, he fell just short of the finish mat on the final obstacle, the Gliding Ring.
In SASUKE 24, Takahashi again performed exceptionally. He cleared the First Stage with 24.06 seconds remaining, and on the Second Stage he swiftly defeated the new Salmon Ladder and Unstable Bridge combination, and easily defeating the stage with 32.11 seconds remaining, the fastest time in that tournament by far. In the Third Stage, he focused his energy and beat the Gliding Ring that he failed in the previous tournament and beat Stage Three for the first time ever. In the Final Stage, he scaled the Heavenly Ladder rather quickly, but on the G-Rope his safety rigging tangled up and he timed out about halfway up the rope.
In SASUKE 25, Takahashi received a low start position in the lottery, #40. During the tournament, he beat the First Stage and Second Stage again. In the Third Stage, he was the first to attempt and beat the new Roulette Cylinder, Doorknob Grasper and Floating Boards. He eventually failed the Ultimate Cliffhanger while attempting the transition from the first ledge to the second ledge.
In SASUKE 26, he shocked many when he slipped off the Rolling Escargot that had claimed many strong competitors including one All-Star and one Shin Sedai. This was the first time he failed the First Stage since his series of First Stage fails from SASUKE 19 to 22. Because the broadcast time of this tournament was much shorter, his run was digested along with Kanno Hitoshi's failure of the same obstacle (although G4 aired both of their runs in full).
In SASUKE 27, he again was digested in the First Stage due to the numerous clears, this time failing the new Spin Bridge obstacle. He also received his lowest known start position in this competition, #15.
Although present in SASUKE 28, he did not compete for unknown reasons. In SASUKE 29 he managed to clear the First Stage for the first time since the 25th tournament, doing so with 23 seconds remaining. He then became only the second man to clear the Second Stage, doing so with 5.14 seconds remaining, the fastest time of the day. On the Third Stage, he started off well, showing unbelivable speed and power on the Iron Paddler by speeding through the obstacle in just 3 seconds. However, he failed the transition to the 2nd ledge in Crazy Cliffhanger due to overreaching, as his left hand was far from the end of the first ledge. In SASUKE 30, he cleared the First Stage with ease, but on the Second Stage, he was disqualified on the Swap Salmon Ladder in a rather controversal matter. Although he landed the bar properly on the second jump, the left landing ledge pulls back causing the left side of the bar to drop down to the landing ledge and then pops back in after the left bar drops. Takahashi was greatly angered with this circumstance and even complained about it. Unfortunately it fell on deaf ears and his 100% Second Stage clear record was ruined.
Takahashi then competed in American Ninja Warrior: USA vs the World (2016), as part of the reformed Team Japan which was modified to include taller competitors (such as himself and Kawaguchi Tomohiro) to adapt to the height-biased American course. Takahashi competed in Stage 1, up against Tim Champion and Kevin Bull. He went second, after Champion had failed the final obstacle, the Triple Swing, however he failed earlier on the second obstacle, the Propeller Untei and so Team Japan lost that round. He then went up against Drew Drechsel and Sean McColl in Stage 2. Drechsel had gone first and set a time of 1:23 seconds. Takahashi clearly rushed the Double Salmon Ladder as he attempted to clear 2 rungs at a time. He landed lob-sided in doing this and eventually the bar fell off the ladder, plummeting Takahashi into the water, costing Japan a win.
In SASUKE 32 he shocked the crowd, when he slipped off at the new obstacle, TIE Fighter. The last few runs were postponed after Drew Drechsel, who went directly after Takahashi, complained that the course was too wet towards the end of the day when he ran, implying that Takahashi's run, and resultantly the obstacle that he fell on, was wet and slippery.
Takahashi returned for SASUKE 33, looking to avenge his fall from the last tournament. However, he was yet again eliminated by the TIE Fighter - a result which saw Takahashi fail in consecutive First Stage appearances for the first time since SASUKE 27.
- Takahashi has attempted the most versions of the Cliffhanger with 5.
- Takahashi and Kanno Hitoshi are the only competitors to have cleared all four versions of the Salmon Ladder.
|5||Failed Rolling Maruta (First Stage)||All Cut. External Information.|
|6||Failed Soritatsu Kabe (First Stage)||All Cut. Time Out. External Information.|
|7||46||Failed Cliffhanger (Third Stage)||Touched down the mat with one foot, but lost his balance and fell back into the water. Digested on G4.|
|16||66||Failed Cliffhanger (Third Stage)||Failed Transition.|
|18||98||Failed Shin-Cliffhanger (Third Stage)||Last Man Standing.|
|19||84||Failed Jumping Spider (First Stage)|
|20||1988||Failed Flying Chute (First Stage)|
|21||85||Failed Jumping Spider (First Stage)||Digest.|
|22||80||Failed Rope Ladder (First Stage)||All Cut. Time Out.|
|23||84||Failed Gliding Ring (Third Stage)||Failed Jump.|
|24||94||Failed G-Rope (Final Stage)||20m up. Twisted up the G-Rope and got the safety wire tangled, causing him to stop.|
|25||40||Failed Ultimate Cliffhanger (Third Stage)||First Ledge.|
|26||96||Failed Rolling Escargot (First Stage)||Digest. Full run shown on G4.|
|27||15||Failed Spin Bridge (First Stage)||Digest. Full run shown on G4.|
|29||87||Failed Crazy Cliffhanger (Third Stage)||Failed Transition to 2nd Ledge.|
|30||2995||Failed Swap Salmon Ladder (Second Stage)||Disqualified. Technical error. First time failing the 2nd Stage.|
|31||89||Failed Crazy Cliffhanger (Third Stage)||Failed Jump to 4th Ledge.|
|32||92||Failed TIE Fighter (First Stage)|
|33||87||Failed TIE Fighter (First Stage)|